A Backyard Waterpark for Kids – Make Your Own Slip and Slide in 6 Easy Steps

Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a lot of summer fun before the leaves change color.  A homemade slip and slide is easy to set up and is a blast for the whole family.  Set it up at your next family gathering and watch the laughter ensue!

Step 1.  Plastic sheeting. If you don’t already have a roll of plastic sheeting they are easy to find at the nearest hardware store.  The ideal size is a standard 10 x 100 foot (3 x 30 meter) roll of plastic sheeting.

  • Look for sheeting in the paint supply section. You should be able to find a sufficient roll for $5-30 USD.[1]
  • You may find rolls of various lengths available; have a slipping-and-sliding space in mind while you’re making your purchase, and try to buy a roll that will fit that space. If you’re just using a backyard, 20-30 feet should suffice; if you’ll be using a large, grassy hill, or a public park, you may plan for a 50-foot, 100-foot, or 200-foot slide. Remember that you can always fold the sheet over if it’s too long or too wide, and you can always tape the ends of two sheets together to make an extra-long slide.
  • Find the thickest plastic that you can. The sheet should be at least 4-6 feet wide–broad enough that you won’t slide off halfway down the slide. As a rough rule of thumb: the longer the slide, the wider it should be.
  • You may also consider using a standard tarp, although most tarps may not be long enough for a quality slide. If you’re setting up a slide in your yard, then a large tarp should suffice. Tarps tend to be thicker and sturdier than plastic sheeting, but they’re also much more expensive. Find the longest, thinnest tarp that you can.

Step 2. Choose your sliding location. You’ll need a large, soft, grassy area, preferably on a slope. Consider building a slide on the beach. Make sure that you’ll be able to access a water supply.

  • Make sure to choose a spot where you won’t run into a driveway, a road, or any trees. Check for obstacles in the path of the slide: potholes in the grass, small bushes or stumps, or rocks that could be painful to a slider. Avoid all potential hazards.
  • A grassy, gently-sloped hill is ideal, if you can find one. The steeper the hill, the faster you’ll go–and the more likely that you’ll take a tumble off the slide on the way down! Carefully consider who will be riding this slide. If you’re making a slide for young children, choose a shorter, flatter run–a gentle, grassy backyard is perfect. If you’re a teenager or an adult making a slide for other teenagers or adults, feel free to chase the adrenaline and pick the biggest hill you can find. Slide at your own risk.
  • Make sure that the end of slide is safe, soft, and flat. Ideally, your slip-and-slide should run out onto a long, grassy lawn. You’ll be coming down the slide pretty quickly, so be sure that you have plenty of room to land. Keep the end of the run far away from potentially painful surfaces: rocks, sidewalks, roads, walls. Consider running the slide out into a body of water: a pool, a pond, or a river.
  • Always have an adult confirm that the space is safe to use. Better safe than sorry!

Step 4. Find a water supply. You’ll need to keep the slide constantly lubricated to ensure a smooth and slippery sliding experience.

  • If you’re setting up the slide in the yard of your house, you can just use a standard garden hose. If you have any sort of spigot attachments–a spray hose, for instance–feel free to use it for more control.
  • If you’re slipping and sliding away from home–say, on a grassy hill, or in a public park–look around for a spigot. If you can find a spigot, then consider bringing a hose from home to hook up, but be aware that your community may frown upon you tapping into the municipal water supply.  Make sure you get permission before doing so!
  • If you’re away from home and you can’t find a spigot, then you’ll need to supply your own water. Bring a few buckets, and fill them up with water at the nearest tap. Pour out the water at the top of the slide and let it run down. Return to the tap to refill as needed. Your supply is low, so you shouldn’t pour the water out until right before someone rides the slide.

Step 4.  Roll out the plastic sheeting. When you’re ready to set up the slide, spread your sheeting out over the sliding run.

  • Make sure that the sheeting is as straight as possible. Smooth out any wrinkles. Align the course along the natural slope of the hill. You will start at the top (or on the hillside) and end up at the bottom.
  • Fold the sheeting as needed to get the size and shape that you want. If you want a narrower slide, stick to 4-6 feet wide. If you prefer a wider slide, leave the sheeting as wide as you bought it. Use your best judgement, and above all make the slide safe.
  • Remember: the longer the slide, the more time you’ll have to tumble off the sides, especially if you start sliding at an angle. Consider leaving the slide wide for extra-long sheets.
  • Consider holding the sheet taut, with one person holding each corner in the air, in order to ensure that it’s been completely unfurled.

Step 5.  Anchor the sheet to the ground. You want to slip and slide on the slip-and-slide, but you don’t want the slip-and-slide to slip and slide around while you’re slipping and sliding. This is especially important for longer slides and slides on hills.

