I’ve recently been thinking about Spring being here and summer being on our doorstep. Spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons, but now that I have children I love them even more. Our boys are at magic ages of (almost) 4 and 2 years old. So much is still a new discovery for them and it is thrilling to watch their delight in the world around them.
I want my boys’ (and future children) childhoods to be rich with imagination, exploration, and good old physical fun.
I want to provide a simple atmosphere at home that spurs on these traits. Last summer I read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and this summer I am reading Boys Should Be Boys. Both of these books emphasize simple childhoods, where creativity and freedom are more important than fancy toys and an abundance of extracurricular activities. Being outside is a wonderful launching point for creating a childhood like this.
We are blessed with a yard that is a great balance of sun, shade, and woods. Once Spring is here, we are outside from the time after breakfast until nap time. Then back outside again after nap time. Of course, this is prevented some days by the weather, or chores, or errands that need to be completed. But it is generally how our days will be spent for the next few months.
A plan and structure is not necessary everyday when you take kids outside. Give them a bucket of water and some cups, and they will entertain themselves for an hour. Even so, there are some things that I want to be intentional about doing with my kids or about providing them with opportunities to experience. I know that unless I think about it ahead of time, many of these opportunities will pass me up. Having a list is also helpful for me to stay intentional and to work towards goals I have as a parent.
So here is our backyard bucket list for the summer. These activities are things that we can do with both minimal preparations and minimal cost. Partly to save time and money, and partly to help our kids learn to create their own fun and appreciate simple pleasures.
Backyard Bucket List
(in no particular order)
- Catch frogs
- Teach them to play freeze tag
- Make a worm observation jar
- Camp out in the backyard
- Plant something and watch it grow
- Use a tarp as an easy splash pad
- Learn to kick a soccer ball, then try to play this game
- Catch lightening bugs and put them in a jar for a nightlight
- Build a fort in the woods
- Paint outside
- Practice throwing a frisbee
- Learn to climb a tree
- “Cook” with outside materials
- Lay on the grass and find shapes in the clouds
- Make a cozy outdoor reading area and read together
- Wash the van
- Learn to identify plants and bugs from a book (I need this too!)
- Make an obstacle course
- Vinegar and baking soda rockets
- Play in a small pool (this one will probably be almost daily!)
- Hang up and paint new sheets for the bunk beds
- Invite friends over for a water balloon fight
- Do rubbings with various leaves
- Play in the mud
- Create play worlds that stretch the imagination
This list is in addition to the “normal” things the kids already do while playing outside– riding biking, playing in the sandbox, picnics, etc. I am hoping that a little intentionality on my part will lead to a summer full of fun, learning, and great memories.
What would you add to your backyard bucket list?