We may be staying home right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and enjoy some time in nature. (Just stay close to home and follow social distancing guidelines.) While time spent in nature is good for everyone’s mental and physical health, it’s especially important for kids to be active outdoors every day, no matter the weather. Outdoor activities for kids can be easy and simple!
Here are 50 easy activities you can do in your backyard or on a neighborhood walk that will keep your kids occupied, help them burn off energy, and give them the outdoor time and nature connection they need.
Outdoor Activities :: Water, Ice, and Rain
- Play sprinkler games:
- See who can fill up their cup first without moving their feet.
- Play “Simon Says” and use commands like “jump over the sprinkler” or “duck walk through the water.”
- Get some toy cars nice and muddy and then run them through the sprinkler car wash.
2. Play with ice cubes: see who can melt theirs the fastest, fill a bucket and take turns trying to pick them up with your feet, or bury a treasure in a bucket of ice cubes and see who can find it first.
3. Throw water balloons back and forth and try not to break them.
4. Experiment with melting ice cubes with salt.
5. Add bubble bath to a kiddie pool.
6. Set up different targets, like a cone, a pyramid of cups, or a sand box toy, and use a water gun or hose to try to shoot them down.
7. Float leaf boats or race sticks in a puddle or stream.
8. On a rainy day, set out metal pots, pans, bowls, and muffin tins and listen to the rain music as it splatters on them.
9. Make mud pies. Bring out some pie pans, measuring cups/spoons, and decorate your pies with stones, shells, leaves.
10. Add food coloring to bubble mix to make a rainbow of bubbles. Try to pop them on a white piece of paper.
11. Experiment with DIY bubble wands using objects like plastic bottles (cut off the bottom), pipe cleaners, wire hangers, plastic funnels, and straws.
12. Dump a bunch of ice cubes, utensils, and containers in a water table.
13. Create mud art on paper with sticks, hands, and feet. Or make mud balls or sculptures.
14. Paint with just water and a paintbrush on your driveway and watch it evaporate.
15. Play hide and seek with a water gun or spray bottle. Anyone who gets found gets squirted!
16. Set up a washing station and wash toys, cars, trucks, Paw Patrol pups, baby dolls, fruit, etc.
Outdoor Activities :: Arts and Crafts
17. Paint with rain. Draw a picture with washable markers, then lay the paper out in the rain and watch the water blend all the colors.
18. Use items gathered on a hike (like sticks, flowers, or pinecones) as natural paintbrushes in your next painting project.
19. Pin paper to a tree to use as a nature easel.
20. Make tree creatures by sticking twigs, leaves, and seed pods into clay.
21. Paint rocks.
22. Make a nature bracelet by wrapping a piece of tape on your wrist, sticky side facing out. Pick up tiny nature treasures, like seeds and petals, to stick on your bracelet.
23. Build a fairy house or a home for another tiny creature using nature treasures. Furnish your house with a rock walkway, a leaf hammock, a flower bed…use your imagination!
24. Write encouraging messages or draw happy pictures on your sidewalk or driveway in chalk.
25. Make a bird feeder with a toilet paper tube. (Hopefully your house still has toilet paper!) Spread vegetable shortening on the tube, roll it in birdseed, then hang it on a bush or branch with some string.
26. Collect leaves and use a hole punch to make leaf confetti.
27. Gather leaves and make a leaf scrapbook.
28. Make a nature frame with sticks and then create a design inside the frame with nature treasures.
Outdoor Activities :: Backyard Fun
29. Make your own tent by tying a rope between two trees and draping a sheet or tarp over the rope. Instant fort!
30. Play flashlight tag.
31. Create an obstacle course with whatever is in your yard and house—jump ropes, boxes, chalk, frisbees, bean bags, etc. Run through it or make one for your bike or scooter.
32. Set up a field day in your backyard: play tug of war, run the 100-yard dash, set up a hurdle with chairs and a broom handle, do a three-legged race, etc.
33. Play with “moon sand,” made with eight cups of flour and one cup of vegetable oil.
34. Make oobleck (two parts cornstarch, one part water) and play with it outside using cooking utensils.
35. Gather nature items, put them in a bag, and have people reach in and try to guess what they are feeling without pulling the item out.
36. Grab a magnifying glass and go on a bug hunt to see how many insects you can find.
37. Attract butterflies to your yard by making a fruity mash. Here are some tips on how to do it: birdsandblooms.com/blog/attracting-butterflies-fruit/
38. Pick up sticks, pull weeds, or rake leaves. Sounds like work but my three-year-old loves to do this and then put everything in our compost bin.
39. Gather grass, leaves, sticks, logs, and rocks and use them to make your own nest. Line your nest with blankets or towels to make it comfy.
40. Tape contact paper to a fence and stick nature treasures to it.
Outdoor Activities :: Neighborhood Walks
41. Go on a circle walk (or pick another shape) and try to find as many circles in nature as you can—take a picture of each one!
42. Have a sensory scavenger hunt. Find something spiky, smooth, slippery, crunchy, wet, rough, loud, quiet, big, small, heavy, light, musty, fruity, stinky, etc.
43. See how many signs of spring you can find: grass turning green, flowers blooming, baby animals, birds nests, bees buzzing, worms crawling, etc.
44. Download the iNaturalist app to identify and learn more about the plants and animals you find in your neighborhood.
45. Take paper and crayons on a walk and make leaf or bark rubbings (or rub any other textured surface).
46. Have a rainbow scavenger hunt and try to find items in every color of the rainbow.
47. Go geocaching. Learn more at geocaching.com/play.
48. Play nature bingo: fill a bingo card with plants, flowers, and animals you might see on a walk and see who gets bingo first.
49. Bring play-doh on a walk and make imprints with leaves, acorns, rocks, bark, branches, etc.
50. Take a ruler or measuring tape outside and measure different objects. You can also collect them and then sort them by size after you measure them.
Photo Credit :: Laura Samuels Photography