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Staycation: 5 home projects to do with the kids

  • Staycation: 5 home projects to do with the kids

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    Father and daughter working on a DIY project

    When school's out for the summer, suddenly there's a lot of time on everybody's hands. Take advantage of the extra labor at your house and tackle some home improvement projects together with your kids. It's a way to encourage kids of all ages to take ownership of your family space. They'll learn valuable DIY skills and grow in their relationships with you. Have some fun together, and improve the enjoyment of your home at the same time. Here are a few of our favorite kid-friendly home improvement projects to schedule for your summer staycation.

  • Lay stepping stones

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    Paved walkway in a backyard

    Whether you need to create a pathway, or you just want something pretty to decorate your landscape with, a stepping stone project is always a hit with kids. You can purchase kits at craft stores, or you can pretty easily -- and cheaply -- accomplish this project with a recycled pizza box and a bag of concrete. Set their creativity free, and let them add embellishments like collected pebbles and shells, or pieces of sea glass, etc.. To make a memento, help them put a hand or footprint in it, or write their name. These stepping stones also make great gifts, and you might all get hooked on making them!

  • Build a horseshoe pit

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    Backyard horseshoe pit

    Nothing says summer like some friendly outdoor gaming. And we don't mean Pokemon Go. Think old school. Horseshoes! Creating a horseshoe pit is an easy DIY project that even the kids can get involved with. If you have a 40 foot distance to span, you can make them regulation. But that kind of space is not required to have fun. The skills and tools necessary are basic, and the materials are cheap. With a shovel to dig and level the pit areas, some pressure treated lumber, and some bags of sand, you'll be well on your way to a backyard tournament. Add a couple stakes and two sets of shoes, and you're ready to invite the neighbors over.

  • Make planters for flowers

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    Painted flower pots with flowers in three stages of growth

    Plants beautify any space, both indoors and out. Let your kids put their own colorful stamp on some outdoor planters by painting clay or plastic pots. Purchase some if you like, or use what you already have lying around. Start by thoroughly cleaning them with soap and water, and then allow them to dry completely. For clay pots, spray them with polyurethane to seal them first. For plastic pots, give them a coat of spray primer. Then, for either material, use water-based acrylics to create your design. Once it's dry, spray each pot with a top coat of polyurethane to seal and protect it from the sun and weather. Plant them with your favorite flowers or herbs, and enjoy them on your porch or patio all season long.

  • Hang a tire swing

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    Backyard tire swing

    Both kids and kids-at-heart love a good, old-fashioned, tire swing. It's what long summer days are made for. If you have an appropriate tree in your yard, hours of summertime fun can soon be yours. There are several ways to make a tire swing -- hung either flat (so you can sit in it like a pool inner tube), or on its end, supported by rope or by chain. However you decide to build and hang it, ideally, you want to use a tree branch that is 8 - 12 feet high, and free from obstruction. Remember, the higher the branch, the longer the swing chain or rope will be, and the further the tire will swing, both out and up. Get in line. Everybody's going to want a turn.

  • Build raised veggie beds

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | August 17, 2016

    DIY raised veggie beds

    A vegetable garden can be both beautiful and practical -- and a whole lot of fun to watch grow. Give your kids a sense of how the food they eat gets to the table by building a raised veggie bed. It's a simple DIY project, requiring only basic lumber and skills. You essentially want to build an open box for your space's specifications. Three inch galvanized screws will suffice to join the boards at right angles. Lay down landscaping fabric before you set your box in place and fill it with dirt. Then, it's time to put some seeds and starter plants in. With regular watering and weeding, you'll soon harvest the fruits of your labor. There's nothing that tastes quite so good as a home grown tomato. You may even find your kids trying vegetables they never would touch before.

    A summer staycation can be fun and productive with some well-planned family projects on the calendar. With any luck, these home improvements will help you make some lasting memories with your kids, and be things you'll enjoy for years to come.