Long, lazy days are one of the season’s sweetest pleasures. Still, they leave your crew with a lot of hours to fill. A DIY supply station, stocked with all the essentials for warm-weather fun, can encourage self-sufficiency and banish cries of “I’m bored!” And it all comes together with stuff you probably already have on hand. Set up this simple, budget-friendly system on a covered porch or patio or tuck it into a garage. It'll help you have the best summer yet.
1. SET UP THE BASE
An old shelving or storage unit or (as we used) a thrift store baker’s rack can be spruced up for duty with a fresh coat of paint. We applied rust-resistant spray paint, a good choice for outdoor use.
2/3. DIVIDE & LABEL
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Make it easy to find supplies for different activities by storing them in labeled bins. Go for sturdy containers that can stand up to a little weather. We used rubber tubs, customized with chalkboard tape (available at craft stores), and fruit crates, sanded and coated with acrylic paint to protect fingers from splinters. Tubs, $2.49 to $31.99, tubtrugs.com
4. GROW SOME FRIENDS
For a learning element, let kids choose some “pet plants” at the garden center. Have them pot them up in painted cans (for safety, cover any sharp edges with duct tape), and set them in the sun whenever they play.
5. ADD REFRESHMENTS
Stock a small cooler with ice, drinks and snacks each morning. We tagged this unit with acrylic paint and stencils.
6. KEEP TOOTSIES TIDY
Playing outside, little feet get grimy. Set this foot-washing station – a plastic basket filled with smooth rocks – in a spot with good drainage, close to your home’s door, to keep dirt from coming inside. Kids stand in the basket and hose their toes; the dirt drains away through the rocks while the station stays clean. Keep a towel nearby for drying.