10 Best Outdoor Summer Games & Activities for Kids

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Peanut butter and jelly.

Salt and pepper.

Cheese and crackers…

Obviously, in life, some things just go better together. The above list is a small sampling of possible combinations, but as the days grow longer and steamier we can’t forget about the iconic coupling of kids and summer. Unfortunately, the lazy days of summer often stretch into an unending feast of video games and binge watching. This can lead to summer brain drain and inevitable cries of boredom, but with a little creative planning we can find fun outdoor summer games and activities for kids to encourage them to stay active, engaged, and enjoying the world around them.  

To help keep a child’s summer from turning into a bummer, scroll through the following 10 best outdoor summer games and activities for kids:

Find some treasure.

You don’t have to be a pirate to appreciate a good old fashioned treasure hunt! Take the kids geocaching, design a one-of-a-kind treasure hunt in the backyard, or think big by exploring your community using clues that take you to landmarks, parks, interesting restaurants, and more for a fun day out.  

Build something!

Kids of all ages love to use tools and build items. Find old lumber, kid friendly pallets, or repurpose items you already own for summer building projects. This will teach children valuable life skills while providing a creative outlet! Consider building your own little free library, bird houses, outdoor furniture, or wind spinners using old bicycle wheels and recycled materials.

Plant a garden.

Growing a garden, or a few plants in a container, is a great summer activity for kids. Besides introducing children to science and biology concepts, working in a garden provides valuable opportunities for exercise, builds a child’s immune system, gets kids outdoors, provides access to affordable fresh vegetables and fruits, and more! This time outdoors also naturally helps kids learn about the importance of conservation, responsibility, and stewardship.

Design your own splash pad.

Challenge kids to design a water wall or splash pad in the backyard using found items around the house. Use funnels, recycled bottles, hoses, nozzles, and marble runs to turn on hours of wet fun.

Create a bird sanctuary.

This summer, build or purchase bird feeders for the yard and document the number and types of birds that stop by for a bite to eat. Kids often enjoy taking care of animals and can spend hours observing their new feathered friends.

Pitch a tent.

The summer months are the perfect time to pitch a tent and enjoy nature in its splendor. No matter whether you are sleeping under the stars in the backyard or exploring a national park, camping is a natural activity to cut the cord and power down electronics. The silencing of devices allows everyone to recharge and enjoy being with each other. However, we strongly recommend coming equipped with the right supplies for a campout: flashlights, s’mores fixings, and don’t forget a few creepy stories to whisper around the fire at night.

Think outside- or inside- of the box.

Give kids the thrill of finding and creating a special place of their own where they can hideaway to spend the summer days imagining, reading, or playing. Consider conscripting large appliance boxes for the cause, building a traditional playhouse, or growing a fort using plants like pole beans, morning glories, or tall sunflowers to create natural hidden walls. Whatever you choose, have fun!  

Get your bubble on!

Kids of all ages, and even adults, love to blow bubbles. Use different bubble recipes and experiment with various ways to blow bubbles. For instance, you can make gigantic bubbles with hula hoops, colanders, bend old wire hangers into cool shapes, or even stretch a wash rag over the end of a recycled pop bottle to make “snakes” of foam bubbles. For the more adventurous, with adult supervision use dry ice to conduct science experiments.

Putt around.

A great outdoor summer game and activity for kids is to build your own custom miniature golf course in the backyard! Have each member of the family design one or two holes and then relax together as you play a few games of putt-putt golf together as a family. If you get bored, simply change the course!

Enjoy movies outside.

Go old school and make your own outdoor movie theater. Have kids use basic science and homespun engineering to build their very own outdoor movie theater. We can create a simple projector using everyday items like our smartphones and shoeboxes to make this a feasible activity for any family.

What outdoor summer games and activities for kids does your family enjoy?