School is out and the months of summer are beckoning. You may be planning a family vacation, but that still leaves a lot of free time for the kids. What a waste of glorious weather and fresh air if they spend it glued to their phones and all the other electronic devices that keep them holed up in their rooms. Especially when there’s so much fun to be had in your own backyard!

Summer Family Fun

For example, when’s the last time the whole family had a picnic breakfast outside as the birds woke up with the rising sun? Never, right? Well, what a way to start a great summer day. Okay, you can all take naps later, but at least once try greeting the real beauty of morning when you can run barefoot in grass damp with dew and watch the flowers open.

summer family fun

Hot summer afternoons absolutely call for mixing up lemonade from scratch or making your own ice cream or frozen pops, especially with fresh fruit you’ve grown yourself or gotten at the farmer’s market. Find a shady spot and enjoy your treats while you read a book, play Scrabble, or listen to music.

At the end of the day, how about pitching a tent and spending the night outside under the stars. See how many constellations you can find, catch fireflies, toast marshmallows in the fire pit or over the barbecue, and tell spooky stories. You don’t have to leave home to go camping.

There are lots of fun things to do in your own backyard all summer long, including playing games with the family and with neighbors and friends. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen and protect yourself from pesky biting insects.

Here are some good activities to try, most of which you can create yourself:

Miniature Golf

playing GolfImage Source: Flickr

Turn your lawn into a mini golf course. Design a pathway through the yard and outline itwith pool noodles. Instead of digging holes, use plastic cups on their sides. Be creative and cut out the castles and other obstacles from large cardboard cartons (or plywood if you’re handy with tools.) To enhance the course, decorate with the kids’ big plastic toys or whatever strikes your fancy, and borrow the kiddie pool to use as a water hazard. If you’ve got a sandbox to use as a sand trap, too, so much the better.


An alternative to golf is croquet, which uses a mallet instead of a club to hit balls through wire hoops set on a course in the lawn. Find the rules here. As a refined social activity, the game was very popular in Great Britain in the mid-1800s, so if you’re feeling particularly Victorian, you can combine an afternoon of croquet with a tea party geared toward the younger set. La di da!

Board Games

Jumbo versions of chess, checkers, and tic-tac-toe can be entirely DIY or you can find giant pre-made outdoor layouts and playing pieces online. If you’ve got enough people playing, everyone can actually take a place on the board.

Lawn Bowling

Fill10two-liter water or soda bottles with water or sand and set them up in a super-size alley you can line with those ever-useful pool noodles. Use play balls that are substantial enough to knock the pins over but not too heavy for little hands.

DIY Slip and Slide

slip and slide

This favorite hot weather activity can be made bigger and better than ever if you make your own giant-size slide. All you need is a roll of heavy-duty plastic sheeting like the kind painters use, and some tent stakes to hold down the corners. Frame the sides with — you guessed it — pool noodles if you want. Then squirt baby wash all over the surface to lubricate the slide and make it extra slippery, turn on a hose or sprinkler at the top of the slide, and set the kids free on it. Make the slide big enough, and you can join in the fun, too.

Races and Tosses

Time-honored picnic games like sack races, three-legged races, egg carry relays, and the like, are great ways to burn off energy. Quieter games that rely more on skill are ring tosses, horseshoes, corn hole boards, and any variation that you can think up using something to toss and something to toss it onto or into. You can even play these games after dusk if you make clever use of glow bracelets and necklaces to outline the targets.










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