Backyard BBQ Games

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It’s the last week of summer, and we’re making the most of it by spending time outdoors with family and friends! The following five games are ones we’ve planned to play all summer, ever since making the delicious trio of recipes from Travis’s Backyard BBQ Raddish Kids crate. Whether you’re hosting an actual BBQ or just getting outside in the sunshine, here are a few fun games to try.

1. Egg Toss

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We made the game vegan with plastic eggs to toss as an alternative to hard-boiled eggs (try Egg & Spoon Race from International Playthings). Travis loved that the eggs could really crack open when we tossed them…

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And missed!

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2. Hot & Cold

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Hide an object (Note: the “hard-boiled eggs” from our egg toss were perfect) while one player closes his or her eyes. Players instruct the finder where the treasure is by noting if they are cold (far way) or boiling hot (close!).

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Travis enjoyed finding the item first, but then preferred to be the hider and guide me with his words.

3. Blind Taste Testing

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This is a fun one if your family has prepared a special summer meal together. I blindfolded Travis and had him sample some of our fresh-from-the-market veggies.

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He got them all right, even blindfolded! You can make this more challenging by far if you use sauces or spices for big kids, instead of the rather-obvious vegetables.

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4. Capture the “Foodie”

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This is just like Capture the Flag except you play with fruit pieces instead of flags! Good choices include items with peels, like oranges or bananas. See which team captures the other’s fruit first, and don’t get tagged and sent to jail (i.e. the steps) in the process

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Easily the favorite, Travis got a kick out of hiding his banana, and delighted when he could find the other team’s first.

Ideally you’ll need four players or more for this, but even two people can have fun and race to find the other person’s “foodie” first.

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5. Restaurant Relay Race

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For this silly game, we loaded a tray with plastic cups, forks, and fake picnic food. See who runs the fastest without dropping something along the way. Travis thought this was quite hilarious.

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Which of the BBQ games is your child’s favorite? Please share in the comments!

Meteor Meatballs

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These meatballs were the second recipe in Travis’s cosmic cuisine-themed Raddish Kids, meant to mimic meteors from space (and get it meat-ier meatballs?). We made ours with Raddish’s excellent vegan suggestion for chickpeas in place of chicken.

To start, Travis helped peel 3 cloves of garlic. I minced them and we put in a large bowl. Finely chop 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves and add to the garlic.

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Next I showed him how to grate zucchini against a box grater; he loved it! Add 1 cup to the garlic mixture, along with 2/3 cup canned or frozen corn.

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Next we made a flax egg: whisk 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed into 3 tablespoons water and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir into the zucchini mixture, along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

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Add 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan sprinkles and 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs. Finally, drain 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas and pulse in a food processor until crumbly. Add to the mixture. Time to get messy! I was so proud of Travis, getting his hands right in there to mush it up, and I showed him how to roll a meatball.

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Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet covered with foil and greased with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Travis ate – I kid you not! – half of the recipe in one sitting. This either means he’s having a growth spurt or speaks directly to how awesome the meatballs are. Or both! We served with onion ring “Saturn rings” for a fun veggie side dish.

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As he dined, we read the recipe card facts about various space rocks (meteoroids versus comets etc.), and learned a bit more about meals in space for astronauts.

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For a little dessert fun, we repeated an old favorite: marshmallow constellations!

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All you need are marshmallows (try Dandie’s for a vegan brand) and toothpicks. This time, I really challenged Travis to follow along with a provided diagram and piece together one of the simpler star formations.

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After some puzzling, he was able to put together Libra!

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Meanwhile, mommy worked on some intricate ones, like Ursa Major and Scorpius.

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Travis then decided he preferred to make his own, and soon had this stick person constellation.

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Don’t forget to clean up – by eating them, of course.

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Faces of the Moon

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If you’re looking for the most delicious way under the sun (er, moon!) to teach your kid the names for all the moon’s different phases, this quick lesson plan from Raddish Kids has you covered. Hint: It involves Oreo cookies.

But before I let Travis eat cookies, we focused on a little moon information. I asked Travis what he pictured when he thought about the sky; he came up with ‘blue’ and ‘clouds’. Two great daytime picks! But what about focusing on the nighttime sky, I asked him.

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We watched two quick background videos on moon phases and I also made him a chart (which earned a “thanks Mom!”). This was his first introduction to some great science words, like waxing, waning, and gibbous.

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Now it was time to show him the moon phases with three neat projects.

To make the first, a moon phase viewer, cut a black rectangle from construction paper. Fold the paper in half and open back up again. Cut a white square from white construction paper that fits in the folded black rectangle, leaving a long tab on either end so you can pull the white paper side to side.

Trace a coin on the black paper, pressing firmly so the imprint is visible on the white paper below as well. Cut out both circles.

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Now line up your viewer and slide the white paper to see it change from gibbous to half to crescent to new and back again!

