You’ll have a better chance of getting your kids away from screens this summer if you have a bunch of fun outdoor activities up your sleeve. Here are nine to inspire you.
Basically, gardening with your kids is a win-win. They have fun pulling weeds and using a cute watering can to sprinkle the flowers, and, well, you get your weeds pulled and your flowers watered. (Just make sure they pull the weeds and sprinkle the flowers, and not the other way round.) It’s probably not a great idea to let your kid loose with a full-size lawn mower, so treat them to a bubble-blowing version to keep injuries to a minimum.
Another outdoor chore you can easily disguise as fun is washing the car. Kids just love being in control of the garden hose, right? Arm them with a sponge, show them how to put some elbow grease into it and dangle the promise of an ice pop in front of them if they do a good job.
With chalk, the opportunities are endless. For starters, mom and Chalk on the Wild Side author Lorie King Kaehler has an awesome chalk-bomb idea. Use a clean soap dispenser pump to fill water balloons with a washable chalk-paint mixture (1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and a few drops of food coloring.) Show your child how to draw targets on the ground with chalk or just give them free reign to use their imagination. Another idea is to make chalk spray by mixing paint, water, cornstarch and soap and help your kid create pictures and messages on the driveway and sidewalk.
4. Lemonade stand
Cultivate young entrepreneurs by helping them set up a lemonade stand on the driveway. Stir up some pitchers, help them create a sign and get selling! Check out Bethany G’s YouTube video for tips on how to create a lemonade stand — and make delicious lemonade people will want to buy.
5. Take a nature walk
You don’t need to travel to a zoo to have a day appreciating nature with your kids. Go on your very own bug safari in your garden or local park. Dig for worms; search for frogs, tadpoles and lizards; and see how much food an ant can carry on its back. If you do want to venture further afield, check out the National Wildlife Refuge System to find a refuge near you (there are 550 spread across 150 million acres nationwide.) Don’t forget walking boots, a bottle of bug spray, a packed lunch and a pair of binoculars.
6. Family games
Host an outdoor game night for your neighbors. Create an obstacle course in your backyard — think hula-hoops, jump ropes and sack races — and time the kids. Kickball, softball and capture the flag make great multifamily competitions, and get creative with teams, such as dads and daughters vs. moms and sons. You can get rules for lots of sports at gameskidsplay.net.
7. Outdoor crafts
When you can set up a craft table outdoors, you don’t need to worry about the mess. Upcycle old clothes with tie-dyeing, make designs on your face and body with body paint and glitter or attempt a bubble paint project. Embrace your inner child and get messy. Your kid will love to see you being so relaxed about messes, and you might even create something wonderful together.
8. Water fights
Get into your bathing suits and gather together anything you can find that is designed to blast water out: sprinklers, the garden hose, water guns. A water fight is the ideal activity on a hot day — perfect if you don’t have a pool nearby or just don’t want to leave your backyard.
9. Put on a show
If your kids love to be the centers of attention, spend a day putting together a show to entertain friends and neighbors. A large blanket in the backyard doubles as a curtain, with lawn chairs as the audience seating. Kids of all ages can be involved. Preschoolers can make and collect tickets to the show, escort people to their seats and hand out drinks and snacks during the intermission. After the performance, toast s’mores on the BBQ or fire pit and celebrate your little stars.