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Super Simple Soapy Slip’n’Slide

July 12, 2014

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The back story

Last summer I took my kids to a community day event which promised bounce houses, rock climbing walls, and other fun.  We got there early, all ready for a great time.  Parked the car, took a bus up to the event, went to buy tickets…shit, forgot to get money out of the ATM machine.

Back on the bus, back to the car, off to the ATM, back to the bus, back to the booth, buy the WAY overpriced tickets.  The kids run excitedly to the activities…they were too short for all of them.  The disappointment was palpable.  Back to the booth, refund, back on the bus, back to the car.

There we sit, completely dejected.  Then…an idea!  I took them to the store and bought their first slip’n’slide.   And look, it comes with a belly raft thing for going super fast.  We will ressurect the day!

We get home, I get the thing setup, and it becomes obvious that this thing is crap.  It’s not much wider than the kids.  The sprinkler thing along the sides shoots everywhere except on the slide.  They have fun with it, but it wasn’t very long lasting.

After that, I swore I would build my own and really have fun.

The research

I started doing research on every DIY slip’n’slide out there.  They all looked completely awesome.  They also all looked completely too huge for my yard.  They also mostly required at least a small hill to really work well.  Plus, most of them would not be easy to store (pool noodles were a common ingredient).  I began to feel dejected again.  Having only 20 feet of length in my yard, I started to think I was destined for a boring slide.

Then I stumbled on a blog post, which I very regretfully lost now, about an extraordinarily simple design…a “why the hell didn’t I think of that” design.  It’s completely ideal for a small yard, doesn’t require a hill, works perfectly for adults and children, and was incredibly simple.

The build

You only need 4 things:

  1. Plastic Sheeting of at least 4 mils thickness.  Clear is recommend as black will burn your skin the hell off
  2. Stakes to hold the sheeting down.  The blog recommended landscaping nails, which was quite frankly a horrible idea.  The next time I am buying tent pegs.
  3. Baby shampoo or soap, lots of it
  4. A garden sprinkler

It should be obvious what to do from here: Lay out the plastic, add the pegs to hold it on the ground, turn on the sprinkler, squirt copious amounts of soap on the plastic (I used 25% of the bottle on the first go around) and send your kids and yourself sliding across the plastic.

The results

I don’t say this lightly: The 3 hours we spent on that slide was the most enjoyable time I have ever had with my kids. All 4 of us slid across that thing for hours, belly laughing the whole time.  The key is to try and come up with different ways to slide.

We put our slide at one end, they’d go down the slide and zip across the slip n slide.  I put them in pool floatie rings and pushed them across the slide.  We held hands and all went together.  The kids would lay on their bellies and I’d push them down the slide.  They went on bellies, backs, and knees.  I’d add a new heavy layer of soap and we’d try to race across the slide, falling numerous times and laughing.

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If you are squeamish about minor injuries, you may not have as much fun.  There were a couple crashes and a couple head bumps when they fell.  These were all shaken off quickly and back to play.

The lessons learned

While the setup is very straight forward, there were some things that are worth knowing.

The sheeting was tricky to find as there are a million sizes and mils.  I was in a huge hurry so I didn’t want to order it online.  I finally found what I was looking for, a 20′ x 25′ sheet of 4 mil plastic at Walmart.  I will probably get 1 or 2 more uses out of it before it has too many tears.  Next time I will go with this 6 mil sheeting from amazon.

Landscaping nails are like huge REALLY pointy huge staples.  I found a couple had gotten pulled up and were pointy side up.  That would have been an instant trip to the ER had someone fell on them, so I won’t use them again.  I am looking for good tent pegs now.

Your grass won’t like this one bit.  After a day out in the sun, there was some serious yellowing going on. The grass recovered after a few days, and my yard looks like crap anyway, so it didn’t bother me much.

The more baby soap the better.  It just adds to the fun.  Reapply frequently.

 Final Thoughts

This ended up being a little more than I had expected.  Since I didn’t have a sprinkler I ended up spending around $50 on it.  I’ll need to spend another $40 on better plastic and tent pegs.  But, that is less than the price of 1 amusement park ticket…and this was 10 times as fun and we’ll get continued use out of it.

Up next will be to invite some of their friends over to enjoy the fun.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried this setup and hear your stories of fun.  Thanks for reading.

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4 Comments
  1. Good for you for making the best of that original day and going way further to make things better. It’s great that things turned out so awesome and you all enjoyed yourself so much.

    • Thanks. It certainly didn’t look like the day would be salvagable. I am looking forward to having some of his friends over to try it. We’ll never have a pool so this is the our only chance at having a cool yard.

  2. thedadventurer permalink

    Sounds good – definitely making one of these for our back garden when the baby is old enough! If she’s not bothered, I’m sure I’ll get loads of fun out of it anyway 🙂

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