How to Make an Adventure Friendly Home

We all remember the cool house.  The friend’s house as we were growing up that we loved to go to and always had a blast at.  Well when it is our turn as parents to make the home, we get to decide how it will look and what it will be.  As part of that process, why not make your home the house that all the kids want to come and play at.  Surprisingly, you may be able to do all of this for far less money than you think.

What does it take to make your home in to the house that is the envy of all of the neighbor kids?

1.  Choice – More than anything else, having an adventure friendly house for you and your kids is as simple as choosing to make it one.  Whether you rent, have an apartment, or enjoy your own house, you choose how to furnish it and what you put into it.  In all areas, you can find a way to incorporate fun into your home, even if you only have one exciting thing that people notice.

For example, one of the first things that kids notice when they come over to our house to play is that we have a swing…inside…down in our basement.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had someone over and we are talking as parents upstairs and the kids all come running up stairs to grab their parents to come see the swing.  It is simple.  We drilled four holes in a board, painted it, tied an old static climbing rope to it and screwed the two eye bolts into the ceiling joist supports.

2.  Attitude – Winston Churchill said “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.  This totally applies to having adventures whether at home or away from home.  You set the tone for your kids.

3.  Priority – if you don’t do it for your kids, who will? Just like making time for your kids is important, so is the type of things you do with them.

Some of our examples are simple.  Some of them cost some money, but all of them are awesome!

 

Treehouse – If your’re lucky to have some trees, or at least not to have an annal retentive HOA that directs your every move, a tree house can be the ideal setup for any kids. We built a treehouse this spring and it has been a hit ever since.  Watch in the next few months as we put up a tutorial about how to build a treehouse.  Throughout the summer we watched movies out in the tree house, had picnic’s or just played.  

 

Slide/Swing set – A tried and tested backyard staple, you can go simple or elaborate.  We keep it simple with a rope swing from our tree and a built-in slide (hint: try to tie your swing from the highest branch possible – your kids will thank you).  My dad would go down to a local furniture store and we’d collect the refrigerator boxes and then we’d stake it to the top of a hill and make a homemade slide.  Hours of fun either way.

 

Indoor Swing – as mentioned before, this can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Here’s a picture of our swing.  It’s easy to build and our kids use it nearly every day. Ok, sometimes, I use it every day…why wouldn’t I?  I’ve got a swing in my house.

 

Climbing wall – What kid wouldn’t love to have a climbing wall at home.  Whether it is for the intent for them to be the next crag-king or just to have fun, either an indoor or outdoor wall fits the bill.  We have one family friend who rather than having traditional bunk beds, they built hanging platform bunk beds where the only way to get up into bed was to climb the climbing holds up to the bed.

 

Sand Box – Whether it is the plastic container or a full on backyard beach, sandhills offer hours of exploration and discovery.  Just make sure to cover them up to avoid the stinky feline surprises on your kid’s next treasure hunt.

 

Forts/Exploration – Both indoor and outdoor fort building are awesome.  Give your kids a pile of random materials and see what they can come up with!

Garden – Even if it is small, gardens have a lot to offer.  Maybe not as exciting as some of the other suggestions, but adding it to the mix just offers you one more way to entertain and occupy your little adventures.  There are always bugs, worms and new things growing which offers discovery and understanding of how the world works.

Fire pole – a lot more planning or remodeling goes into this one if you have it inside, but one of my friends had one in two separate houses, and we couldn’t get enough of it.  Enough said.

 

Zipline – Honestly, this is by far our kids favorite aspect about going to Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  Sure they have a swing set and a tree house, but the zipline is where they want to play for hours!  With kids who might not be able to hold on to the handles on their own, we rig them all up with a kid’s harness like this one, and in any weather, they’ll be out begging to be next.  They’ll ride it for hours.

