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5 Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About the Backyard: Swings, Climbing Walls and More

girl on tire swing
iStockphoto

If you want to get your kids outside, away from their Xbox or Wii, and interested in some of your backyard garden projects, you’ll probably need to be somewhat inventive with your gardening ideas. Pulling weeds and planting flowerbeds just won’t cut it for most of children. Think incentive here.

We have some ideas.

By coming up with fun and creative activities that the youngsters can enjoy, you’ll be able to pry them away from their indoor distractions, teach them a thing or two (but don’t tell them that) about nature, while making sure all of that lovely space you have outside won’t be going to waste. Here are five garden ideas for kids to get you started:

Build Cool Swings

Topia.ca

You can build a cool and unusual garden swing all by yourself for your children to play on, or better yet, you can enlist a few of the kiddies to help you set it up. Tire swings hanging from sturdy tree limbs are always a favorite. You can also opt for some stranger-looking swings. Swirly-shaped copper swings are available for purchase, as are “bubble” and “pumpkin” swings, rope swings, bench swings and egg-shaped swinging chairs. Let your imagination, and the contours of your garden, be your guide.

Plant Strange Vegetables

Shu Suehiro, Wiki Commons

Why limit yourself to carrots, onions and maybe a strawberry or rhubarb patch? Kids love new and weird (at least to them) things. You can populate your garden, depending on the climate where you live, with odd fruits and vegetables, like the multi-fingered Buddha’s hand, Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, the “scaly” pitaya (dragon fruit), paw paw fruit (from Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’), dahlia yams, Mexican sour gherkin, strawberry corn (it really exists) and more.

Many of these fruits and veggies might seem a bit odd at first, but that’s the point. They’re funny looking, which will make your kids laugh—and maybe teach them something about gardening at the same time.

Set Up a Hummingbird Feeder

A hummingbird feeder hanging from a tree branch in your garden is very easy to set up and can be a great way to get the next generation interested in nature and wildlife. If you’re feeling kind, buy or build a feeder with a perch and give these busy little guys a rest. After you teach your kids how to mix the sugar water and fill the feeder, you can impress them with your knowledge about these tiny, amazing birds. Here are a few facts to get you started:

  • Hummingbirds are the smallest birds on Earth
  • Their hearts can beat as fast as 1,260 times per minute
  • Hummingbird wings beat, on average, 70 times per second
  • Some hummingbirds fly more than 2,000 miles, twice every year, during migration
  • Hummingbirds possess better hearing and eyesight than human beings

Erect a Giant, Outdoor Chalkboard

Lowes.com

If you have a long fence, gate, brick wall or other surface bordering your garden, all you have to do is tack up a rugged outdoor chalkboard, and you’ll transform that surface into something wonderful. You’ll not only be giving your children hours and hours of fun, you’ll be ensuring that they’re playing outside in the sunshine, or even on a cloudy day. That’s a heck of a lot better than vegetating on the sofa in front of the television or a computer screen.

You can make a large chalkboard all by yourself (guides can be found online), or buy a weatherproof board from a supplier. Either way, you and your kids are bound to have a blast.

Construct a Small, Backyard Climbing Wall

Remodelista.com

If your kids like to climb, why not make it official and build a small, child-friendly climbing wall in your backyard? If you do it right, you can change holds and climbing routes as your children get better at it—while maintaining a level of safety you just won’t get if they’re off climbing elsewhere. You can be “arty” in your design, or very practical, depending on the space you have, and your time and budget.

There are plenty of helpful hints on the Internet to get you started on your climbing wall. You can buy prefabricated holds from many climbing stores, and online. Build the wall on your own or, if you’d rather, you can purchase a complete wall, saving you some construction fuss and time. The point here is to get those kids climbing and enjoying the outdoors.

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