Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cheap backyard games for preschoolers

For two summers now I have really struggled with ways to keep Jack entertained in the backyard for long periods of time. When he was smaller it was easier. He would spend hours and hours in the sandbox, riding in his little tikes cars, pushing hot wheels on the patio etc.

This year I think we finally have a few winning ideas.
Bowling! Jack is obsessed with bowling right now. He had those plastic pins made for kids but the wind kept blowing them over and they wouldn't stand up properly on the uneven ground and it was frustrating for all of us.

A few phone calls and two days later we had a full set of real bowling pins.
Bowling alleys toss pins once they get soft or start to crack etc. We happen to know someone who used to work in an alley and they were happy to give away some of the rejects.

Even without an *in*, I imagine you could call up your local alley and ask what they do with theirs. Do be aware though that they are HEAVY and really not suitable for super small kids. (Alternatively you can buy lawn bowling sets, but hey, we are looking for cheap here right?)

We use a basketball as the bowling ball.
We also have turned our backyard into a sort of mini golf course on the cheap.
Dig a few holes around the yard and sink in some small terra cot pots. The pots have a drainage hole in the bottom so any rainwater easily flows out of them and they are a perfect size for getting a golf ball into.
(That's Jack's hole in one.) We have been able to pick up putters at all kinds of places - garage sales, flea markets and goodwill, where there is always a bin of golf clubs. Add a few golf balls and the kids are off and running.

We just set some cones we have near the holes so everyone can see where the holes are right now, but I have a dowel kicking around in the rafters and I am going to make some felt flags for the dowel so we can have proper hole markers.

You can use your baby swimming pool as a water hazard, the sand box as the sand trap, and the other backyard toys as obstacles. (Jack particularly likes using the slide, lol.)

One other game we are getting mileage out of is washers . Around here we don't play it exactly like that website describes (we all have these wooden boxes with PVC pipe "holes", which I swear you must own to have your St Louis *creed*, lol), but, the website tells you how to get it set up in your own yard with a few tin cans and some washers.

Whew! Summer time fun on the cheap. It's a good thing. LOL

P.S. I know there are some questions about the hex quilt, I am going to try and take a few photos to help some of you out.

P.P.S. Tomorrow is the big burfday party! Complete with a give away. See you then!


  1. I'm showing this post to my husband. It's going to be a long long summer for him and the girls. He's off from his school job in a few short weeks, while I remain a year-round employee. His days feel extra long by the time I get home from work. These are super ideas.

  2. Love these ideas! Have you ever played ladder ball? We tried it for the first time last summer, and are totally hooked. You can buy sets... or here is a link to make your own.

  3. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Great ideas! But seriously theres an International Association of Washer Players? *coughgeekscough*

  4. You're so smart Sarah! These are great ideas!


Hi there. What say you?