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100 Things to do outside with your kids

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know how much I value kids spending time outside. As parents it is up to us to choose to lead the way.

Here’s the thing…

It doesn’t matter if you live on a huge lot of land or have direct access to a state park in order for your kids to experience nature.

You can live in an urban area, in a suburban area, or in the country.

Your home can be a house with a yard, or in a condo or apartment surrounded by skyscrapers–it doesn’t matter.

Just remember that little people don’t need huge spaces. One tree can feel like a forest to them.

So find that one tree, that little grassy area in the local park, the weeds growing between the sidewalk cracks and make it a priority for your kids to not just “see” nature but to experience it first hand.

Here is 100 simple things to do outside with kids

Most are free or can be done at little cost.

1.Go for a hike

2. Spend an afternoon at a playground (sit back and let them play!)

3. Find a tree to climb in your neighborhood or a nearby park

4. Have a picnic on the grass, at the beach or find a picnic bench close by

5. Let baby do some tummy time on a blanket with their hands in the grass

6. Go for a walk for the purpose of collecting “treasures” (rocks, acorns, pine cones, burrs, twigs, feathers)

7. Let your little one use their “treasures” to create art

8. Sign up for a Tinkergarden class

9. Lay on the grass and watch the clouds (this is a great mindfulness activity)

10. Seek out puddles for splashing

READ THIS: If you are worried about getting your kids outside in rain or snow then you need to check out this gear guide.

11. Set up a tent in the backyard for a simple “camping” overnight

12. Purposely go barefoot in a mud puddle

13. Collect berries, leaves and fallen pedals or leaves and make “soup” (just bring any old pot and wooden spoon outside with a little water–you’ll be surprised at how long this entertains kids)

14. Roll down a grassy hill

15. Sit outside at night and listen for sounds. Talk about the sounds and what kinds of animals come out at night.

16. Draw in the dirt with a stick

17. Go on a scavenger hunt looking for specific things–things that start with a specific letter or things that are a specific color

18. Use binoculars to bird watch

19. Skip rocks in the ocean, lake or stream

20. Build a fort outside (either with natural materials or bring some blankets and pillows out if you aren’t feeling as adventurous)

21. Paint magic sticks (find a large stick, let the kids paint it and decorate it any way they want)

22. cGarden (plant wildflowers, easy to grow veggies, let your kids weed)–we love this real garden set for our kids

23. Go outside and see if you can figure out the direction of the wind

24. Go outside during the different seasons and make a list of what makes each season (have them describe what they see, smell, feel, hear)

25. Set up a tent outside, no need to sleep there just use it as an invitation to play

26. Make a bird feeder

27. Catch rain drops in your mouth

28. Go to a local farm to learn about the farm animals

29. Take a few of your favorite books outside and read on a blanket

30. Collect rocks and use them to build something

31. Eat a meal outside

32. Go for a walk and just talk about what you see

33. Go for a clean up walk and use sticks to pick up litter

34. Throw rocks into a river to see how big the splash can be (find rocks of all different sizes, make guesses on how big the splash will be, throw the rocks in and talk about the outcome)

35. Have your child do school work outside (even just bringing their computer and sitting on a blanket or in a chair outside is a simple way to reconnect with nature)

36. Go outside when it’s super cold and take a few deep breaths–talk about how it feels to breath cold air (you can also do this when it’s humid out)

37. Visit a nearby mountain or nature preserve

38. Go for a walk around your neighborhood in the rain (you close enough to home so getting wet isn’t a big deal)

39. Make mud pies

40. Use sidewalk chalk to draw outside

41. Paint rocks

42. Play in a creek

43. Walk or bike to a destination nearby versus taking a car

44. Collect bugs

45. Help rake leaves

46. Make a pile of leaves and roll around in the pile (then rake them back up!)

47. Help shovel snow

48. Play hide and seek outside

49. Finger paint using mud

50. Make bark or leaf rubbings (put paper over tree bark or leaves, use crayons to rub the paper leaving the markings of the leaf or bark)

51. Go outside to look for butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies

52. Hunt for rocks with moss (my kids love moss!)

53. Find fallen logs or big rocks to climb

54. Make a collection of different colored leaves (see how many they can find)

55. Bring a sensory bin outside and fill it with water or dirt

56.  Build a snowman or make a snow angel

57. Go sledding (even if it’s only a small hill!)

58. Look for wild berries and use them to make “magic potion” (don’t let them eat unless you are certain the berries are edible)

59. Ride a bike or a scooter somewhere local

60. Make a flower crown

61. Make a nature tic tac toe board with four long sticks–use pine cones, acorns or rocks as the pieces

62. Use a magnifying glass to identify bugs

63. Wash toys–bring a bucket of soapy water and a sponge outside and let the kids wash toys (and whatever else they can find)

64. Fly a kite

65. Play tag

66. Play catch or kick a soccer ball around

67. Go for a swim

68. Build a backyard fire (make sure to do this safely!)

69. Fill some water cans and water plants

70.  Build a fairy house with anything you can collect outside

71. Go to the beach and build a sandcastle

72. Star gaze and talk about constellations

73. Look for large rocks or logs to lift up and see what’s underneath

74. Dig a hole and bury some treasures (anything small like acorns, leaves, small rocks)

75. Make a leaf boat with large green leaves and sticks–set them to sail on a river or even in your sink

76. Pick flowers and practice arranging them in a vase

77. Catch fireflies

78. Build an obstacle course with natural elements (rocks, logs, trees)

79. Make a DIY pulley system–throw a rope over a tree branch or post and tie it to a bucket. See how much they can pile into the bucket

80. Flatten a cardboard box and use it to slide down a hill

81. Examine an ant hill with a magnifying glass

82. Find a Free Forest School nearby

83. Make or buy a mud kitchen (we love ours from Etsy)

84. Visit a local farmer’s market

85. Take a nap outside (in a hammock, on a trampoline, in a lounge chair, on a blanket)

86. Take some pots and pans outside to use as drums

87. Make a mandala out of leaves, sticks and pebbles

88. Bring paint or crayons and paper outside and use nature to inspire art

89. Collect different natural materials in mason jars and see if you can guess what they are by smelling them–(try fresh cut grass, lilacs, dirt, mint) close the lid and leave out in the sun for a little while to help maximize the smells

90. Lay on the ground and listen to sounds–try to make a list of all the sounds you hear

91. Dig for worms

92. Go for a walk at night and “chase the moon”–just allow your little one to follow the moon and see where it leads you

93. Make a nature collage

94. Paint your driveway with washable paint using your hands and feet

95. Run through a sprinkler

96. Practice cutting grass or weeds with scissors

97. Harvest garden veggies or fruits (help pick and put into a basket)

98. Find a local place to pick apples, pumpkins, berries

99. Plan a camping or “glamping” vacation.

100. Let your little one take you on an adventure outside–just let them lead the way

Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

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