Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Create a Backyard Oasis of Childhood Fun

This is the time of year where hours are spent outside and the backyard is used to its full potential. Fill your backyard with some easy, inexpensive and unique items to create a playtime fun place that will have all the neighborhood kids over to frolic. While backyard pools and sprinklers can’t be beat, here are some more ideas to really add to the fun.

Dollar Store Finds

Hit up the dollar store or the $1 aisle at Target for some inexpensive backyard bargains. Sidewalk chalk, glow necklaces, bubbles and sand toys can be found for bargain basement prices. Grab a few extra of the sidewalk chalk and bubbles to refill your fun arsenal as the summer progresses.


Water Painting

Fill squirt guns or spray bottles with liquid watercolors for hours of outdoor painting fun. Line the fence or an art easel with a big sheet of butcher paper and let the kids go to town! Soon you’ll have unique artwork and happy, messy kids who are easily cleaned up with run through the sprinkler.

Outdoor Cooking

Create an outdoor kitchen space using an old shelf or table. Scour thrift shops, garage sales and your kitchen drawers for old cups, bowls, measuring utensils, pots, spoons and more. Provide a waterproof apron if you are concerned about messes but leave the creativity to the kids for their nature-based concoctions.

Backyard Camping

Sleeping under the stars is delightful as a child (and for some as adults). Let your kids set up camp with a simple tent and some blankets. If you are worried about a soggy ground, set them up on a patio, deck or use old wood pallets covered in blankets as a floor covering. Dress them up with twinkle lights for a real show-stopping tent.


Giant Jenga

Make a giant Jenga game out of 2×4 boards. Cut them into forty-eight 10 1/2 inch pieces before sanding the ends and painting them, easy peasy. A Beautiful Mess has detailed directions on how to create this fun game. A few hours and you’ll have game pieces that will last for years to come.

Oversized Chalk Board

Craft up an oversized chalk board for your little artists following the directions from Hey There Home. All you need are a few items, a few hours and around $100 to create this masterpiece which should last your family for a long time and is another great use for Sidewalk Chalk. If you really want to make this easy, simply paint your fence with chalkboard paint and let your little Picassos go wild.

Mini Water Blobs

Your kids will go bonkers over these mini water blobs from Hello Wonderful. They are easy to make and so much fun to use. Water blobs are basically plastic sheeting filled with water. Kids (and some adults) use them to slide around on. They are also great for naps! The supplies for this project are simple – plastic sheeting, duct tape, parchment paper and water. If you want to get fancy, you can add some food coloring, glitter or confetti to the water.

Recycled Teeter Totter

This is a great project to clear out the garage of old lumber and even used tires! This is one backyard project that even the adults will be fighting over when it is complete. One tire makes two teeter totters so share one with the neighbors or keep both for yourself. Sugarbee Craftshas all the details on how to craft this awesome backyard toy.

Fairy Garden

Preschoolers love fairy gardens almost as much as fairies and are quite simple to make. Find a secluded and protected area in your backyard to start. Decorate the area with a simple fairy house by using a plain bird house and glamming it up with moss, fake flowers and other decorations. Fill the area with small trinkets, yarn and shiny objects. Crafts by Amanda has a delightful tutorial on starting a fairy garden. This is one project that should be as unique as your child.

Get Dirty

Sandboxes are wonderful places for creativity as are piles of dirt with rocks and small logs. Make a formal sandbox area using 2×4’s or pile a mound of dirt in a corner of your yard. Kids will love the freedom creating their own messy worlds using items from nature. This is one backyard project that doesn’t need much to be awesome.

Outdoor Summer Concert

Gather up some sturdy instruments from the dollar store, thrift store or at local garage sales for outdoor concert fun! Set up an area as a designated stage with a simple wooden pallet as a stage and maybe some old sheets as a curtain. Encourage your kids to put on a show, using their creativity to lead the way.