25 Ways to get kids to enjoy being outdoors
We all know how important it is to get the kids outdoors but how do you get kids to enjoy being outdoors?
Sometimes it’s difficult to magically pluck some entertainment value out of fresh air and make being outdoors actually enjoyable. If you have a few ideas and resources up your sleeve it makes it a whole lot easier.
So how do you add a bit of interest to encourage the kids (and sometimes) yourself to get motivated to get outdoors?
By being creative!
Here are 25 simple ideas which will get the kids to enjoy being outdoors as well as motivate the grown ups – Sometimes we all need a bit of encouragement to get outside!
Getting outdoors and enjoying being outdoors, may not always be that easy. The weather being the biggest challenge. You may be limited for time or the kids may well just be ‘bored’ with playing in the garden.
But we all know getting outdoors with the kids has more benefits than just physical health. It is also great for your mental health. Being cooped up with kids can sometimes feel claustrophobic and stressful, for the grown ups and also for the kids.
These 25 ideas are inexpensive, don’t require much planning and will work for kids of all ages. Not all adventures have to be mammoth. Even the smallest experiences can be beneficial to little minds and most of all they will just love spending time with you.
This post will hopefully give you some inspiration to get outdoors and enjoy it!
So read on for 25 fun ideas with printables to get the kids to enjoy being outdoors
1. Sow some seeds
Such a simple activity which is so rewarding, especially when little ones see their seeds growing. A great activity to introduce kids to gardening and to teach them how to care for nature and their little seed.
Sunflowers are especially great for kids and you could continue the theme throughout the summer with measuring activities or growing competitions.
You can use any seeds but try to choose something which will grow quite quickly. Larger seeds are also easier for younger children to handle. Sunflowers, marigolds or nasturtiums are nice and colourful and will grow quite quickly.
Another favourite is beans, try theming this around the classic fairy tail, Jack and the Beanstalk.
Why not start a veg garden? You could start with a few simple vegetables. Beans, beetroot and radishes will grow quickly and are easy to sow.
Smaller seeds can be scattered, there are many varieties of wildlife seed packets. If you have space to scatter the seeds in your garden, they can grow into a wonderful display and come summer kids will have their very own wildlife garden.
2. Create outdoor small worlds
You probably create small worlds indoors all the time to entertain your kids so why not create them outdoors. A great way to keep kids outdoors and engaged even in small outdoor spaces.
A simple set up with a few toys is made all the more fun by including some outdoor props. Have a look round your garden to see what can be used – Plant pots, buckets, garden ornaments, windmills, rocks…. with a bit of imagination you can soon create a castle, fairy world or dinosaur land!
3. Go on a nature trail
A simple printed nature trail can make even a short walk fun. Try these printable nature trails or create your own.
You can even make it more fun by taking binoculars or a magnifying glass to really encourage kids to search high and low!
A nature trail can be turned into a big adventure, you don’t have to go far and it can be done in the country or city. Print off some trail sheets, grab a bag for your collections, take a picnic, just go and have fun.
Any items collected can be used later on rainy days for crafting, take photos and create a nature journal or just enjoy colouring some nature scenes when you get home.
4. Go on a bug hunt
Make education fun, print some bug hunt sheets grab some buggy facts and head out on a bug hunt. There are many affordable bug hunting kits you can buy but a magnifying glass and a ventilated tub can work just as well.
The RSPB have some great resources on the website. The Bug Safari is part of the Wild Challenge and encourages children to complete ‘wild’ tasks to achieve awards.
The Bug Safari has some downloadable bug spotting sheets and some really useful facts and fun ways to get kids inspired to get out bug hunting.
You could even continue this theme at home or in the garden by making bug hotels or painting some bug inspired rocks.
5. Have a picnic
Make some simple snacks together, grab a bag and a blanket and sit in your garden or go all out and plan a themed banquet. A picnic can be a quick snack to rejuvenate or can become a whole day out!
Make it fun, especially for young kids or fussy eaters. Create an experience, from an Alice in Wonderland theme to a dinosaur parade, some simple additions can make a simple picnic magical.
Bring along their teddy or toy friends, you could even write them invitations!
6. Make a kite and go and fly it!
Perfect for a windy day, there’s something just fun about flying a kite, for adults and children alike. Get the kids moving, running, chasing just being free in a field.
