In these busy, tech-dominated times, it’s hard to get families outside and playing together.
Not only is it important for families to get some exercise, but it’s also crucial for children to spend time outdoors to develop healthy minds and bodies.
In addition to explaining the benefits of outdoor recreation, we’ve put together a LOT of fun backyard ideas for kids and how you can get your family outside and playing together.
From DIY arts and crafts to backyard sports and water wars, we’ve got all the makings of a totally fun day with these backyard activities for kids.
Benefits of Getting Kids Outdoors
- Benefits of Getting Kids Outdoors
- Backyard Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids
- Low-Cost-to-No-Cost Outdoor Games and Activities:
- High-Activity Games for Kids
- Variations of Classic Tag
- Tag Variation 1: Duct Tape Tag
- Tag Variation 2: Rag Tag
- Tag Variation 3: Centipede Tag
- Tag Variation 4: Flashlight Tag (Nighttime Hide-and-Seek)
- Variations of Classic Hide-and-Seek
- Hide-and-Seek Variation 1: Sardines in a Can
- Hide-and-Seek Variation 2: Secret Wave
- Hide-and-Seek Variation 3: Jail Break
- Hide-and-Seek Variation 4: Hide and Soak
- Capture the Flag
- Backyard Obstacle Course
- NERF War
- Giant Beachball Volleyball
- Glow-in-the-Dark 9-Pin Bowling
- Lawn Twister (4 colors of spray paint and cardboard with a circle cut out)
- Outdoor Field Hockey (beach ball, pool noodles, and boxes for goals)
- Fly a Kite
- Hula Hoop Games
- Rock-Paper-Scissors Hoop Showdown
- Human Giant Ring Toss
- Hoop Scotch
- Hula Roll Race
- Pass the Hoop
- Outdoor Arts and Crafts for Kids
- Backyard Water Activities for Kids
- Best Inflatable Pool Activities
- Large DIY Backyard Water Activities for Kids
- Other Adventurous Family Activities
- Memory Making Activities
- Relaxing Outdoor Activities for Families
- Budget-Friendly Products
- Best Yard Games
- Giant Games for Outdoors
- Outdoor Activities to Splurge On
- Wrapping Up Backyard Activities for Kids
Spending time with your family outside has a lot of advantages. Going out in nature has been found to help promote better health, relieve stress and anxiety, reduce obesity, decrease media addiction, and fight the effects of attention deficit disorder and other learning problems.
Improves Physical Health
Spending time outside almost inevitably leads to more physical activity and fitness in children. Also, playing in the fresh air significantly reduces exposure to indoor pollutants, such as second-hand smoke, recycled air, communicable germs, and viruses. Indoor air pollutants can be more hazardous than outdoor air.
Scheduling time for outdoor playsets is a natural limit on how long your child may spend using a device (such as a TV, smartphone, or video game). It encourages children to get out and engage with their friends and the environment rather than just sitting inside.
Balancing recreational screen time with wholesome outdoor play also helps reduce the chances of children developing sedentary lifestyle habits as they become adults.
Improves Intellectual Skills
Spending time in nature is a catalyst for learning.
With the guidance of caring, thoughtful adults, the natural world may be used to provide youngsters with opportunities to investigate, question, and build theories about how things work.
Children who spend more time outside are more interested, self-directed, and able to stay focused for longer.
Children with very little outdoor activity and exposure to new activities that require their own initiative have a reduced capacity to begin or participate in new activities in other areas of life.
Additionally, studies of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have revealed that youngsters who spent a lot of time outside had fewer symptoms.
Fosters Socio-Emotional Well-Being
Outside play helps children socially develop by assisting them in forming healthy friendships, experiencing healthy physical contact, and using their imaginations to entertain one another. It aids them in solving issues, establishing friendships within their peer group, and developing a respect for nature.
These interactions aid in the development of communication, cooperation, and organization abilities while they experiment and play games with their siblings or pals.
Creates Lasting Memories That Strengthen Family Relationships
Families can spend time together in the great outdoors at every stage of a child’s life, whether simply tossing a ball in the backyard, playing an ol’ fashioned game of tag, gettin’ down with a game of corn hole, or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
Being outdoors provides the family time and space away from work, home, TVs, and smartphones, giving them the freedom to focus on each other. Having an arsenal of outdoor adventure stories to remember together establishes a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Backyard Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids
The secret to having a good time in your own backyard does NOT have to mean bleeding your budget dry on a bunch of extra stuff from the store. While you may need to pick up a few things, the basics are usually already in the house.
Plus, creating your own backyard activities is more special than just buying them at the store. When your kids see what you took the time to create for them, they can see your love in action and it motivates them to follow in your steps!
We’ve collected some fun ideas for active families that they can do together using everyday items from around the house. These activities are not only resourceful but also encourage kids to get active and enjoy the outdoors.
Low-Cost-to-No-Cost Outdoor Games and Activities:
Outdoor fun does not have to cost a dime. With the addition of a few household items, you can create plenty of fun outdoors! Here are some frugal ideas for kids that use common household items … or no items at all!
High-Activity Games for Kids
Have kids with lots of energy? These backyard activities for kids will surely wear them out but have them laughing the whole time.
Variations of Classic Tag
Everyone knows the rules to a plain ol’ game of tag. Turn it up a notch with these variations on an old favorite:
Tag Variation 1: Duct Tape Tag
Grab a roll of any kind of strong tape. Give a small strip to the person who’s “It.” Set a timer for 5 minutes.
When you say “Go!,” the one who is “It” tries to stick the duct tape to someone. When they do, the tape stays on the person and a new piece of tape is given to the new “It.”
The players with the least (or no) pieces of tape stuck to them at the end of 5 minutes stay in for another round and start over.
Proceed with 5-minute rounds until one player is left standing.
Helpful Tip: Designate boundaries that shrink with each round to keep the players in a smaller arena each time.
The game proceeds until the time runs out.
