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Ten Great Ideas to Add Fun to Your Backyard

Ten Great Ideas to Add Fun to Your Backyard

For Young People and the Young at Heart

how to make an outdoor fun space

When your kids get to the age where they want to be outside playing, that expanse of lawn you put in when you remodeled the yard might not have much to offer. Of course, there are plenty of ready to assemble playsets but they tend to be a bit expensive.

Why not try being a bit more creative and go all out. No matter what you decide, your hard work is sure to put a smile on your kids' faces. I did a lot of looking around all over the place to see what I could find before I made my final choices.

Another thing to keep in mind as you choose your games, kids grow up and what might have been fun for a 5-year-old isn't going to do much for a 10-year-old. Keep this in mind as you choose each game and in how permanently you install them.

Before Planning and Building

Before you go too far in the planning stage or even get started on the construction phase of your backyard wonderland project, there is one thing you MUST do. You need to check with your local authorities to see if there any rules or regulations in place covering what you have in mind.

There is nothing worse than being fined for not having the right permit or being told you have to tear your work down because it doesn't meet with the regulations.

Here Are a Few Great Ideas for You to Think About

Sandbox

sandboxImage courtesy of Miracle

What little one doesn't like playing in a sandbox? From making sandcastle to playing with Tonka® toys, this is sure to keep younger kids actively engaged out in the fresh air.

Depending on your local rules and regulations, your sandbox can be as simple as a box made from 2x6s and a few bags of sand. It can also be complex and fun to build with benches that fold flat to make a lid that keeps the local critters out.

Backyard Bowling

backyard_bowlingImage courtesy of Ehow.Com

Kids of all ages can have a blast with their own backyard bowling alley. Unlike an indoor alley with perfectly smooth lane, yours can be a bit more rustic and durable. Remember this is just for fun.

There are a number of different designs available and you can often buy used pins from real bowling alleys that have outlived their usefulness for a reasonable price. You can even add lighting, so everyone can still have fun after the sun has set.

Life Size Chess/Checker Board

Life Size ChestImage courtesy of Tams Treasure Box

Most kids learn to play checkers at a pretty young age. It is often one of the first “board games” they learn to play. But why should they be stuck inside on a sunny day when you can use simple square cement paver to create one set of squares and then leave the grass for the other set.

Of course, you can buy enough colored pavers to create the whole board. You can make your own checkers, or buy them along with chess piece. 

Soccer Ball Pool Table

soccer-pool-tableImage courtesy of Pinterest

Whoever said playing pool was something you have to do inside? Obviously, they had never seen an outdoor pool table. As you can see in this photo, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. This one is made from 2x4s and a large piece of green outdoor carpeting.

You can buy ready to use sets of soccer ball sized pool balls or you can make your own with white soccer balls and a bunch of spray paint. Your kids will love this, and it will hone their soccer skills in time for the next season.

Slingshot Game

backyard-sling-shot Image courtesy of Rogue Engineer

If you are a Survivor® fan, you can't help but to have seen the slingshot challenge that appears in several seasons. Go for distance, set up targets, have competitions, the only limit is how far your kids can fire their loads, after all, you don't really want them lobbing “bombs” over the fence at the “enemy” do you?

Tree House

tree-houseImage courtesy of Quecasita

Every kid needs to have a tree house to play in. It can be simple like the one in this picture you can go crazy and build a small mansion. Over the years a tree house will be a place to have tea parties, play at war, and as your kids reach their teens a place to hide away and read a book.

When working on the design for your kid's tree house, be sure to include them in the putting together what they would like to have and what you can afford to build.  

Outdoor Race Track for Hot Wheels® Cars

Backyard-Car-Track-550x413Image courtesy of TheWhoot

What little kid doesn't like playing with Hot Wheels® or Matchbox® cars on a race track. For decades, there have been many different types of indoor race tracks in the form of plastic tracks, rugs with tracks made in the weave, and more. But, what if your kids could have the same type of track outside?

It really doesn't take much, simply draw out the shape of the track on the grass, cut out the sod, and then fill in the new track with your choice of medium such as tar or cement. Draw in your own lines and let the fun begin.

Playhouse

Play-houseImage courtesy of TTS Playhouse Shelter

Can you imagine the look on your child's face when you finally let them out in the backyard and they see the playhouse you have built for them?

Kids love to have their owns space and depending on the size and style of playhouse you build, will use it well past the age you might think they would abandon it.

There are hundreds of plans for playhouses to choose from ranging from simple to the most complex and luxurious.

Outdoor Radio-Controlled Car/Truck Track

RC- Race-TrackImage courtesy of Pinterest

There is going to come a time when your kids grow out of Hot Wheels® and Tonka Toys® and move up to radio-controlled fun in the form of race cars, monster trucks, winged outlaw cars, and more.

When this happens, you get to join in the fun by creating the most incredible track, make it as challenging as you like for the monster truck, add some serious banks for the race cars, or create the perfect oval for those Friday and Saturday night races.

