No matter how long ago it was since you were a child, you probably still remember the thrill of playing outside and using your imagination to fight off the bad guys and save the day.
But these are memories that our kids will miss out on if we don’t make it a point to get them outside to play.
Now, they have so many options…video games, tablets, computers and smartphones that so often hold them captive. Because of these devices, it can be hard to get them motivated to get outside and play.
Pledge to make this summer different.
It’s not too late in the season to help your kids create a magical playground in their own backyard that will get them moving and inspire their creativity. And because you’re getting their input, they’re more certain to play outside every chance they get.
Not everyone is a fan of chalk on their driveways and/or sidewalks, so give your kids a chalkboard instead.
Hang a chalkboard (or paint a smooth piece of wood with chalkboard paint) on the fence – or wherever they can easily reach it – give your kids a bucket of chalk and watch them have a blast.
And you can have fun too playing games with your kids like hangman and tic tac toe where they learn strategy and improve their spelling.
What backyard is complete without a place to build sandcastles and push dump trucks around?
Bring the beach to your backyard by using landscape rails that are stacked on upon another and placed in a square or rectangle pattern. Fill the area with lots of play-sand, some buckets, shovels and a small plastic pool to corral your little ones.
Not every backyard has a zip line, so be warned that the neighborhood kids will probably line up to play with this one.
You could buy a kit, or you could make your own zip line with easy to find materials.
First, figure out where you’re going to hang your zip line. If you have a couple of large trees in your backyard, they would be perfect, but you can use other things such as a fence or even your home.
You’ll need the following:
- ⬥Strong nylon cord that has very little stretch to it.
- ⬥A wooden dowel or small pvc pipe
- ⬥A pulley
Once you’ve assembled your materials, begin putting together your zip line:
- ⬥Drill a small hole in the dowel or pvc that’s big enough for the cord to fit through.
- ⬥Next, feed the cord through the hole and secure the end with a strong granny (square) knot.
- ⬥Secure the other end of the rope to the pulley with several strong knots. (Note: While you could simply bolt the pulley onto the handle, if your child were to twist the handle the pulley could fall off of the zip line.)
- ⬥Next, take a longer piece of rope…one that’s more than the distance you’ve planned for your zip line and feed it through the pulley.
- ⬥Finally, secure both ends of the rope and watch the kids blast through the air, laughing all the way.
Forget flimsy “slip n slides”…simple plastic sheeting coated in baby oil and water makes for a fun, slippery time.
Water balloons are so versatile. Fill some water balloons and string them up between poles or trees or other elevated structure like the swingset.
Next, it’s piñata time…give the kids a plastic bat and let them have a blast smashing balloons and soaking each other.
And then there’s every kid’s favorite…water soakers…but be warned…they might come after you if they’re not ready to come in!
If you don’t want to fork out a ton of cash for a ready made tunnel you can make your own very easily using 55 gallon drums that are bolted together and secured where they won’t roll around the yard as your kids play in them.
Or, if your kids are older, they might love the fact that the tunnels roll…but either way, make sure to sand down the rough edges to prevent sctaches and scrapes.
The great thing about this kind of tunnel is you can add on from time to time, and even change direction by cutting a hole in one barrel and fitting another one into it.
Finally, don’t let this summer go by without doing something together. It’s always the small things we do as parents that seems to matter the most.
Get out there and enjoy building memories with your kids that will last a lifetime!