With summer upon us – and it actually has felt like summer this year for once (!) – you’re able to get outside and play with the kids. The TV can be switched off, the crafty stuff can be tidied away, the tablet can be hidden and the toys can be left to gather dust. This does create a challenge though as the emphasis changes from doing things in the house to trying to find fun activities to do in the garden.
Considering that we only have a few nice days each year in the UK, it’s not surprising that you can feel a bit lost when you open your back doors (not a euphemism) and let the kids into the garden. They can kick a ball, look for mini beasts and rediscover their play house, but it’s often not that long before you hear stuff like “Daddy, I’m bored” or “Mummy, can I come back inside?”.
So, it’s important to have a few simple, yet fun, ways to entertain your children in the garden during the summer months. We’ve always found that activities featuring water and ice are a big hit – probably because it can be messy, is different to stuff they do in the colder months and has the added benefit of cooling them down when the sun is out.
As such, I thought I’d share a few fun ways that the kids can cool off on a hot summer day. So rub on the sun cream, pop on their hat, get them in their swimming stuff and try some of these fun garden activities for the kids which revolve around water and ice:
1) Water Painting
Give them a paint brush and a tub of water, then let them ‘paint’ whatever they want outside. The floor, the wall, the fence, the table, the grass – nothing is out of bounds because the beauty of water painting is that it soon dries up and disappears! For that educational touch, you can ask them to draw shapes, people, numbers and letters. For that immature touch, you can draw an erect cock when they’re not looking.
2) Homemade Sprinkler
Can’t be arsed to head out to the overcrowded splash park? Then bring it to you with this homemade sprinkler – of course, if you have a real sprinkler, use that instead! But, if you’re like us who just own a hose, then this is a quick way to make one. All you need is a plastic bottle, a pin, some duct tape and a hose pipe.
Pop a few rows of holes into the bottle with the pin, feed the pipe into the bottle, then secure it with the tape. When you turn on the tap, water should fill the bottle and then spurt out of the tiny holes when the bottle is full and pressure builds. Your little ones – and you – will have loads of fun jumping over and running around the bottle whilst trying to avoid the spray. It’s pretty good to water your grass too!
3) Frozen Toys
No, I’m not referring to the Disney classic. Instead, pop a few small toys into some water, then stick into the freezer for a few hours. Obviously, you need something to put the water into – try ice cube trays, yogurt pots, Tupperware boxes, lolly moulds (we have these) etc. Any ‘vessel’ is game as long as you can pop out the ice and toy once it’s frozen.
Next, stick the ice into a tray, give your kids some implements, then let them try to free their beloved toys from the ice. As the ice melts, it’ll become easier for them to be ‘saved’. You could also add a few drops of food colouring at the freezing stage in order to make the ice pretty colours. That’s classed as ‘sensory play’, right?
4) Paddling Pool
It can’t be classed as summer until the paddling pool has made its annual appearance – even if that appearance is just for two days of the year. A paddling pool costs very little these days but can provide hours of entertainment for the kids – for instance, our cool pirate one was just £17 in the sale.
It may take three years to fill up with water, but once achieved, your kids will love having their own mini-pool to paddle and splash about in – a great way to cool down. For that bit of extra fun, introduce some bath toys or ball pit balls so they have something to play with whilst in there, or you could even add bubble bath. Just make sure you’ve budgeted for the increased water bills!
5) Water Balloons
Is there anything more fun than lobbing a water balloon at your kid’s head? Yes, there is – lobbing multiple water balloons at your kid’s head! We introduced L to water balloons this summer and she loved them – well, she loved throwing them at me but was less keen to have them thrown at her! You can buy water balloons really cheap if you’re happy to spend the time filling and tying them individually.
Alternatively, you can spend a few quid more to get individual self-sealing ones, or even self-sealing ones that allow you to make 100 balloons in 60 seconds like these. It’s then just a matter of throwing them – whether it’s a full on water balloon fight, taking it in turns to throw at each other, lobbing them at unsuspecting passers by (shhh…) or throwing them up in the air and seeing who makes the biggest splash area.
6) Water Balloon Pinata
Water Balloons aren’t just good for throwing at each other – they can also be used to make a splashy pinata game. All you need are some water balloons (obviously!), somewhere to hang them (like a washing line), something to hit them with (like a stick) and some outdoor space – it’s a little messy doing this inside.
Simply fill the water balloons with water and tie them to the washing line – the none self-sealing ones (like these) are good for this as you can ensure you have enough balloon end left for tying to the line. You then hit the balloons with the stick to try to make them explode. How you ‘play’ is up to you, but a few ideas include simply taking it in turns, timing how fast you can pop them all or trying to pop them in a certain colour order.
7) Make Your Own Lollies
One of the perks of summer is being able to eat ice-cream / lollies / sorbet each and every day. Although this isn’t great on the waistline, it’s even worse on the wallet. Sure, you can buy multi-packs in the supermarket rather than visiting the ice-cream van, but it’s still bloody pricey. So, in order to save some moolah and entertain the kids, why not make your own?
You can go as complex as you like, but at the basic level, just stick some squash or juice into lolly moulds (again, we use these). If you’re a little more adventurous, then how about frozen fruit smoothies by just blending different fruit together? Our favourite though is a healthy chocolate ice-cream made by blending natural yogurt, cocoa powder, banana, vanilla extract and honey. Yummers.
8) Wash Station
If your kids are anything like mine, then they’ll like a bit of imaginative play. I love seeing our daughter copy and reenact things she sees on a daily basis, so I try to build this into activities she does. One of the fun ways of doing this in summer is by creating a wash station.
You don’t need much – just grab a tray or bucket and fill it with warm, soapy water. They can then use this for pretend play – whether it’s washing their toy kitchen utensils, giving their dolls, dinosaurs and animals a bath, or even valetting their scooter, bike or ride-on toys. Not only will they have fun and cool down, but it won’t be long before you’ve got them washing the dirty pots for real or hosing down your car on the drive!
9) Water Pistols
The last of the activities we have is water pistols – something I introduced our daughter to for the first time this year. Similar to water balloons, she was more than happy being the predator but was less appreciative of being the prey. I bought a couple of cheap ones that’d do the job this summer, but I’ll definitely be upgrading to a Super Soaker in the future – who knows, I might even get her one too! Once you get over the weirdness of pointing a gun at your kid and pulling the trigger, you’re bound to have loads of fun – just remember to work on your gun-shooting film references. “Hasta la vista, baby.”
So those are nine different water and ice based garden activities for the kids this summer. What do your kids enjoy doing in the garden when it’s hot? Are there any activities you’d add to the list? Let me know below!
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