5 easy projects to get the whole family outside

(BPT) - Want to get the kids away from screens and outside for some fresh air? Many outdoor projects will not only lure your whole family outdoors once the jobs are completed, but the family may actually want to help you.

Here are five ideas for outdoor projects everyone will love.

1. Make a backyard movie theater

Who wouldn’t love watching movies under the stars? You’ll need a DVD projector and a large screen. You can use a large drop cloth or blackout cloth stretched over a PVC frame or between two trees for a screen, if you’ve got them. Stretch it taut and secure so it doesn’t move with every breeze mid-movie. Provide plenty of blankets or rugs and pillows so everyone can relax during the movie, and pop up some popcorn! You can rent a projector, collapsible screen and popcorn machine. Visit RentalHQ.com to find rental companies near you.

2. Build wooden benches

For kids — and grownups — who aren't keen on lying on the grass to relax, offer outdoor seating options in shady spots. Sturdy wooden benches are not hard to build, and there are plenty of templates online for different approaches. One creative method is to build a bench around the trunk of a favorite large tree. Get kids involved in helping with construction and painting. Supply cushions for a comfy, shady spot for kids to read, talk and daydream.

3. Get out the s’mores

Fire pits are all the rage, and for good reason. They’re easy to make, and people love gathering around a fire to roast marshmallows and enjoy a summer evening. You’ll need to check local ordinances regarding fires before you begin. Pick a spot well away from bushes or foliage, with no overhanging branches or structures. You should also call 811 to check that there are no underground utility cables where you’re building. Fire pits can be dug into the ground, at ground level or raised slightly above ground level. Materials vary, but include stone, brick or metal, and you can make it any shape — round, square or rectangular. Using heavy stones and bricks is an easier task if you have — or rent — a wheelbarrow or cart for transporting materials.

4. Create a playhouse or gazebo

To attract everyone in the family, create a little outdoor space for kids to play in or for adults to enjoy a beverage and relax. Depending on the size and design of your project, this can be a straightforward build or a more complicated structure. Online templates can give you ideas for different design options, so you can choose what works best for your space and skill level. If you can, build a screened-in structure to keep the bugs out for maximum comfort. You will need to purchase lumber for your posts, floor, joists and beams, but again, you can keep the design to a simple rectangle or square to make the job easier. Tools you will need include a miter saw, jigsaw and power drill. If you don’t have all these power tools, you can rent the equipment you need for construction.

5. Put up a tree swing

If you’ve got an older but sturdy, healthy tree with a good-sized horizontal branch, this could be a great spot for a tree swing. Make sure the branch is long enough to occasionally relocate the swing, to prevent damage to the tree. You can make either a simple disk-shaped swing with a single rope, or a traditional rectangular swing with 2-4 ropes. There are plenty of home improvement websites offering rope swing designs. You’ll want to use strong rope, such as a 3/4-inch twisted polypropylene rope. Tools you may need include a handsaw or miter saw, a sander, a power screwdriver and power drill.

The entire family will find renewed interest in spending time together outdoors with your creative additions to the yard. Now is a great time to start a fun new project — before the summer flies by. Visit RentalHQ.com to locate all the tools you need, so you don’t have to buy items you may rarely use.

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