The weather is amazing, the yard work is calling, and you just want to get outside and mow the grass, trim the trees, or just enjoy your patio as you grill dinner. The hard part might be getting your kids excited about spending time in the yard with you – it’s not like it’s the mall or anything – but it can be a pretty amazing place to be. If you don’t have a yard, you can still create some of these crafts and give them as Mother’s Day Gifts to your favorite moms. Here are three of my favorite activities I love to do with my kids outside, and they seem to enjoy them as well!
Make Homemade Stepping Stones
Every time I walk through my garden I am reminded of the beautiful day my kids made stepping stones with me. Each stone reflects their personalities and are perfect additions to my eclectic flower beds. I admit I can be a little sappy, and seeing their tiny fingerprints preserved in stepping stones still melts my heart.
- Gather old pie tins, an old cake pan, and even an old plastic dishwashing bin (we had these things in the garage for using at the beach or in the sandbox – you can also find great and inexpensive molds at thrift stores and garage sales).
- Assemble weather-proof craft supplies. We had plastic beads, fake jewels, and artificial colored stones.
- Get a pack of disposable rubber gloves to keep hands clean of the mess.
- Buy a bag of quick setting cement (there are tons from which to choose – and you can even get colored mixes).
- Spray your pans and molds with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix your cement as directed.
- Kids can create their designs two different ways. They can assemble a design with the craft materials on the inside bottom of their mold, and then carefully spoon their cement mixture over the top (this is more appropriate for older, more patient fingers), or you can fill the mold with the cement mixture and then have kids decorate the top layer of the wet cement.
- Cement should be approximately 2 -4 inches thick (thicker if you plan to walk on them, thinner if they will be for decoration).
- Kids can decorate with handprints as well – just make sure to use the rubber gloves.
- Wait for the cement to harden according to package instructions, then delicately turn over your molds on the law or other relatively soft surface.
- You can purchase sealant sprays to preserve the stones.
Build a Birdfeeder
These can be as simple or as elaborate as you want – and they work for all ages. We just spent an entire afternoon making birdfeeders and hanging birdhouses in our yard. It is a great way to have some fun conversations, too, and once they are up they can be great ways for your kids to observe nature (we had 19 Blue Jays at our feeder yesterday morning!).
Reduce waste and reuse a plastic soda bottle to create a bird feeder. Begin by removing the outer wrapper, and rinsing the bottle clean. You’ll also need a few wooden dowels or sturdy sticks. There are some easy instructions here, along with great pictures of a child making this project.
Make pine-cone feeders by having your kids collect large pinecones, then have them roll them in peanut butter, and finally press into a pan of birdseed. You can set these directly in the branches of trees or hang them with twine.
Buy a wood kit for a bird feeder or birdhouse. If your little one needs help assembling the kit, let her take over control when it comes time to painting and decorating the project.
Go to a lumber yard and request scrap wood – it is sometimes even available for free – and then let you kids create their own designs. My boys love almost nothing more than to saw and pound as they build their own creations.
Create an Obstacle Course
I won’t win an award for the most pristine lawn, but it is probably one of the more fun ones in the neighborhood. Last week I dropped the blade and made a few carefully planned passes – mowing our own track/soccer field/football field/rectangular box for tons of fun games! If you don’t want to have this fun (and temporary) imprint in your yard, you can get the same effect with landscape spray paint. Then set up an obstacle course through the field, and don’t forget to join in the fun!
- Use buckets, boxes, and cones for obstacles.
- Your kids can run, crawl, skip, or any combination their way through the course.
- You can create the same effect with obstacle equipment and your kids’ bikes and scooters in the driveway.
- Add in fun directions like you have to balance a cone on your head while you jump over the tire, or spin with your nose touching the baseball bat 10 times around before moving ahead.
I love gardens, grilling out with the family, and hanging out by a bonfire. None of these activities will earn landscaping awards, but they do help to create some pretty fun family memories.