Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Amazing Summer Backyard Activities!

Summer is just around the corner and it is time to get ready for some fun. Turn your backyard into a fun-filled oasis for your kids and their friends.  

Sponge Ball Water Fight:

This is such an inexpensive game that is sure to provide hours of fun during the hot summer months. 

Image: Create.Craft.Love

You can pick up all the materials at the dollar store!

Materials Needed:

  • Sponges - 3 sponges per ball
  • Hair ties
  • Scissors
  • Bucket


These sponge balls are simple to make and Jill at Create.Craft.Love has great photos of each step.  Head over to her blog for full instructions.

Angry Birds Course:

Start keeping all those boxes because you'll need them for this fun backyard game that gets kids away from the screen but still playing their favourite game.

Image: Kara's Party Ideas

You can either make a catapult to make your backyard game as close to the real game as possible or simply let the kids throw the balls at the boxes for an easier, quicker game.

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard boxes - multiple sizes
  • Multiple size balls
    • Dry eraser marker
    • Acryllic paint
    • Primer
    • Paint brushes
    • Black paint pens 
    • Sealant
  • Catapult (if using) - instructions here
Note:  If the process of making your birds and pigs is too much and you feel that the project is just too involved, use permanent markers to draw the faces.  It won't be as durable but it might be less stressful.


Creating your own Angry Birds course can be as involved or as simple as you want to make it.  You can paint the boxes, create amazing birds, build a permanent sling shot in your backyard or you can keep it simple and still have loads of fun.  Maegan at Simply Styled Home has amazing instructions for creating awesome Angry Bird Balls and even instructions for building your very own catapult to fling those birds.  

The Water Blob:

This is such a fun idea for the kids if you don't have a pool but they're always clammering for water fun. Create your own giant water blob in under 30 minutes that they can run on, jump on, roll around and get crazy on. 

Image: Homemade Toast

Make it even more fun by hooking up your sprinkler beside it and now you've got an amazingly fun slip-and-slide in your backyard.

Materials Needed:

  • Painter’s plastic *4 mil*
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Parchment paper
  • Duct tape – optional, for sealing the hole for the hose
Note:   Make sure to get the 4 mil painter's plastic as it is thicker & more durable.


I love this version of the backyard blob (you will find many on Pinterest) because the iron seals the blob closed and therefore reduces the likelihood of leaks.  Duct tape alone can spring leaks but you will need some for taping up the hole for your hose.  For full instructions, check out Homemade Toast.

Obstacle Course:

This could be set up at a cottage, in the backyard or even in a park.  If you set it up somewhere the kids can use it over and over again then they could even work on improving their time over the summer.  Great for kids of all ages.

Image: Under the Sycamore

Materials Needed:

This one depends a little on exactly what you want to do and how much room you have but here are some ideas.
  • String
  • Old tires
  • Caution Tape
  • Empty large sized cardboard boxes
  • Hay bails
  • Pylons
  • Logs


Decide on a location and get creative.  Tie ropes between trees at various heights and angles.  Pile some logs on top of eachother that the kids must get over, place cardboard boxes on their sides so the kids must run through them.  Put old tires on the ground that the kids must dash through as if they're training for the NFL. Spread hay bails along the course that the kids must hurdle themselves over.  The more creative you can be, the more fun the kids will have.  Heck, you can even throw in a mud pit or a sand pit if you want.  For some great photo inspiration, check out Under the Sycamore.

Reading Oasis:

Sometimes in the summer you just need somewhere to chill and get away from all the action.  This reading hideout is just the spot.

Image: The Craft Nest

Materials Needed:

  • Hula Hoop 
  • Safety Pins
  • Twine or Rope
  • Sheets (or tie tab curtains - see note below)
  • Scissors
  • Cushions and Blankets
  • Tulle and/or Ribbon (optional for decoration)
Note:  This version calls for you to attach the sheet to the hula hoop with safety pins but you could purchase inexpensive tie tab curtains (and you'd get two in package most likely) and just tie them on instead.


This really couldn't be any simpler and the kids could help you make them and personalize them by choosing the sheets and with their own ribbon decorations.  For easy to follow instructions, visit the Craft Nest.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

3 Simple Rules for Teaching Philanthropy to Kids & the Great Camp Adventure Walk

How do we teach our children about philanthropy and why is it so important? I believe this quote from the great Maya Angelou answers that question.

"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver." - Maya Angelou

They always say that you get more from giving than receiving and that has always held true in my experience. So, what is the best way to teach children about philanthropy? I think there are 3 key rules that make it easy.

  1. Lead by example.
  2. Find a cause that is meaningful to them. (This helps to put their efforts into perspective)
  3. Make it fun. (I like to call it FUNdraising)

For my kids we have set out to raise funds for a few different charities but one close to our hearts that we fundraise over and over for is the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In the past the kids have made and sold Christmas ornaments, had a Rainbow Loom sale, done yard work for neighbours to raise funds and donated craft supplies that they purchased themselves. The hospital is a great cause for us because as rule #2 points out, you want it to be meaningful for them.

About a year and a half ago my daughter visited the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto for some tests. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience with compassionate doctors and nurses who erased her fears and made her feel safe and comfortable throughout what could have been a very scary day. We were lucky, at the end of our visit we were able to leave the hospital and go home but for many families their visits to the Hospital for Sick Children can last weeks or even months. 

This reality hit close to home this year and became abundantly clear to my children. My daughter has started visiting a friend at the Hospital for Sick Children when he is there for extended stays. These visits stick with her. Being surrounded by so many brave children who are terminally ill, battling terrible diseases and living away from home has had a profound impact on her.

This year there is a great fundraising event for SickKids that will be fun for the whole family (this hits rules #1 and #3 - awesome!). The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit SickKids is like no other walk you've done with your family.  

On September 27th, 2014, you can join more than a thousand walkers as you take to the streets of downtown Toronto, united in a common goal of supporting SickKids and helping to improve children’s health. The walk is both stroller and wheelchair friendly so everyone can participate. As a family you can choose to walk 5, 10, 15, or 20 km. BUT here's what sets this walk apart. Along the route you will stop at fun-filled campsites. You will laugh, sing, play, meet new friends, collect camp badges. The day starts off with breakfast and finishes with dinner and closing campfires. So not only will you be teaching your kids about philanthropy and raising funds for a pivotal resource here in Toronto, you will get to experience it all with real camp spirit!

We are blessed to have a world renowned hospital right here in our city and to know that it is there for all Canadian families, no matter their financial situation. That said, they cannot do it alone so I encourage you to visit to learn more and register your family for the Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit SickKids. It will be a full day of adventure, filled with unique games and activities that will challenge and entertain. More importantly you will be supporting The Hospital for Sick Children, helping to improve children’s health, and taking that first step to impart a lifetime of philanthropy in your children. 

  This post was brought to you by The SickKids Foundation, however the opinions are my own. 
For more information please visit

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