Throw the iPads Out the Window: Cheap DIY Sports Your Kids Can Play in the Backyard All Summer Long

Fun times with mother in a backyard


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Child in swimming pool. Having fun on vacation at the hotel pool. Colorful vacation concept.

Let the Games Begin!

When summer finally rolls around, it's time for kids to trade their textbooks for outdoor adventures. But before you start worrying about spending your hard-earned money on sports equipment, we've got some good news for you: Fun-filled summer days for the little ones don't have to come with a hefty price tag. These wallet-friendly DIY sports and activity ideas will keep the kiddos entertained all summer long while they stay active and soak up the sun. 

School Sports

Create Your Own Mini Obstacle Course

By using everyday items such as hula hoops, cones, and old tires, you can set up a challenging (or easy) obstacle course in your backyard or local park. Incorporate crawling, jumping, and balancing activities to keep the little ones on their toes and encourage them to stay active while having tons of fun. 

Kids playing mini golf

Build a Mini Golf Haven

This idea is sure to turn your home into the most popular spot in the neighborhood. Repurpose household items such as cardboard, plastic cups, and tubes to create a mini golf course in your backyard. Set up different holes with unique challenges like elevated terrains, zigzags, and bends; pick up some golf clubs from your local thrift store; and let the kids get to golfing. They'll love being able to perfect their putting skills. 

Children Dressed as Nerds at Track Wearing Medals

Host a Neighborhood Olympic Games

Gather the kids from your community and organize a friendly Olympics tournament at home. Plan a variety of activities such as relays, hurdles, sack races, and tug-of-war. To take it up another notch, consider making homemade medals or certificates to celebrate everyone's participation, and instill a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition.

Happy kids swimming underwater in pool

Set Up a DIY Water Park

Turn your backyard into a refreshing oasis with a DIY water park for the little ones that love going for a splash. Fill up inflatable pools, set up sprinklers, and create a slip 'n slide by using a plastic tarp, some pool noodles, and tape. Just be sure to remind kids to put on sunscreen and re-apply it throughout the day, because the sun don't play — and sun damage affects kids more than adults

Related: The 20 Best Water Parks Across America

little girls crossing the finish line of a track race
Phynart Studio/istockphoto

Hold a Backyard Sports Tournament

Set up a rotation of different sports such as soccer, basketball, and frisbee for a mini tournament. Divide the kids into teams and let them compete against each other, encouraging teamwork and friendly competition. Don't forget to award the winning team with a homemade trophy — you can make one using cardboard or plastic, or buy one online for less than $5. 

Related: The Highest-Paid Sports Stars of All Time

Nature education. Fun kids activity outdoors

Explore Nature With Scavenger Hunts

Design nature-themed scavenger hunts in your local park or on nearby trails to help kids cultivate a sense of wonder and appreciation for the great outdoors. Come up with a list of items for them to find such as specific leaves, rocks, or animal tracks to create the perfect combination of adventure, learning, and outdoor exploration.

Joyful young female art student paints in a studio
SDI Productions/istockphoto

Create an Outdoor Art Gallery

For kids who prefer doing arts and crafts, you can set up an outdoor art exhibition or painting marathon to help them hone their skills and showcase their creativity. Provide them with various art supplies such as chalk, paint, and large sheets of paper and encourage them to create pieces inspired by nature and the great outdoors. 

Family roasting marshmallows around fire
Fly View Productions/istockphoto

Host a Backyard Campout

If you've got a Girl Scout or Boy Scout, they will love this idea. Turn your backyard into a magical camping spot by pitching a tent or two, setting up cozy sleeping bags, and gathering all the kids around a fire pit for some s'mores. Tell stories, play shadow puppets, stargaze together — and watch as your backyard transforms into a wonderland of imagination and adventure. 

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