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EllenMoran/E+ via Getty Images
EllenMoran/E+ via Getty Images
If you’ve heard “I’m bored” one too many times already, try enticing your kids with these fun backyard activities. They can play everything from Twister to freeze tag and partake in obstacle courses and nature scavenger hunts all in the comfort of your own yard.
If you’re looking to order a new activity for the summer, how about giant Jenga? The classic family game is supersized and can stack up to over 5 feet high. As everyone takes turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, the size of the unstable structure will make for lots of laughs when it comes tumbling down.
If you have some seeds to plant, get your kids involved and hand them a shovel. You can also give them their own small pots and a few seeds to plant their own flowers or vegetables. Gardening can be just as therapeutic for kids as it is for adults, and it could be something they look after and take pride in.
This one takes you right back to your childhood. Capture the flag can be played with any even number of people. With at least two players per team, it's a great family game. The gist is trying to take the other team’s flag and returning it across the center line without being tagged. And if a player is tagged while on their opponent’s side, they have to go to the holding zone.
The basic premise of the floor is lava is this: Pretend that the floor is lava and then use any other surface to get from point A to point B. Touch the ground and you lose. Though this is typically a living room game, kids can use outdoor items like skateboards, jumbo balls, wagons, a swing set and more to play this game in the backyard.
Whether you have cement in a portion of the backyard or sidewalk in the front, chalk art never gets old. Art is a great skill to work on while at home.
Since water parks are currently off-limits, you can create a “backyard water park” right at home. Bust out that inflatable pool, turn on the sprinklers and surf down the slip ‘n’ slide. Save this for a hot day for the ultimate staycation at home.
To make a regular tea party even more fun, take the teacups and fancy hats outside. You can lay out a cute spread on a table or even in the grass, bring out some cookies, pour fruit juice in plastic play teacups (or real ones if you’re feeling ambitious) and have your “guests” wear something nice. A backyard tea party can also be a wonderful way to celebrate your kid’s birthday.
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Painting outside in the backyard is not only more inspiring, but it also eliminates any of the mess indoors. If you don’t have canvas or large sheets of paper, you can repurpose cereal boxes by cutting them out and painting on the reverse sides.
And to get more creative, kids can collect rocks and paint them with small pictures or any symbols they enjoy drawing. Once the rocks dry, you can use them as outdoor decoration. On your next family walk, drop them along your path for something fun for your neighbors to find.
Similar to the floor is lava, if your kids are animal lovers, allow them to transform the backyard into a jungle safari with their imagination and some stuffed animals scattered throughout the yard. Be sure to wash the stuffed animals after though.
With parents spending more time at home with their children, they can use some of that time on this fun activity. To prepare, go outside and list 15 or so things in the backyard. Scavenger hunt items can include specific flowers like a tulip, a kind of leaf, a spiderweb, a bug, a uniquely shaped rock or even a hidden toy.
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Kids love a good sports day and most games like soccer, kickball and baseball only require a few players and can also be played without teams. Adults can set up “bases” using rocks or other backyard objects and establish some field boundaries. While the kids get competitive, you can do a quick at-home workout.
The best games are those that require nothing but humans to play them. Freeze tag is a quintessential backyard pick and something that kids don’t want to stop playing.
Red rover is a classic playground game in which two teams line up opposite each other with some space in between. You can flip a coin to see who goes first. The first team calls one player from the opposite team, and says, “Red rover, red rover, send (player's name) on over!” The person picked runs to the other line and attempts to break the linked-hands chain. This one requires a full house to play so it’s best to get everyone involved.
If you dig into the garage, you might find an old bocce set waiting to be reopened. The relaxed but strategic game is a great way to spend hours outside with some snacks and juice boxes on hand.
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Remember field day in elementary school? Your kids can have their own in the backyard with activities like balancing an egg on a spoon, a water balloon toss, a jump rope contest, Hula-Hoops and more. And a helpful way to boost your productivity while working from home is by making sure your children are well occupied. With an itinerary of field day activities, they should be just fine.
You don’t have to run around a local park to get your kids moving. Just like field day, you can set up relay races in the backyard. And as an added bonus, the kids might fall asleep right after.
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A nice quiet activity out in the yard is birdwatching. Kids can spend the afternoon waiting for common birds like sparrows, robins, doves and, if they’re lucky, a bright blue jay or a goldfinch. After birdwatching, they can do some internet research to learn about the birds they just spotted.
There are lots of creative ways to make a birdhouse with things you have laying around like shoe boxes, plastic bottles, extra pieces of wood and more. You might even find a DIY kit to pass time during quarantine.
This game of catch is best played on a hot summer day. Instead of using a regular ball, toss around a filled water balloon and see who pops it first. Have a whole bucket of these ready so the game keeps going.
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Another activity geared toward nature is catching bugs using jars. Kids can go out into the backyard for a springtime adventure to search for bugs as if they were nature explorers. If they spot a caterpillar, you can gently scoop it into a clear glass jar and ask the kids to collect some leaves to drop inside. After the kids observe the bugs, they can set them free.
Create an obstacle course that’ll keep your kids running and competing for hours. Parents can get involved too and embark on the course with the kids. You can make the obstacle course using ropes, Hula-Hoops, jump ropes, nets and anything else on hand.
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Bowling with plastic bottles is a fantastic way to be more sustainable and have fun. You can recycle old water bottles or soda bottles by painting them white (or whatever colors your kids like) and finding either a nerf ball or a plastic one to use as a “bowling ball.” Once the bottles dry, arrange them as you would bowling pins and start playing.
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This is a simple game for even the littlest of the bunch. One person controls the “traffic lights.” Red light means freeze, yellow light means walk and green light means run. The goal is to reach the traffic light first and whoever does becomes the new traffic light person. And if anyone gets caught moving during a red light, they have to go all the way back to the start.
If you have a few bottles of spray paint, you can make your own version of twister. Spray-paint four rows or different colored dots onto the grass to create your own lawn twister and use cardboard or a cereal box to make your own spinner. Pump in some music with the most popular songs from the year you were born.
You don’t need much to toss bean bags in the backyard, just some paper plates or bowls and plush toys or bags to toss inside. You can write out each point on the paper plates (10, 20, 30, 40, 50) and arrange them vertically with the highest score farthest away. Kids can toss their bags and see how they score.
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Any number of games can pass the hours, but one thing that both adults and kids can get behind is a good old backyard picnic. The whole family can make their favorite foods and easy recipes and spend the entire afternoon lounging around, maybe even slipping into an outdoor nap under the tree. And when you’re all set with the outdoors, take a look at the best indoor activities for kids stuck at home.
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