When the weather is good, it’s time for garden games with the children. Getting out in the garden is one of summer’s pleasures. That’s what I wrote 10 years ago now
But Summer 2020 is shaping up to be a weird one isn’t it? If you are lucky enough to have a garden it could become a veritable sanity saver over the next few months. It’s so good to get your children outside as much as you can, and especially now that there are precious few other places that you can take them.
So here is a rerun of that post I wrote 10 years ago. My kids are teenagers now and not using the garden so much. But these are the favourite garden games that we enjoyed when they were younger.
1. Water painting – an absolute favourite as it’s cheap and quick to get ready and has no lasting effects! Simply get an empty container of water and an old paint brush and set them off painting patterns, writing names or even a whole picture. Or how about water painting the car with soapy bubbly water…?
2. Open Air Art gallery – works in a very similar way but using chalks. Allocate the children some paving slabs each do draw their works of art on then they can give you a guided tour. Washes away easily with water or the next rainy day.
3. Be pirates – hide ‘treasure’ in a sand pit or patch of soil that is free for digging. The treasure can be anything from pegs to silver foil or sweets to real 1p coins. Award prizes for the pirate with most treasure.
4. Go on a bug hunt – This activity is great for walking slowly and quietly round the garden. See how many creepy crawlies you can find hiding under leaves and stones. A variation on this is to go into the garden straight after some rain and see how many worms you can find! You can do this with a camera, photographing the bugs if you are a bit squeamish about them catching and keeping them. See how many different bugs you can find, then go indoors and find out about them.
5. Fill it up – this is a game I remember playing at Brownies many years ago! Give each child a small container (a washed-out yoghurt pot or similar) and see who can collect the most different things that fit in it within 5/10/20 minutes. A good game for older children to play in teams with younger children.
6. Play camping – set up a ‘tent’ using an old blanket or sheet draped over a clothes airer, chairs or some canes. A great place to have a picnic as well. Collect sticks for a pretend campfire.
I’ve seen quite a few families even doing real camping in the back garden over the Easter holidays, in the absence of a real holiday to go to elsewhere. If you have a big tent, why not use it – it could be fun
7. A big box – most children have fantastic imaginations and just need some help to get it started. Have a look in the garage or loft to see if you have a spare box, otherwise, you may manage to find one at your local shop (supermarkets tend to flatten everything these days), and the bigger the better. It can become anything – a boat, a car, a space rocket, a shop, a castle – the variations are endless! If you haven’t got a box, what else could you find for them to use for imaginative play?
8. Sports day – this can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Start with some simple running races, and then you can try a sack race (a decent bin bag will suffice), an obstacle course, skipping or even an egg (hard-boiled) and spoon race. When I was younger I remember doing space hopper races, over hurdles, through the paddling pool and even space hopper showjumping
9. Target – again a nice simple one. Simply draw a series of targets, goalposts or shapes on a wall away from windows and get children to aim at them with a ball. If you are feeling adventurous you could let them use a wet sponge or water balloon.
Other things that you could use for target practice are a set of boules or skittles. Or how about putting a bucket or cup in the middle of the grass and encouraging your children to fill it with a water pistol?
10. Natural art – allow the children to collect leaves, grass, twigs, pebbles, feathers and anything else they can find and then use to create a collage picture, pattern or sculpture – can be done individually or all together. Take a photo as a reminder of their hard work.
Once they have been introduced to something, children will often play it over and over again, so these ideas should ensure a busy and happy summer in the garden! And if you have garden games ideas of your own please leave a comment and share the fun!