Tag Variation 2: Rag Tag
Tuck a sock, bandana, or rag into everyone’s back waistband. Establish some boundaries to the “arena” using a long hose or length of rope.
When the game starts, everyone is “It” and tries to grab everyone else rag in an attempt to collect the most.
When someone’s rag is taken, they are out.
Helpful Tip: Each time a rag is claimed, shrink the boundaries to keep the game competitive!
Tag Variation 3: Centipede Tag
Begin the game with one person designated as “It.”
When “It” tags someone, they join hands and chase the others, each time adding other players to the centipede chain.
The last person left without being assimilated into the centipede wins.
Helpful Tip: This variation gives little ones a chance to win as the centipede tends to slow down with each added player.
Tag Variation 4: Flashlight Tag (Nighttime Hide-and-Seek)
Equip every player with a flashlight. Every player hides somewhere except the player who is “It.”
As “It” seeks out and finds other players by spotting them in their flashlight beam, they join teams to find the other players.
The last player to be found wins!
Variations of Classic Hide-and-Seek
Try these different variations on an old classic:
Hide-and-Seek Variation 1: Sardines in a Can
One player hides while everyone else seeks.
When the game begins, the seekers scatter to find the hiding player. Each time a seeker finds the hider, they secretly squeeze in to hide with them until only one person is left seeking.
The last person to find the sardines begins the next round as the hider.
Hide-and-Seek Variation 2: Secret Wave
Begin the game with one seeker and the rest hiders.
When the seeker finds the first hider, they team up; however, the new seeker is a “double-agent!”
If the new seeker spots a hider and can get their attention by waving to them without the original seeker knowing, the hider can run and find a new spot to hide.
But, if the original seeker sees the wave taking place, the newly-spotted hider joins the team as the new “Secret Waver.”
Hide-and-Seek Variation 3: Jail Break
Begin the game with one seeker and the rest hiders.
As the seeker discovers the hiders, the hiders are placed in a predetermined location that serves as the “Jail.”
The goal of the seeker is to send all the other players to jail while, at the same time, the other hiders try to sneak into the jail and tag their incarcerated partners.
If the sneaking hiders succeed in tagging the prisoners, they break out and go hide again. But if the seeker spots the jailbreak before it happens, they all run free.
Hide-and-Seek Variation 4: Hide and Soak
Grab some good water guns. Begin the game with one seeker and the rest hiders.
The seeker tries to soak the hiders before they can soak them back.
Want to get a little messy? Put on some old clothes and put a little food coloring in the water guns!!
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is a classic game that can be played with any number of people. The basic premise is to capture your opponent’s flag while protecting your own.
To set up, you’ll need two flags and two teams of players. Mark out an area in which the game will take place, and divide the teams equally between each side.
The object of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and return it to your home base. If an opponent intercepts you while carrying the flag, you must drop it where you are captured. The team that captures the most flags at the end of the allotted time wins!
Backyard Obstacle Course
This is a great way to inspire large-scale creativity! Get your kids in on crafting an obstacle course using random items from around the house, yard, and garage. Patio chairs, scrap lumber, string or twine, old toys, balls, old boxes … anything and everything can be turned into some type of obstacle.
Time each other to see who can beat the high score. Challenge each other by rearranging the course in more difficult configurations. Try carrying a marble or egg in a spoon while you’re going through the course.
Every Christmas, NERF guns are unwrapped by ecstatic boys and girls only to be played with for a day and then are left collecting dust in the closet.
No longer. It’s time to arm up!
One-on-one, boys vs. girls, or parents vs. kids … there are countless ways to have fun with NERF guns outside.
Whether staging a simple Battle Royale in which you’re trying to be the last player standing or adding some action to Capture the Flag, Tag, or Hide-and-Seek, NERF guns add tons of fun to a simple outdoor game.
Short on ammo, grab a box of 400 darts super cheap. Just make sure the whole family pitches in when it’s time to pick up!
Giant Beachball Volleyball
On a day when the wind is light, about 15 feet of twine and a beachball and have some easy fun!
Tie the twine (jute, rope, whatever you’ve got) between two patio chairs, trees, or t-stakes for a makeshift net. Inflate the beachball and choose the teams.
If you want a day at the backyard beach, add an inflatable pool off to the side with some chairs and a cooler of something cold and refreshing
Glow-in-the-Dark 9-Pin Bowling
- 9 empty plastic drink bottles (2-liter soda bottles work best)
- Glow Sticks
- A small soccer ball, volleyball, or paper-and-tape ball
Step 1: Save up 9 water bottles, 2-liter coke bottles, or any other tall, clear plastic containers.
Step 2: Grab some inexpensive glow sticks and place one in each container.
Step 3: Fill each bottle with water to weigh them down in the grass.
Step 4: Find a small soccer or basketball ball (or make one with wadded-up paper wrapped in masking tape).
You’re all set!
Lawn Twister (4 colors of spray paint and cardboard with a circle cut out)
You can check out more detailed illustrated instructions here.
- 4 Cans Rustoleum Ground Marking Spray Paint (Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green)
- 5-gallon bucket with a 7-inch hole cut in the bottom (or a sturdy piece of cardboard with the same size hole cut out)
- 10 ft. of string or a tape measure for marking a straight line
- 2 wooden or tent stakes to secure the string while spraying the circles on the ground
Helpful Tip: Before using the spray paint, ensure there is nothing nearby that could be damaged by the paint overspray. Check the wind direction!
Step 1: Select a rectangular area of yard space at least 5 ft. x 4 ft.
Step 2: Layout your string or tape measure along the left 5 ft. edge of the rectangular area. Tie the string to the stakes at each end so that it floats taught just above the ground.
(If using a tape measure, just lay the tape measure on the ground and have some helpers hold the two ends in place.)
Step 3: Spray the circles.
Beginning with green and using the bucket or piece of cardboard as a stencil, spray 6 equidistant circles 3 inches apart. Use the string to keep the line of circles straight.
