Homeschooling

Independent Play in Your Own Backyard

The kids are home–and must stay home–but the sun is shining and spring has arrived. It’s the perfect time to send them outside to play!

If your kids aren’t used to free play in the backyard you may wonder how to engage them and keep them occupied and interested in staying out there. It’s easier than you might think! Your backyard doesn’t even have to be stocked with play structures and toys.

Children love to use their imaginations and once they get a solid story line going they will literally play for hours. You may need to provide a few simple props to trigger some ideas, but other than that just a watchful eye out the window now and then will be enough.

One of my favorite backyard memories is the spring my kids decided to homestead just outside the back door.

We had one small pop-up kids’ tent that they took outside. The other tents they constructed themselves with poles of some kind they found laying around and covered them with sheets and blankets. I was trying to decide how they held the poles together at the top and it looks like it might have been painter’s tape. As an adult I would have assumed that wouldn’t work, but apparently it did.

Our utility wagon was their mode of transportation. The sand box, filled with water and rocks, was the river. And the dog played the role of livestock.

Yellow dandelion heads were gathered and stirred for pretend food. The pioneers visited each other from tent to tent and the story went on all afternoon.

That particular story was a continuation of a day earlier that spring when they set up the little tent on the deck. After they had abandoned it for the day a friendly claim jumper took over. I blogged about that at the time:

Another year they constructed a playhouse with some old sheets tied to the fence.

They experimented with different configurations.

Of course, if you have a real tent you can let them put that up. They may need help with it, depending on their age and the size of the tent. If it’s still a little cool where you live, you’ll find that the tent traps the warmth of the sun and makes a cozy place to read or play.

You will likely find that they are having so much fun playing that they won’t want to come inside for lunch. No problem! Just make them a picnic or bento style lunch and deliver it to their fort or playhouse.

One of my favorite memories of childhood is having my Grandmother make peanut-butter-and-muscadin-jam sandwiches for us to take out to our “playhouse.” I don’t even remember what our playhouse was, except I’m sure it was something we constructed ourselves, but I remember how fun it was that Grandmother took it seriously and provided food.

Need more ideas? My post on Camping with Kids has lots of suggestions for things kids can do outdoors–whether at a campground or in your own backyard.

Linking up with Timberdoodle’s Outdoor Learning blog hop…

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Also linking up with Timberdoodle’s Temporarily Homeschooling blog hop.

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5 Comments

I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks for joining in the conversation! ~Karla

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