Garden games for summer savers

The weekend’s here, the sun’s out and your children have bags of energy - how do you keep the little angels busy? Days out and new toys might stop those ‘I’m bored’ moans, but the cost soon adds up. Why not try a few fun garden games to entertain the kids? They’ll love playing together as a family and you can save cash for bigger things like a holiday.

Beast Hunters

All kids love bugs and mud, so combine the two and take them on a mini-beast hunt around the garden. You’ll need some gardening spades and a bucket or plastic bug pot (with air holes). A magnifying glass comes in handy too. See how many different types of insect you can find and take photos to show their friends at school.

Water balloon battles

Most big supermarkets sell bags of water balloons, so stock up for summer mayhem. There’s the obvious balloon throwing fight which kids love, or you can play a ‘hit the target’ game. Draw a few circles with different point values onto a wall or fence with chalk, and then hit them with balloons.

Mini sports day

Hold your own sports day at home! Large bin bags work well for the sack race, use your own eggs and spoons, tie legs together for the three-legged race and balance beanbags on heads. If you don’t have any beanbags, rice in a bag works just as well. Get the kids to make their own trophies or medals for after the races. Winner!

Make a potion

Yes, it’s messy, but it keeps them busy. Give each child a large pot and spoon. Tell them they need to make a magic potion full of interesting things in the garden – think mud, leaves, weeds, stones, sticks, grass etc. Then when the concoction is ready, it’s time to cast a spell or make a wish.

Shadow ‘It’

This game is bags of fun. All you need to play Shadow ‘it’ is a sunny day and a group of friends. First, choose who’s ‘it’. That person then chases someone else and jumps on their shadow to tag them, then they’re ‘it’ and so on.

Outdoor art class

Let the kids loose with an art box outside. Give them chalk to draw on the patio and mops to wash it off afterwards. Rolls of old wallpaper make great canvases for painting when laid on grass, while a big cardboard box can easily be transformed into a play castle. For mess-averse parents, a large paintbrush and pot of water will keep kids busy for ages.

Build an obstacle course

Gather items from your house and garden to make an obstacle course. Weave in and out of pots, leap over makeshift jumps, do laps on your bike and leopard crawl under a blanket. A parent can time each round to see who’s fastest or challenge the kids to beat their own time.

Garden camping

Sounds silly, but camping in the garden can be just as much fun as the real thing. Half the fun is putting up the tent and sleeping in it. The children will love helping, then piling in with their duvets, cuddly toys and friends. Be warned: the tent may stay up for days - goodbye garden!