The side door slammed, and my 8-year-old came stomping in the house and declared that I was a terrible mom, and not fair at all.

Oh… and that her life was ruined.

You see, we’d made the decision as a family that the Kindles and iPads (and even the LeapFrog Epic) were being put away for the summer. The whole summer. And, while the edict has been in effect for a few weeks already, the frustration still rears its head from time to time – especially when the neighbors decide they’ve had enough outdoor time and head inside to play X-Box.

 

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

 

My kids love being outside. They love using their imaginations and creativity, but we live in a neighborhood full of kiddos who love their electronics a bit more than digging in the dirt. But, I refuse to waste summer.

So we’ve come up with a few fail-safe things the kids can always fall back on when they’re feeling discouraged, bored, or aren’t sure what to do because their friends have abandoned them for the air conditioning.

Here are a few favorites…

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

Even if your kids love to play outdoors, they may need some guidance from time to time. The good news is there are so many outdoor activities to choose from, that a fun activity is never too far away. The thing is, too, that whether it’s gardening or hitting the trails for a nature walk, outdoor activities for kids like these are fun, affordable, and easy.

Gardening

Gardening is a great activity for kids. There are so many choices –  vegetable gardening, herb gardening, planting a flower garden, or making it a fun fairy garden like we did, gardening gives kids something to do every day.

They need to nurture their little plots of land through watering, weeding, and finally, harvesting. If your kids are small, you can find kid-sized garden tools that give them a chance to use real tools and help you in the garden. Best of all, growing something from a seed is a wonderful learning experience.

 

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

Scavenger Hunts

Do you remember the thrill of going on scavenger hunts when you were small? Taking a checklist of items like leaves, rocks, or a bird nest, and searching for them – whether one collects, draws, or photographs one’s findings – is so much fun. You can easily create your own by writing out a list of things for kids to find. But there are other options online that you can print out, too.

This one from the National Wildlife Federation is fun.

Clarks Condensed has this super cute one, too.

Here’s a fun way to collect those nature treasures, and recycle some old shirts, too.

I like how Five Little Chefs taped theirs to a collection bag in this post.

Stay at Home Mum has a cute printable here.

Whether you make it yourself or print one of these off, having your kiddos do a backyard scavenger hunt is a great way to break up the doldrums.

 

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

Nature Crafting

Now… what should you do with all of those leaves and acorn caps? Try encouraging your kiddos to make some cute nature crafts. They can make wreaths, sun catchers, and more with simple materials they find in the yard and a little imagination. Like these ideas…

Land art is a great way to use those nature treasures – and keep them outside.

I just love these pressed flower ornaments from Twig and Toadstool.

Or these flower garden windows from the Crafty Crow.

This twig boat is precious from Easy Peasy and Fun.

I love crafting with nature, and we’ll be sharing some more fun projects in the coming months.

 

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

Sidewalk Chalk Festival

Drawing on the sidewalk is a classic activity for a reason. It’s easy, inexpensive, and full of imaginative possibilities. I love sending the kids outside with a box of sidewalk chalk to see what they come up with. The results are usually very creative.

But, a few years ago, the kids and I went to a chalk festival on the steps of the Cleveland Museum of Art and were hooked on the idea of creating beautiful artwork for the neighbors to enjoy. Sometimes the kids take their chalk pastels outside, claim a square of sidewalk, and draw whatever comes to them. Other times, though, they draw their inspiration from the wonderful eBooks available from ChalkPastel.com. Here are some of our favorite “Neighborhood Chalk Festival” themes:

 

Art in Space


 

 

Sharks 

Stargazing

Perhaps the simplest outdoor activity is to spread a blanket on the driveway or in the grass and check out the stars. Try and pick out constellations. Look for the International Space Station fling overhead. Make pictures in the stars.

Cuddling together outside on a summer night is a memory that will stay with your kiddos for a long, long time. Try it tonight!

 

5 Great Outdoor Activities for Kids

 

There are so many outdoor activities that kids can enjoy in lieu of another video game – even if it doesn’t change your “worst mom ever” status!

 

Looking for more outdoor play resources? Try these:

Fabulous Outdoor Play Spaces

Summer-Activities-for-Kids

20 fun and frugal water play ideas

Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.