It’s summer and, as a parent, you want your kids to spend time outside to get out restless energy, explore, avoid excessive screen time, and embrace creativity. This can become a challenge as you enter the dog days of summer. In preparation for those hot summer days, get a jumpstart on clever ideas and hacks for creating fun backyard activities that both little kids and big kids can enjoy.

Assessing Your Backyard

While you consider how to make your backyard more fun, take time to assess the size of your yard and determine which options  are feasible given your time and budget.

Playground Ideas for Backyard

Once you have established your budget and requirements, , it’s time to let those creative juices flow.

Swings and Slides

Installing a swing set and slide combo is a classic choice. A swing set provides hours of fun while helping children improve their balance and coordination.

Climbing Wall

A climbing wall can be a fun addition to any backyard playground. Create a wall using sturdy plywood and attach colorful climbing holds. 

Keep in mind the height and size of children and ensure the wall is properly able to hold weight. Children, of course, have a habit of playing hard and you want to make sure the wall is structurally sound to avoid injury.

Backyard Tent Camping 

Kids love an excuse to get out of the house. An outdoor tent can let you “go camping” the safe and easy way. Kids can invite a friend over and eat marshmallows while telling each other stories until it's time to turn in. When it comes down to it, lots of kids prefer sleeping indoors, so shorter outdoor excursions might be a happy middle ground.

Sandbox or Day at the Beach?

Set up a sandbox with buckets, shovels, and other sand toys. It's a simple and inexpensive way to spark your child's creativity and keep them engaged for hours. You can upgrade a standard sandbox to a beach-like experience by adding a tent, canopy, or large umbrella.

Obstacle Course

Design an obstacle course using things like hula hoops, cones, stepping stones, and other items you have stashed around your house. You may want to consider going to the dollar store, Five Below, or Lowes, for additional items to create a more expansive adventure. It's a great way to promote physical activity and challenge your kids' motor skills and, let’s be honest, tire out the extra energy that arrives with good weather.

DIY Outdoor Play Area

Creating a DIY outdoor play area not only adds a personal touch but can also be cost-effective. Here are some home playground ideas to help you get started:

Repurpose Old Tires

Paint and stack old tires to create a colorful and interactive obstacle course. You can also hang them from sturdy tree branches to create a classic tire swing.

Pallet Playhouse

Utilize wooden pallets to construct a playhouse. With a little bit of creativity and some basic carpentry skills, you can build a cozy retreat for your children.

If you want to keep it old school, consider making a minimalist treehouse. You can attach small wooden logs leading up the tree as makeshift stairs.

Balance Beam

Cut a long wooden plank and place it securely on the ground to create a balance beam. Add some colorful tape to make it visually appealing. This can easily be paired with other backyard DIY playground equipment.

Sensory Garden

Plant a sensory garden with fragrant herbs, different textures, and vibrant colors. This will stimulate your child's senses and create a calming and educational environment.

If you have enough space, consider creating a dedicated Children's Garden. This special section can feature plants and elements children can have fun with. This way, they can emulate you and feel included when you're enjoying your time in the grownup garden.

Cheap Playground Ideas

Not everyone has a large budget for a backyard playground, but that shouldn't stop you from creating a fun and exciting space for your kids. Here are some inexpensive ideas:

Water Play

Set up a sprinkler or attach a hose to create a refreshing water play area. Add buckets, water toys, and a kiddie pool for endless water fun. No sprinkler? No problem. Try creating your own:

  • Poke holes in a plastic bottle
  • Attach to end of hose
  • Use heavy duty tape to ensure bottle remains tight around hose
  • And enjoy!

Homemade Hopscotch

Paint a hopscotch grid on the ground using colorful outdoor paint. It's a simple and affordable way to promote active play and improve balance.

For a family activity, you can paint spots on your lawn and play outdoor Twister. This makes for a great party activity, too!

Chalkboard Wall

Paint a section of your fence or an exterior wall with chalk. Better yet, install a chalkboard on the fence that is removable. This provides children with a designated space to play and, hopefully, helps them learn boundaries about where it is and is not acceptable to draw.

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