Kellye Fox | 

19 Cheap & Fun Backyard Ideas Your Family Will Love

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Summer is officially here! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to soak up some sun and hang out with friends and family. What better place to do that than in your own backyard? If you need some clever, cheap, and fun things to do outside in your backyard, you’re in the right place for backyard entertainment ideas.

Since these are DIY backyard ideas for kids, you may need some supplies. KCL is here to help you save money on wood, spray paint, pool noodles, balloons, and more from stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart. And, don’t forget Amazon! Here are the best backyard ideas for kids, from backyard games to backyard ideas for kids.

19 Cheap & Fun Backyard Ideas Your Family Will Love

1. Use spray chalk to create a giant tic-tac-toe board.

Two children playing tic-tac-toe with frisbees on a shower curtain liner in a park.

As far as backyard games go, this reusable tic-tac-toe board is pretty doable with a bit of planning. Use an old shower curtain liner, duct tape, and Frisbees.

Use Frisbees for the O’s and boomerangs for the X’s — or you can just use a marker and paper plates! If you only have one Frisbee, just toss plastic picnic plates instead.


2. Organize a giant Twister game as backyard fun for kids.

For this backyard activity, use spray paint for your yard. Once the paint dries, it’s less likely to rub off on your hands than chalk. The paint shouldn’t hurt your lawn, but it will stick around until it grows out, so beware.

With multiple colors of spray paint, create a series of circles in rows. For the spinner, there are a couple of options:

  • Download a printable spinner, or
  • Create your own spinner by cutting a piece of paper or cardboard into a circle, adding colored circles (to match your Twister game), and making a small hole in the middle. Insert a game spinner or use a metal brad and a paperclip as the actual spinner.

The spinner tells your guests where to put their hands and feet. The more people who can play, the bigger you make it!


3. Make backyard fun for kids sweeter with a s’mores potluck party.

A person holding a plate of graham crackers, chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups, and marshmallows next to a fire pit and Scary Stories books, with a plastic skeleton sitting on a chair in the background..

Is there anything more “summer” than a s’more? Take it up a notch by throwing a little bash. Have everyone bring a different candy — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are THE best — and then let everyone get creative.

Need a fire pit for the occasion? We have the best fire pit deals for you. Stop by the candy coupons page to get your sugar fix for this sweet backyard activity.


4. Raise some butterflies for a unique backyard idea for kids.

Get yourself a butterfly garden set from Amazon for around $20 and raise real, live butterflies from caterpillar to adulthood! Setting them free is actual magic — for you and for the kiddos. How’s this for a creative backyard activity for toddlers?



5. Then, make a butterfly garden with flowers and fruit so they stick around!

You can start by planting flowers that butterflies love — particularly milkweed, zinnias, and daisies — to attract them to your garden. Then set out some cut fruit like oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, and strawberries. They’ll be especially attracted to fruit that’s almost spoiled.

Voilà! There’s nothing like starting a beautiful butterfly garden as a fun thing to do outside in your backyard.


6. Create a backyard obstacle course for kids with pool noodles and wooden dowels.

A child kicking a ball through a pool noodle obstacle course made from pool noodles and wooden dowels on a lawn.

Pool noodles and wooden dowels are all you need to create a backyard obstacle course for kids. Create a noodle tunnel by putting the dowels into the ground just across from each other, then pushing the noodle over the top. Get creative by crawling through or just kicking soccer balls.


7. Build a DIY NERF backyard game with cardboard and plastic cups.

What’s a backyard activity for kids without a NERF gun? I use a combination of cardboard boxes with plastic cups hanging inside and more cups on top with different point values drawn on with a Sharpie.

You can also purchase some sweet NERF target sets to mix it all up.


8. Have a movie night under the stars by renting a projector for free from the library!

When you’re thinking of backyard ideas for kids, how about including the whole family instead? Set up a projector — some libraries rent them if you don’t own one — and hang a white sheet on your fence so you can see the movie.

Fill an inflatable pool with blankets and pillows, get your popcorn, and enjoy your flick.

Note: You’ll probably need a current library card to check out a projector, just like a book.


9. Build a fairy garden from a birdbath for a creative backyard activity.

Purple moss being placed in a Halloween-themed Fairy Garden.

If you’re crafty, you can make this backyard idea for kids using a large terra-cotta pot, an apple crate, a witch’s cauldron, or even a mini teacup. Just add rocks, moss, flowers, and miniatures to finish your theme.

