You don't need elaborate game sets or one of those huge, inflatable pseudo water parks to have fun in your own backyard this summer. You already have the makings for a fun day outdoors in your kitchen, garage, and linen closet.
The Olympics are returning next month, and we're already seeing many of the qualifying competitions on TV. What a great excuse to stage your own outdoor Olympiad with some non-traditional events of course! You could hold bicycle and relay races, fencing with wrapping paper tubes as swords, lawn bowling using bottles from your recycling bin as the pins, synchronized swimming (pool optional), and various gymnastics events.
A fun day in the backyard can be as easy as turning on the hose. If you have a garden sprayer or sprinkler for the kids to run through, then it's even better. Or dig through your leftover birthday party supplies for water balloons.
If you want an activity that is a little less damp, take a stack of old blankets, towels, and sheets outside and help your kids build a blanket fort using your patio furniture or folding lawn chairs. Once it's built you can hang out in the cool shade, doing a little summer reading. Better yet, plan a picnic your newly constructed outdoor space!
If you have budding little scientists, the backyard is a great place for exploration or to stage messy experiments. You could design a science scavenger hunt that asks kids to find different plants or bugs, or take it in a math direction by having them find patterns or shapes in nature. As for the experiments, kitchen science actually works even better in the back yard. Think about all of the messy mixtures like a baking soda and vinegar "volcano," or adding water to a bowl of cornstarch to make a slippery, goopy glop. Add food coloring to water in some clear containers and let your kids explore mixing colors. If it's a hot day, make colored ice and let your kids swirl the colors around as the ice melts.
Lastly, the backyard is the perfect place to practice the nearly lost art of doing nothing. Teach your kids how to whistle using a blade of grass, search for shapes in the clouds as they drift by, or make crowns and necklaces from dandelions.
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