Fun Zone: Activities for Backyard Play Dates and Parties
Swim in a Mini-pool, Build a Birdhouse, Play Badminton, or Grow a Garden
By Rhea Seymour
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Go for a dip in a mini-pool. Splashing around in a rubber or plastic pool is a super way to cool off on a hot day. Make the kiddie pool even more fun by playing Frog Invasion, suggests Warner. “Use a waterproof marker to mark the bottom of the pool with targets —100 in the middle, then 75 and 25 on the outside. Buy plastic frogs or get the kids to make them by painting rocks green with permanent paint and putting eyes on them with a felt marker. The kids take turns tossing the frogs, trying to land them in the center of the pool where they get the most points.” Of course, an adult should always be supervising when the kids are around water.
Build a bird sanctuary To make your yard attractive to birds, you need a water source, such as a birdbath, trees or bushes for food and a safe area, such as a nesting box, which you can make out of a milk carton or wood, explains Barbara Herkert, author of Birds in Your Backyard (Dawn Publications). “The kids can watch the birds through binoculars from a quiet hidden place (for example, beside a shrub) and keep a journal there with a few coloured pencils to draw their favourites,” says Herkert. “Kids should always keep a safe distance and not touch a nest especially if it contains eggs or baby birds.”
Set up croquet and badminton Get the kids hitting the ball in a game of backyard croquet. Look for a colorful, kid-sized croquet set with oversized hoops and pint-sized mallets to make the game even more appealing. Or try a round of badminton: set up a net and hit the shuttle back and forth. If you don’t have a badminton set, put up a rope and get the kids to hit a balloon back and forth to keep it in the air, suggests Warner. Check out other fun backyard games, like Balloon Bust Relay, too.
Grow a kid-friendly garden Gardening with a group of kids is fun and an excellent way to teach them about nature. Buy a pot, soil and plants or seeds: try cherry tomatoes that the children can water, watch grow and then eat, says Barbara Richardson, youth garden grants coordinator at the National Gardening Association in Burlington, Vermont. “Radishes are great because they mature in less than a month and come in great colours. Or try herbs, such as basil, that the kids can pinch off and smell and taste.” As well, try kid-friendly flowers.