               

 

Recommended Products

Atomik Climbing Kids Climbing Holds -  These are not your average playground holds.  These are real climbing holds that are specially sized for kids small hands.  The 24 pack of holds offers a variety of holds with most of them being on the small and medium size range and a few large ones.  Although there are several small ones in the set, if strategically placed (with the bigger holds near the top for hands to grab), this doesn’t seem to be a problem.  If you’re looking for bigger holds, they have those as well.  Okay, really they have any type of climbing hold you could ever want!  The best part is, the price is amazing.  The 24 pack of holds is only $85 making it WAY less than the competition (without sacrificing quality).

We teamed up with Atomik Climbing Holds and built a climbing wall for our treehouse.  If you are interested in this idea, Atomik has a great variety of climbing holds and more importantly have a wealth of information here v  about building climbing walls on their website.  It gave us all of the information and specifics that we needed to know.  Also, if you get stuck, just call Kenny who will be happy to answer technical climbing wall questions for you.  The wall was fairly easy to build and could be done in a long afternoon (we made ours more complicated by staining the wood and using 2×6 boards we already had and it still only took about 7 hours).

 

Slackers Zipline Kit - This zipline kit has everything you need for years of backyard fun (okay, except the trees).  We easily set this up in about an hour!  The best part about it is that it is rated for up to 250 lbs so everyone from Chloe to Grandpa enjoyed playing on it without any problems.  A nice feature of this kit that many others lack is padded handles.  After several rides on the line, this is a life hand-saver.  These kits come with either the regular handlebar, or a handlebar and seat set.

 

Handy Dad in The Great Outdoors by Todd Davis - This is a great book all about projects that Dads and kids can build together.  This book has lots of great tips for outdoor adventures that you can easily adapt for a backyard adventure as well.  There are lots of great ideas including fire building, panning for gold, lizard catching, slacklining, and my favorite TARP SURFING!  A fun book with lots of fun ideas to keep your family full of adventure.

 

Giveaway

One lucky reader is going to win the best backyard on the block complete with a 24 pack of climbing holds, a Slacker Zipline, and a copy of Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors.

                

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Atomik, Slackers, and Chronicle books for providing items for this review

104 Comments

  • Melissa N says:

    The time we spend outside depends on the season. We don’t spend very much time outside in the summer unless we are swimming. In the cooler months we will spend a couple hours outside everyday exploring in the rock piles in our backyard, going for walks, or riding bikes!

    • Melissa N says:

      Oh, and our favorite adventure item is our bikes…not extremely adventurous but they get us around the neighborhood to see all the interesting things around us!

  • Megan says:

    Great ideas! We have a house in the mountains and definitely want to add a climbing wall and zip line. Our daughter is only 5 months old though!

  • Cassie B says:

    We spend about an hour every day out side. And our favorite thing to do is play hide and seek.

  • Anne Elkins says:

    I spend most of my time outdoors working in the garden or taking care of the yard. I love freshly mown grass, beautiful flowers & bushes, piles of autumn leaves, and all the wonderful produce we grow. I love your posts because it makes me want to “play” more!

  • sonya says:

    We live on a farm and want to turn an old calf shelter into a fort, climbing wall, zip line area. This prize would really help… climbing holds are SO expensive! Awesome post! Thanks.

  • shawna says:

    BAM! That’s a rad giveaway…for reals. We’re in the backyard a lot so any of these would add to the play going on back there. Love it!

  • Tiffany says:

    Love these ideas. I would love to add a climbing wall for the kids. One of our neighbors has a rock climbing wall in her basement with a foam pit below it. Above it, she put a “easy” botton on the wall that lights up when you mash it. The kids love trying to see if they can reach the top and mash the button.

  • Tanya says:

    I’d love to make our own climbing wall at home and we’ve been thinking about putting a swing in the basement too. Wish we had trees for a tree house.

  • Lin says:

    Love this giveaway :) We are out a couple/3 hours in the winter, when our favorite backyard fun is on our ice rink. In the spring/summer/fall we live outside, with our favorite fun centering on our treehouse/sandbox and I love my hammock (which the kids use as a boat). We have long wanted a zipline outside, and I’d love handholds for the kids to climb to the 2nd floor. We have a swing in our basement too!

