Back Yard Family Fun – May 26, 2020

Back Yard Family Fun – May 26, 2020

We’re all spending a lot more time at home with family this summer.  Make the most of all that together time by planning some fun and creative family activities.

Let’s face it, in this world of iPads, video games, cable TV, and smart phones, sometimes it’s hard to get kids and teens to even go outside.  Sometimes, you just run out of ideas for family fun.  So, here are a few suggestions that can be scaled up or down to engage the whole family.

Glow-in-the-dark bowling

You’ll need:

How to set up:

Insert the glowing glow sticks in the bottles.  Fill with water (may fill bottom ¼ with sand or pea gravel, if desired).  Put the caps on.

Set the bottles up in rows, with one in front, followed by rows of two bottles, three bottles, and finally four bottles in the back row.  Make a mark on the ground 10-15 feet in front of the bottles.   Chalk on a patio or walkway works well for this.  A piece of ribbon or string will also work, especially if playing on the grass.

How to play:

Stand behind the mark and “bowl” the ball at the pins to knock them down.  Each player gets two tries to knock down all the pins.  You can keep score, or just have fun taking turns.  Both Apple and Google offer free bowling score sheet apps, or you can print this one to use: (attach pdf)

Flashlight tag

This game combines the games “hide and seek” and “tag,” but it’s played in the dark!  The person who is “it “covers their eyes and counts to a high number while everyone else hides.  Then, armed with a flashlight, this person searches for the others who may switch hiding spots to make it more interesting.  This game can be played indoors or outdoors.

What you’ll need:

A flashlight

How to play

  1. Find a spot outdoors that isn’t well-lit.  Make sure that there are a lot of hiding spots and that it’s a safe place to run around, like a fenced back yard.
  2. Gather a group of people.
  3. Choose who will be “it.”
  4. Everyone hides while the person who is “it” closes their eyes and counts to 10, 20, or whatever number you decide!
  5. Seek!  The person who is “it” uses the flashlight to find the hidden players.  Players can change hiding places during the game.  Once they’re found, they’re out.
  6. Play until everyone is out.
  7. Restart the game…the first person caught becomes “it.”

Variation: As soon as the first person is found, pass the flashlight to them, and they become & “it”, passing the flashlight to the next person they find, and so on.

Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe

There are several ways to create your game grid.  If you have a large patio or driveway and some sidewalk chalk, you can simply draw the grid.  Make it about 6’ x 6’ with three rows of three squares each.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  If you don’t have a hard surface, you can measure and cut four pieces of twine, yarn, or ribbon into 6’ lengths and lay them out on the lawn so they make three rows of three squares.  For a reusable grid, use an old bed sheet or shower curtain and mark off the squares with painter’s tape (or colored markers).

If you have 6 frisbees, then you’re all set. If not, you can make them out of cardboard.  Get the directions here: (

Players should stand behind a designated line and see if they can get three in a row. (Move the line closer for younger players, move it back for the athletes in your family!

Alternatively, you could create a bullseye target on the ground using the same materials as above and see who can get the most bullseyes.  Or use bean bags if you don’t have much space, or you’re not up to tossing a frisbee!

Make Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk can be one of the most versatile toys for outdoor creative fun. But it’s one of those things that gets used up and must be replenished.  Sure, you can buy pre-made chalk, but making your own can be a fun activity for your family.  And, it only takes three ingredients, something to mold it in, and a little patience.

Supplies you’ll need:

½ cup Plaster of Paris (dry)
2-3 tablespoons Tempera Paint (powdered pigment)
¼ cup warm water


  • Silicon molds (like used for making candy), plastic or silicon Ice Cube Trays, or empty
  • Toilet Paper Roll tubes cut into thirds (cover one end of each tube with duct tape or masking tape and line the sides with strips of wax paper)
  • Disposable cups (or non-porous bowls or cups, like coffee mugs)
  • Plastic spoons or wooden stir sticks

Combine warm water with the Plaster of Paris in a bowl or cup, stirring until there are no lumps.  If you’re making more than one color, divide the mixture into three to four cups.

Mix in the tempera paint. If you’re only making one color, use two to three tablespoons.  For three to four colors, use about a tablespoon of each color.  For brighter colors, use more paint.  For softer colors, use a little less.

Once the colors are thoroughly mixed and there are no streaks, transfer the mixtures into the silicon molds, ice cube trays, or toilet paper rolls.  Be sure to wipe any drips off the ice cube trays before it hardens.  Tap the sides of toilet paper rolls the release any air bubbles.

Let it dry completely. For smaller molds or ice cube trays, that’s usually about 24 hours. Larger molds will take longer.  Toilet paper roll molds can take up to three days to dry.

*Try using glow in the dark tempera paint.

Don’t have a sidewalk or concrete patio in your yard?

Make a simple chalkboard with a piece of plywood, a little sandpaper, a coat of wood primer and some chalkboard paint!  Lightly sand the plywood.  Then give it a coat of wood primer. Let it dry completely.  Then follow up with two coats of chalk board paint (spray or brush on), drying completely between coats.  Voila!  You have created a chalkboard!

Your chalk board can be attached to a wooden fence or shed wall, leaned against the garage, or add legs and make it a table!   Backyard Scavenger Hunt
This can be a science lesson, a game or contest with prizes, or a treat hunt.

Make a list of items your kids are likely to find in your yard, like a gray rock, a green clover, or yellow flower.  Or you can plant small items in the yard for them to find—things that don’t belong in the back yard, like a bottle cap, small toys, colored water balloons, or treats like hard candy or gum.  Give your kids a list and bag to collect their finds in. If it’s a contest, give younger kids a little head start, or a simpler list.  Maybe the first one to find all the items on their list wins!  If you have your kids hunting treats, you might have them pour out their bags into a single bowl and divvy up the loot, so everyone gets some!

We’re all spending a lot more time at home this year. And some of us are finding our homes are little snug to meet our needs with our new at-home lifestyles.  If you decide it’s time to upgrade, remember to have your new home thoroughly inspected by a licensed and certified professional home inspector.

The Hawley Home Inspections team of ASHI and InterNACHI certified, Illinois licensed home inspectors can take care of your family’s needs with home inspections, free termite inspections, radon testing, sewer scopes, septic inspections (metro-east only), mold and air quality testing, vermiculite and asbestos testing, pool inspections, and well water testing.  We offer discounts to veterans and first responders.  To learn more, call today!


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