Backyard family fun might be an unusual topic in these very strange times, but when would be a better time spend it with family?
Usually we are all so busy working, socialising, fixing and just trying to get through the day.
Now, we are confined, cut off from the activities and people we love with constant worry regarding health, money and food.
Instead of panicking and viewing this time as negative, try to think of the positives.
We can’t control much in our lives right now, but we can spend time with our kids and family and build up those bonds. Take a moment to stop and appreciate our loved ones and make the best of every moment together.
For family you can’t visit right now, think of ways you can communicate. Video call, text messages, or apps like zoom allow you to still interact.
For those of us who live with children, it’s our job to keep them calm, entertained and give them the tools they need to thrive through this crisis and beyond.
Here are some fun and educational activities you and you family can enjoy while staying at home or in your own garden to keep us all calm while the world holds its breath.
Backyard Family Fun For The Whole Family
Wild Flower Seed Bombs
A simple way to keep the kids entertained is to make and plant some wildflower seed bombs for the bees
- or Poppy seeds to make these fun flower bombs.
Once made, simply pop these little bombs into an air tight tin or container.
The next time your able to go for a walk or your out in the garden, just pop one into an empty corner and wait for the magic to happen.
Make these little seed bombs by,
• Tear up some newspaper into small pieces and soak them in a bowl of water. Try squashing them with your hands to break them up a little.
• Once the paper is mushy, flatten a piece in your hand
• Sprinkle over some of your chosen seeds and then cover the seeds with more wet paper and roll into a ball.
• Squeeze out all the water. The drier you get the ball the quicker it will be ready to dry.
• Wrap your ball in coloured tissue paper to smooth the balls and keep any escaping seeds from falling off as it dries.
• Leave to dry for a couple of days for them to dry and then ‘plant’ them in an area in need of brightening up.
• We planted some on our favourite river walk, in a clearing in a patch of woodland near our home, and we put one in a pot at the front door so the kids can see the seedlings coming up close at hand.
Growing Your Seeds
It doesn’t take long for them to grow. It takes around 4-6 weeks and will grow quickly once you see the seedlings.
Try to water them if it doesn’t rain soon after planting.
Most annual flowers like poor soil, so you don’t need to worry about feeding them.
Pony Bead Sun Catchers.
Make your garden sparkle with a pony bead sun catcher. This is super easy to do and they look amazing.
Get Fit Gardening
The 5 most common resolutions people make at the start of the year include,
• To exercise more and get fit.
• To lose some weight.
• Learning a new skill.
• Saving money or at least spend less money.
• Spending more time with family and friends.
So, there are lots of self improvement goals there, but realistically, in our busy lives as parents, how are we meant to fit it all in??
Well now is a fantastic time. When will you ever have so much free time again.
When there’s a house full of kids all demanding your attention however, how do you forcus on your goals?
Well, there is one activity that would help you smash almost all of those goals and not cost you a lot of money in gym fees AND the kids can help too!
Get out in the garden and get fit, save money, grow food and bond with your family.
Mini Cress Heads
Turn egg shells or yogurt pots into mini cress heads. This is a super cute craft.
Simply clean out a yogurt pot or half an egg shell. Take a small piece of cotton wool and place it in your chosen ‘container’ pour in a little water to wet this cotton.
Let your little one sprinkle cress or lettuce seeds inside the decorate their egg or pot with pens sticker, feathers and what ever else takes your fancy.
You can also make cress heads using tights. Check out this video from Mr Bloom to find out how
Make A Nature Collage.
Go for long walks and collect little natural bits and bobs. Once home, clean your pickings.
Now give your kids a theme and let them make a picture using those bots. I.e. the theme could be ‘summer holiday, circus, or mountains.
Try growing some wierd vegetables to add a bit of interest in your plate
From purple carrots to green cauliflowers, there is so many different things to grow to keep things interesting and encourage your kids to eat healthy.
Woodland Scavenger Hunt.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a woodland near you for your daily exercise then download this sheet and keep entertained while your out.
Try Growing Food For Free
Want to grow your own food to help the family, but can’t get hold of seeds, so what do you do?
Well you can grow your kitchen left overs.
Did you know most of those little left-overs you stick in your compost or recycle bin can be used to grow lots of food with minimum effort.
A great activity for kids and a way to add to the famillies food stock.
- Take a slice of tomatoes or strawberries and plant it in a pot.
- Place the root end of a leek or celery in a dish of water and watch the tops regrow.
- Place a 3cm piece of carrot top or beetroot top into a shallow dish of water and you will regrow delicious salad leaves.
There is an incredible amount of left-overs you can try to regrow.
Press Some Flowers
Spring is the perfect time to pick some glorious coloured flowers and press them between some sheets of kitchen paper.
Twig Photo Frames
- Take 4 straight sticks about the width of a pencil.
- Using string, tie them together in the shape of a square.
- Print out your favourite picture of draw, paint and get creative.
- Now string your picture onto the frame.
Grow Beans In A Jar
This experiment was fascinating. To see up close how a seed produces roots was incredible.
This project is a great way to see not only the new growth that would be above the soil, but what goes on under the soil.