Step 4: Move the string or tape measure to the right of the green row and secure it to the ground.
Create a row of yellow circles as you did the green.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the blue and red rows.
Step 6: Let the circles dry for the time indicated on the spray paint can.
Helpful Tip: If you don’t have a Twister spinner board, designate a “referee” to call out the moves players have to make. This can actually be more fun as the referee gets to intentionally tie the players up in knots!
Outdoor Field Hockey (beach ball, pool noodles, and boxes for goals)
- 1 pool noodle for each player
- Large boxes for goals ( or use anything you can imagine to mark “goalposts”).
Step 1: Layout your “hockey field” by determining how wide and long the boundaries should be (or go crazy and use the whole yard!)
Use a long hose or length of rope to mark the boundaries.
Step 2: Place the boxes at each end of the field on their sides so that the open end faces the interior of the field (or mark the goalposts with patio chairs or anything else you can think of).
Step 3: Split the family up into teams.
Step 4: GAME ON!
Helpful Tip: Consider cutting the pool noodles to shorter lengths for smaller children so they are easier to wield.
Fly a Kite
If you have a smallish backyard, flying a kite is still possible without crashing into the neighbors’ yards. Read more to find out how!
Step 1: Select an easy-to-fly kite.
We recommend Mint’s Delta Kite, especially if you’re a beginner. They are very easy to launch, simple to control, and are super eye-catching.
Step 2: Follow these tips if you’re flying in a small area:
- Hold the bridle point of your kite and allow the line out. If there is enough wind, your kite will fly straight up. (If it doesn’t launch right away, it may be better to wait for a windier day.)
- Allow the kite to fly away from you a bit, then pull in on the line as the kite points up so it can gain altitude.
- Repeat the last step until your kite gains the altitude necessary to find a good steady wind.
Hula Hoop Games
Ahh . . . the ever-versatile hula hoop! It’s not just for hula-hooping anymore. Check out these other ways to squeeze more than hula out of the hoop as one of the cheapest backyard activities for kids!
Rock-Paper-Scissors Hoop Showdown
Step 1: Arrange the hoops on the ground so that they form an “X” with the “arms” of the X being 3 hoops long each.
Step 2: Divide the family into 4 teams and position them on each of the 4 hoops farthest from the center.
Step 3: The goal is for each team to have all their players make it to the other side of the X before the other teams.
As the players jump through the hoops and come face to face with a member of another team, they face off in a rock-paper-scissors showdown.
The winner of the showdown continues on while the other has to return to their base and try again.
Step 4 (Optional): If you have the bean bags and buckets, you can add a more competitive element to this game.
- Divide the bean bags equally among the 4 buckets and place them at each team’s base.
- Players must transport their team’s beanbags one at a time to the opposing teams’ buckets.
- In turn, players can also block the opposing teams’ efforts by transporting enemy bean bags back to their original base.
- The first team to successfully empty their bucket of their color bean bag wins!
Human Giant Ring Toss
- 1 hula hoop for each player
Step 1: Provide each player with a hoop.
Step 2: Position players 8 ft. apart (more or less depending on age and skill level).
Step 3: Players compete to be the first to successfully lob their hoop around another player.
Helpful Tip: Consider placing position markers on the ground so that players remember where to stand if they have to chase down a rogue hoop.
Helpful Tip: Teach kids to lob the hoops gently. Don’t throw the hoops hard at each other.
- A set of hula hoops
- A small ball or stone for each player
Step 1: Arrange the hoops in a hop-scotch pattern of your making. Place them closer or further apart to adjust the difficulty level.
Step 2: Designate increasing point values for each hoop, the highest points being the furthest from the starting point.
Step 3: Players take turns earning points by tossing their ball or stone so that it lands inside of a hoop and then successfully one-or-two-leg-hopping to retrieve the stone.
Hula Roll Race
- 1 hula hoop for each player
- Start and finish line markers (anything you can think of)
This one speaks for itself. Be the first to roll your hoop to the finish line.
Add some challenge to this by requiring players to roll the hoop with a stick rather than directly with their hands.
Pass the Hoop
Step 1: Have all players join hands in a circle.
Step 2: Hang the hoop over the forearm of one player.
Step 3: Players must pass the hoop around the circle without letting go of each other’s hands, using their whole bodies to maneuver the hoop to the next player.
Outdoor Arts and Crafts for Kids
It can be hard to find activities that are fun and healthy for the whole family to do together.
Most people think of arts and crafts as something that you do inside, but there are so many fun and creative outdoor art projects that you can do with your family in your own backyard.
Outdoor arts and crafts are a great way to spend time together as a family while getting some exercise and fresh air. You can find all kinds of ideas for outdoor art projects right here!
Outdoor art is also less stressful for parents. The kiddos can get as messy as they want and you don’t have to stress out about getting the carpets shampooed … again.
Build an Outdoor Art Studio
You can make this as simple or technical as you want to.
Turning a little space outside into a designated “art studio” will give a child their own space to let their wild creativity run amuck! Plus it provides a more accessible, self-service local for kids to enjoy on their own without you having to scrounge up all the materials every time. It’s all in one place ready to go!
Read on to learn how to build a super-simple outdoor art space!
- Piece of scrap plywood (about 2ft. x 4ft. for an easel)
- 2 screws or nails
- 2 Large binder clips (for holding the paper to the plywood easel)
- Table (some cinderblocks and another 2 ft. x 4 ft. plywood sheet will suffice)
- Oilcloth tablecloth (for easy cleanup)
- Large watercolor paper
Step 1: Find a shady area in the yard, preferably next to a fence or similar structure.
Step 2: Lean the plywood up against the fence at an angle conducive to drawing or painting on.
Step 3: Partially drive the screws or nails into the plywood a few inches from the top and about 8 in. apart.
Step 4: Hang the binder clips from the nails/screws.
