Kids are getting outside less and less these days leaving many backyards empty. Getting your kids to play outside isn’t just fun — It’s good for them. It can sometimes be a challenge with easy access to video games, online chatting, etc, but experts report that getting kids outside has many benefits from improved attention span to reduced stress. Check out these 20 ideas for backyard fun for kids, from games to crafts and more.
This summer, I’m encouraging my kids to head outside more often. It’s a great way to connect as a family.
20 Ideas for Awesome Backyard Fun for Kids
1. Dinosaur Hunt
This game is especially fun when we have younger cousins visiting, but my teens still get a kick out of it. It’s just like an Easter egg hunt, but one that you can have year-round with toy dinosaurs! Hide ’em throughout the backyard, and when you say go – the kiddos run and try to collect as many as they can. Kids get extra points if they can name the dinosaur type.
2. Side Walk Chalk Art Contest
I love that this simple and inexpensive activity is great for all ages. When relatives are visiting, we have an art contest with prizes given out for categories like most creative, most colorful, etc. This way, all ages can get a prize.
3. Water Balloon Fights
Especially during hot days, water balloon fights are so much fun. Divide into teams, fill up buckets with the water balloons and have at it! A twist on this idea is a water balloon toss where you see if you and your partner can get the farthest from one another before the balloon bursts.
4. Bocce Ball with a Twist
If you’re not familiar with Bocce Ball, it’s like a ball version of horseshoes. Players try to get their balls closest to the “pallino” or jack in one direction and then switch directions. Up the backyard fun with our version of “around the house” Bocce. We throw the jack to a new spot in our yard each time until we make it all the way around the house.
We love to play croquet. We’ve had mini sets from when the kids were young to a full set today. It’s an easy game to teach kids and provides backyard fun for the entire family.
6. Backyard Scavenger Hunt
Whether you hide things throughout the backyard, or you aim for nature-based things to find – a scavenger hunt can be great backyard fun for kids. Here are a few examples of things you could include in your scavenger hunt:
- Four leaf clover
- Different types of trees (oak, pine, etc).
- A stalk of grass that’s a certain height (like above X inches – give ’em a ruler to measure!)
- Different shaped leaves
- Stick on the ground
- Foot prints
- Different color birds
- Anything else you can think of!
7. Outdoor Movie Night
We love to pop popcorn and bring out the camping mattresses to create a fun outdoor movie night experience. My friend Kimberly showed us out to make a DIY movie screen. The projector was an investment, but it’s been worth every penny. You can bring an air mattress outside for the kids to get nice and comfy on – perfect backyard fun for those warm summer nights.
Whenever we go to a big outdoor event, there always seem to be cornhole games popping up – so why not bring ’em into your own backyard! You can find sets these days at most sporting goods stores or online. Cornhole is awesome because kids and adults alike can quickly learn how to play.
Obviously, this one is not for everyone – but man, it can be a fun one to add to your backyard if you’re comfortable with it. There is just something so fun about bouncing up and down on a big ‘ol trampoline. Moms, you might find yourself on there more than the kids. 😉
10. Rock painting
We have saved rocks from past years and I use them to decorate our garden. It can be a fun activity for a backyard birthday party as well. I think I’ll try this adorable rock caterpillar idea from Nellie Bellie this year.
11. Nature collage (or wreath)
This one is especially fun to do in the summer and fall. You can have the kids grab different nature items from around the backyard – think blooming flowers, dandelions, sticks, changing color leaves, etc. (Quick tip – if you have any areas with poison ivy, give ’em a warning not to grab that.) They can then glue them onto either a sheet of construction paper, a canvas, or one of those inexpensive wreath bases that you can get from the dollar store. It’s a fun way of letting them get creative with a new kind of art medium.
12. Homemade bird feeders
Did you ever make those homemade bird feeders back in elementary school? I have fond memories of making them as a kid, using a toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and birdseed. Try making them with your kiddos too! You can find a great tutorial on homemade bird feeders here.
13. DIY Slip and Slide
If your backyard is pretty grassy without many rocks or sticks, this could be a good backyard fun idea. Roll out some industrial trash bags (these are thicker than normal ones) or a heavy duty tarp along the grass. Add some liquid soap and some water, and your kids will be ready to hurl themselves down! You can also add sprinklers on either side so they get an extra splash of water as they go through.
14. No-hands donut contest
OK, not the healthiest backyard activity out there – but hilarious to watch. Hang donuts on a string from a tree so they’re about the height of your kids’ mouths. Then challenge them to eat it without using their hands – or letting any part of the donut fall on the ground. It’s a game we used to do every year at summer camp. The string moves, so it’s harder than it sounds – and super funny to watch. Moms, you can play too!
PS – Powdered donuts are the best because you naturally get the powder all over your face and it makes for silly photos afterward!
This one’s for the younger kiddos. Is there anything more simple and fun than just blowing tons of bubbles together?! You can get different types of wands or bubble guns for added fun. You can also make simple bubbles out of dish soap and water if you’ve run out of the store-bought ones.
16. Backyard camp out
While we love going camping in New England, sometimes we don’t always have the time to go away for a full weekend to a campsite. But we can still get the family time and outdoor fix by simply setting up the tent in the backyard! Play outdoor games, grill dinner, roast smores – all the best parts of camping. (But without having to use the bathroom in the woods – a major bonus to being right next to your house!)
17. Create (and maintain) a garden
Gardening has so many benefits – not only does it give you and the kids something to do together in the backyard, but it also teaches them about where they’re food comes from and about the plant lifecycle. And if you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a delicious bounty of produce in the summer to cook with. One of the easiest ways to start with gardening is using container gardening or a square foot garden.
PS – Check out this post with some good gardening books for kids to get them interested in this idea!
18. DIY Obstacle Course
Create your own backyard version of an obstacle course! Don’t worry, you don’t need a ton of expensive fancy equipment. You can build a fun obstacle course with things like a few big boxes to climb over, a ladder flat on the grass to hop through, cones to run between, and anything else you can think of that would be fun.
19. “Car” Wash
If you’ve got little kiddos, have them do their own “car wash” with their little bikes, scooters, cozy coupes, or whatever other “vehicles” they have lying around. Get out the soapy buckets and hose and let ’em go crazy.
20. Tire Swing
If you’ve got the space and a good tree for hanging, you can make a tire swing for the kids. No matter what age they are, I think they’ll enjoy this classic activity! If you’ve got young ones, you can also make it a big deal to paint and decorate the tire before you hang it up.
Fun for the Grownups too!
Of course, the backyard is also a great way for the grown ups to relax. I love making my outdoor spaces look beautiful. We set out the outdoor furniture with some throw pillows and plants. My husband and I enjoy evening cocktails together.