  • E B says:

    Totally depends on the time of year and the weather. Averaged together, maybe an hour a day? Much more in summer than in winter. Favorite things are taking nature walks, playing on playground equipment, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. I love this giveaway because it would get my kids more strength and confidence!

  • Michelle says:

    We haven’t spent much time outside in the last three summers because we were in AZ, but we are loving being back in UT where we can be outside in the summer! The girls actually loved the first snow storm and spent hours out in the snow. Mark would love this climbing gear to get the girls started!

  • Sarah says:

    Depends on the seasons and the weather but we do get outside everyday! I love our backyard. We have a great hill that kids love rolling and sledding down. Another is our tree house…which is really just the middle of a circle of pine trees but that is everyone’s favorite spot to play and explore!

  • Naomi Osborn says:

    I’m so inspired by the idea of having climbing holds instead of a ladder for bunkbeds! Great ideas.

  • Naomi Osborn says:

    We spend about an hour a day outside… we have to plan our outdoor adventures – we live in an apartment! The kids just love their bikes.

  • Amelia says:

    We spend anywhere from 1-4 hours outside in the winter (or longer for full ski day trips) and most of the day in the summer! We just moved so our backyard needs some serious fun – this would be PERFECT! Fingers and toes crossed. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Livivua c says:

    Two to three and riding bikes

  • John says:

    Can’t wait to see the info on building a treehouse.

  • Jen says:

    Love the idea of the indoor swing

  • Michelle says:

    We have a zipline at Grandpa’s house, too! It’s homemade and a little frightening, but the kids love love love it! Man, my kids live outside. It’s great for getting housework done, and also for Mom to escape out with them.

  • angela says:

    The best thing to have in the backyard? Rakes, leaves, and a box to put them in. I can’t believe how much time the kids plus the neighbors spend with these items. They even filled the wading pool so they could “swim”. Awesome.

  • These are great ideas for an adventurous house! Our best purchase by far has been our trampoline. We picked it up about 4 years ago at a garage sale and it’s been used a few times a week ever since. It is a real treat for the kids’ friends. The treehouse is also a big hit, but typically only when the kids have friends over. We also planted lots of berries and the kids friends love to pick berries in the summer!

  • Justin says:

    Great giveaway! We enjoy taking walks and exploring the woods around us and try to get outside for an hour at least a day. It’s hard now with it getting dark so early.

  • Lia Keller says:

    It depends on the temperature as today it was below zero and the kids lasted about 30 minutes. In the summer, it is easier to stay that we are only inside for meals and sleeping! The kids mainly love exploring – walking through a creek with books, climbing on fallen trees and the like!

  • David says:

    That zipline looks awesome, it must be a ton of fun.

  • Emily S says:

    When the weather is nice, a few hours. When it’s too hot or cold, they don’t want to go out at all. The kids love the cement path that goes around the lawn. they can run laps, scooter, and bike around it. That wall looks awesome, we have friends who installed one on the wall at the turn in their stairs inside their house.

  • Marta says:

    I love to get outside whenever I can. I love to dig in the dirt and plant good things to eat. Our favorite backyard adventure item is our future climbing wall. We have a great sand pit underneath where the two-story wall will be.

  • Ryan says:

    Most of our time spent outside as a family is on the weekends. Our favorite activity is family bike rides. We have a short trail system close to us. The kids love it.

  • Sara Stong says:

    We are outside about .5-1.5 hours each day. Some of our favorite back yard adventures are jumping on the trampoline, gardening and making forts/hide outs. Right now our favorite back yard adventure item is the trampoline.

  • Tristen Lawrence says:

    We spend quite a bit of time outside, that is what makes the super hot summers out here tricky! Your tree house is amazing!

  • mechele johnson says:

    We live very rural, and near the beach. We spend a ton of time outside hiking around our property, enjoying our creek, clam digging and playing with our pet chickens.

  • Dave says:

    We just moved to Las Vegas and our kid loves to eat handfuls of dirt. If he were to choose we would live outside.

