Getting kids to play in the backyard is a good way to make sure they get enough exercise and sunshine at the same time that they’re having fun.
DIY backyard ideas for kids are not only great for increasing the entertainment value of your backyard, but they are also perfect for encouraging kids to get outside and play. With just a little creativity, you can set up these awesome activities in no time at all.
Backyard Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained
1. Build a Wood See-Saw
DIY wood see-saws like this see-saw design from Ana White can be built out of spare lumber, a bolt, and some screws. A plain wooden see-saw can be built for less than twenty dollars, but see-saws can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. See-saws can be built to scale for either smaller or larger children.
2. Set Up a Slip-And-Slide
Slip-and-slides like these slides showcased at Big Happy Backyard are an inexpensive backyard idea for helping kids stay entertained while cooling off in the hottest part of the summer. Be sure to set up the slip-and-slide well away from any obstacles that kids might run into. Not only are they super fun, but they are great for kids who aren’t old enough to be left in a pool unsupervised. They come in many different styles like twin racing slides that allow kids to compete and spraying splash mats for younger children. No matter what kind of things your kids are into, there is a slip-and-slide designed just for them.
3. Make a Kid’s Balance Beam
DIY balance beams can help children improve their balance as well as their general fitness and motor skills. This DIY balance beam at My Little Me can be built for just thirty dollars. Build the balance beam low to the ground to make it safe for kids, and use a level to make sure it isn’t installed at a tilt. Balance beams are a great introduction to children’s gymnastics, too. Don’t install balance beams over hard surfaces such as concrete for safety. Why not build an entire obstacle course around your new balance beam for a quick and simple way to keep your kids entertained for hours.
4. Play a Backyard Campout
Toast marshmallows, roast hot dogs, tell ghost stories and enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your own home. Backyard campouts are perfect for a summer staycation with kids. Build a fire pit outdoors to help enhance the effect and turn off any outdoor lighting so you can see the stars clearly. Not only are backyard campouts a very convenient choice, but they are also a fun way to get your child to enjoy camping. What’s great about a backyard campout is it is kid-friendly and can be packed up quickly if the kids get bored or tired of being outdoors. They also allow you to enjoy the benefits of camping out while eliminating many of the downsides of camping, such as lack of access to bathrooms or cold food storage. For more ideas on how to throw a great backyard campout, check out this list of backyard campout ideas at Country Living.
5. Declare a Water Fight
Pass out water pistols, fill up some water balloons, and set a timer. Water fights can help kids cool off and get out some of their rambunctious pent-up energy at the same time. Set up large plastic storage containers of water to make water pistol refills easy on the go. Make sure kids know not to aim at the eyes or face for safety. When setting up a water fight for kids in the backyard, avoid more powerful super soakers and stick to squirt guns or small grenade-style water balloons designed specifically for water balloon fights. This will help keep the water fight playful and prevent any injuries.
6. Play a Game of Clothespin Tag
Grab some clothespins, and set up a game of clothespin tag. This is a variation of tag where each child wears a clothespin on the back of their shirt and the other children try to tag them by pulling the clothespin off. Encourage kids to decorate their clothespins for some individual flair. At the end of the round of tag, whichever kid has the most clothespins is the winner.
7. Send the Kids on a Backyard Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt encourages cooperation if kids are placed on teams and can keep solo kids occupied too. Use a printable backyard scavenger hunt like this printable from Messy Little Monster to make it official. Including a prize for the participants such as a special movie or an ice cream party can help motivate participation.
8. Bury a Backyard Time Capsule
Kids will enjoy choosing their own individual contributions to the capsule, and it can be dug up years later to share the momentos all over again. Be sure to mark the location of the backyard time capsule so it can be found again in the future. Plan to open the backyard time capsule together at some point years in the future and be amazed at the memories you uncover. Items that can go in a backyard time capsule include handprints or fingerprints, packaging from a favorite toy or snack, drawings of what the kids think the future will look like, or letters that the kids write to their future selves. These tokens of a bygone era will thrill kids years down the road when they’re older.
9. Set Up Water Balloon Pinatas
If you want to give kids all the fun of a traditional pinata without having candy scattered from one end of the yard to the other, string up a big water balloon pinata and get the blindfold ready. Multiple smaller water balloons can be used for added challenges. You can still pass out candy as a party favor when the pinatas are done.
10. Play Some Easy Frisbee Golf
A simple version of frisbee golf like this homemade set from Cha’s Crazy Creations can be set up in the backyard with just a few laundry baskets, tomato cages, and frisbees. Once they get the hang of the game, frisbee golf can keep kids occupied in the backyard for hours. Frisbee golf helps keep kids active while also helping them improve their hand-eye coordination.
11. Throw a Backyard BBQ
A family backyard BBQ is a great chance for adults and kids to relax together, and there are some easy recipes that even kids can help prepare. While the kids may not be old enough to man the grill themselves, they’ll enjoy helping to contribute to the meal even if it’s just preparing the salad. Letting kids help pick out their favorite grilled recipes can also help keep them entertained. Throwing a BBQ and inviting some family friends can also be a good lowkey way to teach your kids about how to act correctly at a social gathering. Using paper plates can help keep clean-up simple so kids can clear their own. It also helps cut down on dishes for Mom and Dad too.
