Looking for a way to keep your kids and their friends busy, but not inside the house making a mess for you? Here’s the solution, make a backyard carnival! You will use things that you already have around the house so it won’t cost you a lot of money either. Here’s how to do it
Create a plan. Start by drawing out a sketch of your backyard and determine how many different games and activities you will need to fill your backyard. Brainstorm games of your own or take some of these.
Can knock down. Take 6 cans and stack them up in a pyramid shape. The cans can be empty or full depending on what you have available. To give the pyramid some stability you may want to stack them up on a board instead of the grass. If you have little kids then you are probably safe letting them use a baseball to knock the cans over, but if you have kids that are strong enough to break out the neighbor’s window with a baseball throw gone awry you may want to use a tennis ball and empty cans.
Make your own coin throw. Create different levels using boxes and paint cans. Put glasses and plates on the levels and let the kids throw real or plastic coins and see if they can get them to land in the glasses or on the plates. Bean bags can be recycled from old games. Keep an eye out at garage sales or flea markets for bean bags. Take some sidewalk chalk on the driveway and draw a tic-tac-toe board with a square around it. Depending on the ages of your kids you will create an appropriate throw line. Kids will take turns with their opponent throwing bean bags to try to get 3 across before their opponent does.
Kissing booth that uses no lips. Fill a jar with Hershey’s kisses and put out some paper and pencils for the kids to guess how many kisses are in the jar. At the end of the day the person who comes closest wins the jar.
Water gun firing range. If you’d like to set up two of these you can have two kids go against each other in a timed match, otherwise one will still be a lot of fun. Gather up some recycled Styrofoam from some old packaging and cut it into chunks. Stack up the chunks and put some golf tees into the Styrofoam. Now balance ping pong balls on the golf tees. Create a shooting line using a yard stick or other straight stick. Then supply some inexpensive water guns. The idea is to shoot the ping pong balls off the tees.
Pin drop is a game of luck and dexterity. Take various sizes of recycled jars and determine point values for each jar. Write the point value on a piece of paper and place it on the jar or under the jar. Give each child 3 clothes pins and have them try to drop them into the jars from about 2 feet above the jars. This distance can be adjusted based on the age of the child to make it harder or easier. If a pin goes into a jar the player gets the point total.
Lucky Duck game is fun for little ones. This game is simple enough that almost any age child can play. Gather a bunch of rubber ducks and before you set up the game paint the bottom of one duck red. Put all the ducks into a bucket of water. Kids can take turns trying to find the winning duck.
Bowling for bottles is fun and simple to do. To set up this game you will need to have 10 empty 2 liter bottles. Fill the bottles with a few inches of water so that they will stand up better. Line them up on the driveway or sidewalk just like at the bowling alley. Now you can roll a small basketball at the bottles or use a play bowling ball if you have one. You can even let the kids throw tennis balls at the bottles to knock them over.
Bottle ring toss for prizes. Cut out the centers of some plastic lids to create rings. You can now put a bunch of bottles of Sunny D, Gatorade, Vitamin water, Seltzer water and flavored water close together. Mark a line 5 feet away and let the kids try to toss a ring onto a bottle. If they are able to ring a bottle then they get to keep that bottle. Another way to play this game is to use the cardboard tubes from paper towels or wrapping paper and bury them a couple inches into the ground and let the kids try to get the rings around the tubes. If they get a ringer then they win a ticket.
Buy a package of tickets or make some on your printer to have as prizes. When all the games are done the kids can use their tickets to buy prizes. The prizes can be homemade cookies or brownies to trinkets bought at the dollar store. The kids will have a blast playing all of the games and of course, winning prizes.