11 Backyard Projects That Will Make Your Kids Want to Spend More Time Outdoors
I hate the outdoors. I hate the sun, I hate the heat, I hate bugs, I hate the wind… if I do not have kids, I would just stay home all day in the AC. However, with two active kids who threaten to demolish the house any time they are indoors, I pick my battles and move the tornados of destruction outdoors. What do you know? Something about the fresh air and bright sun turn children into little angels (well, in comparison to how they are indoors anyway). I wish we have a big backyard so I can let them out and work off their insane energy, especially after I read why playing outdoors is so important for the children by our guest contributor Jackie Nunes from WonderMoms.org!
Prying kids away from technology is a never-ending struggle these days. Screens are everywhere – televisions, video games, smartphones, tablets, and other electronics. It can be a challenge to get kids to spend time enjoying the great outdoors. We have some awesome backyard DIY project ideas that might do the trick to get your kids off the couch and into the fresh air. But first, let’s look at why playing outside is so important.
Why Playing Outdoors is Important
There are actually a lot of reasons that playing outdoors is beneficial for your children. Spending time outside is not only good for their physical health, but also for their mental wellbeing. Just look at the following reasons to play outside.
- Being in the great outdoors can help kids develop their motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. It also helps fight obesity in children.
- Children who spend more of their time outdoors have actually been shown to have a reduced chance of becoming nearsighted. For each additional hour spent outside per week, scientists found that children lower their chances of developing nearsightedness by two percent.
- More time spent outside can actually reduce your child’s chance of getting sick. The outdoors allows the infection to spread out and dissipate instead of keeping it in close quarters like indoors.
- Being outdoors can actually help boost the attention span of children, reducing their ADHD symptoms.
- Playing outside with others helps to build your child’s social skills. Kids who play together are strengthening their language skills and communication with others.
- Being outside helps kids learn a lot about the world around them. From math and science to gardening and learning about the weather, being outside encourages kids to ask questions and learn new information in a fun and relaxed environment. And because they were having fun while they were learning, it’s even more likely that they’ll remember the information they obtained.
- Playing outside is a great way for kids to test their emotional/physical capabilities as well. For example, kids think of things like whether or not they are brave enough to go down the slide head first, or how high they can swing.
- It’s vital for kids to be able to explore the unknown, to perform experiments, discover new things, and make memories of their own to remember when they’re older.
- Teachers and parents alike often believe that letting their kids play outside is a way for them to let off steam and rid themselves of any extra energy and recharge their batteries.
Fun and Exciting Backyard Projects
The following are some great ways to get your kids outside playing and having fun:
- Create your own epic ninja-style obstacle course. You can take inspiration from the hit TV show “American Ninja Warrior” and build a challenging course featuring things to balance on, climb up, jump over, swing from, crawl through, and run around. Obstacle courses help develop motor skills. They also help teach determination, as kids usually have to try the course more than once before getting it just right. It might be wise to set safety rules and review basic first aid techniques in case anyone gets hurt.
- Put up a chalkboard wall in your backyard. It’s an easy task, you can find chalkboard paint at your neighborhood home improvement or craft store. With an outdoor chalkboard, there’s a designated space for your kids to have creative time, and you can even set up a table close by, so you can keep an eye on them. Use the chalkboard to play Pictionary with your kids or make a family-designed monster, with each of you drawing one part of your creature.
- Build and paint pallet furniture. Your kids will have tons of fun designing their own furniture and customizing it with paint. You can simply use old wooden pallets and create any type of furniture the imagination come up with.
- Make your own DIY Hammock. This can become a spot for you and your kids to relax, enjoy the outdoors, talk to each other, and maybe even read a book. There are lots of designs you can find online for hammock stands, or your older children can come up with one of their own.
- Dig a koi pond. If you’re looking for a big project for you and your kids to do together, think about making a koi pond in your yard, or starting a garden. Feeding the fish and tending to the plants will teach your kids responsibility and they’ll also have a chance to experience nature up close and personal.
- Build a stage and put on a play. Write your own, or practice memorizing lines and act out scenes from your favorites. You can make your stage by hanging curtains around a patio, recycling wooden pallets, or even just by sectioning off a part of the backyard.
- Add some sparkle. Hang twinkle lights around the yard and set up for a starlit dinner.
- Make a fire pit. After you are done you can roast marshmallows and tell scary stories around the fire.
- Make a piñata and smash it. It’s hard to say which part is more fun – making the piñata or whacking it with a stick while blindfolded as someone uses a string to bob it up and down.
- Paint the grass with landscape paint. The same spray paint used for temporarily striping or marking grass can transform a section of your lawn into a giant Twister, checkers, or Tic-Tac-Toe board.
- Design and build a Rube-Goldberg machine to water the plants. Challenge your kids to put their engineering skills to the test and build a ridiculously complicated homemade machine to water the plants. Round up tubes, pieces of scrap wood, golf balls, cups, string, pulleys, and anything else you can think of and start tinkering.
All in All
Playing outside is important for people of all ages, but it’s particularly important for children. Outdoor play helps kids develop both mentally and physically, encouraging them to expand their minds and test their limits, all while learning along the way. With the prevalence of screens in today’s society, it’s more vital than ever to get your kids outside and playing.
Jackie Nunes is a blogger at WonderMoms.org. She is a former pediatric nurse and now a full-time homeschool educator. She and her husband have three children. Their middle child suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 4. Now 11 years old, she is hearing impaired and uses a wheelchair. Jackie and two other moms created Wonder Moms as a project to share real talk, helpful information, and practical advice with parents of kids who have intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, autism, language and speech delays, deafness, chronic illness, and traumatic brain injury.