Backyard play ideas?
April 29, 2009 4:27 AM   Subscribe

What awesome backyard toys/ games/ activities do you have set up?

I am especially interested in trampoline recommendations and anything creative/ out of the ordinary, but all responses are encouraged. We have a swingset/slide/playhouse already and a large yard.
posted by hellboundforcheddar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
One of the things my kids really loved was the way I planned the garden when they were quite small. A circle in the centre (with a tree in it), a path around that, and then four gardens around the outside, so four paths came off the centre one. There was all sorts of running around, chasing, indigenous people vs invaders sort of game playing. It was mostly herbs, so they were very hardy plants and could handle a tumble once in a while. One time the kids stripped the hydrangea and sprinkled the petals over the lawn because they wanted to see what snow looked like.

We had a sandpit for a while but keeping that covered up from the neighbourhood cats was an issue. But I got to tell you, dirt and water was one of the funnest things. They ran the hose under the house (where there was no concrete, obviously) and created rivers and made little bridges and roads for their matchbox cars. Hours of fun. Mud pies. That sort of thing.

Yeah, good times.
posted by b33j at 4:41 AM on April 29, 2009

horseshoes? I've always enjoyed playing, but it will absolutely destroy the area of the yard you are playing it on.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:42 AM on April 29, 2009

How timely! I plan to spend this afternoon setting up the 4' version of these - Domeclimber. My only feedback at this point is 'wow, what a heavy box', but hopefully that will change tomorrow.

Also if you can find an older copy of The Fathers Almanac it is full of do it yourself backyard setups and interesting play structures. I'm not sure if the revised newer version has the same information.
posted by true at 4:47 AM on April 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

posted by imjustsaying at 4:51 AM on April 29, 2009

So this might be a bit difficult to explain, and I'm not entirely sure I remember the scoring system properly, but the most fun "lawn game" I've ever played involved two "goals" constructed out of PVC piping, maybe 1inch diameter, and it looked like this from the front:
And at the bottom was a square that went behind it to provide support and make it stand up. The game was played by setting these two up facing each other about 10-12 yards apart. Then you and a partner would toss what I think were two golf balls attached together with a thin rope, about 15 inches long or so, and try to have it wrap around any part of the opponents goal. You both would go, then they both would go. Usually underhand, so they would kind of swing through the air, but there were no set rules, you could grab both balls in one hand and toss, whatever you thought would work. I think it was played to 21, and the middle bar was worth 3pts, the top 2pts, and if the string was lying across or over anywhere else, 1pt.

It was incredibly fun, because it required some skill, but a fair amount of luck, too, since the golf balls would bounce wildly off the pvc piping. This bouncing also added a small (though easily avoidable) sense of danger. If you want more detailed instructions/rules/construction tips, mefimail me, and I will get in touch with the guy who had built it in his yard.
posted by Grither at 4:55 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've heard Grither's game called Hillbilly Golf, although from the link it looks like there are many names.
posted by true at 4:58 AM on April 29, 2009

true: That is exactly it!! I love that game. So basically ignore my post, and follow the link, as it's got instructions, rules, pictures. Everything I wish my post had been able to provide.

Oh yeah, and you and your partner are on opposite sides, so you can knock off your opponents balls when you through, as indicated on that site. Great fun!
posted by Grither at 5:13 AM on April 29, 2009

Seconding cornhole. It's irresistible, in that just-one-more-game way.
posted by jbickers at 5:29 AM on April 29, 2009

Oh my. Throw, not through. Apologies.
posted by Grither at 5:55 AM on April 29, 2009

Do you have a large enough tree to accommodate a tire swing? My daughter just loved hers. Also, if you do have a large tree, then build a tree house, or even just a platform of some kind. Or just encourage your kids to climb the tree. Not enough tree-climbing by the youngsters these days in this old lady's opinion.

You can get sandboxes with covers. I spent my entire childhood in a sandbox. My child self would have scoffed at the linked turtle, because my dad made us one that was at least twice as big, including the removable cover. Every spring we'd make the trip to the garden supply store for a trunkload of sand.

When we weren't up to our elbows in sand, we were in our aboveground, 14ft pool. The inflatable ones now look convenient, but they just don't seem sturdy enough to take a lot of use. I don't have an inflatable one, so I don't have first-hand knowledge. The one we do have takes a lot of work, and my husband threatens every spring to take the damn thing down, but my daughter and her friends use it all summer.

I don't have a specific trampoline rec, but I do know kids who have been injured (not seriously, but enough to warrant a precautionary trip to the urgent care clinic) on trampolines both with safety nets and without, so I don't know if the nets make much difference. (Or if I just know a lot of accident-prone children.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:04 AM on April 29, 2009

Thirding cornhole. You can make everything yourself if you're the slightest bit handy and it's great for kids, a mix of ages, and adult vs adult. It's even better with beer. First time I played, I played for hours.
posted by Science! at 7:02 AM on April 29, 2009

posted by eralclare at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Grither's game is available commercially in sporting goods stores as Blongo Ball. And he's right, it's great fun!
posted by bristolcat at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2009

The kids and I have been playing a kinder version of wall ball. Nobody gets out, and no "butts up". My nine year old daughter loves it, and her 7 year old sister likes it pretty good.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:04 AM on April 29, 2009

we've got a badminton net that can be set up in 5 minutes and left up, or it can be taken down. its always a good time!
posted by firei at 9:34 AM on April 29, 2009

our kids love our trampoline, and so do our neighbors. it's like a pool that way. for originality consider this:
posted by Redhush at 10:20 AM on April 29, 2009

Sandboxes are awesome. I had the Little Tikes turtle as a kid. Our puppy liked to poop in it so my dad screwed the lid down for when it wasn't in use - I think we could have used clamps or something easier to open, now that I think about it.

If you have cement, what about a 4-square court? I'd also vote for a big bucket of sidewalk chalk!

I loved having a little playhouse. If you're crafty you could build one, or again, Little Tikes comes in handy here. I know a family that has a playhouse in the yard that has the same siding, trim, etc as the main house and it's so cute!

Oh and if you have a big tree, a treehouse or tire swing would be bitchin.

Can I come to your house to play?
posted by radioamy at 11:13 AM on April 29, 2009

Followup on the dome climber. It is as-advertised - basically someone goes to the trouble of cutting and drilling ~100 pieces of PVC pipe and assorted connectors and color coding the lot of it. Setup took me about 2 hours with a 2 year old "helping" me (really, not so bad). You need a socket wrench or preferably a drill with a socket bit since you have to tighten a few hundred bolts. All parts are sanded pretty well with no sharp edges, and although the paint quality isn't super great it is fine.

2.25 year old daughter took to it right away, swinging on it and climbing up. She got right to the top of the one I got (the 4 foot) and basically scared the crap out of me for about an hour. At her age she needs a pretty consistent spotter but it looks like lots of fun. A few falls here and there but the only real complaints came when we had to be done for the night.

It seems very sturdy, she and I climbed up to the top together and sat for a while and it didn't seem to be bothered by our combined 190 pounds.
posted by true at 3:42 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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