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Kids bouncing off the walls with all this stay-at-home business? That probably doesn’t even begin to describe it, right? Well, hate to break it to you, but there doesn’t seem to be much relief in sight. As America plunges into another round of social distancing restrictions thanks to an uptick in COVID-19, moms and dads need to get creative to keep kids occupied. Lucky for us, your backyard has a million solutions. We’ll cover our 9 favorite backyard ideas to keep kids active here.
Setting up an obstacle course is one of the easiest backyard ideas to keep kids active. You can literally use anything in your backyard to create a course. Fill up a kiddy pool, use plastic cones for turn-around points, set up tree branches as course markers, move stones in place to jump on. All it takes is looking at all the stuff in your backyard with fresh eyes.
Building balance beams is another backyard idea to keep your kids occupied. Balance beams can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them. The simplest balance beam is made from a single four-by-four. Just place it on a flat surface, paint it with a fun design if you like, and voila: balance beam. From there you can set up multiple four-by-fours at different heights, or even anchor them in ground for a more permanent play structure.
This is a fun backyard idea to keep the little busy. You can take an old tree stump, set it on the ground, and paint a tic tac toe grid on it. Next, find nine palm sized stones and paint them in any way you want. You can paint them as lady bugs, bees, frogs, or any other design of your kids’ choice.
OK, now when was the last time you played hide and seek with your kids? It’s fun. And it’s a great way to get your kids off the couch and moving in the backyard. Even better, give the winner a prize like a stash of stickers or choosing dinner.
Treehouses are pretty much the ultimate symbol of childhood. And every dad should attempt to build at least a simple one. No doubt treehouses can get wildly complicated, but the simplest designs are little more than a raised platform positioned around a tree. I built this one for my daughter last year, and she loves spending time reading and doing art projects in it. Get your kids to help in any way they can. It’s a great family project for kids to learn about tools and constructing plans from a drawing to the final product.
Another great way to get kids off the couch and moving. Start a family workout challenge once a week or more if you’re really motivated. See who can hold a plank the longest, who do the most jumping jacks, even who can “meditate” quietly the longest. (That’s right, we’re looking out for you, dad!)
Just plain fun and easy to build. I built a set with my daughter’s help in a day with a bunch of scrap wood I had lying around. You can get all professional about it if you want, but I’m thrilled with my DIY cornhole game made from beetle-kill boards. I used Home Depot’s plans for building my own cornhole game and it was a snap. That sounds like a very “dad” thing to say.
Put that tree you cut down last year to good use. Use it’s stumps the tree guys left behind to set up a stump jump game. Paint the tops of the logs to make it even more fun.
This one should go without saying, but I’ll put it out there anyway just in case it slipped your mind. Camping in the backyard is one of my favorite ideas for keeping not just kids, but the whole family active. It doesn’t take any planning and it’s a ton of fun.
There you have it. 9 backyard ideas to keep kids active while we’re in this whole COVID stay-at-home business. I’m sure you have plenty more, but I hope that gets you started.
Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.