Friday, 19 September 2014

Cheap and Easy Outdoor Play Ideas for Kids of All Ages Plus A Great Kids Giveaway!


*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Crazy Sales.

The Winter school holidays are great aren't they? There's so little pressure to do stuff when the weather is less than ordinary. It's wonderful to lounge about the house all day; eating, watching TV and rarely bothering to get dressed at all. However, kids do start to irritate us grownups pretty quick-smart in this season for reasons which need little explaining here!

Then there's glorious Spring with its patches of sunny warmth, blossoms and greenery and the glimmering promise of even greater things to come.

Spring is definitely the time of year to throw open the windows and doors and get the kiddos dusted off and marching for the garden.

Yet kids can be so difficult to push outdoors can't they? Who'd have thought kids need structure, tasks and incentive to play amongst the treasures to be found in their own backyard? I think that truth has to be one of the most surprising and startling discoveries in all my time as a parent:

...That kids don't just play, they often need encouragement to do so.

And so I have put together a list of tried and true sanity-saving outdoor play ideas that have been road tested by my brood or observed by myself when I do manage to get them into the garden. As the title suggests, they are either free or cheap and super easy and could well net you some much-craved 'me' time.

Imagine that?!


To begin with, most successful outdoor play sessions involve a parent. Before you freak out and yell "That most certainly is NOT me time!" - you don't necessarily have to participate; just be close or within viewing distance. Oddly, if I leave the door to the garden open, the kids will stay out there happily. If I shut the door, they're back inside in a flash! Just give them the impression of being available to them. Better yet, actually go outside and do something like gardening (which may just begin to involve the kids in itself), or simply read a book in the sun.

Guaranteed success without even trying!


Been cleaning out your kitchen cupboards this Spring? If you have old crockery, plastic cookware, mixing spoons and pans, pop these into a tub and give them to the kids to create with in your yard. My kids love it when I donate old kitchen stuff to their outside play. Before you know it, they'll be making mud pies, casseroles with grass or will simply be putting their collection of pots and pans to use by creating forts, bike paths or whatever in the corner of the yard.

Bug catchers: You can buy an official bug catcher for next to nothing at the toy shop or make your own easily with old plastic jars such as those used for peanut butters. Simply wash these well in the dishwasher so that the label comes off, punch some holes in the lid and pass them out to your kids. I give my kids access to handheld shovels and sometimes dessert spoons to dig with and collect their bugs. A magnifying glass to get a close-up look at their collections is a good idea to expand on this activity too. One season we found several huge praying mantis' which became much loved pets we kept for around a year - they even had 1000's of babies! Now that's successful bug catching for you!

Painting: Gather some old paint brushes and give the kids a bucket of water and position them at a wall or fence to 'paint.' Kids love this one! It's just like real painting with all the satisfaction of seeing something actually applied (water). Better yet, get them to 'paint' something that would benefit with a good clean such as a garage door or car.

Water pistols: With the return of the warmer weather, kids are keen to get wet and water pistols are a fun way to get everyone harmlessly involved. You can pick up a packet of cheap water pistols at your supermarket or newsagents for as little as $5. These provide hours of entertainment in the sun and there's little mess too.

Trampoline games: Most families have one so I've included it here. Kids don't need much encouragement to enjoy one of these. If you don't have one yet, chances are you can buy one cheaply second hand on a classifieds or auction website, or source one locally via your region's newspaper. We have a Springfree which has a safety net. I have observed my kids having a great game of ball on the trampoline many times. Basically, they collect every ball in their possession, climb into the trampoline and zip up the net - then they bounce along with all those balls! Lots of laughter to be had with this one!

Sandpit play: If you don't already possess one, you're missing out on some valuable me time. You can buy a 'shell' for a sandpit at most department and hardware stores for around $30 or less. Simply visit a hardware store and buy a few bags of sandpit sand (around $5-$6 a bag) and fill your vessel. Pop some toy cars, spades, dinosaurs etc into the pit and the kids are off... You can make a small bench top sand basin for tight play areas too (or younger ones) and place it on an outdoor table which has the added benefit of making sand play portable.

