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Fun ideas for a DIY backyard bigtop!

Boring backyard? Not this spring! Step right up and try your hand at some psychedelic lawn bowling, tin can slits and homemade funky face paint. Commemorate the day the Ringling Brothers Circus opened by turning your backyard into the place to be.

Here are some super fun an super easy activities:

1. Sifted Flour Lawn Stars

These easy lawn decals will glam up your grass in minutes. All you need to do is cut a big star out of a pizza or cereal box, set it on the lawn, use a spray bottle to douse the lawn inside the star with (this will make the flour stick). With a flour sifter, shake some white flour liberally over the template. Fill your lawn with stars of every size!

2. Funky Face Paints

Mix up your own face paints in an ice cube tray for any colour you want that won’t irritate sensitive skin. Mix equal parts washable kids paint with any lotion, and make your own colours in each cube. This is better than the chalk-like face paints you can buy because you can use different tools to apply it. Use a paintbrush and get really artistic with details, or a sponge for dabbing. It’s also great for sensitive skin.

3. Backyard Bowling Alley

Lawn bowling rules! Get 10 clear plastic bottles (in different sizes if you can), fill them with water add a few drops of neon food coloring to each to make them wacky colours. Stand them up on flat ground and create a bowling lane with party streamers. A basketball or soccer ball makes a great through-the-legs bowling ball.

4. Tin Can Stilts

These aren’t as risky as the real thing, so anyone can feel like a circus star. Grab two 850 mL cans (tomato sauce or apple juice) and puncture two holes in each side with a can opener. Drain it, and repeat with the other can. Wash each can and remove their labels. Paint both cans white, when they’re dry, dip dampened sponge stars into pans or plates of paint and dab the can to cover it with stars. To make the handles, tape one end of a length of kitchen string to a skewer. Push it through one hole in the can and out the other. Have your kid stand on the can and hold the line’s ends. Knot the line at hip level and trim, repeat for the other stilts. Remove the skewer from each can and walk! Your kid will be on top of the world.

5. Snow Cones

When you need a refreshing cool down after all that frolicking, hit the rest station for a snow cone. Buy some small paper Dixie cups to make your snow cones look authentic. To make the syrup, mix ½ cup sweetened, flavoured drink mix with ¾ cup hot water. Let cool. If your blender has a setting for crushing ice, throw some cubes in there. If not, you can crush a bag of ice by hand by covering it with a towel and hacking it with rolling pin. Scoop the crushed ice into the Dixie cups and pour the syrup over.

6. Frozen Treasure Dig

This game lets your kids unearth buried treasure from a block of thawed ice. Make your own magic-filled block by filling a rubbermaid tub (how big you want it will depend on the size of your freezer) with water and trinkets like rubber jellyfish, plastic fish and sunken treasures. Freeze, then take it out and let it thaw a bit. Let your kids have a crack at it with some small hammers to hack away the treasure. The more you let it thaw, the easier it will be to get the toys out.

Photos: jaygoldmanmelalouisetheloushe via Flickr 

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