Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tips for Making Backyard Play More Fun

I'm excited to share that next week I'm the featured ambassador for the Nature Rocks organization. Nature Rocks is a wonderful movement that encourages families to spend more time outdoors, connecting with nature. It's an idea that my family tries to live out each and every day. So for the next two weeks, I'll be posting some of my tips for enjoying time outside with kids. Be sure to like Nature Rocks on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, where they'll start sharing my tips beginning next week. If you're new to Arrows Sent Forth, you can read more about my family and I here.

Today's tip is to make backyard play more fun.

Seems pretty obvious. Yet I see far too many families (many of whom line my own street) that get stuck in a rut of boring playtime outside. And by July they never venture past their air conditioned doors. So remember to mix it up! Here are a few ideas:

1. Bring your favorite inside toys outside! Big Arrow loves to bring Lightening McQueen outside and together we play hide and go seek with him. Or he shoots him down our little slide. We've had outdoor picnics with play food. We sometimes color on our patio table. And our paintbrushes and a cup of water often join us in the driveway for some summer time "painting."

2. Make natural elements toys! Big Arrow often digs with shovels and tractors in a small patch of gravel we have along our house. Instant (and cheap) sandbox. We have pretended to fish with sticks, made towers with rocks, and sprinkled grass like fairy dust.

3. Get crafty! With the popularity of sites like Pinterest, it's very easy to discover nature-inspired crafts. Not only can you find many of the supplies you'll need right in your own backyard, but you can often assemble your crafts outside as well. That sure makes clean up a lot easier!

       A few I want to try with Big Arrow:
  • Leaving brightly colored rocks around town to brighten a stranger's day.

  • Grow some plants.

  • Make a nature-inspired collage.

I pin a lot of nature-inspired craft ideas on my Toddler Activities board on Pinterest. If you need more inspiration, you'll find lots of ideas on the Nature Rocks website.

4. Let them be. Big Arrow tends to have the most fun outdoors when I just let him wander around the yard and use his own imagination. Not only does this mean I get to relax, but it is truly a delight to see what he dreams up to fill his time outdoors. He has dug for buried treasures, gone on "hikes" along our back fence, and pranced along the sidewalk to the music that plays inside every 2-year-old's head.

About a year ago, I wrote another post about Nature in our Backyard that expands upon some of my thoughts. I'd love to know how you make backyard play more fun. Please leave a comment!

Next up: On Tuesday I'll be posting about exploring the natural elements in your yard and neighborhood more deeply.


  1. Though they seem simple, these are great ideas. I find that my kids have more fun in yards that are less manicured, more wild. We have some friends whose yards are almost perfect, too sterile. It's hard for them to let their imaginations go. Allowing a bit of wildness would help a lot. :) And when I am outside with the kids, working or playing, they are more likely to want to stay out longer.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jennifer! Yes, we definitely do NOT have a perfectly manicured yard. And now I can use your comment as an excuse for letting the grass grow way too long! ;)

  2. Great post! This is the first year that my little one is really mobile in the yard, and I am amazed at the many things she can find to amuse herself with at just 20 months. Rocks are a big draw! We've also started a garden together, and she is very into watering the plants with her little watering can. And I agree with jennifer - a yard a bit on the wild side is SO much more fun!

    1. Just explored your blog a little Jen, I love it! Your daughter is at an awesome age for outdoor exploration! The first summer that my son could walk was one discovery after another for him... so fun to watch! Thanks for the comment!