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With summer on our doorstep, it’s time to embrace the weather and head outside. If you’re looking for ideas to keep kids entertained outdoors without spending a fortune or straying too far from home, look no further than the simplicity of chalk. From educational games to art ideas everyone can accomplish, sidewalk chalk offers hours of entrainment to engage kids of all ages.

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Create photo backdrops

This creative multimedia activity is easier than it sounds. Brainstorm ideas for fun photoshoots like floating in space, under the sea, playing with dinosaurs, or anything else you can think of. A super simple one could be to draw a crown to become a king or queen! Creative kids — and adults — will love drawing these backdrops onto the chalk. When you’re done, get kids to pose by lying down on the sidewalk and take some photos of the final scene.

Chalk photo backdrop PeopleImages / Getty Images
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Make a map of your neighborhood

If your kids love playing with toy cars, how about creating a giant city map for them to play in? If you want to take this activity even further, try recreating your city or neighborhood. This could be a great way to incorporate some light exercise as a family; as you’re walking around the neighborhood, talk about the houses, landmarks, and other things you can see, then challenge yourselves to recreate it in chalk.

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Make a life-size board game

The possibilities for this are as limitless as your imagination. With a square grid and a few game pieces, you can take things to the next level with a life-size game of checkers. Even armed with nothing but chalk, familiar games like tic tac toe and hangman feel fresh and exciting at a magnified size. How about recreating classic party games, like Pictionary or Twister? Or, if you have the time and space, draw a life-size shoots and ladders board and use yourself as your own game piece. If you’d really like to challenge kids’ creativity, let them design their own board game and act it out.

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Create an obstacle course

If you’re feeling a little more physical, a chalk obstacle course is a great way to get kids moving. Simply choose a start and endpoint, then fill the course with quick and fun activities like jumping, hopping, skipping, dancing, or turning in a circle. You can add in more restful activities, too, like making a wish or saying their name backward. For older kids, try using the obstacle course as a fitness circuit by planning activities like push-ups, jumping jacks, and planking.

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Put on a mini sports carnival

If your kids are missing organized sports and school carnivals, give them a taste of sports day with just a few lines on chalk. Simple activities to recreate at home could include running races, long jump, egg and spoon races, bean bag toss, or even testing out kids’ balance and coordination by getting them to walk along a single chalk line. If you have the space and the equipment, you could even create a tennis, basketball, or handball court by drawing the lines in chalk.

Children playing sports SolStock / Getty Images

Alphabet and spelling activities

By creating a simple grid with the letters of the alphabet scattered in random order, you can practice anything from letter recognition to spelling homework. For younger kids, getting them to find and jump from letters in order from A to Z can be a great way of learning the alphabet, or get them to say the sound each letter makes to practice letter-sound recognition. For older kids, have them spell out vocabulary words using the grid.

fstop123 / Getty Images

Math and number games

For a fun way or reinforcing math at home, fill a hopscotch grid with math facts. Get kids to roll dice to decide how many spaces to move, then they have to solve whatever math fact they land on. These could be simple or more complex, depending on kids’ ages and abilities; younger kids might want to stick to simple addition, whereas games for older kids could incorporate addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

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Tell the time

An easy way to teach kids to tell the time is with this clock idea. Draw a big circle and get kids to fill in the hours; if they need a little more help, you can put marks where the numbers should go. Perfect for two players, this game requires one person to act out the hour hand and the other person to act out the minute hand. Have three kids? Get one to run around clockwise as the second hand to show time passing, or counterclockwise to go backward in time.

Large chalk clock alengo / Getty Images

Scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is an easy activity to do with letters or colors. Either write some letters on the sidewalk — kids may want to do this themselves, too, especially if they’re still practicing their letters — or color in some circles with colored chalk. Then get kids to hunt around to find objects that match those colors or letters. To add a competitive edge, get kids to race one another to see who can find the objects more quickly, or get one child to race against the clock.

Different colored chalk andydidyk / Getty Images

Self-portraits

This is a really simple activity that kids will love. Get them to lie down on the sidewalk and strike a fun pose, then draw around them in an outline. Ask them to fill in the details like hair, clothes, and facial expressions with colored chalk to create a life-size self-portrait.

Boy drawing with chalk portishead1 / Getty Images

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