  • Kim says:

    Holy cow! I would love to win this! (Must be the kid in me :) ) right now we spent 1-2 hrs outside. I wish we could be out more, maybe if our yard was enclosed. Right now I have to chase the toddler everywhere! My kids love to play in the dirt and collect bugs, sticks, rocks and leaves.

  • Kim says:

    P.s. We thought your house was cool BEFORE the treehouse. So now you must know you have the best house in the neighborhood! Look at that awesome yard! I want to come play in it! :)

  • Ben says:

    Sadly my work schedule tends to hamper our Daily outdoor time. However weekends can find us outside most all of the time.

  • eric hudgens says:

    We typically spend several hours per day outside on the weekend but not as much during the week. The kiddos are outside all the time. We really like playing on the tree house I built for them a few years ago.

  • Derek Atkins says:

    We have an 18 month old and another on the way this Friday! Can’t wait for them both to be able to bomb around the backyard together. Love these ideas!

  • Julie L says:

    Our outdoor time largely depends on the weather but usually an hour or two- more in the summer. We live in the mountains so our backyard is one giant playground- trails, trees and rocks to climb, and water to play in.

  • Betsy says:

    We try to make a huge snow fort and a lot of kids in the neighborhood come over to help and to play in it.

  • Rachael H says:

    I just found your blog and I love it! I really want to be the house that has all the fun stuff. We ride bikes and hike in the summer, and ski in the winter. We aren’t as good at being outside in the winter though. I want to try and be better this winter.
    I do have one question though…I’m probably being a buzz kill,…sorry ! But do you worry about the neighborhood kids getting hurt? Our neighbors (they are really the fun house on our street) got sued last year because an unsupervised three year old broke his leg on their tramp. (they weren’t home at the time) I guess it is called an “attractive nuisance”. They settled out of court, but it really freaked me out. I’m curious how other “cool, fun” houses handle this, or if it is even a problem.
    Thanks!

  • JD Northwest says:

    We spend hours a day outside during the summer and try to be out as much as weather allows during the winter months. We have a small backyard but a 3 acre park a few blocks away where we do football, soccer with pop-up goals and chase around the play structures making games up on the fly.

  • Christine says:

    We’re outside almost all weekned. It’s colder now so the week days are shorter times outside, we hike, bike, play games outside!

  • Joel says:

    My kids would flip for those things. I got the perfect spot on their tree house for those hand holds and that zipline…. What better way to get down. Seriously great stuff and fantastic ideas!

  • Melissa says:

    We spend at least 2hrs a day outside together during the week and on weekends it’s pretty much all day. Dirt with Tonka trucks and hot wheels is a big hit along with outdoor games.

  • DEBIJOT says:

    In the winter we are outside approx. 2 hours per day playing football or basketball. In the summer we are outside for hours each day swimming.

  • Ada Miller says:

    everyday that its warm enough and not wet we are outside. i have boys who love to climb,dig in dirt etc,so if you dont take them out so they can be wild boys and wear off some of their energy they will drive ya nuts.lol Also we only live once and they are only little for a short time so i love for them to be able to be kids and have all the fun they can while they want to.

    aemgeg4 (@) yahoo (dot) com

  • Stephanie B says:

    We are outside on the way to school and aside from homework, as soon as they’re done. My favorite thing about this time of year is that there is so much to see outside. They want to play in the leaves, collect leaves, hiking in the woods, see how much of the lake is frozen, hope for snow, use headlamps when it gets dark, etc.

  • Kristen M. says:

    We spend a lot of time outdoors, but not so much in the backyard unless we are gardening or grilling. The exception is my toddler who would spend every waking hour in his backyard sandbox if allowed. My older kids enjoy biking/riding their scooters and we are fortunate to have a park a couple blocks away which we visit often.

    We are also fortunate to live near the ocean. In the summertime we go to the beach every Sunday until it gets too cold. My kids enjoy boogie boarding and building with sand. This year we extended our “beach therapy” thru the month of September.

    Our other fun summer activity is camping. We spent two weeks camping this summer, including a week at Yosemite!

