Most American children spend five to seven hours a day on electronic devices or watching television. However, too much screen time makes it hard for your children to sleep, raises their risk for attention deficit disorders, and contributes to childhood obesity. If you have a backyard, we’ve got some great DIY projects that are sure to get your kids off their phones and tablets and excited about spending time outdoors. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like what is linked to rises in childhood diseases, how to improve the health of your child in 10 days, and 9 ways junk food giants target children, now join us how we explore ways you can get the kids outdoors and having fun!
Many of theses projects can be made using things you might already have on hand like scrap lumber, grocery bags, and old pots and pans. And you don’t have to wait until the project is finished to pull kids away from their devices. Letting children participate in the building and planning is a great way to spend time together and teach organization skills. They’ll be proud of what they created and their teachers will thank you!
Disclosure: This post is was written by Jackie Nunes is a former pediatric nurse from wondermoms.org.
To make a music fence, select a section of an existing wood fence or put up a piece of plywood. Bolt on old pots, pipes, bells, buckets and other objects that make sounds of various pitches and quality. With some drumsticks, spoons, or twigs from the yard, your kids will be making music in no time. You can let them decorate the fence before and after you add the “instruments.”
Backyard fun can continue after dark when you have a fire pit. Dig a hole and line it with bricks – digging is fun at any age – or build one above ground. They key is to pick the right spot, away from the house or dry wood, and make sure there’s enough room to add a circle of chairs around it. Most fire pits can be made in less than a day. The ghost stories and s’mores making are sure to go on long after.
Instead of recycling your grocery bags, here’s an idea that can keep crafty kids occupied and provide a relaxing place for them to lounge when they’re done. With some braiding and knotting, you can make a plastic-bag hammock. Hang it between sturdy trees or build your own hammock stand to enjoy your creation. Plastic bags are weatherproof and can be quite comfortable. Some people also crochet plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.
Backyard bowling alley
If your family likes bowling and building things, here’s a great project that can make you the envy of the neighborhood and save you a bundle on lane fees and shoe rentals. Start by buying 10 bowling pins. You can find them online or visit a nearby bowling alley and ask if they’ll sell you some of their used pins. Then all it takes is some lumber, a pulley, and elbow grease to make a backyard bowling alley. You can add gutters or bumpers, depending on your skill level. The best part is that the pins reset at the pull of a string.
Carnival dunk bucket game
You don’t need an elaborate tank to create a carnival-style dunk bucket game for hot days. Gather a 5-gallon paint bucket, some wood, some hinges and a bunch of tennis balls and you’re well on your way. Oh, and you’ll need a volunteer who’s willing to get completely soaked!
Ninja-style obstacle course
Have you seen the viral video of 5-year-old Lylah MacCall navigating ramps, balance beams, teeter-totters, a cargo net, a zip line, and more on an “American Ninja Warrior”-inspired course built by her Dad? With as little as $200 worth of supplies, you can create your own epic ninja-style obstacle course in your backyard. Besides being a lot of fun, obstacle courses are great for developing motor skills and teaching determination and perseverance. Once your kids have mastered the course, they can work on doing it faster each time. It’s a great cardiovascular workout and thrill at the same time – but it’s a good idea to establish some safety rules and review basic first aid techniques before you set them loose.
Adding a koi pond to your backyard can provide endless hours of fascination as well as potentially boost your home value. Starting with a preformed liner is the simplest way to go. Be sure to check for underground cables or wires before you dig. It’s best to choose a spot that is not directly under any trees that shed leaves. When you’re done, you can conceal the edges with large rocks and add plants, lights, a fountain and more.
Add a new twist to this popular party game. With some colored spray paint and a circle stencil, you can create your own Twister game for the backyard. Make it as big or small as you want but make sure players will be able to reach the different colors for each spin. A piece of sturdy cardboard makes a great template to transfer a circle pattern onto your lawn for the game. If possible, use paint or spray paint that is biodegradable and that will safely wash away over time.
A climbing wall provides strength and agility practice for kids and adults alike. With some plywood, screws and hand and foot holds, you can build one on a blank wall, tree trunk, or swing set frame. Let your kids go crazy with paint and other embellishments to decorate the finished wall.
Homemade plant-watering machine
Chores like watering the plants are a lot more fun if you build an elaborate, multi-step contraption to do the work for you. Help your kids develop some engineering skills by designing and creating a Rube-Goldberg machine to water the plants. You can use objects from around the house including golf balls, marbles, soup cans, string, scrap pieces of wood, tubes, pieces of toy race car tracks and more. Tinkering and testing it is almost as much fun as showing it off when you’re done.
Pool noodle ring toss, javelin or croquet
Pool noodles are one of the best craft materials for outdoor fun. They’re colorful, cheap, durable, and can be manipulated into lots of different shapes with simple duct tape. Try making a pool noodle ring toss, javelin-style throwing target, or croquet game.
Kids love sprinklers and making their own takes the fun to a whole other level. Use a large soda or water bottle and guide them through poking holes large enough for water to pass through. Tape a garden hose to the open end of the bottle and tell everyone to get in their swimsuits for a sprinkler-spectacular good time. You can loop the hose over a tree branch for an overhead shower sprinkler.
Try out these and other fun projects you can find all over the internet to keep your children active and healthy when the weather is nice. Building things instead of relying on technological entertainment is great for the whole family and exercise promotes hunger for substantial meals and snacks, so your kids are more likely to turn away from unhealthy snacking.