Step 3: Clip a few sheets of watercolor paper to the easel using the binder clips.
Step 4: Place the table next to the plywood easel for additional workspace and holding supplies.
Now, let’s create something!
Flower and Leaf Suncatchers
A suncatcher is a beautiful decoration that hangs in a window to catch the sun’s rays. They’re so much fun to make because you can use whatever materials you have around the house, and the kids will love going outside to pick flowers and leaves. The end result is a colorful and festive addition to any room!
You will need:
- Paper plates
- Yarn or String
- Paint or Markers
- Hole Punch
- Press ‘n’ Seal Wrap
- An assortment of flowers, leaves, and blades of grass
Step 1: Cut out the paper plate’s central circle.
Step 2: Once you’ve cut out all of the circles, let the kids decorate the paper plates’ front. You may use colors, markers, paints, stickers, or anything else that’s available.
Step 3: Place a sheet of Press ‘n’ Seal on the front of the plate, then flip it over and artfully arrange the flowers, leaves, and grass into any design you wish on the Press ‘n’ Seal
Place the next piece of Press ‘n’ Seal on top and press firmly to ensure that the two pieces bond.
Step 4: Use the scissors to cut off any excess wrap around the edges.
Step 5: Punch two holes in the top and add your string so you can hang it up!
Nature Collage Art
A Nature Collage is a simple, fun compilation of bits of nature. It’s a great way to encourage your kids to take a closer look at the natural world around them and appreciate its beauty.
- Watercolor Paper and Elmers Glue (or Contact Paper if you want to forego the glue)
- An assortment of flowers, leaves, grasses, and twigs
Step 1: Have the kids go on a scavenger hunt to collect a wide variety of flowers, leaves, grasses, and twigs.
Step 2: At a table, let their creativity go wild arranging their collection into designs or pictures, gluing them in place on paper or sticking them to the contact paper.
Helpful Tip: Using Contact Paper is preferable if you want to better preserve the colors of the leaves and flowers.
Tape the non-sticky side down to the table so that the paper backing is facing up. This prevents it from rolling up.
Peel the paper backing off to expose the adhesive. Stick the flowers, leaves, etc. directly to the Contact Paper.
Once complete, cut another piece of Contact Paper to match and seal the collage by laying it sticky side down on top of the collage.
Prevent air bubbles by peeling off only about half an inch of one edge of the Contact Paper, sticking it in place, and slowly peeling off the paper backing as you smooth the Contact paper into place.
Flower Pot Fairy Garden
If you’ve got some old unused flowerpots lying around, they are a great medium for a really fun (and addicting) kind of outdoor art.
Kids love creating their own miniature little world to invite the mythical creatures that may inhabit the small universe of their backyard.
Check out Mad in Crafts for a helpful tutorial to get you started!
Helpful Tip: You don’t have to go out and buy stuff to make a fairy garden. Even if you don’t have a flower pot, a fairy garden can be made from plant materials and stones lying around in the backyard.
Use twigs to build a small fairy hut, stones or pebbles for walkways. Build in the shade of existing plants. Your imagination is the only limit!
Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder
Bird feeders are a great way to get kids involved in nature and the environment. Here is a recipe for making your very own birdfeeder from common household materials.
- Toilet paper or paper towel tube
- Peanut butter
- Butter knife
- Plate or paper towel
Step1: Punch two holes on opposite sides of the top of the TP tube (for hanging later).
Step 2: Use the butter knife to spread peanut butter over the exterior of the TP tube.
Step 3: Spread birdseed on a plate or paper towel.
Step 4: Roll the coated TP tube in the birdseed until the peanut butter is fully covered in seed.
Step 5: Feed the string through the holes and find a place outside to hang the feeder where you’ve seen birds hanging out.
Helpful Tip: Try punching two holes towards the bottom of the feeder and feed a small twig through them. This will give your feathered friends a place to perch.
Box, Leaf, and Twig Bird House
Once you’ve made a successful birdfeeder, consider expanding your aviary operations and establish a full-blown birdy bed and breakfast!
- Small cardboard box
- Cardboard scraps
- Hot glue gun with glue (assist little ones with this)
- Assortment of twigs, sticks, and leaves
- Garden snips
Step 1: Tape both ends of the box closed.
Step 2: Cut a 2-inch hole in one side of the box for a birdy doorway.
Step 3 (Optional): Cut out 1 or 2 small windows on the other sides of the box if you wish.
Step 4: Use 2 cardboard scraps to form an A-frame pitched roof. Hot glue into place.
Step 5: Begin gluing the twigs and sticks vertically or horizontally onto the walls of your birdhouse, using the garden snips to cut the lengths of the sticks to fit. Cover all the sides being careful not to cover up the door and windows.
Step 6: Glue leaves to the roof to create “shingles.”
Step 7: Hang your birdhouse out wherever birds like to … hang out!
Helpful Tip: For a sturdier birdhouse, consider building a small wooden box or even a prebuilt birdhouse as a base.
Stand back! This is gonna get messy.
Step 1: Pour some paint into the canister. It’s not necessary to be precise; a teaspoon or two should be enough.
Step 2: Add a few drops of water. If you put in too much water, the paint will get diluted and your artwork will not be as vibrant.
Step 3: Break off half of a piece of an Alka-Seltzer tablet.
Step 4: Drop half of the Alka-Seltzer tablet into the film canister.
Step 5: QUICKLY, close the top of the film canister, shake it a few times, and lay it on the watercolor paper with the TOP DOWN.
Step 6: STEP BACK … unless you want to be a part of the artwork!
Step 7: Remove the film canister cap from the paint.
Step 8: Repeat with other paint colors!
Squirt and Splatter Art
- Easel or a solid backdrop (such as a piece of plywood)
- Water guns or spray bottles
- Smock or old clothes for the artist
- Liquid watercolors or Tempera paints
- Watercolor paper
Squirt and Splatter Art adds a fun Jackson Polluck twist to painting. Load up the water guns and squirt bottle with diluted tempera paint and stand back!
