If you are looking for outdoor activities for kids that will keep them occupied and entertained while helping them to work on some developmental skills, then check out our list of options. Many of these activities help to work on hand-eye coordination, teamwork, imaginative play, and social skills.
Sidewalk chalk is useful for a variety of activities, but it is also the perfect way to distract kids for an extended period as they draw and create art. More structured activities can include playing Tic Tac Toe or creating a hopscotch board with fun squares that contain numbers and letters.
Kids can sing songs as they hop from square to square, and for older kid’s chalk can be used to construct a four-square court. Kids can also take turns laying down on the ground and tracing around each other. Once their outlines are complete, they can decorate them however they like.
Volleyball using balloons is an excellent alternative for younger kids and only requires a balloon to get started. If you want to make a “net,” you can use whatever you have around the yard, such as a jumping rope, but it’s not required.
Divide into two groups and space yourselves a few feet apart to get started. Younger children won’t be able to move the balloon as far as older kids so adjust your spacing as needed. Let the kids hit the inflated balloon and push it from their group to the other group.
Accuracy, rules, and scorekeeping are entirely optional for this game as it’s more about coordination, teamwork, and having fun. Make sure to have a few extra balloons on hand for when the first one pops.
Blowing bubbles is a great activity for kids of all ages that keeps them active and challenges them to create differently shaped and sized bubbles for their own amusement. If you don’t have commercial bubbles or want to make your own bubbles, online recipes are widely available.
Many DIY bubble recipes require things that you probably have around your house already such as dish soap, water, and sometimes other ingredients like corn syrup or glycerin.
More complex kites are available for older kids, and some of these allow the user to steer the kite in specific directions and otherwise control it more than a traditional single stringed kite.
It’s also possible to make a kite of your own with materials that you have on hand and materials such as yarn, bags, straws, sticks, and paper, and string can be handy.
A scavenger hunt is one of the many enjoyable outdoor activities for kids that helps them work on critical thinking while having fun. Take several small-ish objects or toys and hide them around the yard. If you feel up to it you can write out clues that lead the kids from one object to the next.
If your kids are too young to read you can just make up clues for each object that you hid in the yard and help them search until they find it. You can make the clues as easy or as complicated as you wish, and even incorporate numbers and letter recognition for added interest.
When you incorporate riddles into the clues, the kids can then work together to figure out what the clues mean and search to find objects that they think meet the criteria. This activity is a great game to play when you have a group of kids that are different ages.
Play dough is made from simple ingredients such as flour, water, food coloring, and salt. There are several recipes available online and many of them will make a batch of play dough large enough for multiple children to enjoy.
Homemade play dough can last up to six months and must be kept in an airtight container when not in use, or it will dry out. When used outdoors, kids can press leaves and other foliage into the dough to make interesting shapes and textures.
Make sure to bring backup supplies like bottles of water, a blanket for hanging out, and snacks if you’ll be there for a while. Also make a note of the closest restroom that is available, and parking.
Picnics are a great way to have kids get excited about eating different foods outside, and parents will be equally happy to find out how easy clean up can be. Put an outdoor-friendly blanket down and set out a variety of healthy snacks, fruits, veggies, and other foods so that your kids can serve themselves.
Paper plates make clean up even more relaxed, and by choosing less messy foods such as fruits, veggies, and finger sandwiches you can avoid having to clean a lot of dirty fingers and faces at the end of the meal. Instead, consider offering the kids damp paper towels or napkins for washing their hands and faces.
Having a campfire is one of the more exciting outdoor activities for kids. There are a lot of pieces to this activity that the kids can help with, and many of them will also be a great learning experience that will foster learning and teamwork.
Invite your kids to help you get the campfire area set up and have them help you carry wood and other materials. If you don’t have roasting sticks, each child can find a stick and prepare it for roasting their marshmallow.
Younger kids might need help roasting their marshmallow, but they can help with other parts such as unwrapping the chocolate and opening the box of graham crackers.
Water balloon fights are relatively simple affairs and require water balloons and water. For added fun, you can set up places where your kids can hide behind things in the yard, and give them soft items to use as accessories.
Hula hoops on the ground can be “safe zones,” and other items like jump ropes can be used as dividing lines for whatever imaginative play your kids can think up. Fun music, a sprinkler, and other water toys can help extend the time of the activity.
After a good rain, or whenever you feel like playing with mud is a great time to make mud pies and challenge kids to see what kind of creations they can make. Mud pies don’t have to look like food items, and you can build other things like cities, houses, cars, and other objects of their own design.
Make sure to have plenty of water on hand and a bucket of water for washing hands for when playtime is over. Old clothes or raincoats are usually a good idea and remind your children not to eat the mud.
Once you have finished making your planes, you can choose to decorate them, or go outside and see how they fly. This activity is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how and why paper planes stay in the air and encourage them to try different designs.
If your kids are into bugs, consider setting them loose in the yard to collect different insects and then help them identify what they are called. Many different books are available on the subject, and online sites even help to identify bugs using a series of questions.
Bird feeders made from pinecones, peanut butter, and bird seed are a classic children’s activity that is easy to do and requires few materials. Kids can slather the pine cones with peanut butter themselves, and then roll them through birdseed that you have put out on a paper plate.
Once the feeders are complete, attach a loop of yarn to them for hanging. When they are ready to hang up, allow your kids to pick out where they go and encourage them to check on the feeders daily to see how the birds are enjoying them.
Building a fort or tent outside is an exciting change to the usual inside construction, and you can use whatever you have on hand. Old bed sheets, blankets, brooms, cardboard boxes, clothespins, and other odds and ends will help encourage imaginative play and allow your kids the freedom to work as a team or build independently.
Tape is also a good option, but stronger tape such as duct tape should be used with some adult supervision when smaller children are involved. Masking tape can be a great alternative but may not stick as well.
Another great outdoor activity is an obstacle course built with items that your kids can safely climb around, on, and over. Various toys such as hula hoops, jump ropes, and balls are great options.
Other objects such as milk crates, pool noodles, and blocks can also make great obstacles that kids can help build themselves.
If your kids have access to devices that take photos, then a great exercise is to have them take pictures whenever they want over the course of a day as part of a “photo journal.” This activity can give a good insight into how younger kids see the world, and can also yield some surprising shots.
At the end of the day, review the photos with your kids and talk about their day and their pictures. If you don’t have devices that can take pictures, disposable cameras can still be found at select stores.
Sticks, rocks, and other small bits can be used to construct a tiny house fit for fairies. Kids love the idea of fairies living in their area and making a house for them can encourage imaginative play and allow their creativity to flow as they build.
Challenge your kids to use all kinds of materials, and design a house fit for fairies and their pets. When complete, consider taking pictures so your kids can refer back to their homes at a later date.
A farmer’s market can be an excellent outdoor excursion for kids of all ages, and an outdoor market can provide ample opportunities for discovery and learning. Talk to your children about all of the stalls and items for sale as you walk through the market, and allow them to pick out some things that they like.
This outing is an excellent time to encourage discussion about healthy eating habits, how plants grow, and who grows and harvests the food we eat. To make the event extra special, give each of your children their own reusable shopping bag so they can help carry what you buy.
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