Backyard basics for a summer of fun

Water park at home

This can be a lot of fun if you team up with other neighborhood parents. Each house can host its own activity: water balloon toss, slip and slide, sprinklers, car wash, water gun wars. All that splashing and running around is sure to make any kids ravenous. Break up the day with a potluck picnic.

Build a fairy or troll house

Fairy houses are all the rage right now, so take advantage of the trend to get your kids outside enjoying nature. These magical creatures are known to bring good luck wherever they go, so make your garden fairy- and troll-friendly with a specially designed house. Use empty milk cartons or cardboard boxes as the base, then cover them with materials collected from gardens or woods (look for dried natural materials like bark, twigs, stones and leaves) using a hot glue gun. Place the house in a quiet secluded part of the garden and encourage fairies and trolls with their favorite snacks-fairies love sprinkles, while trolls are partial to gummy worms. (That’s what our kids tell us.)

Build a mini-golf course

Instead of using plastic cups for the holes, use flower pots and designate each hole with gardening stakes. Have the kids make flags out of old fabric-T-shirts, rags, etc.-and tape them to the stakes. Then design your course, using household objects and the natural topography to increase difficulty and keep the game interesting. Hint: garage sales are great places to find cheap, sturdy, weather-resistant obstacles. If you have some old putters, use them. There are some cute mini-golf sets out there that are fun and easy for toddlers. At the end of the summer after the kids have been practicing on the backyard “course,” have a tournament.

Put on a talent show

This can be a great activity for the kids to do with their friends, or make it a production and invite the whole neighborhood to get involved. Not a performer? Every talent show needs a host. Aspiring artists and film producers can work on stage design, make a banner to hang behind the “stage” and film the performances. Kids will get a kick out of choreographing their routines and creating costumes-not to mention watching the show.

Sue Kirchner,

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