We all know that the novelty of not going to school wears off after a few days, before the ‘bored’ whining sets in, so be prepared with some great ideas for outdoor activities to keep boredom at bay, and raise your children’s Vitamin D levels!
Outdoor activities don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. From nice messy projects that kids will love to get stuck into, to more structured projects that will produce something useful, you will be sure to find lots of fun in this imaginative list of activities kids will love! Make this summer the best ever by setting aside some time for outdoor lessons and activities that will provide great entertainment for the whole family.
Get the most out of this summer by…..
- Going on a Picnic
An oldie, but a goodie! Combining the simple pleasures of fresh air, sunshine and good food never seems to get old. Picnics are the perfect activity for those days when you just want to get away from the house and make an afternoon of it. Pack lots of heat tolerant finger foods and pick a spot that will provide a relaxed setting where the kids can play safely and the adults can unwind.
- Bug Hunting
Bug hunting is a fantastic way to connect kids to the natural world and is a great activity for days when you don’t want to leave the house. Exploring their own backyard will encourage inquisitiveness and imagination in your children and will keep them busy for hours! Grab some tweezers, a magnifying glass and some clean containers and set about seeing what you can find. A good place to start is by turning over rocks, and looking around the base of trees.
- Running Through a Sprinkler
Setting up a backyard sprinkler is a great way to cool the kids off without all the rigmarole of taking them to the pool. If you don’t have a sprinkler, poke some holes in a large soda bottle and tape it to the hose.
- Sun-Melting Crayons
Melting crayons and making a piece of artwork or new crayons is a great way to teach children about the power of the sun, as well as creating something new. To make a piece of artwork, lay some crayon pieces on a piece of tinfoil or canvas, and let the sun do the rest. To make new crayons, lay some cookie cutters on a piece of tin foil and fill with crayon pieces. Once the sun has done its job turning the solid pieces to liquid, bring the whole thing inside to cool and set.
- Making a Water Table
Water tables are a deceptively simple way of keeping the kids entertained for hours, and the water that will inevitably get splashed everywhere, will also keep them cool in the summer heat. Change things up by using cold water, warm water, ice, adding a squirt of detergent for bubbles or even food coloring. The best part is that in the winter months you can transform the table by filling it with sand or dried beans and keep the fun going all year round!
- Painting Rocks
This is a simple but fantastic activity because it teaches your children about art as well as geology. Clean the rocks first and let them dry completely, then outline the design in marker before getting creative with paint! Seal the rock with a 50/50 mix of water and white glue and you’re done! These also make excellent paper-weight gifts for grandparents and teachers!
- Washing the Car
Kids love this, and adults do too – because it gets the car clean! Let the kids fill the buckets with water and soap, and get them to do the pre-rinse with the hose. Brush any bugs or tar off yourself before they start, and then let them get crazy with the lathering! Once you’ve done the final rinse, make sure you ‘accidentally’ rinse the kids a bit as well…they’ll love it!
- Going Foraging
Foraging is a great way to teach children about where food comes from, as well as using surplus resources in your area. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and see if you can spot fruiting trees that need some relief, or go a bit more ‘bush’ and look for things like chickweed, watercress and nettles. Just be sure you do your homework first!
- Slipping ‘n’ Sliding
Easy to create, and fun for the whole family, the quintessential slip ‘n’ slide is a must have for this summer’s calendar. Put down a tarpaulin, or some painter’s plastic on a piece of backyard that offers a slight gradient, and let the fun begin! Hang the hose over a tree branch or the clothesline for ‘hands-free’ convenience and be sure to use some inexpensive dish detergent to get just the right amount of ‘slip’.
- Creating a Stepping Stone for Your Garden
A quick search of this will bring up some great ways you can create these using easy mix concrete and moulds but the easiest way by far is to go and buy some cheap pavers (you can even find them free on places like Craiglist) and paint them up with some exterior paint. Give the kids one each to decorate and create a beautiful path through your garden, that will add character and charm to any yard.