- Soak your beans overnight
- Fill a jar with wet kitchen paper and when your bean is soaked. Press it down the side of the jar-halfway
- After 2 or 3 days. You will see a root slowly make it’s way down the jar. Keep the paper moist.
Plant An Edible Hanging Basket
This activity was enjoyed by my youngest AJ.
We’ve recently redesigned our back garden and intended to hang 4 hanging baskets from the pergola.
We decided it would be fun to let AJ pick what to grow in them.
He chose strawberries so we planted them with some lettuce to fill the gaps.
We bought small plants from the garden centre but many supermarkets now sell trays of them too.
We planted them up and more importantly kept them watered for a flush of beautiful strawberries all summer
Backyard fun for the whole family, starts with the kids. Let them get into the garden and help you dig, water or plant right alongside you.
Build A Willow Wigwam
A willow wigwam can give kids so many play possibilties in the garden and it helps to emphasize how fun it is to work in the garden and give them the opportunity to have fun and be creative by themselves.
Hold Snail Hunts
Let the kids find and catch some snails around your garden. Look in all the rocky places. It won’t take long to find a few.
Most kids love beasts and bugs and my son is no exception. He’s fascinated with snails right now so this activity was perfect!
- Take a large piece of cardboard and draw 3 circles on it. Start with a small one in the middle. Then a larger one and finally a large one enclosing it all.
- Paint the circles to brighten it up. The centre being the start and the outer most circle is the finish line.
- Using tiny dot stickers. Write numbers on them and attach one to each snail shell. These should be removed when you return your snails to their homes.
- Put all your snails in the middle and see who’s snail makes it out first.
Please remember to release your snails unharmed some place safe after your mini challenges.
Hold A Sunflower Growing Competition.
This is a great activity to share with friends and family far and wide.
Everyone can start their own flowers and you can send pictures and messages comparing the heights.
Make a leaderboard and measure your prize winning flowers once a week.
Decide on a prize for the winners once normality resumes.
Your kids will be wowed by how quickly their seedlings catch up to them in height.
Give Your Kids Space.
If left to their own devices, kids can find lots to amuse themselves with.
They can make mud pies, dig holes, grow flowers and food. Build towers, find a kerb is also a balance beam and adopt a pet worm.
Whatever they decide to do, children need to have a sense of ownership to really get into a space.
Let them make mistakes and make a mess, it’s all fun and full of exploration and learning possibilties.
Learn How To Save Seeds.
Teach children the full circle of life seed to plate, save seeds to start again this year.
Feed Your Garden Birds.
Children love animals and they love to watch their garden birds.
Spend a fun afternoon making a range of yummy snacks for the birds and watch them vsit your garden. What treats do they prefer? Maybe you could make a chart and see what type of food each different kind of bird like best.
Make A Pizza Garden
Create a pizza garden of peppers, chillies, tomatoes, oregano, basil, rocket and red spring onions.
Kids love to make their own pizza especially with ingredients they’ve grown.
Build A Kids Play Area
Giving kids a space to call their own is really impotant, put their tools, chairs, mud kitchen and toys here and add somewhere they can dig and plant.
These have become all the rage recently.
It’s essentially an outdoor garden kitchen.
Ours is used for playing with mud, water, seed sowing, waterbeads and as a kitchen, so it has been well worth the money.
Not only used for bouncing around on, the kids love to sit on it for a picnic, while chatting to friends, stargazing and we lie under covers and so much more.
Maybe adding a piece or two would be a good investment right now.
Create A Wildlife Area.
Try adding a few elements to your garden and attract birds, bats, hedgehogs, moths and so much more.
Build A Den.
If or when your allowed to walk in the woods, try gathering some branches and twigs and see if you can come up with a den to play in.
You can also do this in the back garden if you have a spare corner.
Hang a hook from a fence of shed and drape material from. It and make a tent/tepee. Kids love this and its a great space to play, read and just get away from everyone for a little while.
My eldest Ed, is a Scout and loves the outdoors.
His uncle is a true Ray Mears type of man and they decided to try this out.
I think it turned out well, what do you think?? He was so happy with himself
- Start by finding a stick that’s longer than you are.
- Tie 2 sticks to the front to hold one end up off the ground.
- Now simple lean other sticks against this main framework, alternating sides to make a tent.
- Cover your bivouac with ferns, grass or anything else to have to camouflage your shelter.
Pet Rock Painting
Gather some rocks on your garden and get ready to paint
• Paint your rocks with white masonry or acrylic paint.
• Once they are dry, paint them like your favourite animal.
• Again let it dry then use a black permanent market to go over the lines and make your pet really stand out.
• Then, varnish with clear varnish-especially if your pet is going to live outside. (I use this spray varnish. Standing outdoors though and put some newspaper down. I decided to varnish a pebble on out glass outdoor table and completely ruined the shiny glass!)
• Once it’s dry, try adding googly eyes, whiskers even a tail to make a little pet.
• Use a hot glue gun to stick these legs on too.
• We even went so far as to make a little house from a cardboard tube and some wrapping paper.