  • Julie says:

    During warm weather we can be outside for hours. In cooler weather we still get out, but not as long.
    We love out swing set, but they would be thrilled to have a climbing wall and zip line. They love them at the local park!

  • Trout MaGee says:

    I would love to set up a zip line at our place. Kids time for dinner…..:)

  • Pam says:

    Great ideas. Had planned to build a treehouse with climbing wall access when DD gets a little older…she’s 3.

    We do love our sandbox and play in that daily. Jumping in leaves is still a hit here. I have a small pile I keep moving that she can jump in. Of course we are still having 60 degree days so that is possible..with leaved still on many trees this year.

    Might collect sticks this year as they fall to make a kid size leanto.

  • Tina Elder says:

    When the kids don’t have school we our outside almost all day long. Now that school is in their time is limited because of homework, etc. But they are out there every available minute they have.
    Hiking, archery, swinging, horseback riding

  • Cambria says:

    Love almost anything outside as long as it is warm! Hiking, camping, boating, biking.

  • Cristen says:

    When it’s warm we love to swim in our pool. We don’t spend too much time outdoors when it’s wet and rainy here.

  • Theresa J says:

    1-2 hours a day and hide and seek is the best outside

  • Debbie says:

    We spend much less time outside in the winter, so our average is probably 30 mins-1 hour. Our favorite outdoor activity is the trampoline. But my daughter also loves playing in the dirt and the rain forest (overgrown bushes and trees). You do have the house that everyone envies! You’re awesome!!!

  • Daiva says:

    We try to spend as much as possible outside but it varies greatly depending on the weather and the day, activities we do. My kids love their trampoline.

  • Shelley says:

    We spend at least a couple hours a day if the weather permits. Our favorite activity is riding on the tire swing!!

  • Emily says:

    We spend a ton of time outdoors :) We live by the river so can often be found down by the river.. when the weather is warm we for the most live outside aside from school/work :) My 4 year old especially loves playing in a good summer rain :) Our outdoor essential is a great pair of exploring shoes and our adventuring spirit.. :)

  • gigi says:

    In the winter, we spend about an hour or two outside a day – in the summer, it varies – sometimes we’re out from sun up to sun down. If we have to stay inside due to the weather, we’re usually doing some sports game on the Xbox Kinect!

  • Katie says:

    Depending on the days- it could be a couple of hours… Even though we have a playground steps away, it is always fun to go to a different park/playground.

  • When weather permits,we are outside most of the day, with exception of school days. Our favorite outdoor activities are hunting, fishing, hiking….

    ubrewme@yahoo.com

  • michelle gilliland mcafee says:

    Skateboards by far are the favorite, the boys kick and ramp like crazy, The next would be the trampoline, it’s fun, good for us and the best money I ever spent. The boys spend every minute until dark out and we spend as much time out as we can.

  • Shannon says:

    My three kids are all under 4 (!), and we play in the back yard as much as possible. My husband and I are looking forward to more land in the future for much more back yard play!

  • Suzi says:

    We’re outside everyday! Sometimes for 1/2 hour, sometimes for 8 hours :D My son’s favourite backyard play is the sandbox!

  • Wendy says:

    When the kids are outta school we spend as much time as possible outside! Also the reason we live in FL (the weather to be able to do so) Our favorite thing in our own backyard would have to be the trampoline, that or good old hide in seek since we have lots of trees!

  • Shannon says:

    We are not good at playing outside when it’s cold…in the summer we are out everyday though.

  • bradley howard says:

    we do not get outside as much in the summer as we all should but in the winter time we like to be out a lot

  • Jesi says:

    Depends on the weather. 1-2 hours in the Winter. Summer as much as possible. Sandbox is our favorite!

  • Tina Elder says:

    4-5 hours a day!! During the summer almost all day long! We love the outdoors!

  • christine weideman says:

    One to two hours per day and our fave is going down to the stream to play

  • tree says:

    During the warm months we spend a lot of time outside. We have a large garden/homestead and spend most of our days outside working and playing. Our favorite backyard item would be the tree hammock swing. We have a nice swingset, but the kids love the tree swing.

