31 Fun Ways to Get Kids Outside

31 Fun Ways to Get Kids Outside

If the gorgeous fall weather isn’t incentive enough for your children to play outside, we have 31 fun ideas to have your children begging for outside time.  The fresh air and exercise will be wonderful for everyone, and because play contributes to the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional well-being of your child, you are promoting your child’s healthy development at the same time.

  1. Join them.  Give your child some Mom or Dad outdoor play time and have fun swinging, tossing a ball, playing in the sand, and savoring the gift of today.
  1. Obstacle course.  Set up an obstacle course and let the fun begin.
  2. Nature scavenger hunt.  Explore nature with a scavenger hunt.
  3. Chalk.  Draw a straight line (or have your child do it) to use as a balance beam.  Can he walk on it?  And now make a wavy line and try again.  Or set up a game of hop scotch or four square.
  4. Bubbles.  Blow, chase, and pop bubbles.  And giggle.
  5. Hula hoop fun.  What can one do with a hula hoop besides hula hooping?  Use it as a jump rope, a goal for tossing bean bags, or whatever your imagination can come up with.
  6. Go on a bug hunt.  Bring along your bug jar and see what you can discover in your own yard.
  7. Go on a bird or animal hunt.  You can do this in your yard, in your neighborhood, at the park, or anywhere.  See how many animals you can spy. 
  8. Jump rope.  Use the rope for jumping, for walking along a straight line, in an obstacle course, or for anything else you can come up with.
  1. Ball.  Play football, soccer, basketball or your favorite kind of ball.  Or just toss a ball to one another or play monkey in the middle.
  2. Relay race.  What kind of relay race sounds good to you?  Maybe a three legged race or an egg and spoon race?
  3. Cones.  We have a set of eight cones that have been used so often for outdoor play.  The kids set up “obstacles” with them for bike riding, use them to set up a soccer field, or use them for a ring toss. 
  1. Play running games.  Spud, red light, green light, and tag are all kid favorites.
  2. Sandbox.  What can you make in the sandbox today?  A construction site or maybe a beach?  Or who can build the tallest castle or the widest castle?
  3. Give them a job.  Raking leaves (then pouncing in them), watering the plants, or checking on the herb and vegetable gardens give them a purpose outdoors.  And it lets children feel helpful, which they enjoy.
  4. Make a flower necklace, skip a stone, or blow a dandelion.
  5. Take a camera along.  Let your child take photos of what he sees outside that interest him.
  6. Collect nature to use in a craft project.  What can you do with pine cones, sticks, and other fun outdoor finds?  Or make leaf rubbings or a collage.
  7. Plant a garden.  The children can check to see if there are any ripened vegetables, can pull weeks, and can water the garden.
  8. Take a hike in the day.  What do you hear and see?  Then, take a hike in the night (even if it’s just in your own backyard).  What do you hear and see?  Compare it to your day hike.
  1. Turn over rocks, logs, and bricks to discover what is beneath.  One of my favorite childhood memories is turning over logs used in our “parking lot” at home.  There were so many frogs and worms to play with.
  2. Climb a tree.
  3. Ride a bike.
  4. Imagination.  Kids can find so much inspiration for their imaginations outdoors.  We took a trip to the mountains this summer, and the kids eagerly anticipated the trip for months prior.  One of the things that they loved while waiting for the trip was taking a “mountain hike” through our neighborhood.  We imagined that we could see snow covered mountains, eagles, beautiful flowers, and bears, and we pretended we were on rope bridges where we had to balance or we’d fall into poison ivy.
  5. Camping.  This can be as simple as camping in the backyard if that’s what your family has time for.  What fun memories you would make with a family camping trip.
  6. Make up a game.   Let your child’s imagination soar as he makes up a game, then enjoy the game with him.
  7. Art in nature.  Let your child be inspired by what he sees and supply art supplies for him to create nature artwork.  My kids love when I set up an easel for them to paint outside.
  8. Swimming pool noodles.  What can you do with them?  Cut them in half and make two lightsabers.  Or use them to make ponies to ride on.  Our school cut them in half to use as swords for field day where kids had to strike their opponent at the knee or under to get them out.  There are so many uses for pool noodles.
  9. Read outside.  I have a child that would rather read than play outside.  So I ask her to read outside, and that turns into seeing her siblings playing, so she joins in.
  10. Water gun.  When the weather is no longer appropriate for water gun fights, we use the water guns to water plants or make designs on the wooden fence or cement.  We also use a paintbrush and a bucket of water to make designs on cement or on the wooden fence.
  11. Game time.  Play capture the flag, hide and seek, red rover, etc.

If you are still having a hard time enticing your child to play outdoors, have him earn time on electronics by playing outside.  If this is what you have to do to get your child outside, then use it.  Usually, once outside, your child will begin to play, explore, and enjoy. 

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