12. Build an Outdoor Chalkboard
Kids will come up with tons of ideas for playing with a large outdoor chalkboard like the step-by-step design offered by Hey There Home. Outdoor chalkboards are a great outlet for artistic children. It’s a good idea to mount a plastic bucket of sidewalk chalk to the edge of the chalkboard so the activity is always ready to go. A major advantage of building and setting up a chalkboard outdoors in the backyard is that you don’t have to deal with the dust of having a chalkboard in the house. It’s also easier to keep the chalkboard clean since rain will periodically wash it.
13. Build a DIY Sandbox
A DIY sandbox is a great way for kids to enjoy the fun of building sandcastles or digging year-round, even if you’re not at the beach. Gathering plastic shovels and other toys after each play session in a mesh laundry bag can help keep them from getting lost or damaged. Be sure to cover the sandbox when not in use to prevent any wandering cats from using it as a litter box.
14. Send Kids on a Bug Hunt
Collecting insects can help interest kids in the natural world and biology at a young age, and every backyard has a whole zoo’s worth of insects to be discovered and captured. Encourage humane release of any insects that are caught when the bug hunt is over, and see how many different species of insects can be found before time is up. For kids who are especially interested in insects, setting up a terrarium is a way to house insects humanely. Look up any kept insects with your child to make sure that you can meet the insect’s requirements for life. Bugs such as pill bugs and beetles are relatively easy to keep in captivity and can provide hours of entertainment.
15. Blow Some Bubbles
Blowing bubbles is a backyard activity that is enjoyed by all ages. Even the family dog or cat may get in on the action of chasing the bubbles as they dance across the yard. Bubble blowing solution can be purchased commercially or mixed up out of the water, dishwashing liquid, and glycerin. Check out this page from Thimble and Twig for 15 ideas on bubble-blowing activities. The best weather for blowing bubbles in the backyard is during cloudy or overcast days that are slightly humid. On hot sunny days, dry heat will cause the bubbles to dehydrate and pop faster than on cloudy days. It’s also a good idea to choose a day with little to no wind since heavy winds can scatter and pop bubbles quickly.
16. Set Up a Backyard Marble Run
This backyard idea requires a little assembly, but it’s well worth the trouble. Marble runs like these runs at Tinker Lab can be constructed out of several kinds of materials such as paper towel rolls or pool noodles that are sawed lengthwise. Kids can either try to set up competing marble race tracks or set up complicated runs to see how far they can get the marble to roll. Along with being a fun way for kids to keep themselves occupied, marble runs are a smart way to teach children some basic physics. They’ll be so busy having fun they won’t even realize they’re learning at the same time!
17. Set Up a Bean Bag Toss
Bean bag toss, also known in some parts of the world as cornhole, is a game where kids can take turns tossing bean bags at a board with holes sawed in it. Points are awarded based on whether the bean bags end up falling through the holes and on who gets closest to pulling it off. There are bean bag toss sets, like the DIY set shown at Thrift Diving, which would be a great backyard idea for bringing families together. This game can be constructed cheaply and kids can enjoy hours of fun playing it tournament-style. Holes in the bean bag toss can also be sawed larger for fewer children that have less-developed throwing skills.
18. Play Hide and Seek After Dark
This backyard activity is more effective if you have a large yard, but even smaller backyards can be used for hide and seek in the dark if you have plenty of bushes or other areas to hide. Real Creative Real Organized shows us how to play, the person who is it tries to catch people out with their flashlight while the other people in the yard try to sneak back to base. This activity is better played with slightly older kids since younger children may be too scared to play in the dark, but this time-honored game has been played in suburban backyards for decades. Make sure that kids stick to the backyard and any tripping hazards are removed before the game starts.
19. Build a Treehouse
Building a treehouse may require more time and resources than most backyard ideas for kids, but there’s no denying that giving kids a treehouse can be one of the best ways to keep kids occupied in the backyard. Not only does it give kids a cool breezy place to escape the heat of the summer, but it can also act as a home base for any number of imaginary games for children. Allowing kids to help out in the design and construction of a treehouse is a useful way to introduce them to basic home carpentry skills and can even foster a love for construction in children that follows them into adulthood.
20. Create Fairy Houses
Fairy house designs like those offered by SpruceCrafts are a fantastic way for kids to help add whimsy to their yard. By simply using materials that are easily found around the backyard and house, your kids will get to enjoy the chance to put their own personal touch on these miniature homes. What’s great about this activity is there’s no limit to the types of fairy houses that can be made depending on what materials you have available on hand.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to come up with some creative, fun ideas to entertain kids right at home. There are many backyard ideas that can help get kids involved in learning different skills and creative outlets so they don’t feel bored or cooped up during the summer. It’s also a great way to get kids off their screens and moving around outside. From pinata parties to camping at home, there’s plenty of stuff to do in the backyard to give kids a good time!