Host races with neighborhood kids, have your kids bring their friends. A small investment can yield amazing results and produce great family bonding time.

Inground Trampoline

inground-trampolineImage courtesy of In-Ground Trampolines

Over the years, trampolines have earned a pretty bad rap thanks to the number of injuries resulting from falls to the ground. There is a much better way to let your kids experience the fun of bouncing around to the max.

Instead of simply setting the trampoline up and letting them have at it. This is a recipe for disaster. Yet if you actually dig a hole in the ground deep enough for the trampoline to be at ground level and then add in the safety net. There is no way to guarantee no one will get hurt, but it will go a long way towards minimizing the risk and your entire family is going to have a blast.

This Is Just a Sample

This is just a small sample of the hundreds of different games, tracks, tree/playhouses, and fun projects you can put together in the backyard for your kids. Kids today need more reasons than ever to get out and play in the fresh air instead of sitting in the house watching television or playing video games.

The most important thing to keep in mind, is that each of your kids has different likes and dislikes when it comes to outdoor activities. Along with all of the above ideas, you can do simple things like putting up a volleyball/badminton net that the whole family can use.

Know the Rules

backyard-playgroundImage courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Do not forget to check with your local planning office to make sure your plans meet with any and all regulations. Imagine how disappointed your kids are going to be if the city makes you take down the amazing tree house you built for them because Treehouses are not allowed, but you could have built a ground level playhouse.

Beware of making any installation to permanent as your children's interests and needs are going to change as they get older. Semi-permanent structures are strong enough to stand the test of time, yet can be relatively easily removed or upgraded to meet your kids' changing needs.

I hope this has given you at least a little bit of an idea of the many things you can do to turn your plain backyard into a wonderland your kids are sure to enjoy. Take your time, do your homework, measure twice and cut once. Listen to your kids and work their ideas into your plans.

If you like what you have read here, please let me know. If you have any other ideas and would like to see them here, please contact me here. Don't forget to send me pictures of your backyard when you are done, I love seeing how other's take the ideas presented here and adapt them to create their own dreams.

 

How to Make an Outdoor Play Space the Kids Will Love

How to Make an Outdoor Play Space

backyard-playspaceImage courtesy of FresHouz

These days you need to have something pretty special in your backyard if you want your kids to put down the game controllers and go outside in the fresh air to play.

We all know the benefits of playing outside both physical and mental. But with so many things to keep your kids happily if not lazily occupied in the house, you are going to need to come up with something pretty special in terms of an outdoor play space if you want to overcome this issue.

To help with this, here 10 great ideas that can turn your ordinary backyard into one your children will love spending more time in, rather than sitting in front of their computer or television screen.

The big thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to spend a fortune buying one of those prefabricated jungle gyms to create a great play space. That is, unless you want to. After all, everyone loves flying through the air on a swing or shooting down the slide.

1. The Good Old-Fashioned Swing

Tire-Swing-Car-Tire-LargeImage courtesy of all4thekids.com

When it comes to adding a swing to your outdoor play space, there is a huge selection for you to choose from in the stores. Or, you can build your kids a tire swing or go crazy and install a skateboard swing.

Skateboard- swingImage courtesy of Gorilla Playsets

Most kids will spend hours on a good swing, even as they reach their young teenage years.  To build your own swing, you need a tree, some rope or chain, and in this case, an old tire or skateboard for your kids to sit/stand on.

2. A Private Place of Their Own

8_x_6_honeypot_bramble_playhouseImage courtesy of Best Home Design Ideas

No matter whether you let your kids build their own fort using scrap lumber, branches, twigs, and whatever else they can find, or you take the time to build one for them, all kids need a clubhouse.

There are endless fort/playhouse designs on the web to choose from, some are more complicated than others. But, the most important thing to remember is to let your kids not only have a say in what the finished product looks like, but also to allow them to get involved and help you build it.

3. Teach Your Kids to Bowl at a Young Age

kids-bowlingImage courtesy of Dig This Design

Bowling has been a national pastime for more decades than many of us can remember. It is one of America's favorite family fun games. But, not all of us have enough time on our hands to go hang out at the nearest bowling alley, even if there is one in driving distance.

While your kids might enjoy a night out at the bowling alley, they are even more sure to enjoy having their own bowling alley out in the backyard.

Check out this video covering how to build your own backyard bowling alley.

4. Their Own Gardening Space

gardening-with-kids-3Image courtesy of Outdoor Families Online

You might be surprised at how many younger children love to hang out in the garden. You might be even more surprised at how many would spend endless hours working in their own garden.

It can be flowers or vegetables; the idea is simply to get them out there working the soil and learning how to grow plants. Younger children need to be supervised and taught how to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water them, and keep the weeds at bay.

kids-gardening-spaceImage courtesy of Los Amiguitos

As they get older and have learned to appreciate the joys of gardening, your kids can take care of their own gardens or use the time to spend with mom and dad.