  • Sara McManaway says:

    As much as possible, the kids love their treehouse

  • Amy Hatch says:

    As much time as possible, weather permitting. Our kiddo isn’t even crawling yet, so sitting on a blanket and watching the dogs chase is ball, is a big hit at the moment.

  • Valerie says:

    In cold weather we get outside an hour before nap and 20 to 40 min in the afternoon…the sand toys year round. snow, mud, sleet, sun or sand.

  • Janine says:

    About an hour…our next door neighbor’s sandbox! :-)

  • Sarah MK says:

    My kids spend (on average) about 3 hours a day outside year round! We homeschool, so we do much of our learning outside even in the winter! My kids love playing around the pond and in the woods around our house.

  • Kara J says:

    we are outside as a group every weekend!

  • Geekmum says:

    We spend about an hour a week during the cold season, much more in the summer. We use disc golf frisbees and bubbles to play with our dog.

  • Beth Hill says:

    I have 2 teenage boys and our outside usually consists of basketball or target shooting or bike riding or catching frogs and small fish in our creek.

  • Bud L says:

    It really depends on the time of year, 2-3 hrs during the summer and less in the winter months

  • Shareen Mioskowski says:

    There are so many things to do depending on the season but we spend about 2hrs a day outside if it is not to cold than it is less.

  • Kelly Falcone says:

    We are outside 2-3 hours a day just exploring : )

  • Kelly E says:

    Not nearly enough daily outside adventure time! But what helps us get out is our Chariot!

  • sarah buki says:

    not as much as we want! but our boys love playing in a cozy coupe

  • not nearly enough most days about an hour.

  • rochelle johnson says:

    we try for at least 30 min. but sometimes it is way to cold, durning spring and fall we are outside for 1 to 3 hours.

  • alicia zirjacks says:

    We spend an hour or two outside each day if the weather is nice. We love jumping on the trampoline

  • Marti B says:

    As much time as possible, depending on the weather and our schedule. The boys are always begging to go out on the trampoline.

  • Wendi S says:

    My family and I spend about 2-3 hours a day outside. More on the weekends. I guess their favorite outdoor activity in our backyard is the trampoline.

  • JohnZ says:

    I create scavenger hunts that my son just loves

  • Katie Wewer says:

    We spend about 10 hours outside a week, unless we are camping for the month, then it’s all the time! We have a ski chair swing with a kids swing next to it. That’s our favorite backyard toy.

  • An hour or two on weekdays in winter, more in summer. Weekends most of the day. Pool.

  • Kris D. says:

    We always go outside for at least an hour together…more when it’s warmer.

  • Jessica says:

    Love these ideas. We spend quite a bit outside. Especially in the Summer months where the sun never really sets in Alaska. Our 2 yr old loves the sandbox and playground and hiking in our backyard.

  • Heather says:

    Sadie just learned to finally ride her bike so she is constantly asking to go outside. So maybe an hour a day

  • Katie says:

    Our time outside varies a lot. I try to get out for atleast 20 minutes a day if the weather is infant-friendly. On nice days, we can easily be outside for an hour or two. During summer when we have daylight after dinner, we almost always head out for an hour or so of bonus outside play time.

  • Candace says:

    During the week 20 or 30 mins. On the weekend hours :) My son love playing with our dog. Playing with rocks. Playing on his ride on toys.

  • Angela Killingsworth says:

    Usually we are outside most of the day! We have a treehouse that our boys love to play in.

  • 1955nurse says:

    We are outside alot when we have our Grandkids, as much as possible! We like to take them to the lake, or just out back to the trampoline & climbing fort that they have!(HollyC) Thanks for the chance….

  • Erin D. says:

    At minimum we try to get outside for at least an hour everyday. When the weather is warmer our family is happy to be outside all day long. Our favorite outdoor adventure items are actually items that we find in the woods or washed up along the beach. An old lobster buoy that we found last week keep us busy for hours as the kids pretended it was everything from a horse to a football.

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