Backyards are prime spots for kids to let lose and run around. Playing outside can spark creativity as well as keep children active all summer long and well into the fall. Here are five ways to make your backyard more fun for kids:
Opt for a mud pit instead of a sandbox
Sand is the best, except for dirt, which has so many play options. With a little water, the dirt can be turned into clay and easily built into castles, cities and whatever else the little ones’ imagination inspires. Add a little more water and you have a messy mud pit. Just remember to hose off before letting them back inside!
Bury PVC pipes
Bury PVC pipes a few inches underground in a section of your garden, sandbox or anywhere else that’s not covered in grass. Make a maze of pipes and your kids will spend hours rolling their toy trucks and cars through them.
Plant a garden
Include the children when planning, planting and harvesting a backyard garden. Not only will they love lending a hand, but growing fresh fruit and veggies has a way of encouraging healthy eating habits.
Paint a chalkboard on your fence
Kids love drawing with chalk on pavement, but what if they could also do it on a special section of your fence? Purchase some chalkboard paint from your local paint store and put at least three solid coat on the desired area of the fence. Then let your kids’ imagination go wild.
Yarn bomb your own backyard
Yarn bombing, the trend of wrapping tree trunks in colorful yarn, has become popular in many urban areas. Why not bring it to your own backyard? Have your kids help pick out the brightest colors and then twist patterns around a few tree trunks in your yard. Not only is it an inexpensive way to add splashes of color to your yard, but the yarn won’t hurt the trees and it’s easy to remove when you get tired of it.
-Photo courtesy of chrisroll/freedigitalphotos.net
The summer may not be winding down quite yet, but you want to make sure your kids’ school brains aren’t either. Use these fun activities to get their minds active and stimulated again. Get your kids’ brains geared up for the school year.
Start a family list of books to read and have everyone participate. Then you can discuss favorite stories and authors. Hang a small whiteboard or chalkboard in the kitchen, with a few colorful markers or sticks of chalk. Keep the list running. When someone hears about a new book, they can add it to the list. Select a time to make a weekly trip to the library to check out a few from the board. Think of it as a family book club.
Scope out the educational camp scene in your area. Is there a space or archeology camp your little ones may be interested in? What about a young authors’ writing camp? Check with your kids’ school, community center or local library to see available camps in your town.
Bake a treat
Baking is a great way to keep busy, full and work on some math skills. For slightly older kids, measuring can be great for all sorts of math from adding and subtracting, to multiplying and dividing. For littler ones, baking is a good time to practice newfound counting skills.
Crafts are the perfect way to both have fun and encourage an active imagination. Take advantage of the sunshine and nice weather by moving craft time outdoors. Plus, that means less mess indoors!
-“5 Ways to Keep Your Kids’ Brains Active All Summer Long” Gaiam Life: http://life.gaiam.com/article/5-ways-keep-your-kids-brains-active-all-summer-long
-“Summer Brain Drain: How to Keep Sharp Over the Summer Break” Tutor Doctor: http://tutordoctor.com/blog/blog/summer-brain-drain-how-to-keep-sharp-over-the-summer-break/
-“25 Activities to Keep Kids’ Brains Active in Summer” Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/profdev073.shtml
-Photo courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
What better way to teach kids about Mother Nature than getting their hands dirty? Mom Trusted has put together a list of Earth Day crafts for kids to help celebrate the holiday and the environment:
Blow a up a balloon and cover it with blue and green strips of tissue paper dipped in watered down glue. Let the project dry completely before drawing continents on it. Dry time usually lasts over night.
Help your kids make a 3-D forest out of construction paper. For each tree, cut out two evergreen shapes out of green construction paper. Cut a long, vertical slit in one of the trees, leaving a ½ to 1 inch portion still connected at the top. Outline each side of the tree with glitter glue and let it dry. Then slide the slit tree down the center of the uncut one. Secure with glue or tape it needed.
Make rainsticks by securing squares of wax paper with rubberbands on either end of a toiletpaper roll. Pour a handfull of beans or rice inside first. Then decorate the outside with painted images of nature.
Coffee Filter Earth
Make beautiful works of art our of markers, water and coffee filters. Color on the coffee filters with blue and green washable marker. Then dip the edges of the coffee filters in water and let it seep up the filters, blending the marker colors together. Let them dry and you’ll have beautiful Earth crafts to hang near a window (they look especially pretty when light shines through them like stained glass).
-“Earth Day crafts and ideas” Pinterest
-“Earth Day crafts and projects” Enchanted Learning
-Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos.net
Celebrate Earth Day with some of these fun Earth Day activities for kids:
Clean up the outdoors
Grab everyone in the family and head to a local park, bike path, pond, lake or river. Grab some gloves to stay clean and some paper or reusable cloth (just wash them after!) bags. Spend a couple hours picking up trash and reducing litter in natural areas within your community.
Ditch the car
Vow to spend the day carless if you can. Rely on long walks and bikes to get around. Not only is this a great way to stay fit, but explain to your kids the negative impact of cars and how minimizing their use can benefit the environment.
