There are many hours of arts and crafts fun available in your own backyard – literally. Here are a few projects for the backyard which the kids will love, and which won’t break your budget.
Acrylic Skins Make Creative Canvases
It’s easier than you think to make acrylic skins. Just cover a baking parchment sheet with acrylic paint, and wait for it to dry. Then the acrylic skin can be peeled away from the paper and – Voila! – you have gorgeous sheets of stretchy acrylic.
You can decorate the larger sheets and use them to make colorful book covers, or even use them as your canvas for amazing paintings or collages. Then, cut up the smaller skins to fashion mosaics and eye-catching jewelry.
Make a Giant Mixed Media Board
Mixed media boards, with a fantastic combination of stones, beads, and mini signs glued together for a 3-D masterpiece, have been used by many famous artists, including Picasso.
The sky is the limit, as you add toys, dolls, magazine pages, stamps, stencils, and half the contents of your junk drawer. To make it more challenging, decide on a theme for your media board, and attach items that tell a story.
Hang a Colorful Polyhedron in the Wind
A polyhedron is just a multi-sided figure, and there are many types you can make with construction paper, glue, and a creative eye. Cut out about 30 strips of different colored paper, and configure them into round, triangular or free-form shapes.
For older kids, hide the glue and let them use paper-folding skills to fasten the strips. When you’re done, hang the handmade polyhedron, and watch it dance in the wind. The more colors you use, the better.
Splatter Painting for Messy Fun
The art of splatter painting is perfectly suited for backyard fun because it keeps the mess outside. You might as well go “big” with a large bedsheet as your blank canvas, and spread it out on the ground.
Dip your spoon, spatula, or brush into the paint and go wild. Flick your wrist, twirl your brush, and let the paint splatter where it may. See what happens to the paint patterns when you move away from the sheet.
Use an Old Bicycle for Amazing Spin Art
Do you remember squeezing paint from plastic ketchup holders onto a spinning card,for example, at a county fair or midway? Your backyard version requires a bicycle, a sheet and a few squeeze-bottles of brightly colored paint.
Neon is the perfect shade for this project. Lay a clean sheet of white paper or cardboard over the sheet, then place the bicycle flat on the ground, with its front wheel above your white canvas.
Spin the tire with your hand, and squirt paint onto your canvas. As the paint passes through the spinning wire spokes, it sprays a mesmerizing pattern that will truly amaze the little ones. Note how different the piece looks when you speed up the wheel.
(NOTE: washable water-based paints only for this project.)
Erupting Sidewalk Chalk
To make erupting sidewalk chalk paint, simply mix equal parts of water, cornstarch, and baking soda. You’ll need a good amount of watercolor paint to offset the white baking soda. Pour the concoction into squeeze bottles, and let the fun begin!
Kids love squirting the chalk paint onto solid ground or stones, and watching it dry to a smooth and soft finish – after it erupts and fizzes! Even toddlers can get in on this project.
Make Sun Print Cards With Mother Nature
This is actually an age-old photography style called cyanotype printing. After mixing up the special solution (or buying sun print sheets), find a few interesting flat-shaped objects from your backyard.
Flat leaves work well, as does any foliage with a lot of detail, to give you a crisp sun print. Place the leaves on cards, cover them with pieces of glass, and set them in direct sunlight for 20 minutes.
Following the sun exposure, wash the cards under running water for several minutes. Your beautiful sun-kissed print will develop before your eyes, like an old Polaroid picture.
Rainbow Stick Wind Chimes
This project combines woodworking elements with arts and crafts, and will entertain the older kids for hours. First, collect a number of sticks and break them into pieces measuring 8″ – 10″ each. Then, paint them with acrylic paints in a rainbow of different colors, using two coats and a sealer.
When dry, insert small screw-eyes in the ends by twisting them in. Finally, string them about one inch apart on a crossbar with string or twine. You can admire your handmade rainbow wind chimes all season long.
Ice Bubbles to Decorate Your Yard
This next activity is a wondrous combination of science and art, but it’s only for cold climates. When the temperatures dips below freezing, head for the backyard with some warm clothes and a bottle of bubble mix. With some practice, you’ll be able to blow bubbles that freeze instantly, frozen in time and shape.
Be forewarned that these ice bubbles will be as fragile as they are beautiful, but even when they shatter, the pieces are crystal-like and colorful. What do you think will happen if you carefully carry one of the ice bubbles indoors? Try it and see!