- Going Hiking
This can be done with children of all ages, but takes a bit of preparation, and a lot of patience. Be sure to start with short distances, and be willing to travel at the pace of the youngest in the family. Take plenty of snacks, don’t go too far from home and remember – hiking doesn’t have to be in the woods. Try hiking around your city, taking in the sites and the atmosphere!
- Coloring the Driveway or Patio
Sidewalk chalk is a great activity for those days when you might not have the energy yourself for a vigorous activity. Get the kids to trace each other’s body outlines, play tic tac toe, or design them a hopscotch or foursquare grid. Once they’ve done those, let them get creative and produce the most colourful artwork they can. If you don’t have any chalk you can create the same effect by making your own paint using water, food coloring and corn-starch. Be sure to take photos before the rain has a chance to was it all away!
- Playing Catch
Old-fashioned fun still has a place on our list! Get out there with your children, the dog and a ball (or water-filled balloons!) and waste the afternoon away.
- Participating in a Mini Olympics
Get everyone up, outside and moving by hosting an Olympics Game in your own yard! Plan a variety of challenges and make sure you work to everybody’s strengths so that everyone will have a chance at a medal. To make it more educational, ask your children to select a country to represent and have them make a flag to use in the parade. Make your own medals or pick some up at a dollar store, and award them at the end of the day.
- Going on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
This one is as fun to plan as it is to carry out. Draw up a checklist for your children to complete, ticking off each one as they have gathered the item. Keep items simple, using things like ‘two yellow flowers’, ‘a small rock’ and ‘a feather’. Have a ‘prize’ for the first person to complete the scavenger hunt with all the correct items, then spend the afternoon talking about the objects, feeling the textures and looking at what makes them unique.
- Making Homemade Bird Feeders
Fill your garden with birds this summer by inviting them in for a meal. Use whatever you have around the house – pinecones, old teacups or even cut oranges in half and scoop the rind out before filling them with seed. The birds will appreciate the snack as they pass through your garden, and the kids will enjoy watching them!
- Reading Books Outside
Get some extra Vitamin D by taking reading time outside. If it’s too hot you can sit in the shade, and you may even want to grab some nature books and talk about the things you see around you.
- Having a Water Fight
No matter how old one gets, if the weather is hot enough, water fights always seem like a good idea. Grab whatever you can find and get the kids wet. In fact, the wetter, the better! So grab your sponges, water guns or just set the hose on the kids and watch them run.
- Starting a Garden
Plant learning in the minds of your children this summer. It’s good for kids to learn that food comes from the ground, rather than the store, and there’s no better way to teach them than to start your own garden. Involve your children as much as you can – give them a space in the garden or a pot to call their own, offer them a choice in plants, and show them how to weed, water and collect seeds at the end of the season. The lessons learnt over a garden will foster a life-long love of growing and cultivating their own food.
- Running a Lemonade Stand
Lemonade stands take a bit of advance planning, but are a fantastic way to teach kids about earning money. Be sure to plan out the day in advance including what ingredients you will need, where the best location will be (think hot playgrounds, sports fields or in your front yard), what flyers or announcements you might want and when you will make the lemonade. Once the plan is in place enlist your children to help make a sign with a clearly visible price, and you’re in business!
- Making Wind Chimes
DIY wind chimes are a simple but fun activity that can be done indoors or out, and can be done with materials found around the home. Try using old cutlery, keys, beads or bottle caps. If you have time, you could even take the kids to the beach to collect sea shells and driftwood for a seaside themed wind chime.
- Playing Parachute
Even summer has the occasional rainy day, or lazy day where you just don’t want to venture outside. This makes the perfect occasion for playing ‘parachute’ like they do in elementary school. Grab a large sheet, move the furniture back in the living room and play some mini games – try getting the kids to throw cottonballs onto the parachute and watching them bounce when the parachute is shaken, or play ‘tag’ by calling out two names and having the children swap places while the sheet is in the air.