Mini Growing Cans
This is an easy craft. And best of all it’s reusable. The can in the picture is one we made 5 years ago.
They’ve got a lovely rusted colour that looks FAB.
• Simply take a tin can one with a ring pull top is ideal.
• Take off the top ring pull part and recycle
• Turn the tin upside down and very carefully using a long nail and a hammer. Make some holes in the base
• Now, take a tin opener, carefully open the base and let the loose bottom now slide inside the can. It wont fall out of the bottom because on the ring pull top is slightly smaller.
• There you have it. Just fill with soil and pop in your favourite plant.
We used violas but lettuce, cress, ivy, marigolds, or any other small plant will do.
The tin containers do dry out quickly so make sure you check on them regularly.
Backyard Garden Wind Chimes
These spinners were super easy to make but do need a little adult help to cut the wire etc.
But beware these little guys are addictive.
Just beautiful, and if you watch carefully, as the spinner turns, the ball inside looks like its moving up and down. Find the instructions here
Make A Bug Hotel
You might not be too keen on creepy crawlies, but they are essential to a healthy garden. Not to mention great fun for kids.
Make A Sundial
A simple sundial is a fantastic way to show kids how the sun travels through the sky.
- Draw a sun on a sheet of yellow card.
- Repeat with red card.
- Cut a hole in the middle and push a stick through the middle into a pot behind to help it stand.
- Put your sundial in the sun, at 12pm mark one of the rays on the shadow of the stick. Every hour mark where the shadow falls
Bark And Texture Rubbing
Take rubbings of different surfaces and chop them up to make a texture picture.
Paint With Flowers and Herbs
What a great way to start a relationship with your garden: use flowers to paint with.
Collect flowers from your garden and use them as paintbrushes.
Make Flower Perfume
Ah this one reminded me of my childhood. The sweet rose smell is amazing and the kids love making it.
- Remove the petals and buds from a large rose head and 3 lavender heads if you have them.
- Boil them up with 2 cups of water.
- Leave for 15 minutes then cool. Strain into a jar and voila!
DIY Stepping Stones
Firstly, we lined the tins with oil, then cling film. I made up a thick mix of cement and water and we shovelled it into the tins.
We used a butterfly and a dinosaur.
To make sure there was no bubbles in the tins we used an old stick to mix and move the cement around into all the corners.
Afterwards, we tapped the tin on the ground to ensure there were no bubbles left.
We then left our stones to dry overnight before we removed them from the tins and then we unwrapped them and left them for a second day before we painted them.
Using acrylic paint to paint our design on them worked well as they seem to be lasting really well.
See these rock painting instructions above for more instructions on painting your stones.
We also filled aluminium trays with cement and the kids used beads, shells and buttons to make a design on the step stones.
Bottle Top Fun
We planned to use these bottle caps as a mat under our swing set as a play mat to hide the patches where the kids have worn away a patch of grass in the shape of a butterfly.
We are going to use the bottle caps to infill the space and protect the remaining grass while adding a colourful artwork to our space.
- First, remove a layer of soil so the bottle caps sit at the same level as the ground.
- Spread a thin layer of cement over the bare soil
- Lay out the bottle caps in your chosen design.
This time we chose a butterfly. What do you think??
Tic Tac Toe
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on plastic toys that never get played with but ruin the planet.
Why not try making your own?
In this craft we found a flat stone that we used with a hot glue gun to make the lines for our game board on the stone.
Next, we painted 10 stones with opposite colours on them as game pieces. There you go.
This Tic Tac Toe is a game that you can play indoors or leave outside as a garden game, ready and waiting for the next match.
We also made a mini pumpkin version for Halloween.
The rules for this game if you’ve never played it before…
Each player must take turns to place a stone on the 3×3 grid. The object is to be the 1st player to get 3 in a row.
Make A Salad Garden
Use left over soda bottles to make your very own salad garden.
Lettuce leaves are super easy to grow and are small enough to grow on a windowsill.
It is possible to have a full years worth of salad from your own tiny patch.
Lettuce in particular is a great plant to start growing with kids as it grows super quick so your kids don’t have to wait months to taste the fruits of their labour
There are so many simple, free and easy activities that don’t take a lot of set up, but have a huge impact on the fun scale.
This book called 365 Outdoor Activities you have to try and believe me it’s crammed full of ideas. Anytime the kids utter the words “i’m board” we open our book and get ideas from here.
Some of the ones we have tried include how to,
• Hang a flower curtain
• Build a butterfly feeder
• Look for space rocks
• Press flowers
• Leaf skeletons
• Make a rain gauge
• Grow mini pizza gardens
• Make your own seed tape
• Grow a butterfly garden
• How to measure a tree’s age
• Glow in the dark skittles
• Keep a nature journal
• Pinecone animals
• Plant a sock
• Make compost
• Make a toad abode and so many more.
A Brilliant Book
There is even a sheet of fun animal stickers to use as well as a sheet of star stickers to mark which ones you’ve tried.
So, don’t miss out any longer. Get this book and start having adventures today!
Seriously, from one mum to another, you won’t regret it!
So, there’s my epic list of backyard family fun activities you can get started on in your garden today.