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20 Outdoor Things To Do With Kids This Summer

When it comes to play, I more often orchestrate activities than join the fun. This summer, I’m challenging myself to disconnect from devices, let the house get messy and be more present in play with my kids.

I’m far from an outdoorsman, but growing up in Colorado developed a solid appreciation for nature. I strongly believe children thrive with time spent outdoors. So if you’re like me and want to limit screen time and get a good dose of vitamin D, here are 20 things to do outside with kids over the summer months.

Limit screen time and get a good dose of vitamin D by checking out these 20 outdoor things to do with kids over the summer months.

Click the image above to download and print this list,
and then check off the activities as you complete them.
For more fun activities and crafts for kids, please follow my Pinterest board.

1. Go for a nature walk.

Factoring in the agility and endurance of your kids, take them for a hike. Go with friends. Bring the dog. Get out and explore.

We love going to a local state park where there are a variety of trails. The park even offers educational programs for kids everyday during summer break. Since my kids are preschoolers, I keep our hikes short — less than a mile — and break it up with water breaks, packed lunches and photo stops so they can make it back on their own two legs.

2. Picnic in the park.

My kids love when we combine playground fun with a packed lunch. One of our favorite picnic lunches is chicken katsu onigirazu. Find a shady spot at your usual park or venture out of the way to visit new places.

3.  Camp out.

In the backyard or the great outdoors, pitch a tent, roll out sleeping bags and spent the night under the stars. Make meals on the grill and enjoy family time around a camp fire.

4. Make slime.

Slime is all the rage right now, and consisting of a few simple ingredients, it’s easy to make a home. Check out Michael’s Slime Headquarters for recipes and ways to make slime uniquely yours.

5.  Draw on the driveway. Or sidewalk. Or street.

My son loves to draw so the driveway gives him a giant canvas. Spend the day outside creating fantasy worlds, practicing letters, playing hopscotch or trying some of these sidewalk chalk games. You can even make your own sidewalk chalk paint.

6. Plant something.

Kids love to help so let them get their hands dirty in the garden by making outdoor planters or beautifying the yard. Allow them to choose plants for a container and make them responsible for watering it.

7. Paint rocks.

Buy river rocks at the dollar store or collect them on a nature walk. Use outdoor acrylic paint and a sealer to help them resistant the weather like these rocks my niece painted for our garden tic-tac-toe board.

8. Blow bubbles.

Bubbles are loads of fun and an easy activity to do in your own backyard. You can take it up a step with giant bubbles and homemade wands. However, my kids {and dog} are perfectly content letting me blow bubbles while they run around popping them.

9. Create nature art.

Have kids gather leaves, pinecones and other treasures to make a picture. Glue these items onto a piece of card stock to form portraits or animals like the stegosaurus and butterfly above.

Here are some other tutorials for fun nature art projects:

Spray Bottle Painting Nature Art
DIY Nature Paint Brushes for Kids
Clay Leaf Prints
Leaf Rubbings

10.  Make your own suncatchers or wind chimes.

Along the lines of nature art, you can make botanical suncatchers with treasures collected on a nature walk. Or use the same method for making a suncatcher wind chime.

11. Go on a bike ride.

Short one. Long one. Through the neighborhood, along a trail or on the beach boardwalk.

12. Take a trip to the beach.

We live near the beach so it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to spend the day. Having been raised in a landlocked state, however, you can have similar fun at a large lake or reservoir.

13. Build a backyard obstacle course.

My kids love playing their own version of American Ninja Warrior on playgrounds, so we built a little obstacle course to race in our own backyard for my son’s birthday.

My son is four. He really likes sharks. This year, I turned our home into shark-infested waters to surprise him with a Jawsome Shark Birthday Party!

14. Run through sprinklers.

An oldie, but goodie… whip out that rainbow sprinkler or make your own with pvc pipes to stay cool on hot summer days.

15. Water fight with sponges.

Because of the little busted pieces, I’m not a fan of water balloons. But who doesn’t love a good water fight? Sponge balls are a great alternative to balloons and can be re-used all summer long. Break into teams and mount an assault!

16.  Make bird feeders.

We have a bird feeder on our back patio to attract cardinals in our area. The kids love being able to see the red birds and are responsible for filling it each day. In its place, however, they can make homemade bird feeders like this one and these.

17.  Go fishing.

Aside from a little tank in Japan, I have never gone fishing. So if anything, I challenge myself to learn how alongside my kids.

18.  Go on a scavenger hunt.

Give the kids a mission on a nature walk with a scavenger hunt. {Add photos for younger ones.} Let them collect treasures for a nature art project or simply check off their list to earn a prize at the end.

19.  Host an outdoor movie night.

Repurpose an old white sheet and get the backyard set up for a new take on movie night. Here’s a good tutorial for building the screen and some fun ideas for hosting.

20.  Roast marshmallows and make s’mores.

Graham crackers + chocolate + marshmallows = YUM! No fire pit? No problem. Check out this tabletop alternative for making s’mores.

Now that it’s officially summer and school is out, how are you keeping your kids busy? I hope you’ll use some of these ideas to get outside and have fun!  — v.

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2 Responses to 20 Outdoor Things To Do With Kids This Summer

  1. Jacquie June 22, 2017 at 4:28 PM #

    Love the nature art! And what a wonderful list — we adore those simple/classic activities that inspire us to get outside in the summer months. Thanks for including our leaf rubbings as an idea

    • v. June 27, 2017 at 3:44 PM #

      Thanks so much, Jacquie! Hope you have a wonderful summer outdoors!

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