Outdoor pop up equipment: tunnels, teepees and tents. Many of these things can be bought cheaply and can provide hours of entertainment for the kids year after year. How about this great teepee and tunnel play tent from Crazy Sales? These are brilliant for keeping the kids off your back and pack away tidily when not in use. They can also be brought indoors for when the weather turns. Versatile play fun!


Leaf boats: I credit my Husband with this nifty invention which had my boys entertained outdoors for several hours last Summer. If your garden has some plants with nice big leaves and you don't mind sharing a few for the sake of craft, then this is your ideal water play activity. Fashion different leaves into boats of all shapes and sizes and secure their parts with toothpicks or thin sticks to make sails, rudders etc. See who can float their boat, race them and build improvements to your initial design.


Tree climbing: In this sterile world we live in these days, kids seem to miss out on the simple fun we ourselves had as children. If you have a decent tree, let the older kids climb it for some great exercise and adventure.


Chalk: Buy a cheap tub of pavement chalk and let the kids get creative on the path and walls at your home. Simple and pleasurable and best of all, it washes off in the rain or with a quick hose.

Hide and Seek: Quite simply, the best game ever. Sometimes I play this one and it still gives me an unnatural thrill! Why is this game so darn entertaining? I still do not know.

Finally, pop a basin of soapy water at the door and a bath towel so that kids can clean themselves up before entering the house when they are spent. This is an essential around here with so many kids and their constant grub and takes the edge off the housework for me. (It has been noted frequently that kids will play endlessly with this wash tub too!)


How would you like to win your very own
play tent combo as pictured here for your child?
Thanks to Crazy Sales, I have one to giveaway to a reader of
Six Little Hearts!

 
The Teepee Tunnel Play Tent is constructed in a versatile nylon and comes in bright attractive colours to lure the kids. There is a dome tent and a tepee tent which can connect via a tunnel, providing ample room for several kids to hide and crawl and construct imaginative adventures.
Five of my kids jam themselves into this at once and totally love it!

The tents construct easily via strung-together tent poles which interconnect and require very little thought to assemble. (There are instructions included if you're doubtful.) Best of all, this pop up tent set folds down to store in one small, round carry bag so when it's not in use, it's not taking up valuable space around your home.


The Teepee Tunnel Play Tent is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play being fully lined with rip-stop PVC waterproof flooring. It is sturdy and large and you can configure it to fit any available space. This great set is priced at just $39.95 plus postage, making it a small and worthwhile investment for your kids' long term enjoyment well into the future. What a great and impressive Christmas present to tuck away!
 
Please share the love! Let your friends know about this giveaway by shouting out about it on your social media. All options are below this post.
I really appreciate this so thank you in advance.
 
Entry is easy. Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.) Please note: Three of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the simple steps to ensure your entries count.
All winning entries drawn are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
This is a game of skill and the most creative / informative answer as deemed by the judge will win.
 
To Enter:
 
Follow the Rafflecopter App below to complete your mandatory entries, details and comment.
Important: Please leave your name along with your comment so that I can match your entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you find it hard to get your kids outdoors?
What games do your kids like to play outside?
Happy Holidays!
 
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts:
 
 

 


 
 
 

 
*Disclosure: Six Little Hearts received payment and product for this article.
 

69 comments:

  1. These Teepee Play Tunnel Tents are awesome as they would keep the kids busy for hours at a time & the fact that they can be used indoors makes them a big winner :)

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  2. My kids don't have a backyard yet! We've been renovating for four years so have never had one. They should have one by Christmas - Santa and relatives are bringing swing sets, outdoor chairs, seesaws and all manner of outdoor playthings. This would be perfect with it! (Judging by park visits, the slide will get the most use!)

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  3. They love a good treasure hunt!
    Karina L

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  4. When the weather turns warm, I set up the slip-n-slide on our gentle slope! Great exercise running up the hill and sliding down it, plus a great way to cool off in the warmer weather :) (Stacey Shailer)

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  5. Dora is definitely an ourdoorsy kinda gal. She loves catching bugs and often runs to me with some sort of critter wriggling in her hand. "Do you like it mummy?" she'll ask... I nod and send her back to the garden quick smart. Creepy crawlies are not my cup of tea at all.

