Outdoor Fun in Your Yard
Your lawn and landscape can provide hours of enjoyment and fun. The sky's the limit. Use your imagination and check out some of our ideas.
FUN YARD GAMES
for Kids & Families
Play Kick the Can.
A variation on Hide and Seek, this game works best with at least three kids. One person is designated “it” and will guard the “can” (an empty coffee can or ball), which is set in an open space. While the other players hide, the “it” counts to 20 (or higher) and then tries to find and tag the other players. If captured, players must go to “jail.” Any player who hasn’t been caught can run in and kick the can, setting all of the captured players free. If the “it” finds everyone, he wins the game.
“Your child can do this activity alone, with a friend, or in teams,” says Lisa Hall, director of the Eastern Start School Age Program in Oriskany, N.Y. Give your child a list of items to find in nature, such as a rock, dandelion, leaf or something a bird would eat. Have the kids draw pictures of what they find and finish the hunt by tallying up how many things they ticked off the list. If your kids are older, alter the difficulty level or include a timer.
Bet on Bug Races.
See how many critters the kids can spot— without actually picking them up—in the backyard for a short time period, such as five minutes, says Penny Warner, author of Kids’ Outdoor Parties (Meadowbrook Press). “Add up how many bugs they see and give them a sketch pad to sketch as many as they can. Then have them share their artwork.”
Host a Mini-Olympics.
Get the kids competing in running and wheelbarrow races, obstacle courses, water balloon tosses and jumping competitions, suggests Hall. Finish off the fun with a mini-Olympic awards ceremony to honor all of the athletes. Buy medals at the local dollar store or make your own with construction paper, colored pencils and string.
Create an Outdoor Canvas.
Hang an old sheet on a clothesline or tape paper to a fence for your budding artist to paint on. Encourage them to try painting with different kinds of brushes, says Warner. “Try dipping grass into paint and swishing it on paper, then try painting with a leaf or a twig. The kids can also try painting rocks and creating people or bugs with them.”
Chalk It Up to Fun.
An inexpensive box of colored chalk can keep the kids busy for hours. Have younger kids draw pictures on the sidewalk or driveway. For older children, try a game of Tic Tac Toe or hopscotch. To get started, simply draw a pattern with eight squares. Players can then toss a marker (try a stone or button) onto one of the squares and hop over it on one foot.