The Countryfile website has this simple kite making tutorial. You don’t need many items and most can be found around the house. Kids will love flying something they’ve had a hand in making. For the less crafty there’s loads of inexpensive kites available to buy in all kinds of sizes and colours.
Start with a simple kite and pick a day with some wind (not too much wind!) and head for an open area, a field or the beach is perfect.
7. Feed the birds
There’s so many simple bird feeders you can make using items you most probably already have. A bird feeder is such an easy way to get kids to engage with nature and the outside environment.
If you want to grab your binoculars and watch which birds come for their tea, use this RSPB bird watch checklist to tick off who you see.
For a simple pine cone bird feeder try this printable tutorial also from the RSPB.
8. Build a den
Kids just love dens! Indoors, outdoors they just love hiding In their own secret little space!
Building a den outdoors is a great way to get active outside and can also teach team building and practical skills.
There are many outdoor den building kits on the market but a simple broom and a sheet can make a great hideaway.
If you are out in the woods, even better. Find some large sticks and make a natural den. The Woodland Trust has a great article about den building offering a tutorial and practical information.
For younger children, you could create a ‘mini den’ using a few small sticks. Balance them together or use a tree to lean them against. Put some leaves inside to make it nice and cosy – A perfect hideaway for toys or teddies!
For even more fun grow a den, a bean wigwam can create a perfect shady hideaway with a snack included!
9. Play some traditional outdoor games
There are so many traditional outdoor games which tend to get forgotten with the choice of outdoor toys now available to buy.
Traditional games such as hopscotch, skipping and marbles can be as much fun drawing and setting up as they can playing.
Quick and easy to set up and play, these traditional games can usually be created with items you already have and can even be played in a small space.
10. Paint some rocks
Such a simple idea which has gained huge popularity over the last few years. Painting rocks is a creative way to keep your kids entertained outside (or inside) and can add such a personalised, colourful addition to your garden.
Painted rocks can make lovely personal gifts and can be decorated in so many different ways.
Paint pens are very good for decorating rocks, but acrylic paints and marker pens can work just as well but may need a coat of varnish to make sure they are weatherproof!
11. Have a mini sports day
Why not host a mini sports day, simple sports day races can be re created in your garden or local park.
Egg and spoon race, sack race, skipping race, hole hoop race….. there are so many to choose from. You can buy sports day kits or just use what you have and make your own races up!
You could even add more fun by having winners trophies or medals.
12. Find some treasure
I love creating treasure hunts, they are as much fun writing and hiding the clues as finding them!
Kids love to find things and an outdoor treasure hunt can be appealing to get kids outside, especially if they are going to find ‘treasure’ at the end. You can theme your treasure hunt or just keep it simple with a few clues and some chocolate goodies to find.
A treasure hunt can work for all ages and kids can hunt on their own or in groups. You can add in some tasks or activities to complete along the way and make it as long or as short as you like.
13. Make a nature rainbow
Younger kids love rainbows and will love finding the colours of the rainbow outdoors, it is amazing how many colours you can find in nature during all the seasons.
Collect items for the rainbow colours to create your own nature rainbow. If you have space you could create this on the ground or collect smaller items and create your nature rainbow on paper.
14. Make a boat and float it
There is something really whimsical about making a boat out of natural items. Collect twigs, leaves, pinecones, shells…. and fix them together to create your own little boat. You could fix them together with found objects but it will probably be easier with string or cotton!
When you have collected and made you boat, why not decorate it using collected natural objects. Use acorns, berries, leaves… to add a sail or a ships wheel or an anchor…. be as creative as you want.
You can sail your boat in the garden in a bowl or pond or why not take it to a stream and see who’s goes the fastest.
15. Find animal tracks
A good incentive to get kids outdoors is to find animal tracks! Use this handy sheet from the RSPB to go and find some animal tracks, take some binoculars to make it even more fun.
16. Make a sundial
A lovely sunny day is perfect to make a sundial, kids will enjoy making it and also learning about how the sun tells us the time.
Great in the garden or on a beach, if you have a sunny day and a few collected items, a simple sundial is easy to set up, this tutorial will help kids to make there very own time piece.
