Mmmm…can you feel that? Summer is peeking its head out from behind the clouds. If you’ve been cooped up with the kids all winter, why not plan some fun family activities for those sunny weekends ahead? Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, blow out the cobwebs and maybe learn a few new tricks in the process.
1. Four Square
For some old-school fun, grab the chalk and a basketball and head outside. Draw a great big square on the driveway (or any flat surface) then divide it into 4 smaller squares (hence the name!). Label the squares A, B, C, D and ask each person to stand in a square. The person in square A begins by bouncing the ball once in his or her own square and then into another square of their choice. Then that person needs to hit it into someone else’s square and so on. If you miss the ball or hit it out of bounds, you have to move to square D and everyone moves around to the next square and the next round begins. Or, if there are more than 4 people in your family that person sits out and the next player moves into square D.
2. Hunt for Minibeasts
Take a walk into some nearby bushland, head to the beach or simply explore your backyard and discover a world of minibeasts. What’s a minibeast, you ask? All those little critters you see around you – worms, lizards, slugs, bugs, frogs, butterflies, ladybirds… you name it! Take your magnifying glass and lift up logs, peer into long grass or look at trees and flowers to see them up close. Bring along some pencils and paper to draw what you’ve seen.
3. Go horse riding
Get on your high horse and see the world from a new perspective. Trail rides are a fun way to take the family on an outdoor excursion. You don’t need prior experience, and most places will pair you up with a horse that’s suitable for your age and level of expertise. If you live in the city, it can be a great way to show your kids the countryside.
4. Hold a sandcastle or sand sculpture competition
For a day on the beach… with a twist! Pack plenty of useful tools, like buckets, spades, string for shaping and shaving, plastic cutlery, spatulas, straws etc. Work together to design and build one big family scultpure, or split up and design one each. Talk with your kids about some fun shapes they can try – starfish, mermaids, sharks and even their favourite food!
Geocaching is essentially a modern day treasure hunt, where you use your GPS or a smartphone instead of a map. It’s a growing phenomenon, with more than 1.6 million caches hidden around the world! Download the app and start hunting for treasures in your own town, or take a drive and explore somewhere new. You’ll receive GPS coordinates to caches of various sizes – from tiny matchboxes filled with trinkets to a large Army ammo box full of treasures to trade. You can sign the logbook to show others you’ve been there, and even hide caches of your own.
6. Start a car wash
Park your car on the lawn and give the kids a bucket, some soap, a hose and let ’em at it! Encourage grandparents or neighbours to take part. Kids love nothing more than the chance to get wet, especially on a sunny day. The best part? You can pull up a deck chair and play supervisor for the day… just watch out for rogue splashes!
7. Camp in the back yard
Tent gathering dust in the shed? It can be hard to find a weekend to get away on a proper family camping trip. So why not set yourself up in the backyard instead! Trust me, the kids will love it. Cook sausages for dinner, light a fire and roast some marshmallows, spot constellations in the night sky and fall asleep in a tangle of sleeping bags after telling funny stories to one another.
Pack a picnic lunch and head out fishing for the day. Head to a local river, creek, lake or even a well-stocked pond. It doesn’t matter how many fish you catch, the kids will love the whole process of learning to thread a worm on the hook, casting off and reeling in their “catches” (even if it’s just a bit of grass!).
9. Set up a scavenger hunt
Make up a simple scavenger hunt using items that can be found around the neighbourhood. Split the family into two teams or, if you have older children, head off individually and see who can find the most items. Draw maps and help younger children navigate their way around, and ask neighbours if you can plant clues in their yard.
10. Go fruit or berry picking
See who can fill the biggest bucket, then head home and whip up a fresh batch of jam together. Hit up Google for berry farms nearby, or take a daytrip and visit somewhere new. This is also a great chance to chat with kids about where their favourite foods come from, and the sorts of work that goes into bringing it to their plate.