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For the second moon viewer, you’ll need two plastic cups. Glue or tape a yellow circle onto black construction paper and insert into one plastic cup; tape into place.

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On the second cup, label a place for full, waning half, new, and waxing half moons. Now rotate your yellow circle and color over it with black sharpie as appropriate to form each moon phase, leaving the full moon with no sharpie. Travis loved spinning this one!

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The third version is where he had the real fun! I set out eight cookies (we like Newman O’s) on a diagram and it was Travis’s job to scrape the right amount of frosting off each to form the eight phases.

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Needless to say, there was much nibbling along with the scraping!

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I had to help him with some of the trickier ones (gibbous, crescents), but he was a pro at half and new moon.

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We finished off with a read of The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons.

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Consider making craters in a clay moon if your kids want to continue the fun!

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Planetary Pasta Salad

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With just a little bit of imagination, orecchiette pasta can look like flying saucers, making this dish from Raddish Kids the perfect recipe for my little outer-space lover. It’s the first of three recipes from their Cosmic Cuisine kit, and Travis loved it!

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First, cook 3 cups orecchiette according to package directions. The recipe card even featured a section on cooking perfect pasta, exposing Travis to terms like “al dente“. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside to drip dry in the strainer.

Meanwhile, Travis helped me wash and halve 1 pint cherry tomatoes. In fact, rinsing the ingredients was his favorite part of this recipe, and he was so proud when I let him cut one tomato entirely by himself (I guided his hand for the rest).

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Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Drain and rinse 1 (15-ounce) can white beans; add to the bowl. (Note: the beans were Raddish’s vegan alternative to 1 package of fresh mozzarella). Drain a can of black olives. Slice 1/4 cup and add to the bowl; reserve the remaining olives for another use. Chop 1/4 cup fresh basil and add to the bowl.

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Add the orecchiette, stirring to combine.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Drizzle over the pasta and stir to combine.

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One very happy galactic traveler enjoyed his meal! We read the fun solar system facts on the recipe card as he dined for extra cosmic fun.

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Vegan Deviled Eggs

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I’ve long told Travis that any recipe out there can be made vegan. To wit, after a barbecue menu that feature deviled eggs, I knew we had to try a version at home!

To prepare the “yolk”, I first made a batch of Follow Your Heart VeganEgg: whisk 1/4 cup powder into 1 cup ice cold water. Transfer to a heated and oiled skillet; cook for about 6 minutes, until mostly set (Note: This is slightly less time than the company recommends for scrambled eggs, since I wanted it to be more like a hard-boiled yolk).

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Transfer the “yolks” to a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise.

Cut a block of firm tofu into cubes and hollow out a divet in the center of each with a spoon. Fill with the yolk mixture and sprinkle with a pinch of paprika.

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Travis couldn’t get enough! He pretended he was eating emu eggs (ha!) and scooped up every last bite.

Osmosis vs. Diffusion

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The final lesson plan to go with Travis’s Backyard BBQ Raddish Kids kit was quite scientific and a little over a five-year-old’s head. But thanks to two yummy experiments, even my kindergartner could keep up with the concepts involved.

First, I came to the table with a cup of clear hot water and a tea bag. I put the tea in the cup and asked Travis what he observed happening. “It’s turning golden,” he noticed.

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I agreed, and more specifically told him he was seeing diffusion: molecules moving from an area of high concentration (close together) to low concentration (further apart). This actually wasn’t too foreign an idea for him, since he loves a book about Albert Einstein pondering molecules.

Explain to your child that osmosis is a specific case of diffusion, having to do with the movement of water molecules. Two suggested clips on diffusion and osmosis helped Travis understand a bit better, though to be honest, this part was over his head. To make it more accessible, you can give examples of each. Diffusion might mean:

the aroma you smell from a cake baking

food coloring dispersing in water

Osmosis might be:

wrinkled fingers in a bathtub

rehydrated dried fruit

Now it was time to experiment! For diffusion, I asked him what he thought would happen to a scent if we trapped it inside a balloon. Would we be able to smell it? His hypothesis was yes! We carefully added a few drops of vanilla extract to a balloon.

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Inflate the balloon and tie the end into a knot. Place it in a closed box and let rest for 10 minutes or so.

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When we lifted it out, the box smelled a bit like vanilla; in other words, the scent had diffused. The result was subtle, which I think underwhelmed Travis.

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You may want to leave your balloon inside longer, or put more vanilla in it, to wow your kids with the results.

Next up: osmosis! For this one, we tested out the affect on gummy bears of being in plain water, salt water, and no water.

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We filled out the provided chart with his guess for the results. After some prompting about those plump rehydrated raisins, he was able to surmise what might happen.

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Big kids can really get scientific with this, filling in measurements before and after for color, length, width, thickness, and mass.

