10 Great Ideas to Get Your Kids Outside this Summer

Summer is here, and as all parents know there is a major family adjustment from “wake up and get out of bed so you can get to school” to “no, you cannot watch another movie or play on the iPad.”  I remember my youth when it was quite simple. If I was idle, my parents sent me right outside and told me to figure it out. With our current approach of micro-parenting, kids just don’t know what to do without direction.

With that in mind, we are sending out kids outside!  Get them out and unhook them from the electronics.  Here are a few favorites in our house to keep the kids active and outdoors.

 

1. Backyard Zip Line

Ages 8 to Adult
Alien Flyer zipline

Yeah...we said zip line. There are some great kits out there that are surprisingly easy to install (took us only 40 minutes). We surprised our kids with a zip line and they still head out to it every other day. Our home immediately became the go-to place for neighborhood kids.

If you have 2 trees reasonably far apart, a zip line is definitely worth a look. You get to control the speed based on the slope of the line, and there are plenty of safely options for the little ones. We went with the Alien Flyer Zip Line. It has a brake built into the trolley as well as a stop block if the rider is going too fast. Depending on your situation you can go with a harness (which is safer but will take time and an adult to switch kids in and out) or a circular seat.

Remember, you know your kids. Make the best choice to keep them safe during the thrilling ride.

2. Tetherball

Ages 8 to Adult
Teatherball

Flying through the air not their thing? If not, keep their feet on the ground with tetherball.  I never remembered playing tetherball when I was growing up, but my kids picked it up in elementary school and caught the bug. For those not familiar, it is simply a metal pole with a ball on a rope connected to the top of the pole.  Two players take turns hitting the ball in opposite directions and trying to wrap the rope around the pole.  Whomever wraps the rope until the ball can't swing is the winner.

To do tetherball right, you really need to sink the pole into the ground 2 feet with a concrete footing. Avoid above-ground setups since they tend not to handle the rough play. Once installed, you and your family are in for a blast. My kids will spend hours playing tetherball, and I have to admit that sometimes I sneak out and join them.

3. Plant a Garden

Ages 3 to Adult
Kids Gardening

What ever happened to the days when kids were out getting dirty?  I grew up spending all afternoon outside and came home filthy.  For my own kids, we had to teach them that dirt and worms are OK.  

If this as important to you as our family, consider working with your children to start a garden.  It can be simple but let them have ownership of planting and managing the day-to-day of watering and weeding. Let them "dress up" the garden with a rock border. Either start from seeds or go grab some vegetable starts from your local nursery. Teach them about how seeds germinate and what they require to bear fruit.

If your kids are young, considering incorporating evening reading of related books like Oh Say Can You Seed?: All About Flowering Plants or From Seed to Plant

There are some fun kids gardening kits out there. Some of our favorites are:

4. Capture the Flag

Ages 8 to Adult
Capture the flag

Capture the Flag reminds me of summer camp, and who doesn't love summer camp. Why not enlist the neighborhood kids in a massive game. Tons of running around, stealth missions behind enemy lines, and screaming fun. In our house, we mix it up by playing Capture the Flag at night with glow in the dark props. It's a great way to get your thrill on.

5. Croquet

Ages 8 to Adult

Croquet conjures up thoughts of old ladies at country clubs, but it is actually a fun game that easily engages the whole family. From our little kids all the way to grandma, there is no mercy. Players take turns hitting their ball through 6 hoops setup in a specific pattern. The first person to reach the end wins. Should a player's ball hit an opponent's ball, they get to whack the opponent's ball away. That is where the fun happens...get through all the hoops, or go after your opponents?

At our house we mix it up by moving the hoops around the yard, creating a massive obstacle course to the end. Be creative!

6. Slip n' Slide

Ages 2 to Adult
Slip N Slide
Source: Shylah Anderson

Hot days mean water play, and nothing is better than an old school slip n' slide. There are tons of options on the market, but we favor the simple thick sheets of plastic. Skip the versions with the inflatable ramps and rafts and keep it simple.  They tend to get a hole and the whole thing gets thrown away. If possible, set it up on a hill and throw down a bit of dish soap to make it extra slippery.

We take it a bit further by making a full day water extravaganza with water balloons and super soaker guns.  No reason to be uncomfortable on those hot summer days.

7. Frisbee Golf

Ages 10 to Adult
Frisbee Golf
Source: Emily Bowman

Not sure when frisbee golf became a thing, but this is a great option for older kids. Like golf, you follow a course and go from basket to basket throwing your frisbee.

Start with getting a single basket and a few frisbees.  Keep in mind that these are not your typical frisbees and there is a wide array of options.  Each frisbee performs differently so a minimum set should include a driver, a mid-range and a putter.

Once your kids are hooked, look around your town for frisbee golf courses. More and more they are showing up in city parks.

8. Backyard Camping

Ages 3 to Adult

One of my kid bucket list items is to get out camping. Despite it being on the list, I rarely get to it since there is a fair amount of work planning and packing the gear, food, etc.

My compromise with the kids is to set the tent out in the backyard and fill it full of sleeping bags, blankets and pillows. The kids bring all the stuffed animals and create a fort during the day. When night rolls around, set them up with a lantern or headlamp to read and tell stories. If they are a bit nervous, go out and spend the night with them. If you really want to take it up a notch, hang a camping hammock between two trees, eat meals picnic style, buy some glow sticks, and light up a fire for s'mores.

9. Outdoor Explorer

Ages 3 to 8

Send your kids out on a bug hunt. Arm them with a magnifying glass, bug net, and mesh bug house. See what they discover and bring home. Consider getting a kid's bird book for your area and binoculars. See how many local birds they can identify! There is so much to see when you just take a moment to look. Teach them the amazing power of observation...it will serve them well as they grow up.

10. Trampoline

Ages 3 to Adult
Trampoline
Source: Norhanian

Finally, let's never forget the faithful trampoline. The fun can easily go on for hours and draw in the whole neighborhood. From a safety perspective, keep an eye on the number of kids bouncing at once and whether they are good about zipping up the netting as they go in and out.

If you already have a trampoline, consider spicing it up with a basketball net or water sprayers.

 

Have an idea we missed that works well at your house?  Drop us a line and let us know.

By: Richard Stark, Koddler
Published: 5/27/2019