Have a blackout party
Teach your kids about conserving energy by hosting a blackout party. Grab some candles and leave all the lights off when it gets dark. Don’t use any electricity and spend the evening playing games and telling stories by candlelight.
Plant a garden
Dedicate a special, small garden in your yard to Earth Day. Spend the day laying fresh soil and planting flowers, vegetables and herbs.
Plant a community tree
Contact your local park or community center to see if your family can help plant trees or flowers at any public locations. Then, every time you walk by it you’ll be reminded of the Earth Day you spent together.
-“Earth Day for kids” Activity Village
-“Get your kids involved for our planet” She Knows Parenting
-Photo courtesy of pat138241/freedigitalphotos.net
Looking for some great places to visit to help teach kids about the environment and Mother Earth? Look no further than Mom Trusted. Here are some great Earth Day resources for kids:
Helpful Hints for Planet Earth has a whole variety of activities for children. It has a list of fun ideas to do, all themed around Earth Day, from puzzles to maps. It offers an online quiz to help teach valuable, green lessons. It even offers a full list of books related to Earth Day.
PBS offers a colorful page filled with fun, online, Earth Day games. Learn how to garden with Caillou Gardner. Have Sid the Science Kid help teach how to plant veggies. Go on a Sesame Street Earth Exploration. Learn about recycling with Gabriela Cleans Up.
Check out DLTK’s Earth Day page for a long list of crafts and activities. They offer everything from coloring pages to games and puzzles. There’s also a list of Earth Day crafts where kids can make earths out of coffee filters and festive wreathes and pinwheels.
Earth Day for Kids from Activity Village has a whole list of interactive Earth Day activities. Choose from one of the fun coloring pages or watch a few of the Earth Day videos. You can even read a recycling poem to the kids.
Photo courtesy of ddpavumba/freedigitalphotos.net
Sometimes we get so caught up with the cool, new technological baby toys that we forget how much fun they can have with simple, everyday objects. Babies’ curiosity makes simple items lying around the house new adventures. Here are a few to explore with your little one:
That pile of scarves sitting in your closet is more than just a bunch of accessories. It’s a great way to make your little one smile. Not only do babies love the silky texture of scarves, but the colorful, bright patterns are sure to catch their eye. Try throwing them around so your baby can watch them twirl around in the air.
Pots and Pans
Just like in the movies, babies love the sound of banging on some pots and pans. Grab a spoon or spatula, some pots or pans and let your little one rock out. OK, so we know the noise can be enough to cause a migraine, so just make sure that you set aside a short time period and stick to it.
Safe and simple- babies love stacking plastic cups. Grab a variety of sizes and colors and set them out in front of your little one. The best part? They make for a fast cleanup!
Grab some Tupperware with lids and show your baby how to snap them on. They’ll have a blast matching up the right ones.
Grab some big cardboard boxes and make a tunnel for your baby to crawl around in. Let them hide under them and cruise through them.
-“11 Fun Activities for When Winter Weather Traps You Indoors.” Parents.com
-“5 Unexpected Household Items that Babies Love to Play With.” Yahoo Shine
-Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net
What’s cuter than baby chicks and bunny ears? Your little one making Easter crafts! Mom Trusted rounded up a few simple Easter crafts for kids to try out this year:
Forever Easter eggs
This year, dye Easter eggs that won’t go bad. Take an uncooked egg and shake it hard for about a minute. Then have an adult use a thick needle or pin to poke a hole on each end of the egg. The grownup can then blow the contents of the egg into a bowl (Voila! Omelets for breakfast!). Dye the eggs as you normally would and after they dry, you have beautiful decorations that bring splashes of color to your home and don’t need to be refrigerated.
Make fluffy bunnies using construction paper and cotton balls. First, glue two to four cotton balls together to create the body. Then, glue one on top to be the head. Next, divide one cotton ball into fourths, gluing each part on to represent a foot. Take construction paper to cut out two small rabbit ears to glue onto the fluff balls. Finally, add a couple mini googly eyes.
Spice up your regular egg dying by adding stripes to your family’s eggs! Help your kids separate the dye colors into three categories: light, medium and dark. Then, take a hardboiled egg and dip it in the lightest dye. Let it dry. Wrap a rubber band around the egg, spreading it out to create a crisscrossing design. Dip in the medium dye. Let it dry. Finally, add another one or two rubber bands and dunk the egg in the dark dye. You’ll have a batch of rainbow-striped eggs.
Break off the top third of a dozen eggs and empty the yolks out. Discard the tops. Wash or thoroughly rinse out the bottom two-thirds of the eggshells. Fill with dirt and plant a few seeds in each. Place them back into an egg carton to help them stand upright. Then water and set them in a sunny spot.
-“Eggshell Flowerpots” Martha Stewart
-“Kids’ Easter Crafts” Spoonful
-“Easter Activities for Children” DLTK
-Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos.net