This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
Transform Your Backyard Into A Kids Play Zone
According to a nationwide poll by Nature.com, less than 10 percent of children spend time outside every day.
While kids today are more invested in digital entertainment in their free time, outdoor play is extremely important for developing minds and bodies and establishing positive life habits.
In the US, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that children should spend at least one hour each day engaging in physical play. Most of this outdoor play and exercise should be aerobic, including activities such as running, jumping and swinging.
Younger children, especially those in preschool, are at a critical stage where they develop dexterity and skills from running, jumping, and spending time engaged in exercise. By turning your backyard into the ultimate play zone, you can help ensure that they are getting all of the active play that their young bodies and minds require.
Get creative and give your kids the ultimate backyard that they can call their own.
Fun Ideas for Your Backyard
Swing sets will get kids climbing, swinging, and jumping. These kinds of play structures will help to develop their muscles while they have fun, too!
Slip n’ Slide
If your kids can’t have a water park in the backyard, give them the next best thing!
Slip n’ Slides will keep kids cool in the hottest weather and will keep them running, jumping and sliding. As a much more economical alternative to swimming pools, slip n’ slides are a classic outdoor kids’ staple.
Your backyard will be the talk of the town when your kids have their very own homemade agility course.
Using some simple materials like plastic barrels, two-by-fours, logs and stumps, you can create an agility course. This one definitely requires parents and some real tools but the outcome is worth it. Saw the top and bottom off the barrel to create a tube to crawl through and secure it between four two-by-fours driven into the ground. Place stumps and logs strategically to give kids something to perch on and walk across.
Lots of garage sales (if you’re feeling thrifty) and toy stores (if you want something new) carry basketball hoops that are perfect for the driveway to create an awesome spot for after dinner hoop shooting and neighborhood fun battles.
A tree house is an old standby for kids everywhere.
Every kid (no matter how old) has wanted, or still wants, a tree house. Building a tree house is a great way for parents and kids to bond and creates a hideout that kids can call their own.
Create memories with your kids today that will last a lifetime. Just think, twenty-five years from now they will come back home to visit with their new families and remember all their quintessential childhood memories with you.
This one definitely requires adult supervision but swimming offers lots of mental and physical advantages.
If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool in your backyard, then take advantage of it. Swimming with friends fosters a sense of community and unity. In terms of physical development, swimming increase cardiovascular capacity and strengthens muscles.
Jumping on a trampoline is a super fun way to become and stay fit.
Rebound or trampoline exercise stimulates metabolism, improves balance and cardiovascular capacity and muscular definition. Compared to running, it is low impact so it protects joints. Most importantly it is so much fun so kids will want to jump nonstop!
With a bit of ingenuity and perhaps some borrowed plans from others who have created them before, homemade skateboard and bike ramps are a sure way to transform your backyard into a kids play zone.
Having some cool jumps and obstacles will encourage kids to hop on their boards and bikes for some extreme fun (helmets and pads required)!
Create an outdoor stage for the kids where they can put on all sorts of performances.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy or super expensive, just a place where kids are encouraged to perform and express themselves. This summer your kids will be hard at work putting together and rehearsing new shows to entertain you and the rest of the neighborhood parents. Encourage them to show their true colors and break out of the digital rut. You may be surprised by what the kids come up with and see a side of them you never knew existed.
Create a sand pit with a simple box frame made from decking boards, and staple some weed protection fabric to the bottom to allow for aeration. Fill your box with sand and there you have a little sand pit for the younger kids!
While it’s important for children of all ages to get outside for some exercise and fresh air, it’s also vital that parents and guardians remain vigilant. From increased sun exposure during summertime heat, to making sure kids are supervised, proper safety will ensure children have a great time and parents have peace of mind.
During the summer’s hot, sunny weather, parents should make sure that kids regularly apply sunscreen and stay hydrated. While kids are taking sunscreen and water breaks, stress the importance of staying in the designated backyard play area. Families with backyard fences generally have an easier job physically setting boundaries, but all families should discuss where kids can safely play.
According to experts at the Lorna Whiston preschool, it is important to ensure that the play area should be as safe as possible. While in preschool, it is important that adults, teachers, and supervisors are always available. Normal small rides can also turn dangerous if kids are left unsupervised
No matter how simple or complex, it is possible to give your kids an incredible backyard play experience that will encourage them to spend more time outdoors and away from the TV, computer or cell phone.
Help your kids to achieve one hour of active play right in their own back yard!
Give them an awesome space to bond with friends and family, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
About the Author
Andrew Hoffman is a freelance writer and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, who has written on behalf of a range of clients including the Livestrong Network and Demand Media.
In addition to writing about a range of topics, he enjoys surfing in Santa Monica and collecting classic, first-edition novels. You can reach out to him here.