The Best Outdoor Activities for Kids
Summer break has arrived and it’s time to get the kids out of the house and into the busy outdoors. The sun, fresh air, and physical activity should make for some happy and tired kids at the end of the day. Taking a break from the screens and playing outside can ramp up the imagination, increase activity level, and get your kids some much-needed Vitamin D.
More: The Top Outdoor Party Games for Kids
However, a busy summer outdoors should not require tons of planning or money on your part. Outdoor play can be more than just the swimming pool, although diving under pool noodles is always a fun game. Check out our suggestions below for easy fun ideas to keep your kids out of the house and engaged all summer long.
- Sprinkler - Almost everyone has a sprinkler, and it’s not just for watering the grass! Pull the sprinkler out, grab bathing suits, and sit back while your kids run and jump, cooling down while burning energy.
- Water Balloons - When it comes to fun outdoor activities a water balloon fight is a classic. Keep the kids outside running around and burning energy as they dodge and weave.
- Car Wash - Kids love a car wash, and you get the benefit of having a sparkling car! Have your kids hop into their bathing suits, provide them with some buckets and large sponges and watch the magic unfold.
- Water Fight - You can use whatever you have around the house, water guns, squirt guns, spray bottles, or even just sponges and a bucket of water. Create teams and decide on a home base, then let the games begin!
- Water Table - Sometimes just a water table can bring plenty of entertainment. If you don’t have a water table you can fill kiddie pools or even just a large plastic bin. Pull out some of the bath toys, kitchen utensils, various size scoops, and spoons, and let your kids get creative.
- Mud Pies - Whether it’s after a good rain, or just letting kids add water to dirt, mud pies are super fun albeit a messy activity. Plan to get the hose out before letting your kids back in the house, but chances are they will be ecstatic that they get to play in the mud.
- Sink or Float - A great water and science activity is finding out what sinks and what floats. Use the water table or a kiddie pool and have your kids find various objects to test out. Have them make predictions before adding them to the water to see if they are correct.
Arts and Crafts
- Sidewalk Chalk - All you need is a bucket of chalk, the driveway or sidewalk, and a kid’s imagination. They can create fun pictures for the family, or leave motivational messages for neighbors walking by.
- Make a Bird Feeder - Making an easy bird feeder is a great activity that can then attract local birds to your yard. We’ve got you covered with a super easy Bird Feeder here.
- Nature Scavenger Hunt and Collage - Give your child a square of sticky contact paper and head out on a scavenger hunt. As they find items they like, they can stick them to their paper. By the end of your nature walk your child will have a lovely collage filled with items from their outdoor scavenger hunt.
- Painting Pinecones - A little bit of paint, some pinecones, and a ball of yarn or string are all you need to create a fun and easy DIY art project. Hang your colorful pinecones around the yard for a pop of color, or bring them inside for a reminder of all the fun summer activities you’ve been completing.
- Rock Art - Creating masterpieces out of rocks is a fun summer activity that everyone can participate in. Afterward, you can create a rock garden in your yard, or bring them with you on your next outing and leave them in various places. People who find them will love the cheery surprise.
- Tie-Dye - If you need a good tie-dye kit, we like this one on Amazon that has 26 vibrant colors. You can grab cheap t-shirts or use what you have at home. We even think tie-dying socks are fun!
- Make a Fairy House - Kids will love adding a tiny Fairy house to the yard or garden for a whimsical sense of magic. They can gather materials around the yard such as acorn caps, sticks, stones, etc. You can use cardboard or wood as a base, and let the creativity fly. Add some paint or glitter for real pizazz. Throughout the summer your kids can add on to their house, and maybe the fairies will leave a surprise in return.
- Obstacle Course - If you have younger kids you can set up an obstacle course for them, but if your kids are older they will enjoy setting their own challenges. You don’t need fancy equipment to challenge your kids physically and can even time them as they complete the course.
- Hula Hoop Challenge - Hula Hooping is right up there with jump roping, almost a lost art but a classic for kids of all ages. Get into the competition and see who can keep their hula going the longest.
- Frisbee - Frisbees are a fun way to engage in a game of catch, or to get competitive and see who can throw the farthest. Whether in the yard, the beach, or the park, frisbees are easy to travel with and can be played just about anywhere there is a decent amount of space.
