Last Updated on September 4, 2020 by Corinne Schmitt
Physical activity is so important for everyone and the earlier we develop a habit of being active, the more likely we’ll continue. I put together this list of outdoor activities for kids to help parents find ways to inspire their children to be active.
And sometimes we want our kids to stay occupied outside so that: 1) we can keep our house clean and 2) we can get stuff done!
Kids can usually find dozens of ways to occupy themselves outside, unless they suspect you want them to. My kids all of a sudden become incapable of finding anything to do when I ask them to find something to do outside.
So, next time you need to get some cleaning done or want to finish reading a book in peace and quiet, read off this list of suggestions to your kids to keep them busy for hours outside.
Sidewalk Chalk Games
I always keep a huge supply of sidewalk chalk because it’s one of my kids’ favorite outdoor play tools.
An oldie but a goodie. Once you have the hopscotch board drawn, each player just needs a small stone, stick, or coin to use as their marker.
Two or Four Square
You might want to help your kids draw the box for this game. Kids always tend to draw the squares too small and then they have no room to move within their squares or bounce the ball. This is another playground classic that kids still love.
Draw Your Own City
My kids love to draw elaborate sidewalk chalk cities. It’s fun to see their creative designs. Plus, they can sometimes spend HOURS filling in all the details so this is a great activity for buying yourself some quiet time.
The great thing about backyard or neighborhood sports is that they are free from the pressure (and talent) you’ll find in organized teams. Kids can adapt the rules to make the games more fun.
Many neighborhood sports don’t require much equipment. To play catch, you just need a ball and two people.
Add a bat, some bases (either some throw down bases or drawn with sidewalk chalk) and a few extra people and you can play a game of baseball.
Or, forget the bat. Grab a playground ball and play kickball instead. This is a great one for younger kids or if the players vary widely in age.
One of our favorite family outdoor games is badminton. The kids will sometimes take the rackets and birdies and instead of playing a game, have a contest to see who can keep the birdie bouncing off of their racket the longest.
Of course, there are tons of other outdoor sports. These are some of our favorites (we own some and have played others at friends’ houses). Just click on any item in the image below to read more about it.
Our family has a Nerf arsenal. One of my kids’ favorite activities is to have a Nerf War where they divide up into teams and run around shooting each other with foam bullets.
When there aren’t enough kids around to form teams, they have just as much fun with target practice. They use empty cans, water bottles or leftover plastic Easter eggs (I basically give them full access to our recycling bin) as targets.
No Equipment Required
If you think you have to have a bunch of sports equipment or toys to keep your kids entertained outside, think again. Sure, those items give you choices, but there are plenty of no-equipment games kids can play.
- Tag – person tagged becomes it
- Freeze Tag – person tagged is frozen until another player tags him or her
- Tunnel Tag – person tagged must stand with legs apart until another player crawls through them (like a tunnel)
- Hide and Seek – one seeker, everyone else hides
- Sardines – one hider, everyone else seeks
- Simon Says
- Red Light Green Light
- Cloud Watching – spot shapes in the clouds
- Collect Bugs, Rocks, Leaves, or Flowers
Chores Disguised As Fun
We all know that chores are more fun with companionship. Turn some of your dreaded outdoor chores into a kid activity and kill two birds with one stone!
Here are some outdoor chores that you might be able to convince your kids are fun activities:
- Washing the Car – Sure the kids will spray each other more than the car and the car won’t be spotless, but it will be cleaner than it was before and the kids will have a blast.
- Watering Plants – I don’t know what it is about arming my kids with a garden hose that delights them so much, but this is another activity they really enjoy.
- Spraying Sidewalk with Natural Weed Killer – If you’ve ever let your child be in charge of cleaning mirror or glass, you know how much kids love spray bottles. Might as well let them loose on the weeds with their spraying gusto!
- Washing the Dog – Back to the garden hose, with the addition of sudsy bubbles. Just make sure you’ve given them an all-natural pet shampoo that won’t hurt pup’s eyes or skin (or theirs).
I tried hard to categorize all of the ideas so you could choose activities that appealed most to you. These last ideas though, didn’t fit easily into any of the categories above. So, here are my “miscellaneous” suggestions.
Make a normal lunch but send your kids outside with a picnic blanket and all of a sudden, it’s a fun activity.
Create an Obstacle Course
My kids do this all the time. They’ll take wood from the firewood pile to create obstacles they have to jump over. They lay down paper shopping bags that they have to jump on. Let the kids go crazy with the items from your recycling bin and they’ll create an amazing obstacle course!
When I was a kid, I spent hours biking around my neighborhood. Nowadays, we are too aware of all the dangers to let our kids roam freely. If, however, you are fortunate to live in a neighborhood where you feel safe and your kids have friends they can bike with, this is still one of my favorite outdoor activities for kids.
My kids LOVE scavenger hunts and treasure hunts! If you don’t want to take the time to create your own clues or lists, feel free to use these printable scavenger hunts and treasure hunts I created.
Younger kids always have fun with bubbles. Whether you send them out with an ordinary bottle of bubbles or you spend a little extra on novelty bubbles or fancy bubble wands, bubbles are a surefire way to keep little ones entertained.
Make a Movie
Older kids won’t be won over with bubbles, but they won’t mind getting access to a camcorder or smartphone. If your kids are responsible enough to handle that type of equipment, encourage them to make a movie.
They’ll spend hours coming up with ideas and shooting the videos. And, you’ll have a wonderful memento of their childhood years later.
You don’t need a fancy outdoor bowling set. Instead, use items from your recycle bin (e.g. cereal boxes, empty water bottles) as the pins. Any ball will work (except an ACTUAL bowling ball!).
Whether you have an inexpensive Frisbee or a pricier (but easier to throw and catch) Aerobie, this is such a great activity for improving kids’ hand and eye coordination. Plus, other than the Frisbee, no other equipment is required. You can play it almost anywhere, as long as there is enough room to throw it without damaging anything.
Water Guns or Water Balloons
Despite the fact my kids always resist bath time, they absolutely love getting wet outside of the bath or shower. During warm weather, their favorite outdoor activity is to have water fights with water guns or water balloons.
Printable List of Outdoor Activities for Kids
Print off the list below to keep on hand as inspiration the next time the kids are bored.