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For the set up, you’ll need three clear jars. The first simply received a gummy bear. The second had the bear plus 1/2 cup plain water. The third had the gummy in a saturated salt solution; add 1 teaspoon salt at a time to 1/2 cup water until no more will dissolve.

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We left them overnight, then checked in on the bears the next morning! Again, the results were a bit underwhelming, which may have been the vegan gummy bears we were using. But our plain water one looked a bit more plump, and our salt one looked a bit scrunched.

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Well, if all else fails, you can watch this osmosis rap video!

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

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This recipe is the third and final one from Raddish KidsBackyard BBQ kit. What better summer flavor to feature in the dessert than lemonade? Travis loves anything and everything lemon, so these were bound to be a hit.

First, we prepared the crust. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup (softened) Earth Balance butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour.

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Beat with a stand mixer until the mixture clumps together.

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Pour into an 8×8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray and press firmly with your fingers to form a crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Next up was the lemon curd. Raddish helpfully offered a vegan variation for this recipe, since the original relied on eggs. Cover 1 cup raw cashews with boiling water and let stand for 1 hour to soften. Drain and transfer the cashews to a blender.

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Zest three lemons until you have 1 tablespoon zest; add to the blender.

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Cut the lemons in half and use the citrus juicer (this month’s keepsake from Raddish!) to obtain 1/2 cup juice. Add to the blender, along with 1 cup coconut cream, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/2 cup sugar. Process until very smooth and chill until ready to use.

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Meanwhile, microwave 2/3 cup raspberry preserves for about 30 seconds. Pour the jam over the warm crust, spreading evenly with a spatula. Slowly pour the vegan lemon curd over the top.

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Bake for an additional 40 minutes. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar before serving.

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Fun with Idioms

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Many Raddish lesson plans that accompany their recipes are quite involved, but this one was fairly straightforward. But it got lots of giggles and introduced my kindergartner to a new term and concept.

I sat Travis down and read through the silly poem “Losing Pieces” by Shel Silverstein, in which he talks about talking off his head, crying his eyes out, and singing his heart out. It concludes:

There’s really not much

left of me.

Travis giggled at the last line but I asked him what was going on here. Had the author really lost his head? Walked his feet off?

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Hmm… We needed more exploration. Travis is familiar with the book Parts by Tedd Arnold, but we hadn’t known there was a More Parts sequel. I showed Travis an online read-through, again producing giggles.

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Once the read-through was complete, I told Travis he’d been listening to idioms. In other words: a group of words that mean something different from what the words actually say.

Raddish also suggested a great clip with illustrations by children showing the literal meaning of an idiom (like ‘holy cow or ‘cat got your tongue’) and then a child steps in to explain what it really means.

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So now it was Travis’s turn! Check out the list of idioms here if your child needs help thinking of one to illustrate. Travis laughed when we got to “chip on one’s shoulder” so we stopped there.

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He drew a person and positioned a little yellow chip right on the shoulder. For fun, show your drawing to friends or family members and see if they can guess which idiom is pictured!

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Roast Corn on the Cob

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Perhaps it’s not quite as authentic as grilling ears of summer corn over the grill, but here’s a corn recipe kids can help with from shucking to finish! This was the third of a BBQ side dish trio from Raddish Kids, and Travis’s favorite of the three!

What is about shucking corn that exemplifies summer? I took Travis out to the back patio and taught him the steps, first peeling off the outer husk so only a thin layer remained.

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Next I showed him how to peel back the silk from the top until the kernels were exposed; grip the silk and pull down firmly. We discarded the scraps in paper bag, just as I remember doing as a kid!

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Travis was enthralled with the process! He needed help as we got down toward the silky layer, but loved peeling back the outer layers and pretended it was the Earth; he was the scientist heading in to the inner core!

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We took our corn inside and combined 3 tablespoons butter and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl. Microwave just for about 15 seconds, until softened, and spread the butter mixture evenly over 4 ears of shucked corn. Wrap each cob in foil and place on a baking sheet.

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Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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These were perfect alongside our watermelon salad and barbecue beans!

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As we dined, we enjoyed some American Flag Trivia on the recipe card, as well as a quiz matching BBQ side dishes with their descriptions. I loved watching Travis eat his corn right off the cob, a formerly cautious eater growing more adventurous every day.

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Barbecue Beans

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This smoky side dish is the perfect compliment to your barbecue tofu pups and veggie burgers this summer. It’s the second of three BBQ side dishes presented in Travis’s latest Raddish Kids crate. He doesn’t always love beans, but this time he gobbled them up!


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  1. Peel and dice the onion; set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Travis was so proud to stir at the stovetop!BBQ Bean (1) 
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the cans of beans. BBQ Bean (2)
  4. Add the beans to the pot, along with the bbq sauce, brown sugar and mustard.BBQ Bean (3)
  5. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through.BBQ Bean (4)

Pair with your favorite veggie burger and a watermelon salad!

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