Get Outside: Budget-Friendly Backyard Fun

by Lauren Caggiano

There’s plenty of summer weather left to take in. We suggest an afternoon or evening of backyard family fun to create memories that will last a lifetime. Consider these low-cost ways to transform your backyard into fun central:


FOR TODDLERS:

Cool off: Babies love water. Give them what they want with a hose and baby pool—and let the fun begin! Just make sure the water level is appropriate and you keep a watchful eye on your little one. You might even throw a bath toy or two in to add another dimension of fun.

Chalk it up: Got a backyard sidewalk or cement patio? Then you’re set. Chalk drawing is a great way for younger kids to hone their artistic talent without getting too messy. You can find a bucket of chalk at Dollar Stores and other retailers for less than $5. Parents are sure to get their money’s worth.

Get crafty: An outdoor picnic table is the perfect alternative to the kitchen table for messy crafts. Think play dough, finger paint and anything glue or glitter. 

FOR AGES 4-10:

Take your lunch outside: Who doesn’t love a picnic? Lay down a blanket or beach towel and enjoy a meal together outside. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and watermelon are ideal foods because they won’t get soggy in heat. Just watch out for ants!

Look to the stars: Once day turns into night, the stars really come out. Do some research online to find what constellations are most visible this time of year and turn your gazing into a lesson.

Explore: Kids are naturally curious. Feed their sense of wonder with a scavenger hunt. You might include on the list a few common things found outside (like a dandelion) as well as some less obvious ones(like a bird feather). The first one who checks off all the items gets a prize. Maybe a healthy home-made popsicle?

Have a fight: The only time you might encourage your kids to fight is when it’s with water balloons or water guns. Buy thicker balloons from the store that won’t easily explode. Attach to the faucet, fill up, twist tie and you’re in business! 

FOR AGES 11+

Host a neighborhood talent show: Encourage both children and adults to participate. Your neighbor might be waiting to channel her inner diva or rock star.

While away a lazy afternoon: A $25 hammock from a hardware store can provide hours of utility. Make some lemonade and encourage your child to hop on and read the afternoon away.

Start a garden: Gardening provides a deeper connection to the earth and our food systems. You might start with a few low-maintenance varieties like tomatoes or potatoes. Kids will learn responsibility having to manage such tasks as regular watering.


Backyard fun awaits!

Encourage kids to ditch the electronics and get outside for some fresh air. Just be sure they put on sunscreen and stay hydrated. Don’t forget to snap a photo or two to capture these memories. They won’t stay little for long!

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