As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, our backyard was a playground full of games, magical lands, teddy bear picnics, mystical creatures, treasure hunts, pretend shipwrecks and endless fun. It’s how we survived — while our parents were inside doing who knows what, we’d be left to our own devices to make our own fun. Our houses were just giant vessels to turn into amazing cubby houses.
I feel sad that kids these days are surrounded by so much technology and “stuff”, and worry that they’ve forgotten that their greatest playground in the world is right in front of them — in their home.
As a mum of two young boys (eight and five), it’s excruciating trying to drag the kids away from iPads and technology. Games like Minecraft seem to put a spell on my children and turn them into vile monsters when you try to take it away.
So, let’s get back to basics, go old-school and teach our kids to play again… our way.
Our friends at IKEA are bang-up for this with a giant toy range, and want to help bring back the joy of play in children between the ages of 0-12.
Here’s a few of our fave toys in the IKEA range, to get the ball rollin’… I played a fun game with my kids and gave them the task of coming up with activities for each of the toys. And they nailed it!
Bring the classic skipping rope to life
Item in use: LUSTIGT, skipping rope with LED, see here.
Take it in turns holding the end of the skipping rope at different levels, and get your groove on. Watch in amazement as your tots seem to fold literally in half to make it under.
Snake / Helicopter
This is a good one for the younger kids that might not have mastered the classic jump rope yet. Wiggle the rope along the ground to turn it into a snake and get the kids jumping over it, or helicopter it a foot off the ground.
Tug of war
This was a little more competitive between my extremely tall eight year old and my little guy who’s only five, but if you’ve got teams of roughly the same strength then you’re good to go!
Want to bring the family closer? Try literally tying family members together, and then racing! My guess is you’ll all end up lying in a big, giggling heap. Memories!
Let’s get ballin’
Item in use: LUSTIGT, boules game, see here.
Place the plush balls in the backyard in a grid, and ask the kids to memorise where the colours are. Once the kids have closed their eyes, hide the balls under bowls. Then, get the kids to guess where each of the colours were!
The ultimate game of hand-eye coordination! If you don’t already know how to juggle, become besties with YouTube and make it a family competition — who can successfully juggle first?
Get a bucket or pin a net to your backyard walls and shoot some hoops. If you’ve got kids of different ages / levels, place a couple of different buckets out with varying difficulty.
Get a giant cardboard sheet or piece of thin wood and cut 6 holes into it (make the holes slightly smaller than the balls, so they get wedged in the space but can’t fall through). The kids then have to move the cardboard carefully to get all 6 balls balanced in all 6 holes.
Hey — this one is great if the kids aren’t getting along! They can get their frustration out with some soft plush toys, and everyone will be besties after a couple of comical hits to the noggin’!