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10 backyard play ideas for children

January 19, 2021

When you have small children at home, it’s helpful to have some quick and easy fun and games up your sleeve to enjoy in the backyard.

Today we’ve got ten tried and tested activities that you can create from everyday items that you probably have around the house. 

1. Chalk

You really can’t beat the creativity that a packet of chalk can bring. Draw on the footpath, the fence, the driveway as you know it will all wash right off with water. Children can make patterns, draw hopscotch, they can guess what you’re drawing, and you can practice name recognition.

2. Animal race

Spread the children apart at one end of the garden with the adult at the other end. Shout out an animal that they have to pretend to be (such as a monkey, crab or emu) and then say 1, 2, 3 go! The first child to reach the adult after doing a good impression wins the race.

3. Teddy bear’s picnic

Grab all of the stuffed animals and your biggest blanket, you’re going on a picnic! Children love setting out the plastic cups and plates, and talking about what each person is going to bring. Time it so that you can serve up some real snacks too, and enjoy the alfresco dining experience (and fewer crumbs in your house).

4. Water wall

Grab your old milk bottles and pieces of pipe and attach them to a fence or piece of wood (either use a staple gun or put holes in them and fasten with plastic zip ties). Children will love pouring water in the top and seeing it fall through the different levels. 

5. Fly

Collect five or six sticks for this fun game. Lay them out in a row, about 30cm apart (depending on the age of the children playing).  Children line up and take turns running through, only placing one foot between two sticks at once. For the final jump, they go as far as they can and then choose one stick for another player to move to this spot. Then the game continues with the next runner. You get out by touching the stick with your foot or needing to take an extra step between two sticks. The winner is the last person left!

6. Giant water blob 

If you’ve got a flat area in your garden, this is a must try. Grab yourself some plastic sheeting, baking paper, food colouring and an iron because you’re going to make a giant water blob for the kids to jump and play on. Get the full tutorial here.

7. Scavenger hunt

Make a list of things that the children need to find in the garden, such as a peg, a feather, a brown leaf, a ball. The children tick items off the list as they collect them. Older children will also enjoy making a list for the others to find.

8. Mud pit

If you’ve got an old clam shell pool or wheelbarrow, make your own little mud pit for the kids to get their hands dirty in. Combine 2 parts potting mix to one part sand and mix it up with a little water. Add sticks, rocks, toy cars, army men, pipes, shovels, cake tins - anything goes! Extra water is a must to get things good and muddy, so grab some jugs or water bottles too.

9. Tightrope walk

If you’ve got the right trees for this, simply rig up a very low rope between two trees, and then another at their chest height, for the children to practice their balancing on. For the very little ones, you can even just lay a rope or plank of wood along the grass!

10. Slip n Slide

Grab a tarp or some plastic sheeting from the hardware shop, wet it with the hose and drizzle with some dishwashing liquid. Set the hose or sprinkler up so that it’s lightly spraying water on the tarp and let the fun begin!

Let the fun begin! Which of these will you try first? These are the sorts of fun activities that child care centres do every day. If you need to find child care for your little one, Toddle can help. Simply enter your postcode in the search box at the top of the page to start.

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Written by

Lee Price

Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.