To make a wearable masterpiece, pick up some white t-shirts and use some fabric paint to make squirt tye-dyes!
To learn more about squirt art and how to dilute your paints, check out Fireflies and Mudpies!
Sidewalk Chalk Art
- Sidewalk chalk
- A concrete surface to draw on
Sidewalk chalk takes home the prize for being the most low-budget and low-maintenance of all outdoor art activities.
A good set of sidewalk chalks won’t incur a paralyzing sense of buyer’s remorse and, for clean up: just wait for the next rain cloud to pass over.
Tip: If your kids have not had a lot of experience with creative drawing, they may be a little apprehensive. Enter YOU! Prime their creativity by drawing with them. Don’t worry about your own skill level; show them that to learn any new skill takes exploration and practice.
Remember to have them lay down next to their finished masterpiece and take a pic before it all gets washed away!
Ice Chalk Sidewalk Art
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 cup water
- Liquid watercolors (food coloring can be used also; just test it on your driveway first and make sure it will wash off!
- Ice cube tray
Step 1: Combine the corn starch and water in a mixing bowl until the corn starch is completely dissolved. This will be your ice chalk’s foundation.
Step 2: To each section of the ice tray, add 3-4 drops of food coloring.
Helpful Tip: You may also use washable paint, liquid watercolor, or even Kool-Aid in a pinch if you don’t have food coloring on hand.
Step 3: Once you’ve filled each section with your desired colors, pour the cornstarch/water mixture into each section, filling it approximately 80% of the way.
Step 4: Using toothpicks, stir each section to thoroughly mix the coloring with the cornstarch mixture.
Step 5: Place the ice cube tray in the freezer for 2.5-3 hours.
Helpful Tip: When painting with chalk, a cool method is to place different colors side by side or in various patterns and let them slowly melt in the sun to see what design naturally forms.
Need I say more?
Seriously though, dig a hole, fill it with water, and clip a sheet of watercolor paper to the easel. Let them get messy to their heart’s content while you stand at a safe distance and take pictures galore!
Craft a set of natural paintbrushes and discover a unique way to paint a masterpiece.
This outdoor art is all about the journey. It’s a fantastic children’s process-art concept that will excite kids who like spending time outside and are interested in everything natural!
- Rubber bands or twisty-ties
- Small, straight sticks twigs (for paintbrush handles)
- Assortment of flowers (with stems), leaves, or grasses.
- Poster paint
- Watercolor paper
Step 1: Go on a nature walk and collect as many specimens as you can for the brush part of your paintbrushes.
Step 2: Use the rubber band or twisty-tie to attach the flower, leaves, or grass blades to one end of the twigs.
Step 3: Layout a sheet of watercolor paper or clip it to the easel.
Step 4: Pour the paint into cups and turn the kids loose!
Crayons are always discarded long before their usefulness should be over. Sure they get short and funky looking after time tumbling around in the box with the others; but, there is a cool way to recycle them and bring them out of retirement.
Before you chunk old wax crayons, try this cool mini-project.
- Old crayons
- Cookie cutters
- A warm, sunny day
Step 1: Lay a sheet of foil out in direct sunlight.
Step 2: Place an assortment of cookie cutters on top of the foil.
Step 3: Fill the cookie cutters with pieces of old crayons of a variety of colors.
Step 4: Wait for the sun to do its work, and,voilà, multi-colored, cool-shaped, customized crayons!
Backyard Water Activities for Kids
The summer sun is out and it’s hot! What can you do to cool down and have some fun outdoors?
One great way to beat the heat is to enjoy some backyard water activities. There are so many fun things you can do, like playing with inflatable pools, water guns, and water balloons.
Keep scrolling for a full rundown of all the best backyard water activities. You’re sure to find something that everyone in your family will love.
Water Balloon Games
Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons are our favorite water balloons. These self-sealing balloons are not only biodegradable, but they are also quick to fill allowing you to prepare 100 water balloons in as quick as 60 seconds!
Once you’re stocked with balloons, try some of these creative applications to get the most splash for your cash!
- 1 package (or more ) of Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons
- 2 large buckets (for storing water balloons)
- Max Liquidator 6-Pack Water Blaster Set
- Small Inflatable Kiddie Pool for refilling the water blasters
Step1: Divide the group into two teams and give everyone a water blaster.
Step 2: Inflate the pool and fill it with water. Place it in the middle of the yard. This will be where players will “reload” their blasters.
Step 3: Divide the filled water balloons equally between the two buckets. These are the “grenade caches” for each team.
Step 4: Have each team pick a “base” on opposite ends of the yard equidistant from the pool.
There are no rules here! It’s a fun-filled free-for-all!
Water Balloon Baseball
- Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons
- 1 Baseball bat (preferably a light-weight plastic bat)
- 2 large buckets (for holding the water balloons)
- 3 Bases and a Homeplate
Helpful Tip: A standard bat will work fine; however, we recommend Franklin’s lightweight plastic bat. It’s easier to handle for younger kids and handles better when hitting water balloons versus baseballs.
Step1: Divide the group into two teams. Decide which team will begin as defense (pitcher, catcher, and basemen) and who will begin on offense (batters).
Step 2: Designate a pitcher, catcher, and outfielder on each team. Rotate positions frequently so everyone can play each position.
Step 3: Fill each bucket with water balloons. Give one bucket to the pitcher and place one further out in the yard so the basemen can have access to it.
During an inning, if the batting team gets a hit, the basemen must run to their bucket of balloons, grab some, and attempt to score an “out” by hitting the batter as they’re rounding the bases.
If the batter makes it back home without getting hit, they score a point for their team.
The catcher is there to conserve water balloons by trying to catch them when the batter misses and throwing them back to the pitcher.
After every member of the offensive team has had a chance to hit, a new inning begins and the teams switch places.
Whichever team has the most points when the water balloons run out wins!