  • Use metal stakes or tent pegs to hold the corners in place. You may want to stake down the edges of longer slides, at intervals, to ensure that everything stays where it should.
  • You can use heavy objects to weigh down the corners of the slide, but don’t use anything that will injure you if you run into at a high speed. Buckets and plastic containers (filled with water for weight) are good; chairs are good; anything that you can knock over without hurting yourself is good; anything soft but dense (like a hay bale) is good. Cinderblocks, heavy rocks, and bricks are not good; sharp objects are not good; anything that you wouldn’t want to smash against your face is not good.
  • Make sure that the slide is secured in place. Once people start sliding down the sheet, it will shift around and bunch up into itself unless you’ve stretched it taut. If you plan ahead, you’ll save yourself the trouble of pausing the fun to adjust it later.
  • A smoother slide is a safer slide. If the sheet bunches up, wrinkles, and shifts around, the water won’t flow smoothly, and riders will be more likely to tumble off-course. This is especially true of long slides.

Step 6.  Spray the slide with water. If you have access to a hose, use a hose. If you don’t, use a bucket to carry water to the slide. The larger the slide, the more water you’ll need.

  • Make sure to soak the entire length of the slide. If your slide lies on a slope, you can leave a hose running at the top so that a continuous stream of water courses down the sheet. You can do the same thing with a bucket, but be sparing if you’re working with a limited supply.
  • If you aren’t running a hose continuously–whether it’s a conscious effort to preserve water, or just because you’re using a bucket–try to splash the slide directly before someone takes a ride. Make sure that the slide is consistently wet, from top to bottom. It’s most important that the slide is wet at its beginning end.
  • Consider adding a few cups of soap or detergent to the water, or pouring soap at the head of the slide. You can also use, say, bubble bath. The detergent will mix with the water and make for a delightfully slippery experience. Be careful not to get any soap in your eyes; consider wearing goggles in particularly soapy situations.
  • If you’re sliding in the rain, wait for the downpour to thoroughly drench the plastic sheeting. If it’s wet and slick, you should be good to go. Be aware the rain might make for a muddy situation.
  • Test out the slide Have a responsible person give the tarp a few test runs, just to be sure that it’s safe. Make sure that there’s plenty of room to stop at the end of the slide. Once you’re given the go-ahead: limber up. It’s time to slip and slide!

Now you’re ready to slip and slide and have a great time!  But before you do, remember these important safety tips:

  • Before you slide, make sure that there’s no one standing, sitting, or laying in the way. Look out for rocks, pavement, and other potentially painful surfaces. It’s better to take a spill into the grass than to run into someone else at full speed.
  • After you ride as far as you can go, get off the slide quickly to make way for the next slider. If it’s a long slide, and the next slider can’t tell whether you’ve gotten off, yell “All clear!” to give the go-ahead.

Enjoy your homemade slip and slide during the last warm days of the summer season.  If you want some fun accessories and other great water toys to go with your new backyard watermark, then check out these best sellers from JM Cremps:

The Aquazooka Utlimate Water Blaster –  This awesome water cannon will shoot up to 60 feet!

The 3 Water Person Balloon Launcher – This is really a boy’s dream come true.  The distance and accuracy at which  both water balloons and snowballs can be launched will blow their minds.

The Wabobo Extreme Water Ball – Yes, it’s a weird name, but the Waboba Extreme is America’s favorite water ball.  This ball is designed to bounce off of the water which makes it extremely fun in the pool or at the lake.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual.  How to Make a Slip and Slide: 8 Steps (with pictures). Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

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Make This School Year All About Learning Through Adventure

As the school year approaches, take a minute to reflect upon your school years.  Skip past the football games, the assemblies, and the lunch breaks spent with friends.  Try to go back to your time spent in class.  Do you remember sitting through a lecture, reading the required chapter, and acing the test on Friday only to forget everything you learned by the time Monday rolled around?  If so, don’t feel too bad.  Not everyone is a “book” learner, and this is especially true when it comes to boys.  Boys tend to be hands-on learners who thrive on learning by experience.

Fortunately, we understand this at JM Cremp’s and we have several creative ways for your boys to learn while still having fun.  Here are some of our best sellers:

Remote Controlled Machines Building Kit Remote Control Machines Kit for Kids
Your creative genius can build one of ten remote control vehicles with this one kit.  This award-winning science kit teaches kids several different scientific principles in a hands-on and fun manner.