Or, you could just buy a bird bath for a fairy garden on Amazon (ranging from $5 – $35) and assemble it. No matter how you make it, a fairy garden is a guaranteed bit of magic in your backyard. It’s also a good idea for holidays like Easter and Halloween.


10. Create a DIY backyard water game with a hose and a water bottle.

A water bottle with holes drilled into it that has been attached to a hose to make a DIY sprinkler.

This is great for younger kids, but older kids will love it too, I promise. Drill a few holes in an empty water bottle, and attach it to a hose with waterproof tape.

Who needs to venture out of the neighborhood for a splash pad when backyard water games are readily available?


11. Plant sunflowers in a circle for the BEST backyard game for kids — a summertime fort.

This will take some planning in advance, but it’s totally worth it. Plant your sunflowers according to the seed packet directions — make sure they’re in an almost closed circle. You want to leave enough room when the sunflowers are fully grown to be able to walk through. Once it’s all said and done, your kids — or you — will have a living fort! This backyard idea for kids will make yours the talk of the neighborhood.

TIP: You can score sunflower seeds for $1.35 a packet at Home Depot, or you can check with your local library to see if they have any for free! Here are other ways to score free seeds.



12. Play glow-in-the-dark ring toss as a nighttime backyard game for kids.

Glow stick necklaces being used in a ring toss game at night, with glow sticks sticking out of the ground as targets.

Want to make your backyard fun glow? Insert a 12-inch glow stick in the ground, or use a rubber band to tie 2-3 bracelets together (vertically).

Connect the glow-in-the-dark bracelets (check Dollar Tree for glow-in-the-dark bracelets too), toss them on the sticks, and play!

Easy and super fun!


13. Build a giant Jenga as a fun thing for kids to do outside in your backyard.

You can actually have any wood you buy at Home Depot cut to your specifications for free! As a DIY backyard activity for kids, you’ll need a circular saw and this tutorial from The Idea Room.

Either way, you’re in for a good time!


14. Use pallets to make an Instagram-worthy picnic table for your backyard activities.

How do you combine backyard fun and elegance? Assemble pallets as a fancy outdoor table. This is seriously the easiest idea ever. Line up as many pallets as you need to accommodate your guests comfortably. Cover with linens of your choice, toss down some comfy pillows to sit on, and then set your new fancy picnic table to your liking.

To save on wooden pallets, you can search for a local pallet company, find pallets on Amazon, or browse Craigslist for free ones.


15. Extend chalk-based backyard fun by hanging a chalkboard on your fence to get more use.

This is maybe one of the easiest things you can do to make your backyard space more enjoyable. Buy a chalkboard and use some screws to secure it to your fence. Kids love it, obviously, but it’s really fun for adults, too! You can also use it for keeping score during any backyard games!


16. Make a water balloon piñata as a fun backyard water game on a hot day.

If you’re planning a backyard party in the heat of summer, then this game is a must. Just fill balloons with water, tie them to a sturdy rope, and hang between trees or posts. We also have 24 brilliant backyard party ideas if you can’t get enough outdoor fun.


17. Use an inflated kiddie pool as a cooler for your next get-together.

You can fill up water balloons and freeze them instead of ice if you want a colorful display! It’s a great backyard idea for kids’ drinks, containers of fresh fruit, or cold pasta salads.



18. Have an outdoor feet-washing station to keep mud and sand out of your house.

A foot washing station off of the back entrance of a home with a garden hose wound up, a box of rocks, a basket of shoes, and a basket of towels.

via HGTV

I love that my kids want to play in dirt and mud — but I don’t want that mud or dirt anywhere near my house. Enter a feet-washing station.

You can either purchase a salt block pan (it has built-in drain holes) or build a box with some cut 4x4s, then add some river rocks. Have anyone with muddy feet stand on the rocks while you hose them down. This is an ideal solution after those backyard water games.


19. Cut 4×4 posts into dice for a giant backyard game of Yahtzee.

Talk about a true DIY backyard game for the summer! Cut your 4×4 post every 3.5 inches to create uniform “dice” — you’ll need 5. Then use a paint marker to draw the pips (those are the black circles) onto your new wooden dice.

Make sure you sand them down. You can even apply a coat of stain if you’re feeling fancy.

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