Whether you’re home schooling or just hanging out, the garden has become the go-to place for exercise, relaxation and playing with your kids outdoors this summer.
Most children love spending time outdoors, especially in nice weather, so with the limitations imposed by COVID-19, that means you’re likely relying even more on your garden.
Almost any game or sport you can think of can be reimagined to play in the garden, although some are easier to control than others – it’s not an ideal time to go looking for stray footballs or cricket balls in neighbours’ yards.
Here are some less obvious games to play with children in the garden, which will hopefully go without mishaps in most cases.
Set up a crazy golf course using any bits and bobs to create obstacles. For the holes, don’t worry – you don’t have to pull up plugs of your beautifully landscaped lawn.
Instead, just lay a plant pot or bucket on its side and aim to get your ball into that. In smaller gardens, just play one hole at a time, then move your obstacles around to create a brand new layout for ‘hole 2’ and so on.
You’ll soon unleash your creativity and start making more ambitious hazards like ramps, tunnels and bunkers. Just try to stay sensible so you’re not tempted to pitch your golf ball right over the fence!
A bit of a retro lawn game, Croquet is similar to golf except instead of aiming for holes, you have to knock your ball through a series of hoops. You usually end by knocking it at a vertical stick.
You can make ‘hoops’ out of anything from bent garden wire or old wire coathangers, to hitting the ball between two markers spaced a few inches apart with no actual hoop between them.
Not many of us have a set of croquet mallets lying around, but you could play this as a variation on crazy golf if you have metal or plastic putters, or just side-foot kick the ball instead.
To play Statues, you don’t need any equipment at all. The players stand in a row at one side of the garden, while one person is ‘it’ (sometimes called the Curator) and stands opposite.
When the Curator turns their back, the Statues can move slowly towards them. When the Curator looks, the Statues must freeze in place.
If the Curator sees a Statue moving, that person is out. But if a Statue reaches close enough to tag the Curator (or reaches the garden wall, if that works better) that person is ‘it’ for the next round.
This is an especially good game to play if your kids are Doctor Who fans, as instead of being Statues, they can pretend to be Weeping Angels.
These are just a few ideas you can play in even small gardens. But children often don’t need traditional games and rules – they can make it up as they go along.
Let your little ones use their imagination and see what they come up with. That might be a ball game, a treasure hunt, a make-believe game or something completely new. Assault courses and DIY gyms are also something older children and teens can get involved in.
The garden is really just a blank canvas on which you can play out new ideas and invent a game that suits everyone in your household – you might end up playing it for years to come!