 

Glowing Chemistry Set
Brighten up their world with Glowing Chemistry!  This hands-on science kit will have them combining chemicals for brilliant results.  Before you know it they’ll be producing blue light in a test tube. They’ll even learn how to make coins and radishes glow!Glowing Chemistry Set

 

 

 

A Beginner’s 3-Blade Craft Carver Set Whittling and carving is for the creative at heart who don’t like having idle hands.  Inspire creativity in your son with a simple beginner’s set that will teach him to safely whittle and carve.  Beginner 3-blade Craft Carver Whittling Set

 

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Children Learn What They Live

In 1954, American writer and family counselor Dorothy Law Nolte wrote a poem on child rearing for the Torrance Herald.  The poem was titled “Children Learn What They Live”.  The poem resonated with parents so much that it was even distributed to millions of new parents by a baby formula company.  The popularity of that poem hasn’t died away, and for very good reason.  The words and message are as relevant today as they ever were, and they serve as a good reminder to us all on how to lead by example.

Children are what they learn, so a little love and patience goes a long way!

Children are what they learn, so a little love and patience goes a long way!

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns what envy is.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.

-Dorothy Law Nolte

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4 Ways to Help Your Kids Beat Summer Brain Drain

Beat Summer "Brain Drain" with a simple summer building project for kids.

Beat Summer “Brain Drain” with a simple summer building project for kids.

Just because summer is here doesn’t mean your kids need to suffer from “summer brain drain”.  After all, you don’t want all of last year’s hard fought educational nuggets to disappear completely.  However, summer is meant for fun, and your kids need a break as much as you do.  As a homeschooling Mom, I’ve learned to (dare I say it?) “trick” my kids into keeping their brain sharp during the summer break.

Fortunately for us parents, it’s pretty easy to incorporate learning into the summer once you get the concept.  I do so by picking several fun activities and using those as a hands-on experience that is similar to a project they’d do in class or a field trip.   This process is very similar to how children learned “in the old days”, and it’s based around experience. Here are few brain-drain busting ideas to get you started.

Science:
Use an enjoyable summer activity as an excuse for a science lesson.  For example, if your family is into fishing, use your next fishing trip as a way to explain more about the biology and natural habitat of the fish in your area.   If you fish on the ocean, use the opportunity to explain the tides, the pull of the moon, and the effects of gravity.  If you fish at night, take a star chart with you and discuss the placement of the planets, constellations, or ancient navigation techniques.

Math:
In our family, my boys get the opportunity to build things with Grandpa.  These summer building projects have kept their math skills sharp while helping to translate those abstract math problems into real world applications.  It doesn’t have to be an elaborate building project, a simple bird feeder or DIY home improvement project is enough.  Remember, the point is to keep them sharp, not to make them engineers in the course of one summer.

Agriculture:
Plant a family garden!  This one is easy to do if you are a gardener, and it is a great one to do with younger children.  The process of planting, weeding, and harvesting offers an abundance of opportunities for lessons in agriculture, weather, biology, and home economics.  The process of planting a seed, nurturing it through to maturity, harvesting it, and then consuming it, is a valuable lesson your children will not forget.

History:
Short, small history lessons are also easy to incorporate into a summer lesson.  The next time you drive through your town, look around for old buildings, train depots that are no longer in use, or railroad tracks that lead to nowhere.  Often times it only takes a bit of research to learn that what looks like an overlooked, abandoned brick building was once an orphanage from the late 1800’s.  Or better yet, that old derelict building with the lion carvings on the top was once a beautiful opera house that hosted some of the world’s greatest performers during the early 1900’s.  History doesn’t have to be grand, and it doesn’t have to be in a history book to be exciting.  As a matter of fact, bringing history down to the local level can help to make it more real for your kids.

At the end of the day, learning should be fun.  At JM Cremp’s, we focus our efforts on helping families to promote learning through hands-on experience and adventure.

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A Small Dose of Summer Boredom Can Be a Good Thing

It's ok to let your kids be bored once in a while.  Their creative side will thank you.

It’s ok to let your kids be bored once in a while. Their creative side will thank you.

Do you remember as a kid flopping on the couch on a lazy summer afternoon “bored to death”?  Or do you remember sitting on the front stoop drawing pictures in the dirt with your toe because you couldn’t find something exciting to do?  Maybe your version of “bored” manifested itself in trying to get a rise out of a younger sibling, although I’m sure none of us have ever done such thing.

Kids today suffer boredom just as we did, and if you have kids of your own, I’m sure you’ve already heard this summer’s version of “Moommmmmm….I’m sooooooo bored!”   When I uttered those words, my mom would just ship me outside or give me work to do.  You can guess how often I dared to utter the “B” word.

For today’s kids it seems that the boredom strategy is a lot different .  With today’s constant reliance on devices with screens combined with a culture that pushes to fill our children’s every waking moment with planned activities, I can’t help but think we are allowing those kids to skip over a very important learning process.

Remember when you were bored?  How did you deal with it?  I remember reading, drawing, calling friends to organize a baseball game, or scouring the neighborhood for someone to play with.  Often the boredom didn’t last long and my “filler” activities sparked my imagination and fueled my creative side.  Looking back, it was being bored that taught me how to look within to find and develop the hobbies and talents that make me, well – me.