Water Balloon Toss
Step 1: Divide the group into teams of 2.
Step2: Give each team a water balloon.
Step 3: Position the teams of two so that the teammates are facing each other about 2 feet apart.
To begin playing, teammates toss the water balloon. If the other teammate successfully catches it, both teammates take one step backward, increasing the distance between them.
Teams continue to toss, catch, and step back until someone fails to catch the balloon or the balloon breaks.
The team that gets the furthest apart without their balloon breaking wins!
Water Balloon Launcher War
You’re going to need some space for this one.
Step 1: Divide the group into 2 equal teams
Step 2: Divide the water balloon equally between the two buckets and give one to each team.
Step 3: Position the teams so that they’re at least 75-100 feet apart.
Bring the rain! Teammates take turns using the launchers to pummel the other team with long-distance scud-balloons!
This is a great teamwork activity. Using the launchers requires three people at a time to coordinate efforts when aiming and firing.
Water Balloon Archery
- Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons
- Large buckets (for holding the water balloons)
- Zuru Water Balloon Slingshot for each player
- Targets of some sort (water or soda bottles work well)
Zuru’s slingshot takes a little practice and breaking in; but, once you’ve got the hang of it, it adds a new level of fun to water balloon mayhem.
Line up some targets (or give your kids a 5-second head start to run!) and put your Hawkeye skills to the test!
Helpful Tip: Zuru’s Slingshot can be tough for children under 10 years of age.
Water Balloon Dodgeball
- Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons
- 2 large buckets (for storing water balloons)
- Water hose or rope (for marking boundaries)
Step 1: Determine the boundaries of a rectangular playing field in the yard. Mark the boundaries by laying out a water hose or long piece of rope.
Step 2: Divide the field in half across the width of the rectangle with another hose or rope.
Step 3: Divide the group into two equal teams.
Step 4: Divide the balloons equally into two buckets and give one to each team as an arsenal.
Players engage by trying to hit members of the other team with balloons without crossing the centerline. When dodging fire from the opposing teams, players are not permitted to step out of bounds or they are “out.”
Player’s who get hit are eliminated and must step out of play until only one player remains.
Repeat as desired!
Pool Noodle Water Activities
The humble pool noodle. A simple cylindrical tube crafted of everlasting polyethylene foam.
But, say what you might about its modest appearance, it is perhaps one of the most versatile of water toys! It’s a hockey stick, a lightsaber, an alphorn, a sprinkler.
You name it. The mighty pool noodle becomes it as one of the easiest backyard activities for kids!
Pool Noodle Sprinkler
- 1 pool noodle
- Shish-ka-bob skewer (or something to poke small holes with)
- Duct tape
- Garden Hose
Step 1: Cut about an 8-inch length off the end of the noodle. Cut this into 4 equal pieces.
Step 2: Stuff two of the pieces into one end of the hose forming a plug.
Step 3: Seal the plugged end of the noodle with duct tape. Wrap it well!
Step 4: Use the skewer to poke holes along one side of the noodle. Do this in a line or a random pattern depending on the effect you want.
Helpful Tip: the more holes, the shorter your streams will be. The fewer holes the higher the water will shoot out! Consider poking a few for now and then poking more after you’ve turned on the water.
Step 5: Firmly push the garden hose into the open end of the noodle until the metal threads are no longer visible. Wrap it well with masking tape to secure the noodle to the hose.
Step 6: Crank the spigot and behold the mighty noodle in its modified glory!
Pool Noodle Water Hockey
- 1 pool noodle for each player to use as a hockey stick
- 1 beachball as a puck
- Pop-Up Goals or whatever else you can think of to mark the goals
- 2 garden hoses
- 2 lawn sprinklers
Step 1: Divide the group into two teams.
Step 2: Position the sprinklers on either side of the playing area so that they cover as much of the “field” as possible when on.
Step 3: Place the goals on opposite ends of the “field.”
Step 4: Game on!
Water Gun Games
It is a widely known fact that the water gun is the pièce de résistance to any backyard water recreational activity. Could it be that it is the sole reason God created water?
Aside from keeping us carbon-based lifeforms alive, of course.
And what better way to get the kids in the backyard and outside than with water gun activities?
Color-Splatter Water Tag
- High-Power Water Blasters for everyone
- Food Coloring (optional)
- Small inflatable pool (for quick “reloads”)
Step 1: Arm every player with water blasters.
Step 2: Inflate the pool and place it in the center of the playing area. Fill it with water.
Step 3 (Optional): Put a few drops of food coloring into each water blaster (Why? Because clear water is boring).
Step 4: FIGHT!
Helpful Tip: Combine this game with the different variations of tag we shared earlier in this post. Click here to read more.
- 2 water blasters
- 2 lengths of string (25 ft. or longer each)
- 4 wooden stakes (optional)
- 2 plastic drinking cups
- Bucket or inflatable pool of water (for reloads)
Step 1: Lay the two lengths of string out so that they are parallel to one another about 6 feet apart.
Step 2: Puncture a hole in the bottom of each of the 2 plastic cups and feed each one onto each of the strings.
Step 3: Drive the stakes into the ground and tie the strings to them so that the strings are suspended tightly 3 feet above the ground running parallel to each other.
Step 4: Slide the cups along the strings to one end of the course.
Players compete to move their cup to the opposite end of the string fastest by shooting water inside the cup with the water blasters.
Helpful Tip: Include more people by dividing the group into teams. Each time a water gun runs out of water, players have to pass the water blaster to the next in line.
Best Inflatable Pool Activities
Step 1: Inflate pool
Step 2: When the sun goes down, add glow sticks.
Step 3: Be the furthermore known as the cool parents!
Splashy Ball Pit
Step 1: Inflate the pool.
Step 2: FIll with balls.
Step 3: When the sun goes down, combine this with the Glow Pool above!
Large DIY Backyard Water Activities for Kids
These backyard activities for kids require water and a little more backyard space. But they’re a whole lotta fun!
