Backyard Adventure

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

In most ways, this is a spectacular book. It is filled with child-friendly outdoor ideas that are creative, messy, sensory and fun. Many of them are low cost and many are easy for parents to help set up and step away from so kids can lead the fun. The author also has a really likeable tone, just the perfect mix of funny and wise.

The book is broken up into sections, which include forts and other hideaways (examples: make a fort from hay bales, make a badger hole or big hole with a covering in the dirt, make a living willow fort), places for tinkering (examples: create a mud lab, make a marble tube from tubing, safely use fireworks), naturally wild (examples: make dyes from natural materials, plant things you can snack on or throw at each other, make seed bombs), setting up camp (examples: make an easy outdoor shower or toilet, make an outdoor stage, make campfire food), sidewalks driveways and fences (examples: put shaving cream on the fence and stick cheese puffs and other things onto it for designs and wash it off, make exploding sidewalk chalk with plastic bags filled with baking soda and vinegar and food coloring in pouches), adventure course (examples: make a tire swing, make your own slip and slide and cover it with slippery stuff, make a red yarn laser course), water bubbles and goo (examples: make eggshell paint bombs, make a giant water bag, make easy sprinklers with things like water bottles or pool noodles), lurking after dark (examples: have a glow stick hunt, make a zombie by wrapping someone in plastic wrap and duct tape and cutting it off and giving it a head).

I love that the book is filled with pictures of real kids actually doing all the activities, and not stock images. I also love the focus on child-led fun, nature play and encouraging mild risk-taking (which we know is very important in raising resilient, creative, self confident kids). I also love that the author encourages letting your yard be wild and kid-friendly instead of sterile and uninviting. And of course I love the fact that it encourages kids to happily get outside and stay outside. I knew that my 11 y/o especially would be thrilled with a lot of the ideas.

What I don't love quite so much-- This book just isn't going to work for a lot of families. We are lucky enough to have a large yard but so many of the ideas aren't possible for us. She encourages you to build a high fence so your mess won't bother anybody but her ideas are frequently the kind of things that towns like mine and homeowners associations frankly ban. I can't let my grass grow long and mow spirals in it. We had tires and logs in our back yard play area for the kids to create with and we got written up by the city for it. And creating a "wall of noise" (hanging pots and pans and other loud things to bang on) or hanging drums and cymbals outside is just not something I would EVER do to my neighbors. These things are wonderful ideas if you live in the country. In the city? You may not have the room or the permission for much of it.

That's not to say the book isn't still full of so many great ideas you'll be glad you got it. There really are oodles of fun things to do even if you live in an anal retentive town like mine or have a tiny back yard in the city. But you may find that many of them are just not going to work for you.

Other small qualms --

1. There are a few times in the book where the author gives advice that I found frankly dangerous or really annoying. At one point she lists other items to use for sledding besides sleds and lists old doors and wooden drawers. My middle son is on a first name basis with our local ER staff and that's with me having the sense not to let him hurl himself down a snowy hill on a wooden door. I can't fathom how anybody could think that wouldn't result in broken bones or a head wound. She also says you can plant elderberries to snack on and throw at people. As an author of an elderberry foraging book and cookbook, this horrified me on two levels. First of all, you should never eat elderberries raw as they're mildly toxic if they're not dried or cooked. Secondly, elderberries are too fabulous to waste tossing at people. :) And then there's advice like to toss eggshells full of paint at your fence, driveway and trees, saying, "the eggshells will compost into the lawn and the paint will wash away, so you don't even have to clean up." What??? Wow, my neighbors would love me even more if we pelted everything in sight with eggshells full of paint and then waited for the next rain to clean it up for us!

2. The book is better suited for middle or upper class families who can afford to buy the loose parts, gadgets, craft supplies, tyvek suits, PVC piping and so on that many of the projects require. It's also obviously best suited for families who have large yards in safe neighborhoods. It would have been great to even have a chapter specially dedicated to those families who are in small spaces or living on limited means. Yes, many of the projects are relatively low cost but any costs add up for poor families and those kids need wonderful outdoor time too.

Also, my 11 y/o looked through it and liked it but was sad that he can't do most of them until nice weather (we currently have 3 feet of snow and drizzly rain outside). There are a few winter activities but the vast majority are warm weather activities.

All that said, this is a fantastically fun book full of great ideas. This would be a perfect book to give your kids at the start of summer vacation with a gift certificate for some supplies to set them up for a summer of great outdoor fun.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.
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Wow! This book has some really fun ideas for little or no cost. I was a little worried when reading the first chapter that most activities wouldn’t work well in suburban or city backyards but as the book continued I found most of the activities can be done in any size yard. Making a dirt lab, using natural paints and dyes and creating an outdoor marble run are some activities I am going to try with my daughter this summer.
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Amanda Thomsen"s, "Backyard Adventure" is so much fun! Its full of wonderful ideas to keep the kids busy, learning, exploring, and creating all summer long! Includes step-by-step instructions for projects such as forts, giant bubbles, diy sprinklers, and my personal favourite an outdoor handwashing station. The best part is that you should have most if not everything necessary already in your home or around the yard. I can"t wait for the snow to melt so we can put some of this awesome ideas to good use! Highly recommended!
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My three year old son is currently in nursery and every other day they take part in 'forest school' activities where they spend the whole day outside regardless of weather. Needless to say my son loves it and it really got me thinking of different ways in which we could use our garden and outside space for similar activities at home. So, this book popped up at an ideal time and I jumped at the chance to give it a go.

I found there was quite a range in this book so you have plenty of little activities that are quick, easy and relatively cheap to do and then you get bigger more difficult activities that make take a lot more time to do. So We've got everything from making your own outdoor chalk to building amazing dens in trees.


