“I’m booooored!!” Hands up if you’re only a few days into the summer holidays and you’ve already heard this eleventy-billion times? When I was young, making our own entertainment was something that came fairly naturally (although I’m sure my mum still had to hear ‘I’m bored’ some of the time!). But, these days, children seem to be losing the ability to make their own play. If they’re not on their tablets, consoles or phones, then they don’t seem to know what to do. So, it’s time to take it back to basics and make childhood fun again! Here are seven easy activities to do in the garden this summer – get the kids outside and using their imaginations again!
This is one of the simplest activities ever, but kids seem to love it! Simply give them a bucket of water and some paint brushes and let them go ‘paint’ any of the surfaces in the garden! Patios, fences, slides… it doesn’t matter what as it dries quickly anyway, but my kids have spent hours painting everything in sight, and it was a hugely popular activity at nursery too.
If ‘painting’ with water isn’t quite cutting it, and you’re feeling brave, why not get out the real paint, a few brushes and a large piece of paper (or several taped together), then set free your mini Jackson Pollocks? Splatter painting is not only fun, but it gets the muscles moving too. It’s best to wear old clothes for this one, and choose an area that it doesn’t matter if it gets a bit paint-y for a while!
Kids seem to love washing things, so why not make your own garden car wash? Grab some bowls of soapy water, some sponges and cloths and any cars, bikes and ride-ons that need a scrub. You can make a car wash ‘entrance’ too. If you have a large cardboard box, open up the ends and cut off one side to make a tunnel, then tape strips of old fabric (sheets, towels etc) to the front top edge for the cars to pass through on their way in!
Make a pond
A great way to encourage wildlife to your garden is to install a pond. However, this is neither cheap, nor practical for most of us, and can also be dangerous if you have littles. So, why not try a mini version? You’ll need an old plastic bowl, some rocks and stones, some rain water (or pond water if you can get it) and some aquatic plants.
Dig a hole somewhere not-too-sunny deep enough to sink the bowl into, so that the rim is flush with the ground. Add rocks and stones of different sizes (fishtank gravel is great too if you have any!) and make sure that some of the rocks offer a way in and out of the pond. Add your water and plants and then wait a while to see what turns up to investigate! This activity isn’t a quick win, but if something does come to live in your pond, it will be worth it! (Please be careful if you have very small children, as drowning can happen even in shallow water).
Go on an expedition
One of our favourite holiday activities when we were kids was to play at being explorers and it’s great for encouraging imagination. Get the kids to pack a backpack with what they think they’ll need for their expedition (and giggle to yourself at the random contents!) and make them a packed lunch. Then, go explore the garden! They can imagine each corner is a different terrain – the sandpit is a desert, the paddling pool a swamp and so on. Perhaps they’re climbing a mountain, or investigating a cave or a gloomy wood. Can they stop and build a shelter (old sheets are useful in the backpack!) and perhaps they can eat their picnic on the grassy plain? Their imagination can be limitless!
(This is also a good one for indoors if the weather isn’t so kind – the stairs can be a mountain, behind the sofa a cave, etc.)
Make perfumes and potions
Another favourite activity from my childhood was making perfumes and potions with my friend in the garden. The kids can collect flower petals, and soak them in water and pour into bottles for perfume, or they can add all manner of things to their potions; berries, leaves, twigs… just make sure you supervise younger ones who may be liable to eat things they shouldn’t!
This one takes a bit of planning on your part, but it should give you a bit of peace for a while! Hide a few ‘treasures’ around the garden – this could be sweets, small poundshop toys, money or whatever will motivate your child! Then, make them a treasure map so they can find them! When you make a cup of tea or coffee, pour a little into a container before you add your milk. Then use a brush to wash this over a piece of paper to give it an ‘aged map’ effect. Or use brown paper! You can either draw a map for younger children, or maybe you can come up with some clues for older children to follow so they can find their treasure. Why not go the whole-hog and get them dressed up as pirates too?
We even made a pirate ship so Tink could sail to the treasure island!
Do you have any favourite garden activities you like to do with the kids in the summer? Let me know in the comments! And let me know if you try any of these easy activities to do in the garden this summer!
Kelly is a mother of two – her son H and daughter Tink. H is home educated, Tink is autistic. Kelly is a self-employed Virtual Assistant… Life is busy!