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    1. PS. Love your play ideas and that little window licker :)

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  6. That's look super entertaining for two little guys!

    We have big fans of outdoor play here. Mostly they love the sand pit but a bit of chalk and painting the bricks are popular too.

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  7. My 3 Year old loves picnics with all his toys.

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  8. Cheryl Moulton
    fairybluewren@gmail.com
    My boys just love getting out of doors and getting filthy to be honest, if there is a puddle they are in it, if not then dirt will do, they love their tent because it can have a great variety of names a cubby, a fort, dads' shed, a castle whatever the game they have a ball

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  9. Mr 5 loves making swamps. Our backyard has a massive tree that covers most of the backyard so there isn't a great deal of grass, which suits Mr 5 perfectly. He drives his trucks through the swamps and makes roads through the whole thing. The shady backyard means that I can settle into a chair with a book while he plays happily.

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  10. Her favourite activity at the moment is kicking her big ball around with me and daddy. Although shes showing a keen interest in water play so I'm on the hunt for a sand and water play table that I can set up outside. After the bathroom is finally finished being renovated the backyard is the next project on our list and this play tent combo would be a great addition to what I already have planned.

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  12. My kids put shows on in our small yard. I have to sit and watch and clap in the right places :-)

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  13. Baseball and adding leaves/mud to a little bug aquarium.

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  14. My Little Ladybird's favourite backyard game is "Stalk the Cat." Perhaps if she has one of these fab teepee tunnel tents, the poor cat will get some respite! Thanks for the reminder to start squirrelling away Chrissy Pressies! Xx

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    1. Now I know all about the kids and the cat. One of my boys used to pick our poor moggy up by the tale like a teapot. Poor puss should get some respite now that your little one will be enjoying playing inside this instead. Congratulations! I will be in touch...:D

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  15. My little girl is only 1 but we love being able to be able to go outside and play at the park or have a ride in the trike and fall asleep - loop sided haha!

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  16. My toddler is not an indoors kid at all. He is all trucks and his 'footy ball'. He loves kicking around with the kelpie and watering the flowers.

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  17. Playing in the sand and playing ball with their siblings, lots of fun!

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  18. Putting out bread scraps, or seed, on the lawn and watching the birds feed on it!

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  19. Linda hynson-Mine love playing hide and seek in the Garden!!

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  20. My son Jaxon loves playing in the sandpit and going on the swings.
    Thanks,

    Ebony Carr

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  21. My kids love playing hide and seek outdoors.

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  22. As we've just moved to an acreage, their favourite outdoor activity is building cubbies in the trees!

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  23. Making cubbies and playing hide and seek they love to play and create.
    Mellie Jane

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  24. My kids love to get outside and make mud pies or pick flowers, to make a posy, or just make colourful 'soup'. They love nothing more though, than meeting up with the neighbourhood kids to have a good play :)

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  25. These are all great ideas! There is so much pressure to get our kids outside playing and in this technology driven world, it is dang hard!!

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  26. I love the leaf boat idea, brilliant!
    My toddlers love to play with all of the rocks and pebbles in the garden.

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  27. My little one loves playing the ball in the backyard.

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  28. My daughter wonders through the garden talking to snails and butterflies and other creepy crawlies, next you find her making mud pies or casting enchanting spells on the flowers, filled with a creative mind and lots of energy she has endless hours of fun in our garden!! suzanne sims suzie_2468@yahoo.com.au

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  29. My daughter meticulously organises teddy bear tea parties in our backyard (lucky them!)... I know she'd be inviting teddies to tea parties in the tepee if she had this play tent combo!
    Joanna Hegazy - jo_hegazy@outlook.com

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  30. My kids love playing outside. I have no issues getting them out there. It's hard to keep them inside when the weather is bad. But now that it is nice they want to get outside and play with their 'outside toys' and their water table. Some great suggestions here. #TeamMM

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  31. he loves being pushed on the swings or in his car

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  32. we've just started playing duck duck goose at the park with our little mates. The children absolutely love this game and we are in the fresh air, being quite active at the same time

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  33. These are some great ideas.
    My kids love being outside and always seem to be able to make their own fun. I am bookmarking this for the day they say they are bored!!