17. Roll down a hill
Such a simple activity but one kids of all ages love. Find a nice clean, safe hill and just roll!
18. Nature assault course
A great way to get kids active outdoors, especially older kids is by creating your very own natural assault course.
Using a few natural resources you can easily make an assault course. A great activity to do in the woods where you will have an abundance of ready made props.
Take care when choosing apparatus, make sure the logs are sturdy if balancing etc, depending on your childs ability and age you can make it as simple or difficult to suit.
Logs, leaves and sticks can be made into race tracks, balance beams, jumps….
You could make it even more of a challenge by timing children or having competitions, add in some trophies or treats for the winners.
19. Find something beginning with?
The great thing about this simple activity is it can be done anywhere. A good one for younger kids, educational too!
A simple activity to encourage kids outdoors or entertain them on a walk.
A great activity to ‘pluck out of the bag’ if kids suddenly get bored on a walk as you don’t need any tools or props.
20. Make a sandpit construction site or superhero city or fairy castle……
Sandpits are a great way to get kids to enjoy being outdoors, but If the kids are a bit bored with a traditional sandpit turn it into another world. Using indoor toys and props you can soon make a plain sandpit interesting again.
If you don’t have a sandpit, any large container will work. Plastic storage boxes or even a washing up bowl, as long as it is sealed and will keep sand inside.
Play sand is quite inexpensive and if you cover the play area after use it will last for ages.
Add other natural elements such as small logs, rocks sticks and leaves, then use any toys that the kids enjoy to make their own small world.
Dinosaurs, diggers, fairys…….
You could even craft some items or paint some rocks to add to your creation.
21. Paint a picture with nature brushes
You can use natural materials you have already foraged or go on a walk in search of items to use. Anything can be used as a nature brush, twigs, berries, leaves, pines, anything which can be attached to a stick and dipped in paint!
Making a brush is really simple, just use your found items and wrap it to the end of a twig with string.
Once you have your brushes, you can create any masterpiece you want. Kids poster paints work great or try making some natural inks.
Martha Stewart has a great article about making natural ink. A lovely activity for creative grown ups to enjoy.
A paper roll pinned to a fence or wall can make a great canvas and you don’t have to worry to much about the mess!
22. Nature Rubbings
A traditional favourite, so simple but so effective. All you need is a wax crayon or pencil and a piece of paper. A great activity to get younger kids to enjoy and engage with the outdoors and nature.
You could just choose random items you see as you are walking or make it more challenging by making it into a trail.
A great way to make a simple walk more fun!
23. Make some mud pies
If you have any old pots, pans or baking equipment lying around, let the kids use it to make their own mud pies. You can buy specific ‘mud pie kitchens’ but you could make your own.
An old container on top of an upturned box would work just as well. If you have a fence, attach a board on stilts with some hooks above for the utensils.
Try adding other ‘ingredients’, sand, water or leaves, you could even write out some recipes!
24. Make a leaf crown
A good one for the coronation, making a leaf crown is a really simple, fun activity. A good rainy day craft activity using any previously furaged items or a good incentive to get younger kids out and about finding royal leaves for their crowns.
You can use cardboard, paper or felt for the base of the ‘crown’ just cut into a strip and either glue or tape to fit their head. I find self adhesive velcro is also great to use as it can easily be adjusted to fit.
Finding some leaves and tape or glue them to the crown. Glue dots or double sided tape is great to use if you are making it outdoors!
25. Make petal perfume
Another traditional favourite, making petal perfume. So simple but it will get kids to enjoy being outdoors and collecting their ingredients to make perfume or potions.
Lots of natural materials can make perfume, flowers petals, herbs and even grass. Just let the kids loose and see what they come up with! It probably won’t smell divine but at least they will have fun making it.
Just soak in water and decant into bottles, jars or plastic containers for younger kids. They could even decorate their containers, come up with uniques names for their creation and make their own ‘perfume shop’.
Outdoor activities don’t need to be complex or expensive. Sometimes the simplest activities can be the most enjoyable, for the kids and the grown ups!
Many traditional outdoor activities may seem ‘new’ to kids and provide hours of entertainment. Download the printables and keep them handy in case we are suddenly blessed with a sunny day and you need a bit of inspiration to help get the kids enjoying the great outdoors!