Backyard Summer Camp, Part 1: Active Experiences and Art Projects

Summer is here, but a lot of the things we look forward to in summer will not be happening. Vacations, baseball games, trips to the pool, and summer camp may have been canceled. But why dwell on what’s lost? Your children can attend a camp hosted by you! In this, and two upcoming blogs, you’ll find exceptional activities to include in your camp. You can adapt the ideas to suit your time and budget.

Camp involves routines, active and down time, arts and crafts, and free play. Be sure to include a little of each in your daily schedule. Also, plan a few backup activities, as some things will go more quickly than anticipated.

This blog focuses on active experiences and art projects. Check out Part 2  for scavenger hunts and after dark activities; Part 3, for ways to prevent brain drain.

Each category has three levels: “Simple” activities are mostly free, easy, and great for younger kids. “Medium” activities work for older kids and may require a small budget and some pre-planning. “Complex” activities require more planning and a little more expense. You can ramp up any idea or scale it back to fit your situation.

Special supplies are listed, but you’ll also need common items, like glue, tape, and scissors. My advice: Always put safety first! Remember sunscreen and drop cloths. Make plans and lists, and let your kids’ interests drive your daily schedule. A change of plans may be needed—help your kids see this as a great opportunity, not a setback. The point is to HAVE FUN!



Lawn Twister involves a simple outdoor setup and can be played more than once during camp. If your kids are not familiar with Twister, here are the rules and some easy directions for making a spinner.       

Supplies: spray paint, cardboard


Set up “holes” around the yard to play Frisbee Golf using a regular or NERF frisbee. Laundry baskets, garbage cans, Hula-Hoops, or other objects can be targets. Children throw the frisbee toward a target and, like regular golf, each throw is a stroke.

Supplies: frisbees, baskets


An Obstacle Course requires planning and lots of odds and ends. Obstacles are needed to zigzag around, go over and under, balance on, hop through, wiggle between, step in, swing from, climb up, dribble around, and somersault over.  Safety is the number one concern, and the ages and abilities of your kids will dictate what is safe and advisable. Here is one site’s ambitious Ninja Warrior obstacle course. This site claims to list the 25 Easiest Low Prep Obstacle Courses for Kids.   

Supplies: random assortment of items, energetic kids



Here’s everything you need to know to make a Clothespin Puppet, including printable masters. With this craft, making the puppet is just as much fun as playing with the finished products.

Supplies: card stock, markers, yarn, and pinchable clothespins


Check out this YouTube video for making Mosaic Flower Pots. Other options can be found online, each having a slightly different twist. Be sure to check out this project’s directions and also this one’s before heading out to the craft or hardware store.

Supplies: broken dishes or found objects, a clay pot for each child, and some type of drywall compound and/or grout. (Exploring the various options in advance is very important for this craft.)  


View this how-to tutorial on Claymation stop-motion videos using modeling clay. View Make a Face, a one-character animation, and Baby Snake, a narrated animation that also uses a white board. For additional help, check out How to Create a Clay Character and Claymation Movie Tutorial for using PowerPoint to pull it all together. This is challenging, but it’s a fun, engaging, and entirely doable art project for older children.

Supplies: modeling clay, camera, computer with Microsoft PowerPoint, and space to work

Optional: inexpensive mini tripod or makeshift camera stand, googly eyes or other simple accessories

Take a little time to review!

Summer Solutions workbooks allow students to get the practice they need so that they can continue learning all summer long. Kids return to school with confidence. Ordering is easy and the books are sent directly to your house.

About the author


Diane D has been researching and writing for Simple Solutions since retiring from her teaching position at the Nordonia schools. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Diane, who is fluent in Italian, travels a lot, bikes every opportunity she gets, rock climbs, skis, and has recently joined a rowing team.

Leave a Comment