Fun Zone: Activities for Backyard Play Dates and Parties
Create a Sandbox, Pitch a Tent, or Play a Sprinkler Game
By Rhea Seymour
Who needs a pricy day out with a group of kids when you can transform your own backyard into a fun zone? From silly sprinkler games to sensational sandbox ideas, we’ve got everything you need to keep the kids happy all summer long during play dates and parties.
Create a superior sandbox. Scooping sand with shovels and building sandcastles is always a fun way to spend an afternoon. Make the sandbox even more enticing by giving the kids colorful glitter dust from a craft store to mix into the sand or tiny paper umbrellas to create beach scenes (try blue glitter dust to make water!). Or buy small plastic dinosaurs and cover them with baker’s dough, shaping them into eggs, suggests Penny Warner, author of Splish Splash: Water Fun for Kids (Chicago Review Press). Then hide the dino eggs in the sandbox and have your budding archaeologists dig them up and crack them open to find the surprise inside.
Get more fun sand ideas.
Pitch a tent. A campout under the stars is the perfect summer night activity. Set up a tent in the backyard and create a backyard “campfire” by putting a few small chairs around a hibachi to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, suggests Warner. (Make sure kids keep a safe distance from the barbecue.) Sing campfire songs, tell spooky ghost stories and bring along flashlights so the kids can read comic books in their sleeping bags. Get more fun ideas including best camping crafts in our camping guide.
Make a splash with sprinkler games. Play Snake in the Grass: lay a flat sprinkler on the lawn and have kids run in and out of the sprinkler area. “One player is in charge of turning it off and on intermittently,” says Warner. “The fun is getting wet and trying not to get wet!” The kids will also have a blast playing water limbo: using a hose with a nozzle and a moderate spray, mom or dad sprays water about waist high and the kids limbo under it while trying not to get soaked.