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  34. My 17 month old is always eager to play outdoors. Now in the morning she runs to the door and says "pay? (play) out?"

    Her favourite things to do are run past the duck pond and admire the waterlife, collect leaves, get chased by mummy through the park, bang on the hanging pots and pans and play on ANY equipment.

    Even though we're renovating our backyard at the moment we still enjoy the outdoors everyday by watering the garden and heading to the local parks.

    I love having a free range, outdoor-loving baby!

    Michelle.sheriff@hotmail.com

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  35. playing with the animals - we have a dog and rabbit they enjoy spending time with

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  36. Favourite outdoor game - well much to my husband's disgust, they love to swing from the Hills Hoist. They grab each others legs or arms and swing each other around at great speeds. Mr 10 also thinks its cool to blast his sisters with the water pistol. As I got sick of hanging washing out to be pooped on by the birds, I use a line under the verandah. So it's a piece of equipment just waiting for activity.

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  37. It is strange that children need to be encourage to be outside. We find the same thing. My trick is to go outside and spend a few moments with them, then go inside. For whatever reason, they just need this tiny bit of encouragement to start.

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  38. We like to play soccer with my son outside!

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  39. sapna sharma

    Being detectives and going on a bug hunt is their favourite outdoor game....

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  40. My boys are loving our backyard at the moment, with 4 new chickens to play with. They keep my boys entertained for hours. Just like the small patch of dirt.

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  41. The trampoline is my kids favourite. every Summer its the same, me having to call them in at least 3 times for dinner. Though I do love listening to their squeals and giggles out the window while I cook dinner

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  42. my kids love playing with chalk outside, drawing pictures, playing hopscotch and more games, plus it all washes off when it rains so they can start all over again!
    Narelle Rock

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  43. My kids love a game I made up for them like treasure hunt but we call it treasure find! I make a list of things (depending where we are, season, weather, etc) and they have to find the things THEN make a collage of their find. I find myself running out of things to find!

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  44. Karolina Hartinger1 October 2014 at 05:32

    Laying in the grass, looking at the clouds, then guess what animal you can see is a favourite pastime for my grandkids.

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  45. Chantelle Cocks (McRobertson)1 October 2014 at 06:52

    My kids love playing hide and seek

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  46. My kiddies love playing hide and seek

    Karen Edwards

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  47. My son loves his trampoline although it gives me heart palpitations.

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  48. I remember our kids finger-painting on a small table outside, plus there was their cute cubby house that hubby built! Who knows what our twin baby grand-daughters will love doing, but the Teepee Tunnel Play Tent would bring heaps of imaginative fun!

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  49. My toddlers love making cubbies out of sheets and chairs, picnics, blowing bubbles and exploring using plastic magnifying glasses that we found at a cheap store.

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  50. Sonia Wilson Perfect give for my spunky Nephew

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  51. Playing with bubbles outside is the best fun!

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  52. My boys love digging for icky sticky worms. :)

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  53. playing on his swing set, loves swinging on the monkey bars

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    1. sorry forgot my name Dierdre Wilkinson

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  54. As summer approaches the slip n slide comes out and its fun for all :) we then play and get sandy in the sand pit then slide and wash!!!

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  55. Fav game is definitely chasey and hide and seek :)
    kersan30@yahoo.com.au

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  56. My little boy loves just being outside whether it be playing in his sandpit, kicking a ball or chasing the dogs. Megan Higgs

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  57. Hide and seek - it's an oldie but a goodie ;)
    - Aleisha Davidson

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  58. Our favourite game is either hide & seek or "exploring" where we search for bugs, insects, animals and other creepy crawlers to take photo's of them and learn more about them :)

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  59. Thank you for your outstanding post on easy and cheap outdoor play ideas. A trampoline is considered as the both indoor and outdoor playing tool. Trampolines provide great fun for whoever may be bouncing on it. If you are thinking of buying a trampoline for your children to use. it is very important to ensure that you choose one with an enclosure or tent. From the best trampoline reviews chart you may collect the best one for your children.

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