So this summer, when your kids utter the “B” word, let them stew in their boredom for a while.  If that doesn’t work, you can always give them a job to do.  Either way, they’ll learn a valuable lesson and they’ll get to know the real kid within.

PS – If you want to “suggest” fun activities that your kids can do during those lazy summer days, this blog is loaded with dozens of ideas.  Our backyard obstacle course is always popular, but if you poke around a bit, I’m sure you’ll find something that will pique their interest.

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Summer Reading List for Inspiring Your Children

JM Cremp’s summer reading list is meant to inspire your children with stories of heroism, bravery, encouragement, and lessons in faith.  Here are a few of our favorites:

This summer's reading list is full of heroes and adventure.

This summer’s reading list is full of heroes and adventure.

War Stories: True Stories of WWI & WWII
The 20th century was ravaged by two of the most devastating conflicts in history: the First and Second World Wars. The slaughter and destruction was on such a massive scale it still haunts us today. From zeppelin raids, trench warfare, spies and secret plots, to epic encounters between colossal warships, War Stories, contains a collection of dramatic and unforgettable, true tales.  Recommended ages 8+.

Chief Joseph: The Voice for Peace
Chief Joseph was a peace chief, a great leader who truly believed his nation, the Nez Perce, could live in harmony with white people. Tragically, it was not to be. This fascinating biography separates fact from myth, and tells the compelling story of a man who tried to fight injustice with words, not weapons.  Recommended ages 10+.

Faith & Freedom Trilogy
The Faith & Freedom Trilogy is a sequel series to the Crown & Covenant series, and chronicles new generations of the M’Kethe family who find freedom in 18th century America. Adventure is afoot as Old World tyrannies clash with New World freedoms. Douglas Bond weaves together fictional characters with historical figures from Scottish and American history.  This series (and the one preceding it) are loaded with heroes, adventure, and lessons of perseverance through faith.  Recommended ages 10+.

10 Passions of a Man’s Soul
Mark Elfstrand is the morning show host of Moody Radio Network’s flagship station in Chicago. Elfstrand uses interviews with ten dynamic, powerfully gifted leaders to explore the driving passions that motivate authentic men of God. Exploring topics such as power, adventure, purpose, pleasure, and wealth, this transparent disclosure of men’s innermost feelings brings up thought-provoking questions and surprising revelations about contemporary leaders and historical figures. Readers will discover the hidden leader waiting to emerge from within themselves.

Bear Grylls – A Survival Guide for Life
Filled with exclusive, never-before-told tales from Bear’s globe-trekking expeditions, A Survival Guide for Life teaches every reader–no matter your age or experience–that we’re all capable of living life more boldly, of achieving our most daring dreams, and of having fun along the way. Here’s to your own great adventure!

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Sanity Saving Road Trip Essentials

Packing and prepping for a summer road trip with kids can be a task that may leave even the most seasoned logisitics officer with weak knees.  Between packing, paying the bills, cleaning the fridge, finding a sitter for the dog, and taking out the trash, you wonder if you’ll ever get on the road.

The USA License Plate Game is a fun way to keep the kids happy on your next road trip.  That usually means that if the kids are happy - mom is happy!

The USA License Plate Game is a fun way to keep the kids happy on your next road trip. That usually means that if the kids are happy – mom is happy!

After a while, your brain turns to mush, you know you’ve forgotten something, and your inner voice keeps chanting “Let’s just get in the car. Let’s just get in the car.”   But before you do, consider the drive itself.  You know that it is only a matter of time before you hear the dreaded, “How long till we get there?”  Take a moment to delay the inevitable by packing a few of our favorite Sanity-Saving Road Trip Essentials.

  • An Interactive Travel Game –  A game that requires the kids to notice and observe the things they are driving by is not only a great way to pass the time in the car, but it forces them to look outside of the window.  One of our favorites is the USA License Plate Game.  The game centers around finding as many state license plates as possible, but the game can be played several ways to challenge everyone from kids to adults.
  • A Travel Trivia Game – Keep the whole vehicle occupied with a trivia style game.   The Trip Talk Travel Game is one of our favorites, and it is perfect for the whole family.
  • An Audio Book for Kids – In our house, audio books rule the road.  Many a happy (and silent) mile have passed by due to a good “listen”.  The Sugar Creek Gang Series is at the top of our list, but there are so many options that your biggest problem may be choosing only one!
  • Reusable Sticker Books and Coloring Books – For the younger kids, a reusable sticker book is a great way to pass the time.  There’s no mess and no fuss, and on a long road trip – that’s a good thing!  The Reusable Vehicle Sticker Pad is one of our favorites.
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