Kids these days! When they have access to the world wide web on their phones or computer, how can anything else compare? Of course, they are probably not the only ones spending too much time online… Get outdoor and play!
The world may be a big place, but even a small backyard has enough space to keep the kiddos entertained. Here are some ideas to help you expand their outdoor play horizons by turning your basic backyard into a wonderland of play, with just a few toys and games you can pick up today.
Take to the skies with a giant kite! Flying kites is an awesome, healthy activity that gets kids outside, engaging with nature. You can make this a fun and educational experience by explaining how kites and birds use air currents to stay afloat (be sure to warn them about how Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity).
There are some truly beautiful kite designs out there, and they are bigger than you think! It’s just the distance that makes them appear small. To a kid, a kite eagle with a six-foot wingspan will seem like the biggest kite in the world. If your child wants to see what this big bird can really do, pick up a long-tailed snake kite “companion” and let them fight it out in the sky! Flying a kite is a fun activity that also happens to be great exercise (plus it’s psychologically rewarding because just like with online games, their kite-flying skills will improve with practice).
By the way, the basic diamond version is easy to make at home if you want to try a DIY paper kite!
Here’s how to make one in under 30 minutes:
1. Form a cross with two thin sticks, then glue or tie them together where they overlap.
2. Using a long rope or string (up to eight times the length of the kite), tie a knot at the bottom of the crossed sticks and bring the string in a clockwise direction, tying a secure knot at each point in the cross shape until you reach the bottom again. You should have an open outline of a kite when you are done, and the extra string will form a tail. Feel free to decorate the tail with lightweight paper shapes!
3. Cut newspaper (or similar) into the shape of your kite, but slightly larger than the outline.
4. Spread the cut newspaper over your kite frame, then fold the extra material over the string outline and glue this “pocket” shut all the way around (imagine that you are threading the string through a piece of paper folded in half).
5. Tie a very long string (try a roll of the plastic-y ribbons you would use to make a bow on a birthday gift) to the center of the cross. This will form your kite line.
That’s all there is to it. Have fun with your DIY kite!
Also, it’s pretty intuitive but just in case, this is how you fly a kite:
Hold up your kite by the bridle point (the crossed sticks) and let the line out when you feel a breeze. If there is enough wind, it should lift your kite right away. Let the kite fly for a few feet, then tug the line to direct the nose skyward. Do this until your kite is high enough to catch a steady wind. Have fun!
A Backyard Bounce House For The Win
What better way to “get the wiggles out” than to let them bounce the day away in their very own backyard bounce house! Inflatable bounce houses are cushioned (with air) so kids can get silly, experiment, and improve their gymnastic skills without hurting themselves. Look for bounce houses with slides and other accessories.
Kids will compete to see who is the best high jumper, but it’s all in good fun! If your kids are big-time bouncers, they might also like a trampolineーmany include built-in sprinklers for kids, so everyone stays cool under the summer sun.
Get Outside and Go Camping with Kids
Can’t get away for the weekend? We promise your kids won’t mind camping in the backyard. In fact, we guarantee they’ll love it! Camping with kids can be intense. Curious children are likely to eat something strange or touch something itchy, and they will definitely wander off in the blink of an eye… Camping in your backyard solves a lot of those pesky survival concerns, and with a little imagination, it can be just as fun for the kids.
You’ll need a tent, a firepit, sticks for roasting marshmallows, bug spray and flashlights (for ideas, here’s a play-pretend camping kit).
This is a great opportunity to do some stargazing. With a little research, you’ll be able to point out the constellations and play an ancient game of “connect the dots.” Kids will love to learn about the North Star, and how explorers used the night sky to navigate the world before we had maps. Camping is a great conversation starter!
P.S. The best part about “exploring” at home is that your kids can sleep in their own bed at the end of the night. The tent can be totally decorative. Have fun!
That’s all, folks.
Beyond backyard bbqs and the ideas we mentioned, what do you have planned for outdoor play this summer? Let us know in the comments!