The arrival of warmer weather and longer days means one thing in our house: everyone spends more time in the garden. This is a really busy time of year gardening-wise, so I’m always pottering about with plants, and the kids just love being able to play outside and blow off steam.
I’m a huge fan of outdoor play. After being cooped-up indoors my kids’ mood visibly lifts when they head outside for some fresh air; it’s no surprise really, given that as adults we also experience the same effect. I also love the way that playing outside encourages imaginative games, more exercise, and time away from technology – not to mention the knock-on effect of less toys to tidy up indoors!
Garden games are a brilliant way to get the kids busy outside, and you really don’t need lots of equipment or money to create some really fun activities. Wayfair have asked me to share some ideas for garden games, to help inspire you to get out there and have some fun with the kids. Here are some easy ways to use your garden as an outdoor playroom this summer.
Your average garden has so much potential for some fun nature crafting. On a practical level, outdoor crafts keep the mess away from the house, and they’re also a great way to let children take the lead in how an activity progresses. A really simple option is to collect petals and do some flower pressing, or if your kids have found a real haul of nature treasure you could grab an empty flower pot and make a miniature garden with their finds.
Is there any limit to the fun you can have with sticks?! If like us you’ve got an impressive collection from trips to the park, put them to good use. They’re great for sorting activities (length, width, shape, texture and colour), they make brilliant wands, you can turn them into nests, use them to write in sand or soil, play pick-up sticks with them, or just stack them in a great big stick tower. We made stick noughts and crosses last year, which was a brilliant little craft that gave us a garden game we could use over and over again.
If you’ve got a really big stick collection, you could challenge the kids to build a den with them; you might need to lend a hand with the construction, but this is a fantastic activity for encouraging teamwork, logical thinking and, once the den is finished, imaginative play.
Invest in garden games
Creative outdoor play is lots of fun, but there are times when the grown-ups would like to sit back and relax. This is when having a selection of ready-to-play garden games that the kids can play on their own is ideal.
Traditional garden games like Quoits are always a hit, and because they’re quite portable you can pop them in the car boot for days out too. I also think a sandpit is just brilliant for creative play; when my kids play with sand they always get completely absorbed in building, pouring, measuring and creating a fantasy world.
If you have football fans in your house, a target goal is a great investment which will get lots of use. This one could easily be used for throwing balls or beanbags through the targets as well. For small gardens, a Portable Basketball System is ideal for burning off energy in limited space.
Little green fingers
Gardening is a great way to keep kids busy outdoors; they love the responsibility of growing their own plants, and of course the fact that they can get a bit grubby in the process is always a hit too. Sowing seeds is a quick, fun activity; you could try growing sunflowers, salad, or even courgettes with their names on (we love this one).
You can also make a game out of gardening jobs that actually help you out; my kids love watering the plants, collecting up dead flowerheads, and digging up weeds. Try to let them do it at their pace to keep it fun, and don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a water fight involved!
Hold your own sports day
If you need the kids to burn off energy, this is a great garden game. You don’t need lots of props either; egg and spoon races are easy to re-create using a ball instead of an egg for less mess, a relay race is great for all ages and just needs a baton (or one of those sticks), and if your children are a little older a three-legged race just needs some pieces of rope.
We love making an obstacle course too, using whatever toys we have to hand. Things like hula hoops, bouncy hoppers, balls and racquets, skipping ropes and a football to dribble all work really well. And if you’ve got a trampoline there are lots of simple trampoline games you can add in too.
It’s great to get the kids involved in choosing the events, and you can keep them busy creating a scoreboard while you get everything setup. Grown-ups can join in too for some good old family competition!
Engage with nature
Even if you’re not a keen gardener, there will be lots of things in your garden that kids can have fun exploring. You could go on a minibeast hunt, search for leaves with different shapes, listen to bird songs, and see if you can find any animal tracks. Or you can bring some science into the fun by studying the weather; this Discovery Box is a convenient way to measure wind, rain and temperature and record their results.
I find that nature games spark so much thought and imagination in my kids; they always come up with lots of questions and use what they discover to shape their play. If you’d like more inspiration on nature activities, The Woodland Trust has a fantastic collection of ideas which is well worth a look.
Have I inspired you to get out and have fun in the garden this summer? If you’d like some more ideas for garden games Wayfair have a wide range which you can check out here.
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I’m delighted to be working with Wayfair this year, as part of their ‘Home Experts’ programme. Look out for more home & garden inspiration over the next few months.