Backyard Summer Fun for the Family

Finding Bugs by Juhan Sonin
How do you throw a summer barbecue with kids running around and the hot sun beating down on you, while keeping it budget-friendly and under control? It might take a little magic! Dress up the spread with ripe, local summer fruits and keep the kids cool and entertained with some fun tricks.
The Grub
1) Instead of loading up on calorie-laden chips and dips, think local. If you go down to your local farmer’s market to stock up for the get-together, you’ll have more fun than if you stroll down the aisles of your local Wal-Mart, anyway. Pick up some ripe melons, fresh peaches and berries, summer squash and zucchini, and some kale.2) It doesn’t take a magician to put together a delicious meal with these goodies. Cut your melons in half and scoop out the insides with a melon ball scoop. Once the entire melon is hollowed out, fill the shells with the fruit. You can throw the “bowls” in the compost bins after the party.
Fruit Platter by littleyiye/flickr3)
Instead of chips, use raw zucchini and summer squash. Cut it into thin rounds, put it in a bowl, and cover it with ice water. Stick it all in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, drain the squash in a colander, and pat it dry with paper towels. Dip these chips into hummus or ranch dressing.4) For a healthy dose of iron and calcium, roast up some kale chips. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the thick stem apart from the kale leaves, and tear the leaves into pieces. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, a drizzle of soy sauce, and a splash of hot sauce. Spread the leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast them for about 10 to 15 minutes. Check them every five minutes while cooking to toss them and test for doneness. Take them out of the oven when they are crispy, before they burn.

The Games

A) You don’t need to waste water to keep the kids happy in the summer sun. Try getting a group juggling game going. Have the kids stand close together in a circle and throw a ball back and forth to the player standing across from them. Make sure everyone gets a chance to throw and catch the ball once. Continue throwing and catching the ball, repeating the same pattern. Once the pattern is established, throw another ball into the sequence. Once you have a few balls going, it will appear as though the group is juggling, just like a magician.

Between Sisters by Angela Vincent

B) To keep the kids entertained for a while, try the ESP scavenger hunt. Take turns designating the “psychic.” That player will write down a list of things that are available in the yard, such as a leaf, a blade of grass, a pebble, or a ball. The player will tell the other kids how many items to search for, and those kids will take a few minutes to retrieve the appropriate number of items. When they bring the items back to the “psychic,” the player who has the most items that match with those on the secret list wins.

C) Another option to keep the kids busy is a play parachute. You can pick one up for less than $30, and it’s a great developmental and social activity. Kids can stand around it in a circle and grab the edges to bounce balls around inside of it. They can also create a parachute igloo by lifting it high over their heads, then by bringing the edges low to the ground and sitting on them. This creates a magical, colorful space where the kids can hide.

The summer is the perfect time to hang out with your family and friends. Don’t cram everyone inside your air-conditioned home, though. Take the party to the backyard. Fresh fruits and veggies won’t go bad at the buffet, and with a little planning, you can keep the kids busy all day.

About the author

Marilyn Baker is the mother of twins and a content contributor for, an online magic shop featuring a multitude of books, DVD’s, and kits full of  magic tricks .