Crash ‘n’ Splash Slip ‘n’ Slide
- 2 packages of Zuru’s Bunch O’ Balloons (the more the better)
- 1 roll of industrial plastic
- waterproof tape
- 9 pool noodles
- Tear-free baby shampoo
- Hot glue gun with glue
- Extension cord
Step 1: Prepare the plastic by stretching it out a minimum of 20-25 feet long and opening up the material at least 6 feet across.
Step 2: Place the first 2 pool noodles along both sides of the length of the slide 2.5 feet from the entrance.
Step 3: Position the remaining 6 noodles end-to-end along both sides of the length of the slide. Ensure there is 1 foot of plastic left at the end of the slide not flanked by pool noodles.
Step 4: Using the hot glue gun, apply a bead of glue 1 foot at a time along the top of the pool noodles and fold the edge of the plastic over and around the noodles to ensure a good bond. Do this along the lengths of both sides.
Step 5: Return to the first pool noodle with the glue gun. Apply a second bead of glue 1 foot at a time giving the pool noodle a half turn to fully wrap the noodle with the plastic.
Step 6: Reinforce the bond by applying waterproof tape to seal the seam where the plastic meets itself along the length of the slide. This will form a small “wall” along both sides of the slide that will contain the water balloons.
Step 7: Using the 9th pool noodle and the 1 foot of extra plastic at the end of the slide, create an end cap by wrapping the plastic around the noodle and gluing it into place.
Step 8: Flip the whole slide over so that the seams face the ground.
Step 9: Wet the slide with a garden hose and drizzle 10-12 oz. of baby shampoo over the slide. This will provide a friction-free sliding experience.
Step 10: Fill 200+ water balloons and pour them onto the slide.
Step 11: Take volunteers to be the first crash-test dummy!
Mr. Water Blob
If you’re as fortunate as I am to have the childhood memory of rolling around on your parent’s 1970’s waterbed, then you’re going to love this backyard water project. It is one of the best backyard activities for kids.
- Extension Cord
- Garden Hose
- Duct Tape
- Parchment Paper
- 8′ x 10′ 4 mm clear plastic sheeting (or however big you want to make it!)
Step 1: Roll out the plastic sheeting to the desired length (for this example, 8 ft. of length was used)
Step 2: Fold the sheet in half lengthwise, lining up the corners and edges.
Step 3: Using a 3 ft. length of parchment paper and a hot iron, seal the edges of the plastic sheeting by placing the parchment paper between the iron and the plastic.
Slowly run the hot iron and parchment paper around every edge except the folded edge.
IMPORTANT: Leave one corner of the plastic sheeting unsealed so that it can be filled with water!!
Step 4: Move the iron and extension cord to a safe distance (so they don’t come in contact with water).
Step 5: Ensure there are no sticks or rocks under the playing area to prevent the blob from being punctured.
Helpful Tip: Lay a tarp or extra piece of plastic sheeting under the blob for added protection.
Step 6: Using the hose, fill the blob with water through the unsealed corner. Only fill about 75% full. Otherwise, the seams will become too stressed and come apart under pressure.
Step 7: Seal off the corner well with duct tape.
Step 8: When the kids are finished playing, pull off the duct tape, drain it, and reuse it over and over!
Backyard Dunk Tank
All you backyard Griswalds out there that tend to take backyard fun to the next level: you’re gonna love this!
Hit the hardware store, grab your tools, and build your very own carnival-style backyard dunk tank!
Check out the supplies list and step-by-step instructions with pictures on Instructables!
More Water Games
Water fun doesn’t have to break the bank or your schedule. Check out these money-and-time-saving backyard water activities everyone in the family can enjoy!
Soda Bottle Sprinkler
- Two-Liter Soda Bottle
- Duct Tape
- Garden Hose
- Screwdriver or Skewer
Step 1: Use the screwdriver or skewer to punch the desired number of holes in one side of the bottle.
Helpful Tip: The fewer the holes, the further the water streams will shoot out. The more holes, the weaker and shorter the streams.
Step 2: Using the duct tape, tightly and generously secure the garden hose to the opening of the bottle.
Step 3: Attach the hose to the nearest water spigot and let it flow!
Duck, Duck, Splash!
- Plastic Drinking Cup
- Garden Hose
Step 1: Fill the bucket with water with the garden hose.
Step 2: Seat all the players in a circle.
Step 3: Select 1 player to be the “Duck, Duck, Splasher.”
To begin the game, the “Splasher” fills the cup with water and walks around the circle of players gently tapping each on the head with the cup of water saying “Duck” with each tap.
At random, the “Splasher” shouts, SPLASH!” pouring the water on a player’s head and begins to run around the circle.
The player who was splashed chases the Splasher around the circle trying to tag them.
If the Splasher makes it back to and sits in the spot of the one they splashed without getting tagged, then the splashed player is the new Splasher and a new round begins.
If the Splasher gets tagged, they are still the Splasher and repeat the round again.
HelpfulTip: Set up a speaker nearby and liven this game up with some music!
Step 1: Fill 2 of the buckets with water with the hose.
Step 2: Divide the group into 2 teams into 2 lines side by side.
Step3: Place the 2 filled buckets with a sponge in each beside the first player in each line.
Step 4: Place the 2 empty buckets a distance away (the farther, the more challenging).
When the game begins, the first player in each team soaks their sponge in their bucket and races down the yard to squeeze their sponge into their empty bucket.
Then, the players run back to relay the squeezed-out sponge to the next player on their line.
Players repeat the process until their original bucket is empty and the new one is filled!
Step 1: Place a small toy in each of the molds.
Step 2: Fill the molds with water.
Step 3: Freeze until solid.
Step 4: Divvy out the ice spheres to the kids and watch them work to get the prizes out while you relax!
- A dirty car
- Garden hose with sprayer (more than one of these means more fun!)