5. Water Features for Outdoor Play

From swimming pools to Slip ‘n Slides, kids just love to play in the water on a hot summer day. There is an endless list of water toys you can buy in the stores, but they all come at a cost.

That swimming pool, at least $200 for a small one, Slip ‘n Slides hard to find anymore. But, then who wants to be like everyone else in the neighborhood? Let's get really creative here and talk about a few things you can make yourself or put together at a very low cost.

a. The Bag ‘O Water

water-blobImage courtesy of PBS Parents

Think of this as an outdoor water bed or simply a water blob. This simple project can be completed in a couple of hours using nothing more than a couple of sheets of heavy duty clear vinyl and a roll or two of exceptionally strong duct tape (I used Gorilla® brand).

In all, I spent less than $20. Your younger kids will spend hours bouncing around on it and having a blast. For more fun add a sprinkler to the mix.

b. Speaking of Sprinklers

how-to-recycle-plastic-bottles-outdoors-16Image courtesy of Lushome

There truly is nothing better than running through a cool shower of water coming from the sprinkler. Kids of all ages (yes, grownups too) can spend hours dancing in the water.

Of course, you can run down to your local discount department store and choose from many different designs, but that's no fun. Why not make your own from an old water bottle, a drill or punch and a roll of duct tape?

Your kids get to have fun in the sun and you just saved yourself enough money to buy a couple of cold beers.

c. Use Your Noodle

noodle-sprinklerImage courtesy of Good Morning Loretta

For this you need a pool noodle, you can use a regular one or an extra-large one if you want. Along with this, you need a roll of duct tape and some way to drill or punch holes in the noodle.

Take the punch or drill and make a series of holes in the noodle that will allow water to shoot out in different directions. Use duct tape to seal one end and to hold the hose in the other end. Then turn on the water and let the kids have fun. Simple, cheap and guaranteed to keep the kids busy for hours at a time.

6. Tonka Time

tonka timeImage courtesy of Garden Alley

Even today, younger kids will still get outside and play if there is something out there to keep them busy. Kids love to create, so why not give them a place to play with trucks, loaders, dump trucks, graders, and all of those “totally cool” construction vehicles kids go nuts over when they see them at work.

All you really need is a spot in your yard to create the “construction” zone. Use pressure treated lumber to create the framework and then fill with sand, gravel, rocks, mulch and anything else that  might be fun.

7. The Writing Wall

wall-writingImage courtesy of Pinterest

Kids love to draw, write, and create their own graffiti. If you already have a fence in your backyard, you can buy chalkboards to attach to it. If not, you can always build a standing wall to add them to.

Alternatively, you can make your own chalkboards using a sheet of plywood. Paint one side with chalkboard paint (available in many stores) and then seal the rest of it with Thompson's Water Seal to keep it protected from the weather.

Add one or two boxes of colored chalk and a rag to wipe the board clean and your kids are sure to have hours of fun in the sun!

8. Go Tire Crazy

tire-obstacleImage courtesy of ACT Government

If you are lucky enough to have a large backyard, why not create an obstacle course for your kids and their friend to play on.

You can scrounge up used tires from one of your local tire stores and then use them along with boards or logs to create an amazing array of obstacles that are guaranteed to provide plenty of healthy exercise and some serious problem-solving skills to improve their performance.

You can stage races and award prized to the winners. Great fun for your kids and the rest of the neighborhood.

9. Create an Outdoor Workshop

outdoor-workshopImage courtesy of My ECE 

Every young man and many young ladies like the idea of having their own workspace with tools they can use to build things.

It is a great time for your child to learn simple tasks like hammering nails into boards, using screws and screwdrivers, cordless power tools under supervision, and more.

It is also a great way for Dad to get out there and spend time with the kids. Not only is this a great bonding time, but it gives Mom a break and can result in some very cool finished products.

10. I Don't Have a Tree for a Tree House

shed-under-deckImage courtesy of Pinterest

So, you don't have a tree to build a treehouse in for the kids. But, you do have a deck hanging off the back of your house. Right now, the space under your deck is probably filled with junk or just somewhere to put the garbage cans.

However, what it can become is a magical playhouse/clubhouse/fun zone for your kids. It really doesn't take much, some sheets of plywood,  a few 2x4s for framing, a door, windows, and anything else you want to add to it.

Your kids will be able to play in it year-round and finally have a place to call their own.

Turn Your Backyard into an Amazing Play Space for Your Kids

It really doesn't take much to turn your backyard into an amazing play space for your kids. But the more creative you get, the more time your kids, and their friends, will spend out in the fresh air instead of sitting in the house glued to the TV or computer.

Don't be afraid, let your imagination run wild. The best part is that most of the ideas here will not cost much in terms of cash to build, just your imagination and some elbow grease.

I hope the information and ideas I have put together have inspired you to get out there and be creative. If there is anything else you would like to see here, please let me know here. If you like the information provided here make sure you let your friends know.