Summer is here and am sure we all have those itchy feet to go out and explore with our kids. But unfortunately, the world isn’t very safe anymore. We have to be cautious and being safe should be our topmost priority. It isn’t easy to stay indoors all the time with a kid. They need outdoor time and they need to soak in all the sunshine while it is available. So the best thing to do this summer is to come up with backyard activities. You need not have a huge backyard to make your kids engaged. It can be your patio or even a small space outside your home. But is important to give some outdoor playtime to your kids. You can create a fun environment in your yard that is not only fun but also great for their growth and development.
In this blog, am going to be listing all the activities that you can create in your backyard with simple stuff you can find at home and some things which can be bought from stores at a minimal price. And also, I am going to categorize it by age. I have a 2.5 years old toddler and I can give your ideas for kids of age about 3 years old.
Activities for kids of age 0-2 years
We started taking Avi outside in our patio and keep her engaged only after she was 6 months old. And it was under constant monitoring because kids of age below 2 years old are so inquisitive and they are learning to interact with the world around them. The first thing they do to interact with an object that is lying in front of them is to put it in their mouth and so Moms should keep their eyes wide open to monitor if they aren’t putting anything dangerous in their mouth.
Try to create a small space for them in the yard where they can experience a variety of sounds, textures, and sights. Most importantly, give the kids the freedom to play with the items provided. Give them a lot of open-ended games. The games I have listed below are pretty much open-ended. They can think wildly and come up with new ideas to play with the objects provided below.
- Water tub and a mug: Keep the baby bathtub outside filled with water. Give them a small cup or a mug to play with. They can simply pour water outside or even on themselves to be engaged.
- Sandbox: We never had a sandbox in our house but Avi experienced the sandbox play while she was in the daycare. It is a simple wooden box filled with loose sand. Sandbox play can help in kid’s development. Give them something like a spoon or ladle to scoop, dig, and fill the bucket. It is very important for their motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
- Water table: You can either buy one from amazon or target or Walmart. It is available in all shapes and sizes. But my idea is just to keep a table outside in the patio or yard, keep few bowls in various sizes and shapes, fill a big bowl (something like a mixing bowl) with water. Give your little one a ladle to take the water to fill the small bowls. They will eventually get a hold of the ladle, the play, and even pour some water out in the yard. It is okay. Just keep filling their big bowl with water. This is not only a fun way to introduce water to your kid but also will help them teach to stand up, take effort to put the ladle inside the big bowl, and fill the empty ones. To add more attraction, grab some colorful bowls from the dollar tree.
- Ice world: This has been an all-time hit in our house. I love it and Avi loves it too. When Avi was just over 1 year old, she used to play with ice a lot. I used to dump some ice in her cutesy bucket, used to give her a small spoon and another bowl. She would just sit with the ice, scooping it from the basket and transferring it to the bowl. This is a very good sensory activity, an opportunity to ask your kids to describe how they felt while touching the ice like “is it cold? is it freezing?” etc. It is slippery, see-through, cold and it melts while putting out in the sun. A solid substance would turn into the water – that is like magic to kids even though they won’t understand what the chemistry is behind all this. But yea, it sure is a fun activity to add to your backyard playlist.
- Play with bubbles: We get the bubbles out when we want to feel silly and just want to jump around. Avi was used to bubbles when she was 6 months old. All thanks to the library story time. She would enjoy the bubbles coming out of the bubble maker. Seeing that, we got her a bubble bottle. She would be so happy to see the bubbles. She was small to pop it but she would enjoy it a lot. So definitely get your kids a kids a bubble set to see those giggles and smiles.
Activities for kids of age 2-3 years old
Now, this is the age when they feel they have authority over everything. They have opinions and choices. In their minds, they are mature enough to do some chores. If you ever feel confident that your kids can handle them, go ahead and give them some backyard chores.
- Gardening: Do you have plants in your patio. Give them the opportunity and let them experience the process of watering the plants. Tell them gently how water is like food for plants. Just like how we eat for our survival, plants drink water for survival. Is it too much? No, I feel kids will understand if you tell them in their language. We have kept few plants in our patio, I have made DIY water pouring bottle for Avi which she fills with water and pours it over the plants. Of course, I stay with her during our little gardening session. But I feel she has gotten into the groove of taking care of the plants.
- Chalk art: We love collecting pebbles and rocks while we are out on hikes. Recently, during our visit to the park, we happened to get some beautiful pebbles from the riverside. Yet another interesting thing to do is to paint the rocks. You can get the chalkola chalk markers to have a mess-free experience while painting the rocks. You may even leave the painted rocks in parks and other neighborhoods for others to enjoy while on walks. If you choose to use a rock painting kit available in stores like Michaels, I would suggest you put a big plastic sheet beneath before starting to paint.
- Nature scavenger hunt: This is perfect for toddlers to introduce different things that we see in nature. There are plenty of sites from where you can print the scavenger hunt printable.
- Toy bath: Giving a bath to the figurines is yet another engaging activity for your toddler. A tub filled with bubbles put out all the bath toys and any other toy which the kiddo wants to give bath to, a scrub, and a towel is all you need. This activity can last for more than an hour for sure.
- Finding worms and slugs by digging: At first, I felt this was the grossest activity ever. But this helped in getting over the fear of worms and bugs. And so, these days I encourage Avi to find new bugs or worms by digging (she hardly finds any) but I love the fact that it keeps her engaged and busy.
- Rescue the frozen figurines: This is another popular backyard activity. You can freeze your kid’s favorite figurine in water. Put the large ice cube outside in your yard, give your kid a wooden hammer or rock to break open the ice to rescue his/her favorite figurine. It would take some time for the kid to figure out a way to rescue.
- Rainbow foam activity: Rainbow foam is so easy to make at home with dish soap, water, and food coloring. Sensory play is very important for kids and it can start at a very young age. This can be another activity that can be add. (Recipe for foam : 1 tbsp dish soap, 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp corn flour, add few drops of color and beat it with a whisk until peaks are formed)
- Play dough art : This was one of the most fulfilled activity to do sitting in the backyard. What we created with the play dough was everything inspired from the nature. The birds, the leaves, acorns etc. The play dough was made at home which is a simple DIY recipe. You can even get a store brought play dough but we like making it at home.
So here you go, I have some interesting backyard activities for your all. These are tried and tested by Avi :). Avi has tried some of them at home and some at her daycare and she has been pretty engaged with these activities. I am not going to list an elaborate set of activities because I am also figuring out ways to engage her in the backyard. As and when I get new activities, I will add it to this list. Until then enjoy these and make sure you try them at home.