Creative ways to play right in your own backyard.
Everything in this slideshow
A tea party just isn't a tea party without a gaggle of guests to enjoy the treats. Let the children take their favorite stuffed animals to an afternoon picnic on the lawn. Cups, kettles, and cupcakes make the perfect spread for a playful day in the shade.
Gather the neighborhood dogs and teach them new tricks with a hula hoop dressed up with pom-poms and ribbon. Give them award badges made from cupcake liners and ribbon, and snap a pic of each pooch on a winner's podium -- use an upside-down wash basin striped with colored tape.
Have the kids explore the backyard to collect their building materials, such as twigs, moss, leaves, and stones. Use a little bit of glue, and a home for the fairies will really come to life.
Get out the colored chalk and help your children draw a huge hopscotch path. Add extra fun by trading traditional hopscotch square shapes for cars, butterflies, fish, and other fun designs.
Hang a white sheet on the side of your house or from a clothesline, and project your movie using a digital projector. If you don't have your own, you can rent equipment for the day or the weekend from projector123.com. Then bring on the popcorn, pj's, and pillows for a perfect outdoor movie night.
Everybody loves this backyard classic. Before you hang a tire swing in your backyard, read these important installation tips to keep kids safe while they play.
* Use an old tire, if possible, because worn rubber won't scratch or cut kids' arms and legs.
* Wash it! Use a power sprayer or scrub it by hand, inside and out. Then, drill holes in the bottom of the tire to allow rainwater to drain.
* Select a strong hardwood tree with a straight, "L"-shaped branch, and be sure to hang your swing over a soft patch of ground.
* Cover tree roots around the trunk with mulch or wood chips. This will protect the tree and cushion falls.
* Use nylon or Dacron rope to hang the tire. Measure the rope, then add an additional 10 feet. (You'll need extra for the knots.)
* Double-knot the rope around both the branch and the tire using a common square knot. (Visit wikihow.com for knotting instructions.)
* Slip a piece of rubber hose between the rope and the tree limb. This will protect the rope from wearing thin as it rubs against the tree.
* Test the strength of the knots and tree branch with your weight before you allow kids to play on the tire swing.
Tag, You're It!
Enjoy a rollicking game of family tag or flag football in the backyard. Kids of all ages love to run and be chased!
You don't necessarily have to host a community picnic to enjoy these fun games! Collect some burlap sacks, create a start and finish line, and have an old-fashioned sack race! Or, divide children into pairs and use a scarf or banana to bind their inside legs together for a fun three-legged race.
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the June 2008 issue of Parents magazine.