Sometimes it’s Nice to Hang Out at Home
But sometimes it’s nice to have a break at home with a cold drink while playing with the kids in the yard. When I reminisce about summer during my youth, I fondly remember running free in the freshly cut grass, playing kickball with the family, making mud pies in the backyard. West Michigan is full of summer activities but a chill day in the backyard can be just as much fun. Here are few ideas to get you started!
1 – Have Some Fun with Giant Yard Games, like Pool Noodle Ring Toss, Giant Jenga or Giant Connect 4
Larger-than-life yard games are all the rage right now.
2 – Construct a Bike Wash with your kids
This idea has me down the Pinterest rabbit hole. It’s STEAM learning and play all rolled into summer fun!
Pinterest is full of PVC Bike Wash ideas, but I deemed this the winner because some of the plans on Pinterest can feel daunting if you’re not exactly handy but this simplistic, step by step instruction gets the job done!
After your glue dries, fire up the hose and be well on your way to cool status in your kids eyes.
3 – Grab Binoculars for a Backyard Adventure
My 4 year old daughter loves bird watching and locating birds in her Michigan Bird Book. This is our favorite bird book because it’s organized by color so it’s easy for her to use!
Set up a birdseed feeder, order a Michigan Bird Book, and enjoy nature right in your backyard.
Take it to the next level with binoculars! Amazon has several kid’s binoculars but this is my favorite because the kit comes with a working compass and several gadgets for outdoor fun.
My kids spend hours on backyard adventures; safaris, “bear” hunts, wildlife watching. Mom can join in or sit and relax while the kids run off to discover together.
4 – Add a Trampoline
Trampolines are the ultimate in kid and family fun! But sometimes they get a bad rap.
I would never have considered a trampoline a year ago, but that’s because I didn’t know safer trampolines were out there. Yes, you need a safety net. But having a trampoline without springs is what really sold me. I grew up bouncing around on a really dangerous contraption. I had a blast, but I’m really lucky that nothing bad ever happened to me or my friends.
This trampoline at Backyard Fun Zone is the one I’m getting and I can’t wait to see the looks on my kids’ faces when it shows up at our house in a few weeks. (PS- called the insurance guy and he said we’re good to go with our coverage, even with a trampoline. We opted to up our coverage a little just in case, but that was our decision, not the insurance company’s.)
5 – Add Some Magic to Your Yard With a Fairy Garden
My daughter has been asking to create a fairy garden since winter.
Fairy gardens are the perfect outdoor project. Kids can customize their gardens and watch how their plants change and grow over the course of a summer, all while getting in some good outdoor quality playtime. You can get creative and use a birdbath or an old stump! Many local greenhouses, like Koetsiers, carry Fairy Garden supplies. Enhance your garden with things like glittery rocks, bridges, buildings and more. You also need someone to inhabit your fairy garden… choose from fairies, dragons, and other delightful creatures.
Shop locally for your fairy garden supplies at Koetsiers or Fruitbasket Flowerland.
6 – Plants + Poles = a Sweet Kind of Fort! Build your own Beanpole Teepee
This idea is at the top of my list this year. It will be a great getaway addition to our backyard.
First of all, anything that can double as a fort or hideaway is golden. Secondly, kids can be involved in all phases of building a beanpole teepee. I love how this blog post outlines the steps for building in a clear, easy way.
7 – Invest in a Good Playset
Swingsets can be an fun investment for many years to come. You don’t need to worry about the children outgrowing it in two years time anymore, if you do the research. Luckily, I’m here to fill you in!
Today you can buy playsets from big box stores or online, but be aware that these often come with height and weight restrictions. Which often leads you to regretting buying it because your preschooler transitioned to a big kid faster than you can imagine. If you want your playset to last, Rainbow Play Systems are a good option. Even adults can safely play on their equipment, and if you get one from Backyard Fun Zone, they offer installation, (have you ever put a playset together?? Oh my! Our $100 off coupon might just come in handy!) service, and warranties.
8 – Rev Your Engines on a Backyard Garden Race Track
This one is for the serious car enthusiast who doesn’t mind giving up a patch of lawn to fun.
For a permanent addition to your lawn, and to witness extreme happiness in your toddler’s eyes, create a backyard garden race track with concrete (see image below). I bet for a temporary version, you could also cut up some black landscape fabric and create something similar that is a lot easier to construct, not as expensive, and not permanent.
9 – DIY a Canopy for your Sandbox
Protection from the sun is important. Since we live in Michigan, I’d aim for a quality indoor/outdoor fabric. The pattern looks simple enough- if you can sew a straight line and bend some conduit, I think you could pull this one off. From my experience, Field’s Fabrics staff is extremely helpful with tips and advice on projects (they also offer inexpensive sewing classes).
11- Bring the Big Screen to Your Backyard with an Outdoor Movie Theater
Putting together your own Outdoor Movie Theater can range from a white bedsheet tacked to the side of a garage to a full-blown cinematic experience. Giant inflatable screens are an option, but they require a motor run continuously for inflation – and that can be noisy. Sound for your movie is another aspect to consider.
Kids love chalk, it’s cheap and provides hours of fun. Unfortunately, I live on a busy intersection so my kids don’t have the luxury of sidewalk chalk very often. This is the perfect solution for my family. My artsy daughter would likely spend every day drawing.
The project itself looks like anyone handy with a saw, paint, and screws would be able to tackle it in short order.
13 – Make a Butterfly Feeder
Are your children obsessed with butterflies? My kids can’t get enough of the butterfly exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens. This year, consider bringing butterflies to your backyard all summer long.
You can make a butterfly feeder easily with any sloping rim dish, ceramic or glass, plastic or terra cotta plant saucer will do the job! They love over-ripe, nearly rotten fruit. You can even pick up the quick sale produce at the grocery store. You should consider keeping over-ripe bananas in the freezer to thaw and have on hand. You can even make a jar feeder!