Get your kids outside! Check out these 31 creative ideas for getting your kids outdoors, moving their bodies, and having fun in the sunshine.
When the weather is nice, it should be easy to get your kids to go outside to play. Right? But kids can be surprisingly reluctant to skip out the door for playtime. It hasn’t always been like this!
Many kids in the upcoming generation are replacing outdoor play with indoor, sedentary activities like iPad games, texting, or social media. They’re also more involved in knowledge-based downtime like homework and studying than kids from past generations.
How Do Kids Benefit From Outdoor Play?
Studies have shown that kids who spend more time outside might be happier and more relaxed. Time outdoors can even improve short-term memory, concentration and cognitive skills. (It’s almost like nature makes us smarter… amazing!)
It’s Up to Us To Facilitate Outdoor Play
There’s a REAL need for active, outdoor play. Now more than ever. The more outdoor activities you can encourage and facilitate for your kids, the more they’ll reap the physical and emotional benefits of such play. Creating outdoor experiences for the entire family is a great place to start!
There are actually lots of fun, simple, and creative ways to help your kids get outside–ones that don’t cost a lot of money, time, or planning. We’re sharing 31 of them below. Try one today!
31 Outdoor Activities for Kids
- Organize an outdoor playdate. It is always more fun when your kids have friends to play with and they are most likely to want to stay outside longer.
- Let your kids plant a mini-garden. If they are in charge of it, then they will have to go outside to water, weed and watch over it.
- Help your kids built a fort outside with a rope and an old sheet. Suggest other items that might be fun for them to use on their fort.
- Go for regular walks, bike rides or runs as a family. Many urban communities have trails and bike paths through parks, riverways or lakefronts.
- Have a picnic lunch at the playground or park.
- Create an outdoor scavenger hunt where your kids collect items from nature.
- Try geocaching. If you have never heard of it, geocaching is a real outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. You navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache hidden at that location. This is a great guide to get you started.
- Make a bucket list of different parks you want to try and visit.
- Go on a bug hunt! Give your kids a container and have them collect different kinds of bugs.
- Turn your yard into an obstacle course. Use cones, sticks, a hula hoop, and other items from your garage or backyard to create fun obstacles.
- Blow gigantic bubbles. Fill up a sheet pan with a bubble mixture and dip an over-sized wand to see who can blow the biggest bubble.
- Play with water. Kids will jump at the chance to go outside and splash in water. There are lots of creative ways to do it: wash the car, water the garden, run through sprinklers, go down slip-n-slide, jump in blow up pool, or build a water table.
- Try a new sport. Sometimes a friendly game of dodge ball, whiffle ball, or soccer is a great way to get kids to enjoy playing outside.
- Make Sidewalk Art. Give your kids a big bucket of sidewalk chalk and let them go to town. Give them some ideas with printed photos, or even stencils to color with.
- Take your kids ‘bouldering.’ Kids love to climb on things. Take them somewhere that has rocks available to climb.
- Eat dinner on your porch, deck or in your backyard.
- Make a boat to float down a stream. Your kids will be eager to test it out, but you will probably have to go on a hike to get to a stream!
- Make up challenges for your kids to do outside, like in the TV show ‘Survivor’. This is even more fun if there is a prize at the end (one on one time with Mom or Dad, a night off of helping clean the kitchen, etc.)
- Use an outdoor toy rotation strategy. Kids are lot more excited to play with toys they haven’t seen in a while or can’t access. Divide your outdoor toys into 3 bins, and have one big bucket of toys out at a time. This might include bubbles, balls, kites, jump ropes, skateboards, sports equipment, and water squirters.
- Make an outdoor activity jar. This helps with kids who have a hard time thinking of things to do, or making decisions. Write different activities on popsicle sticks. Let your kids choose an activity and then head outside. Make the activities easy to act on – go to the park for 15 minutes, water the plants, set up a water shooting range, pick a dandelion bouquet, draw something with sidewalk chalk. There are so many fun ideas!
- Do your normal everyday activities outside. Do homework, eat meals, craft, read books, or play games all outside! Even if you don’t have a formal outdoor living space, find some shade and throw down a blanket!
- Outside art projects. If you are tired of your kids projects making a mess in your house, then bring them outside! A few fun ideas: a playdough picnic, where you let your kids make pretend food out of playdough. Nature art – collect leaves, flower, sticks, seeds, and pine cones to make natural artwork. Outdoor painting – bring an easel and paint out to your backyard so your kids can enjoy painting nature scenes.
- Star gaze, or look for shapes in clouds. Set up a blanket, binoculars or a telescope and enjoy the sky!
- Have a bonfire. Make sure you practice good fire safety habits and supervise all campfire activities. But this is a great way to bond with your family, create memories and enjoy the outdoors.
- Clean up Litter. Kids can be surprisingly passionate about caring for mother nature (and proud of their efforts!) You can also make it a game: a mission to save the planet!
- Find a local race to participate in. Push a jogging stroller if needed for younger kids and run together as a family.
- Ride scooters, bikes or tricycles. Set up a mini race and compete on wheels.
- Have your kids pull weeds. We pay our kids one penny per weed and it definitely gets them outside in the yard
- Find a local ‘pick your own’ and let your kids pick produce straight from the plant.
- Play Bug or Leaf Bingo. Find 10 different bugs or leaves and identify them.
- Photograph nature. Let our kids borrow your phone camera and see how many different types of wildlife they can find and photograph.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie