Fun for the whole family: 3 creative uses of blue tarp

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Apart from using tarp as a cover and protection, for insulation, hiking, composting and garden chores, why not have some fun with it? Surprising as it may be, tarp is very versatile and has many recreational uses. Here are a few simple but very enjoyable uses of tarp, especially for youngsters. Get yourself a few blue tarps and let the fun begin! 

Slip ‘n slide
Using a tarp for a slip ‘n slide is quite simple and a lot of fun. Depending on your children’s age, you can position it on a steeper or flatter slope in your garden. Make sure your tarp is laid down on grass so it will be cushioned and no injuries can occur. Pour baby shampoo or some other non-aggressive soap on the upper side of the slope.

Place a hose with running water on the top so the tarp is constantly wet. Place sandbags or some other heavy but soft object in the corners of the tarp to prevent it from moving. Voil√†, you’ve got yourself a garden slip ‘n slide.

Passing practice

Colts Football

Photo credit: pocketwiley / Flickr / CC BY

Ball games require a lot of accuracy and here’s one fun use of tarp that can help your kids start developing the aim they’ll need as a pitcher, quarterback or basketball player. Spread out your blue tarp on the ground and use a marker to outline a number of targets in varying sizes and shapes (square, diamond, round). You can additionally assign point values to the different shapes, according to how hard it is to get a ball through them.

Then, with the help of a cutter or a pair of scissors, cut out the shapes. You can add a colored outline to the holes, making them more discernible. Finally, pull up the tarp with a rope and hang it from a tree or some other stable structure (make sure to buy a tarp with grommets and that there’s nothing fragile behind it, once you’ve pulled it up). Now your kids can practice their throwing skills and make up rules about how many points are required to win.

Tarp kite

A tarp can also be used for a kite. Depending on your children’s ages, you can either make a DIY power kite (used for things like kitesurfing) or a classic diamond-shaped kite.
If you go with the diamond-shaped one, you’ll need 2 strong and straight wooden sticks (dowels, for example), good glue, a tarp and a piece of rope. Make a cross out of the sticks, with the shorter one placed horizontally and above the middle of the longer one. Tie the sticks together and add glue to keep them in place.

Next, carve or cut out notches at the ends of the sticks. Take the string and starting at the top end of the kite frame, place it into the notch and pull it to the next notch in line (direction does not matter). Once you’ve connected all of the ends you should end up with a diamond frame for the kite. (Alternatively, you can use more sticks to connect the ends, before tying rope around them.) If your materials permit, you can wrap the string around a few times but make sure it remains tight, without twisting the frame. Any leftover string you can then tie around the top and knot.

Lay your tarp flat on the ground and place the kite frame on top of it. Cut around the frame, leaving a couple of inches of margin. Fold the margin over the frame and tape or glue it, making sure that it is well stretched and tight. Finally, make small loops or ‘ears’ on each end of the kite and tie each pair of opposing loops with string so the pieces of string also end up making a cross. You can leave it (the ‘briddle’) slightly loose. Attach your kite string to it and your kite is ready. Additionally, you can add a flashy tail to make the kite more fun.

Micah Taylor / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

As you can see, there are many uses to tarp and the fun certainly does not stop here. You can also use tarps for things like tarp surfing or making your own backyard ice rink in winter. The advantages are that the material is very durable and strong but can, at the same time, be cut or folded in a variety of ways, depending on your needs. Get your blue tarp today and give it a try!

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