By Chloe Smith,
Carefree, fun-filled days as a kid in the family yard make for some most blissful memories. As a parent, you can use the full potential of your home and enjoy watching your kids play, learn and grow – and you can get in on the fun also! With a little bit of imagination, creativity and organization, you can transform your porch or patio into a „base“ that will station numerous activities, so you can invite relatives or the neighbours’ kids and create a magical environment that you will all admire.
1. Theater stage
The denivelation of the porch provides a great setting for stage performances, with the audience comfortably seated below, and the entrance of the house used as the backstage if necessary. The children can improvise, make their own plays with your help, or act out certain children’s plays from books – what matters most is that the atmosphere is charged with creativity and freedom. Help them get organized so that everybody gets a turn to be on stage as well as to be in the audience. It’s a great setting for story-telling time also. Additionally, for the ultimate theater feel, you can hang a string between two posts of your porch on which you will clip improvised red curtains.
2. Make bird feeders
This is a fun and simple way for everyone to get crafty, and once the feathered friends start coming over to eat, your kids will be happy to observe them, listen to their chirps, and learn about which birds are native to your area (you might want to prepare some information and find a colourful book about the birds you will encounter). You can make a bird feeder easily, without any special tools or materials required:
- Get a paper plate and something to put underneath to hold it so it doesn’t topple over from the weight of the seeds and birds (for example, a wicker plate holder that you can find at any dollar store)
- Punch 3 evenly-spaced holes around the edges of the paper plate
- Get 3 pieces of thick string, thread one through each hole on the plate and tie the plate to the plate holder on one end
- On the other end, tie the three pieces of string into a strong knot and hang it on your porch or wherever available on the patio
- Fill the plate with seeds and bread crumbs and get ready for some feathery visitors!
3. Give the space a makeover
Use the floor, whether it’s wooden planks or patio stones, as a canvas for drawing with chalk, or if you don’t mind a more permanent intervention, for etching into wood or painting. This is a great activity because the children have a lot of space to spread out and be creative, to use it as a decorating project on which everybody is working together or to try some active games, and plus it’s neat for children to have a different perspective when drawing (aside from the usual paper on table). If you’re using the patio, it’s good to have some kind of a retractable awning or pergola (you can consult Oztech to help you research this option), because children easily get lost in these kinds of activities and forget time, so you need to ensure there will be enough shade from the sun at a certain point in the afternoon. That actually stands pretty much for any other patio activity, because chances are, the kids won’t be eager to go inside even once it gets too hot.
4. Make a hideout
The porch/patio area will be used as a base for all backyard activities – something like a fortress. Set up a tent or make a little hideout nook out of fabric, which can serve as a station for playing hide-and-seek, a castle, or anything else the imagination suggests.
5. Have an outdoor movie night
If you can get your hands on a movie projector, you’re halfway there. Get white blackout fabric and attach it to the posts of your porch, with the audience facing it from the yard, or attach it to the wall of your house, with the audience comfortably seated on the patio. It will be a fun experience and a good excuse for everyone to stay outside after dark!
Enjoy the little playground you have created in your own yard with the kids! It’s a great way to spend the whole day in fresh air, with the convenience of your house right there. And the best part is – you don’t have to drag the kids inside for lunch. You can make a little picnic in the yard, a full family dinner on the patio, or a patio tea party for snacks, just like in Alice