I think its safe to say you'd need a pretty big outdoor space to complete the majority of these activities and some of the building supplies could be pretty difficult to get your hands in, but there's plenty of room for improvising. Mostly I got a lot of ideas from this book which I have worked with, changing a little to suit our needs, so on the whole very inspiring.

If you are looking for a book to inspire you to get outdoors with your kids and do some fun outdoor activities then this is certainly a book to consider..
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Great book was full of useful information that I could use as a parent very interesting indeed. I would be looking out for this in the bookstore
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The author draws on her imagination and personal experience to present lots of fun activities. Whether you're learning about new types of secret hideaways and forts, creating with sidewalk chalk, or making stilts out of rope and cans, there are lots and lots of unusual things to read about.

My Thoughts 
What Concerned Me:  I would monitor what is okay and not before letting any child loose with this book and all the 

"wild fun." 

Some things that I'm sure would be fun for kids, might be beyond an adult's comfort level, dirt-wise, etc. Plus, some activities are geared for older children.

What I Liked Most: There are lots and lots of fun activities to be enjoyed in both large and small yards. I really appreciated the wonderful photographs that were included.
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I will be buying this book for my library, but I will also be buying it for every one of my siblings and their kids! Re-learn how to play! I loved every minute of this book as it reminded me of my childhood. Definitely a must have for everyone with kids.
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When you’re a child, thinking out-of-the-box comes naturally. Backyard Adventure by Amanda Thomsen is a book that is filled to the brim with ideas and tips to reclaim the childhood that ‘should be’. As gadgets and structured lessons fill our children’s lives, a book like this is a reminder to slow down and savour beautiful moments that will go on to make the foundation of a child’s life. 

The book is filled with many pictures and short snappy ideas on fun projects that children can do in their own backyard. These are real images of things done by real children and hence will definitely be inspirational. 
Some of the projects may require a little bit of help from adults, if the children wish that is! There are some big projects such as building a fort or tepee, or a hideout with straw bales and tree branches, or a cardboard castle, complete with instructions. Then there are other executable ideas such as making creative sandboxes. There are instructions and suggestions on how to set up ‘tinkering’ areas such as a science lab or a musical studio, again by using easily available material. Children are also encouraged to make a ‘giant mess’ in some specially designed experiments. For those with a green thumb there are hints as to what they can grow. Some of the ideas involve messing around in the wild, or doing science experiments, again often messy! Another set of tips revolve around how kids can capitalize on their backyard space in the dark! (hint- it has to do with glowing objects!)
The materials required for these projects are simple things that one uses at home. In fact, most of the things are recyclable and these projects are all eco-friendly in that sense. Children can make use of waste and old stuff to indulge in these! 
In all, the book is filled with easily executable ideas. Older kids (tweens) would be able to do these by themselves while younger ones would need some help from adults. 
Take a pick from your favourite ideas and bounce them off on your kids. You will soon discover that the backyard is a blank canvas…. paint your fun the way you like! And who knows, backyard adventure may not just stop with the kids!
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This book would have been my dream as an older kid/tween! Tons of ideas and pictures of different forts, structures and activities to create in your backyard. As a parent of young children, I am excited to create some of the projects in this book for them. Love the colorful pictures, layout and doodles. Gorgeous.

I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.
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This it truly a wonderful book,  and essential for anyone with children,  grandchildren or in childcare. 
There are so many brilliant things to do and so many ideas to try. 
I can't wait to start working my way through these with my toddler. 
This book shows what children should be doing and the fun they could be having in nature and outside. 
I will definitely be buying this for any friends with small children or starting a family . 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I absolutely adored this book and it will be on top of my wild child book pile. My 2 year old daughter and I are always scrounging for material when we're out and she is an sandbox loving, rock collector so this book couldn't be more perfect for us. I love the illustrations and font used. The instructions to the activities are really simple to follow and brilliant drawings to accompany them.
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I give Amanda Thomsen two big thumbs up for her amazing ideas in Backyard Adventure! This book is crammed full of fun ideas for kids to play outside. Any time spent outside and not on technology is a huge plus!

There is a section for making very cool forts, there are simple building projects like a catapult, making tiny nature kingdoms, growing fruit, backyard camping, and so much more! There is something interesting for every child! More ideas include, cardboard armor, mud games, water play, bubbles, and a whole section on things to play when it gets dark.

I can't wait to try some of the projects in this book with my three children. They will love it! I think this book is for parents, grandparents, sleepovers, day-camps, church groups and anyone else who needs to entertain kids.
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I am always looking for ways to keep my Granddaughter busy and aways from the electronics. But my main goal is to build memories and have fun. When I saw this book I thought it would be great for our sleepovers or just when she visits. These are fun and easy activities to do while she is learning and will not know it. It has Forts and Hideaways with Tunnels, Leantos and more. Places for Tinkering with Creating a Mud Lab and more, Naturally Wild with Natural Paints and Dyes and more, Setting up Camp with Create an Outdoor Shower, and Sidewalks, Driveways and Fences with Fun on the Driveway and more, It is a great way for children to have fun and get messy too! Terrific way to spend quality time with your young ones.
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Backyard Adventure by Amanda Thomsen is a book of pure fun. Geared to gets kids and parents outside and getting messy, this book is full of wonderful ideas. There is even a super secret section for parents that's printed upside down from the rest of the text, a very clever tactic. There are numerous photographs throughout the book, which are beautiful and vibrant. The joy and excitement on kids' faces is very clear. I appreciated her notes about safety for certain activities and consideration of neighbors in building an outdoor drum set. I think this is a great book of ideas- many of the activities are open ended and encourage using creativity to expand on them. A great book for any parent or anyone who works with children. 

Thanks to Storey Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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