Wondering how to keep the kids busy this summer outside (and keep them from playing on their devices?)

We’re working on fixing up our backyard so we can spend a lot of time outside at home this summer. Good summer fun for kids doesn’t have to be expensive.

Here are 8 fun ideas for frugal backyard games and craft ideas to help you brainstorm.

1. Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunts are fun for kids and adults. Create a theme whether it involves pirates searching for lost treasure or top secret mission to find a long lost stuffed animal friend.

You can create your own clues and write them on index cards or draw a picture. If you need help with creative ideas, there are plenty of scavenger hunt tips and clues available for free online.

2. Obstacle Course

An obstacle course competition is another fun option to add to your list of frugal backyard games for kids this summer.

Don’t feel pressured to buy a ton of new items to pull this off either. Just work with what you have and get creative. For example, use things that already may be in your backyard like a trampoline, playhouse, lawn chair, etc. You can even take items that you have inside like buckets, jump ropes, chalk etc. to create the obstacle course.

Make it easy enough to complete that it’s safe for kids, but still challenging enough to make it fun. Time each person as they go through and give everyone a prize (like ice cream) when they’ve completed the course.

3. Make a Bird Feeder

You’ll probably hear birds outside early in the morning during the warmer months of the years. If kids love the idea of feeding the backyard birds, have them create birdfeeders with household materials.

You can take an empty water bottle and cut a hole in it so birds can feed. Or, you can take an empty can and decorate it to hang outside.

When you finish the feeders and hang them up outside, play a bird watching game over the next few days to see if you can spot any new visitors.

4. Tug of War

Each summer, my son goes camping with his Cub Scouts pack and the whole family is always invited. Last year we played some fun yard games and had a blast playing tug of war in particular. It’s a classic and the ultimate strength competition game.

This game brought back so many memories of my childhood and having fun in the summer. All you need is a long rope and a few kids from the neighborhood. Assign someone to be the referee so everyone knows when to start and stop pulling the rope. This game will literally keep kids and their friends entertained for hours.

5. Water Balloon Fight

No need to go to the pool for a water day when you can have one right in your backyard. Buying a slip n slide is one of the best decisions we could have made because our son loves water games.

Turn on your sprinkler and fill some balloons with water so the kids can have a water balloon fight. On a hot summer day, even older kids will enjoy getting outside and getting wet or tossing balloons at their friends or siblings.

6. Puppet Show

This craft may require a little more time and creativity, but it’s just as fun for kids looking to host an outdoor puppet show in the backyard.

You can make a puppet show theater with cardboard. Make sure you let the kids decorate. Use socks or even stuffed animals to serve as the puppets, then decide what you want your show to be about. Some items you already own can be used as props for the show.

7. Bowling

Backyard bowling is the best! It’s fun, free, and there’s no heavy duty clean up. You can buy inflatable bowling pins or the toy ones and set up an outdoor bowling lane in the backyard.

Teach kids all the proper bowling terms and help them keep score.

8. Badminton

When my sister and I were younger, I remember my mom went to the dollar store and got us a badminton kit that came with two rackets and a birdie.

We didn’t know anything about playing badminton but it was super easy to get the hang of and it became one of our favorite backyard games.

To this day, I still enjoy playing badminton outside so it’s a great outdoor game for anyone really. Badminton is just one of many fun and frugal backyard game ideas for kids. You can search online or in local stores for more outdoor game equipment and materials.


Get creative when it comes to keeping the kids busy with frugal backyard games and crafts. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on camps and other programs when you can develop a safe learning space and create fun memories together at home.


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