5 DIY Backyard Games that Will Keep Your Kids Busy 5 DIY Backyard Games that Will Keep Your Kids Busy

For kids, summer means swimming, sleepovers, and endless possibilities. For parents, it means struggling to provide constant stimulation for little human balls of energy. Activities like picking berries, visiting a theme park, and going to museums can take off some of the pressure, but you may not have the energy, time, or budget for daily field trips. Thankfully, a little creativity can go a long way. Once you get these backyard games set up, you can set the fun to autopilot and stop racking your brain for activities that will keep the boredom at bay.

1. Paint Balloon Darts

For kids old enough to be trusted with darts, this is a colorful, explosive activity. Buy a large canvas and put a thin layer of cardboard behind it. Fill dozens of water balloons with washable paint and tack them to the canvas with push-pins (the cardboard helps the balloons stay in place instead of falling off). Cover the area behind and around the canvas with large tarps, and use only two or three darts so sharp points aren’t flying all over the place. For a less messy alternative, fill the balloons with water—it’s still fun!

2. Obstacle Course

An obstacle course outside.

While campfires and s’mores make good memories, the most thrilling part of summer camp was always the obstacle course. Kids love taking on a challenge, so set up several for them to complete and record their times to encourage a competitive spirit. Before you set up, make sure to inspect your yard for hidden dangers like holes, rocks, or stumps. Then look through the garage for items you have on hand: a long wooden beam can be perfect for a balancing challenge (you can prop it up on blocks or lay it directly on the ground), while a long rope can make the perfect swing across an inflatable pool full of water balloons. Look for tires, pool noodles, wagons, plastic containers, and string—the possibilities are endless!

3. Tin Can Toss

While obstacle courses and slippery slides are a blast, you may want a game that requires minimal setup and teardown. Grab a few metal tins or milk jugs out of the recycling bin and string them up from a low-hanging branch, then have your kids take turn pitching balls, rocks, or bean bags into different sized containers. Make each bucket worth a certain amount of points.

4. Slip and Slide

A boy playing on a slip 'n slide.

All you need for an entire week’s worth of summer entertainment is a slippery (and safe) surface. Buy a roll of heavy-duty plastic and splay it out in your backyard. Attach peel-and-stick Velcro to both sides of the plastic and several pool noodles so that you can line both sides of the slide with the noodles. Then, just add the garden hose.

5. Twister

Another game that requires minimal expense or setup is backyard Twister. You could just haul your Twister mat outside, but where’s the fun in that? Paint your own board on the grass and make it as big as you want. Another fun perk is that instead of going with the basic red, blue, green, and yellow, your kids can pick out their favorite colors—but make sure to use ground marking spray instead of paint so the game doesn’t ruin your grass.

Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to home remodeling and design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.


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