When the sun is shining and the birds are singing, there’s no better spot in town than your own yard to fill an afternoon with fun. Whether you keep it in the family or invite friends over for a full-blown field day, you’ll find our list of superlative sidewalk games as essential as a new crate of chalk. Get ready, because you’re about to channel some vintage childhood memories on the blacktop!
Chalk Art Photo Props
Is there a kid out there who doesn’t like seeing themselves in a silly photo? With chalk, you can create any backdrop you wish, and even draw your little Picassos right into the pictures. Fourth of July? Add a top hat and walking cane and Sam becomes Uncle Sam!
Make and Decorate Mud Pies
It’s okay. A little dirt under the fingernails never hurt anyone, as long as you give them a good scrub down at the end of the day. Your tiny chefs will love adding “ingredients” from the “grocery store” (the backyard), then decorating the cakes, displaying them, and selling them to one lucky buyer.
On your mark, get set, GO! Whether you’re staging a relay race or a full-tilt foot race, all you need for a memorable obstacle course is whatever you’ve got in your garage (think big wheels, basketballs, and jump ropes) and a little creativity. Want to up the ante? Add a stopwatch, and you’ll have them competing against their own PRs all afternoon long. Nothing gets the giggles going more than an obstacle that involves some improv dancing!
Set Up a Lemonade Stand
Another oldie but goodie, there’s nothing better than a lemonade stand on a warm day to get the neighborhood socializing. Whether your endeavor starts and stops with the lemonade, or you get concentrated with the building of the stand, pricing, signage, and placement, you’re sure to have a happy crowd.
Recreate Giant Board Games
Who says you have to re-invent the wheel? Take one board game, such as Candyland, and draw a series of life-sized squares on the blacktop to represent the squares on the board. Borrow the spinning wheel from the real game, but let your littles be the participants! Just be sure to define what it means to “jump a player” before you get started!
String Cereal and Popcorn for Bird Feeders
Now that you have a well-appointed home for your neighborhood bird association, why not put in a little live-work-play to increase it’s value? String cereal or popcorn on a string to make a food garland, and drape it in the trees near your new bird house.
Make Ice Volcanos
Looking to get a little messy with your thrill seekers? With a little bit of prep the night before, these homemade ice volcanos erupt into colorful, fizzy “lava” with the help of a little “magic.” Check out Reading Confetti for the play-by-play.
Build a Worm Farm
Perfect for a post-rainshower airing out, you’ll be needing a few ingredients for this activity—that buys you hours of entertainment, by the way—including a trowel, a clear Dixie cup, and mixed natural materials. Thanks, Frugal Fun for Boys! (But we think girls would “dig” this activity, too!)
Toss and Create Eggshell Art
Skeptics, we know you’re out there. What could be fun about filling eggshells with paint and throwing them at a canvas? But converts you’ll be when you realize that there’s not only a satisfying smack when the eggshell meets the canvas but you’ll also have a crew of delighted kiddos at getting to do something you’d never, ever, EVER do inside. Look to Growing a Jeweled Rose for inspiration (and great tips on preserving those egg shells!).
Start a Scavenger Hunt
Whether you’re looking for objects from a list you put together in a pinch, or you have time to hide clues around the yard, nothing beats an old fashioned scavenger hunt to get them running, yelling, and having a blast outdoors.
Wash a Car
This one is a win-win for everyone. You might just need to make sure to give your car a final rinse before calling it a day, because the Dawn you give them will be Dawn that goes on the car—we’re thinking about the foaming soap issues, people! And be sure to lock your doors prior to starting. There’s nothing less fun than an interior detail job done by a 5 year old.
Walk on Eggs
This is one cool party trick to have up your sleeves! Wondering how you kiddo could possibly pull this off? We’re betting you’ll be amazed at the explanation. Check out Playdough to Plato to learn the science behind this activity.
Build a DIY Water Wall
It’s tinkering at it’s finest. Raid your recycling bin and nab a few nails, because this DIY water wall couldn’t be easier to put together. And, it promises hours of fun as the small set pours, and pours, and pours to their hearts’ contents. Add food coloring to the water and spin the bottles to create new flow patterns for even more fun! Thanks for the idea, Tinker Lab!
Make Ice Paint
We all love food on a stick, so why wouldn’t we adore paint on a stick, too? Just mix a little water with your non-toxic paint du jour and stick it in the freezer, either in solo cups or ice cube containers. Add a popsicle stick halfway through freezing, then pop the cubes out and you’re ready to go!
Put Each Other in a Giant Bubble Cage
Who needs a trip to the amusement park to see an elaborate bubble show when you’ve got a baby pool, a hula hoop, and dishwashing liquid detergent in the house? Check out I Heart Naptime for more of the step-by-steps.
Play Hide and Seek
No. Brainer. This classic is classic for a reason, and it’s never better employed than at dusk, when you need to let them run out that last burst of energy before bedtime.
Make and Play Giant Pick Up Sticks
Instead of playing pick up sticks with the chopstick-sized sticks of our youth, why not spray paint the sticks in your yard and play with those, instead? The added bonus? Guess who helps you gather the sticks out of your yard! And they say they’re too young for yard work… Thanks, I Heart Naptime, for the great idea!
Make a Birdhouse from an Empty Juice Jug
Whether you decorate your tiny abode with found materials, recycled materials, or opt to dip it in glitter (our favorite), your little birdies will love that they’re creating a home for a feathered friend, and you’ll have a great conversation starter about recycling!
Have a Water Balloon Fight
When the temperatures soar, so will the spirits if you’ve got a bag of water balloons handy. No balloons? No problem. Just turn the hose on and play water tag with the hose as your wild ones race around you, trying to dodge your aim.
Look for Pictures in the Clouds
After all of these fun activities, the last, and best one on your bucket list is to lay back in the grass and hunt for pictures floating by in the clouds.
How do you turn your backyard into a primo playtime pad? Let us know in the comment section below!
– Copy and photos by Shelley Massey