It's summer! That means it's the perfect time for kids to get out of the house. Planning a vacation to an exciting outdoor destination with the whole family can get complicated and expensive. If you can't quite fit a trip away from home into your family budget this year, make your backyard into a fun outdoor destination.
Plan a backyard camping weekend
You can have all the fun of camping, without spending anything on gas money. To make sure the kids have as much fun as they would on a vacation, fill the weekend with fun outdoor activities for kids.
1. Turn your backyard grill into a campfire.
Make s'mores and hot dogs on a stick. Once it gets dark, you can sing songs and tell scary stories while sitting around it.
Here are some camping recipes, and song and story ideas for inspiration:
2. Set up your "tent."
If your family already has a camping tent, use it. If not, you don't have to spend any money to buy one, you can make a spontaneous shelter out of materials you have around your house.
You can build a fort out of blankets, pillows, boxes or whatever else you have around the house. Be sure to check the weather in advance so all your stuff doesn't end up soaked and muddy, but if you've got a clear weekend ahead, go for it!
3. Use your surroundings for fun.
You might not feel as close to nature in your backyard as you would in a national park, but it's definitely still there!
- Go exploring. See who can find the highest number of different natural items in the backyard.
- Download a bird-calling app and practice calling. See if you can identify the different types of birds that show up.
- Make out shapes in the clouds and come up with stories based on what you see.
- Do nature rubbings of bark, stones, patio cement, planters, etc.
- Have a star-counting competition. See if you can identify the different star constellations.
Bonus summer activities for kids
To fill the time during your backyard camping weekend, or throughout the rest of the summer, here are a few other fun outdoor activities for kids:
- Develop adventure stories set in your backyard. Bury some old toys and draw a map to the "buried treasure." It can be your own personal geocaching adventure.
- Turn your backyard bugs and birds into characters with elaborate back-stories.
- Make homemade bird feeders.
- Learn Morse code and send messages across the backyard with flashlights at night.
- Turn your empty old soda bottles into bowling pins. Read Rip Van Winkle and act out the bowling scene in the backyard with your bowling pins and some root beer. You can even add in some fake beards.
- Sing My Darling Clementine while wearing tissue boxes as shoes.
The backyard can be easily turned into any number of fun summer activities. What games and activities do your kids usually come up with in the backyard during the summer?