- Fly a Kite - There’s an art to kite flying, and the summer is the perfect time for kids to master the skill.
- Flashlight Tag - Bedtimes are usually pushed back a little later during summer break, so let your kids enjoy the later evenings after it gets dark with a little flashlight tag. They’ll be filled with excitement and anticipation as they get to explore their outdoor space in the dark.
- Backyard Games - There are all kinds of backyard outdoor games that are perfect for keeping kids entertained. Some suggestions are Cornhole, Ladder Ball, KanJam, Horseshoes, and Tic Tac Toe.
- Giant Bubbles - You can search for various techniques for making giant bubbles as an easy and fun outdoor activity. Have your kids try out a few different techniques to see what generates the best results.
- Make Ice Cream - Making ice cream is a super fun way to celebrate the summer with a little science. We like the ease of making ice cream in a bag, where you just need a few ingredients, ice, and some arm power for lots of shaking. Kids will be mesmerized as they watch their liquid turn into a yummy soft serve!
- Bug Hunt - Bugs are abundant in the summer, so grab a bucket or container and get to hunting! The bravest kids will enjoy picking up all kinds of critters while those more squeamish might want a magnifying glass to look from a distance. Take time to identify each bug found.
- Make Popsicles - Similar to making ice cream, but less manual labor and more patience are needed! We like these silicone popsicle molds that conveniently also come with 50 popsicle sticks, a funnel, and a recipe book. Your kids can practice following different recipes all summer long, but will have to be patient as they freeze before judging their work!
- Ice Excavating - This involves a little bit of planning ahead, but freeze dinos and other small toys in a block of ice. Bring them outside and provide your kids with a few tools such as hammers to chip away at the ice and try to free their toys. You can also use ice-melting techniques such as spray bottles, warm water, salt, etc, to see what works to free the toys. A great science experiment that will help your kiddos stay engaged and cool this summer.
- Paper Boats - Creating a paper boat that will not only float but can make it across a specified distance, such as a kiddie pool, is a great science activity for your kiddos this summer. Gather materials and get ready for a paper boat regatta.
- Volcano - Volcanoes are a messy experiment that is perfect for keeping busy outside this summer. From using paper-mache to build a volcano, painting it the perfect color, and then adding the right ingredients for an epic eruption, keeping this activity outdoors makes for a much easier clean-up.
Fun for the Whole Family
- Outdoor Movie - If you have a projector, set up an outdoor movie spot and invite the neighbors over. Enjoy the cool breeze of the evening underneath the stars while eating popcorn and marshmallows, the perfect summer treat.
- Outdoor Concerts - Many towns have free outdoor concerts in the summer, which is a great way to stay outside, socialize, and enjoy some fun tunes. Bring a picnic blanket and an easy dinner for an enjoyable evening.
- Visit the Zoo - A great family outing is a trip to the zoo. Kids of all ages can have a good time visiting zoo animals, and some zoos even plan special summer evening activities.
- Plant a Garden - This is a summer activity that can last all season long! Start with seeds in the spring, and then move your flowers or veggies outside. Your kids can be responsible for watering, weeding, and hopefully harvesting. They will be excited to check on the progress each week!
- Collect Trash - Head out on a nice family walk at a local park and bring some gloves and plastic bags with you. This is a great opportunity to talk about our environment and how we can make the world a better place. Challenge each other to see who can fill their bag the fastest as you get some much-needed fresh air.
- Go on a Hike - Exploring a new hiking spot is a great way to get out of your own backyard while still enjoying the outdoors. Turn it into a scavenger hunt, or just a leisurely hike as you bird watch, push yourself physically, and enjoy each other’s company.
- Have a Yard Sale - A yard sale is a great summer activity for the whole family. You can declutter a bit and your budding entrepreneurs can earn a little summer spending money.
- Have a Fashion Show - Kids love to dress up, and a summer fashion show could be a big hit. Allow them to choose their favorite outfits and accessories and strut down the driveway as a runway.
Looking for more ideas? Check out The Ultimates Summer Bucket List for Kids and Families
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Jennifer Caffelle, Education and Leadership Expert
Jennifer is currently working for a US-wide health care system, Jennifer has worked professionally for 13+ years in the fields of early education and lead