- Car soap
- 1 bucket (or more for more fun!)
- Plenty of sponges
Step 1: Wash the car together. Just don’t be so focused on the car. Get it?
Other Adventurous Family Activities
Scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, and sandboxes, “Oh, my!” What kids don’t want to be Jack Sparrow searching for the latest pirate treasure?
Backyard Scavenger Hunt
- An assortment of small toys (like these ideas)
- Scavenger list (made from the toys you choose to hide) for each player
- Bags for each player
Step 1: Create a Scavenger List that includes all the toys you choose to hide. Make a copy for each player.
Step 2: Hide all the toys throughout the yard.
Step 3: Provide each player with a list and a bag and turn them loose.
The player that finds the most listed items wins . . . something. Get creative!
Helpful Tip: For treasure, we recommend a cache of loose change, a fun toy(s), gift card, or “old pirate’s coins.“
Step 1: Fill the treasure chest(s) with a treasure of your choice and hide it well somewhere in the yard (burying it makes this a LOT of fun!)
Step 2: Create a list of clues that lead to each other in succession and place them around the yard so that the last one in succession leads to the final location of the treasure.
Step 3: Get your camera ready to record a great family movie to watch over and over again!
Make your own with these plans or buy a prefab sandbox.
Helpful Tip: Sandboxes provide endless ways for young children to create their own adventures.
Allow them to take toys such as small cars and other items to help broaden their imagination.
Here are some of the best sandbox toy ideas to spark their interest:
- Green Toys Sand Play Set
- iPlay, iLearn Heavy Duty Construction Site Play Set
- Geyiie Dinosaur Collection
- National Geographic Rocks and Fossil Kit (great for hiding in the sand for them to find)
Memory Making Activities
It’s more important now than ever to create physical pieces of our memories. With the age of digital photography, most photos get stored in the cloud never to be seen again. Use these activities to keep those memories front and center.
Family Time Capsule
- Airtight, Waterproof Time Capsule
- An assortment of family memorabilia contributed by each family member
- Ground Marker (such as a large stone)
Step 1: Carefully pack the time capsule with an item(s) from each family member that has some intrinsic value (especially a family picture, child’s art work, etc.)
Step 2: Bury the time capsule in a safe location in the backyard and mark it with a flat stone or another memorable item … you don’t want to forget about it!
Step 3: Decide on a date to dig it up far into the future when the kids have become adults.
Helpful Tip: SET A REMINDER ON YOUR PHONE AND WRITE IT DOWN SOMEWHERE!
Family Backyard Photo Shoot
- Camera phone
- Phone stand or Tripod
No secrets here. Get everyone in the backyard and take a ton of photos: serious, silly, and with everyone jumping in the air. Do this at least once a year!
A-Day-in-the-Life-of-Us Shutterfly Photobook
Let the kids have your phone for an afternoon. Tell them to go outside and take as many pictures of each other doing as many things as they can think of.
Once the day’s done, have them delete all but their favorite pictures (the number depends on you and how much you want to spend) and create a photo book on Shutterfly together.
This will be a keepsake for ages to come!
Family Backyard Picnic
- A blanket
- A basket full of your favorite lunch-munchies
- A nice sunny day
Make this whatever you like and mix it in with any of the other activities in this post. Food always tastes better outdoors!
And take pictures!!
Relaxing Outdoor Activities for Families
After a long day of having a blast in the backyard, now it’s time to relax. Bring out the supplies to end the day on a high note.
While camping in your backyard isn’t as fun as getting in the car and driving somewhere to camp, it’s the next best thing … and cheaper too.
- Fire ring or chiminea
- Tent (Instant tents are the easiest)
- Sleeping bags
- Marshmallow roasters
- S’more stuff
Family Outdoor Book Club
- A book the whole family will enjoy
Here are a few books that our family enjoys and recommend:
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- Don’t Bump the Glump by Shel Silverstein
- Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
- The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- Narnia series by C. S. Lewis
- Eragon series Christopher Paolini
Helpful Tip: Most of these books are available in audiobook format if everyone just wants to kick back and listen.
- A full view of the sky
Helpful Tip: It’s important to teach young ones to avoid staring directly at the sun to prevent damage to their eyes.
- A full view of the sky
- Star Gazing App (Top 20 Star Gazing Apps)
When life gets busy, it’s good to have something quick and easy so you can just get out there and have some fun without the prep work.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of budget-friendly products to stock up on for your backyard adventures. The Dollar Tree and Five Below are also great places to find backyard ideas that are easy on your wallet.
Best Yard Games
When you want to skip the prep and get to some family-friendly competition, these yard game sets are super-quick to set up and tear down!
- Frisbee (or Frisbee Golf )
- Corn Hole
- Bocce Ball
- Football (regulation size or the NERF variety for younger children)
- Soccer (or Kickball)
- Outdoor Bowling
- Tether Tennis
- Ring Toss
- Ladder Toss
- Capture the Flag
- Wiffleball (because hitting a baseball in a neighborhood could prove disastrous)
Giant Games for Outdoors
Board games are more fun when they’re outside … and GINORMOUS!
- Backyard Checkers
- Giant Jenga
- Giant Yahtzee
- Giant Sorry
- Giant Clue
- Giant Candyland
- Giant Dominoes
- Giant Ball Darts
Outdoor Activities to Splurge On
- Backyard Ninja Warrior Course
- Climbing and Rock Wall for trees
- Backyard Discovery Skyfort II
- Deluxe Sandbox
- Family Herb Garden
- Backyard Astronomy
Wrapping Up Backyard Activities for Kids
With the endless distractions of technology and screens, families need fun and engaging outdoor activities to enjoy together.
Not only are outdoor activities great for your physical health, but they’re also great for your mental health. Kids need time to explore and play in order to learn and grow.
These backyard activities are a fun way to spend time with your family while getting some exercise in at the same time. There are endless possibilities when it comes to outdoor play, so get outside and have some fun!