Guest writer Kaitlin Krull has some simple outdoor games you can use to keep the kids happy (and worn out!).
All over the country, parents are both rejoicing and cringing at the sound of three words: summer is here! But along with the fun family that summer brings come the sibling fights, piles of Legos everywhere, and stir-crazy kids and adults.
If you’re as excited as we are about outdoor time this summer, here are a few of our favorite DIY outdoor games that will keep your kids busy for hours on end.
An all-time favorite for outdoor-loving kids is water play. A fully stocked water table with bottles, pipes, and other receptacles will keep your kids busy for hours. The best part about this activity: outdoor water play means no cleaning up!
Everyone knows that kids love to get dirty, so constructing a mud kitchen for your children to experiment in will give you plenty of time to put your feet up and work on your tan (or the laundry). This mud kitchen tutorial from fellow Modernize writer Bryn Huntpalmer is an excellent example of how to create the perfect mud kitchen with minimal effort.
Outdoor climbing wall
While making your own rock climbing wall isn’t exactly an easy project, DIYers skilled with an electric drill and knowledgeable about the world of climbing will appreciate this apparatus. Once your outdoor climbing wall is completed, you and your children will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.
If you have more than one child, a treasure hunt is the perfect kind of game to get everyone working together. Assign the task of organizing and running the hunt to older siblings so younger children can still participate in the game. Bubbles, sweet treats, and popsicles make great prizes when everyone is finished!
Encourage your children to develop their survival skills by giving them the tools they need to construct a backyard den. Have them use whatever materials they can find: sticks or branches, leaves, logs, blankets, and trees are all perfect for making a forest den or secret fort. If you want to get the whole family involved, upgrade this project to a treehouse or wooden playhouse for a more permanent alternative.
Fairy house building
Children who are obsessed with everything magical will jump at the chance to create a fairy house in the backyard. Combine crafting with fresh air to keep your kids active and busily building for hours on end. When their house is completed, have them place it in a quiet corner of the yard or at the foot of a tree and sneak outside with glitter later on so they know the fairies have visited their house.
Have you and your kids ever wished Quidditch was a real game? Well, it can be! Make your very own Quidditch pitch with PVC pipes and hula hoops for goalposts and use balls of varying sizes for Quaffles, Bludgers, and the elusive Golden Snitch–broomsticks are optional (and possibly dangerous). After the tournament is finished, finish with an outdoor Harry Potter movie marathon!
Giant Board Game
Bigger is better (so the saying goes). This mantra definitely applies to playing board games outdoors. Clever toy companies have created giant versions of family favorites such as Jenga, Twister, Connect 4, and more (affiliate links). Or, you can create your own giant board game for large-scale fun in the sun–we particularly like the idea of making your own Scrabble board, Kerplunk, and even Pick Up Sticks.
Try making a simple set of dominoes made from painted sticks (let the kids help and make it a fun activity!) You can also try this with painted rocks, and turn it into Tic Tac Toe, Checkers, or any other game with small round pieces and chalk.
While quiet games and activities are great, sometimes kids just need to run around and expend energy. Get your kids’ heart rates up with a homemade obstacle course in your backyard using any and everything available to climb over, under, and around. If your kids are particularly active, why not make your own ninja-warrior-style training course like this epic creation?
Get ready for your next outdoor family get-together by creating your own version of your favorite traditional lawn game. You can buy outdoor bowling, croquet, ladder ball, and cornhole sets at a store, but making your own is even more fun and gives your kids ownership over their backyard toys. This kind of project is especially fun for older children and those who are interested in building and engineering.
Other traditional outdoor activities
There is something about good old-fashioned outdoor fun that children just love. Don’t underestimate the things you already have available in your backyard: swinging, sliding, riding bikes, playing hide and seek, running races, and playing in the sand. These are excellent ways for children to let off some steam and explore the world around them. Whatever you decide to do, just get outside and let your kids have fun!
Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. She enjoys writing for Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on home projects with confidence.