Rejoice!! Finally, a post on no-prep, super quick and easy outdoor activities for kids.
Do you know how frustrating it is to turn to the internet looking for some SIMPLE activities to keep your kids busy only to find crazy elaborate ideas that will take you hours to set up?
Of course you do. I’m sure you’ve been there.
Or even worse! You actually spend a precious hour of your life setting up the activity for your kids to be done with it in five.
Happens. Every. Time.
21st century moms simply don’t have time for that! And even if you DO, I’m sure you would much rather spend that time WITH your child than setting up an activity FOR your child.
The other frustration is finding things like “take a walk” on these activity lists. I’m sure you are aware of this activity.
So here we go! This amazing list is FILLED with outdoor activities that you can set up in no time, that are super fun for your child (and maybe you, too) and that are unique, not obvious.
This is outdoor fun at its best, with fun games for kids of all ages. This list of outside activities for kids will get your kids out into the fresh air in your own backyard. These great ideas might even get your whole family playing together.
Be sure to check out how to tire out a 2 year old indoors and indoor no prep activities for kids too, for when you go back inside.
This post contains affiliate links.
No-Prep Outdoor Kid Activities
1. Collect and Paint Rocks
Myself (and my kids) love this activity for many reasons. First of all, it will keep your kids busy for a long time. It also requires mom to do very little. Your kids will find the rocks and then paint them, too. All you need to do is to get some paints and paper. You will also love it because painting outdoors is far superior to painting indoors. Maybe I won’t have to refinish my dining room table top this year!
2. Play Follow The Leader
How much prep? None. I told you this list was a good one! My kids love to play follow the leader outside. It’s so much better than inside, because you can climb rocks and logs, jump over streams and so much more. Make sure to model for your child or children first so they can see how many creative possibilities there are, right in your backyard!
3. Have A Relay Race
If you only have one child, you can still totally do this activity. Simply time your child each time and have him try to beat his personal best time (you can do this with multiple children, too, especially if they are far apart in age so then you won’t always have the oldest kids winning every time).
Some ideas for relays:
- running backwards
- jumping like a frog
- crab walk racing
- jumping on one leg
- bear crawl (walk on hands and feet with butt in the air)
- wheelbarrow race
4. Race Around The House
You’ll really love this one at bedtime when your child is exhausted and doesn’t fight it at all! My kids love this one, and I always time them to see if they can beat their personal best.
5. Paint With Leaves
Let your kids be creative with this one. They can paint WITH leaves or they can even paint the leaves themselves. We even like to paint the leaves and then press them onto paper. It makes really pretty designs.
6. Play With The Hose
Kids love water (obviously) and there is just something about a hose. Bonus points if it has a nozzle on the end so that your child can experiment with the different settings.
You can also play Water Hose Jump Rope. Put the hose’s spray close to the ground and move it back and forth. Your child needs to try to jump over it without getting wet!
7. Have A Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature walk scavenger hunt is so flexible, and I love that you can even use it as a learning tool. If you have a toddler learning colors, ask your toddler to find things of certain colors outside. If you have a preschooler learning letter sounds, ask your child to find things in nature that begin with certain letters.
You can also keep it more simple with this list:
- find a white rock
- find a purple leaf
- find a worm
- find an acorn
- find a butterfly
You could also do, “see how many _____ you can find”. We like to count the animals that we find on nature walks.
8. Wash Their Toys Or Bikes
Arm your child with a bucket of sudsy water and a sponge, and set her loose to wash her bike, scooter, or outdoor toys. Don’t be surprised if your child starts washing everything in sight!
9. Go On A Hunt For Bugs
If you have a bug catcher, great! It adds to the fun.
10. Create A Chalk Relay
Okay, so this one requires a liiiiittle bit of prep, but it’s minimal, I promise. Draw squiggly lines, circles to jump into and more on your driveway. Get creative!
If your kids are old enough to do it themselves, then even better.
11.Play With Water Balloons
If you’re thinking, wait, filling water balloons is TORTURE and far from no-prep, then you’ve never seen bunch ‘o balloons. You can seriously fill a hundred water balloons in SECONDS. These balloons are my #1 summer product recommendation. You NEED them.
Check out my water balloon activities that I have linked at the end of this post for some unique ideas! My kids love putting water balloons on our trampoline and jumping on them to make them pop.
12. Watch For Planes Using The App “Flight Radar 24”
This activity comes from my husband. Simply download the app Flight Radar 24, and you can see plane routes. You can literally see when a plane is going to go right over your house! This activity keeps my 4 and 7 year old engaged for hours. After a little bit of practice, you can start a countdown to let your child know when a plane is going to appear in the sky above you!
You can also learn a little geography too, because the app will tell you where the plane is coming from and where it is going to.
13. Play Hide And Seek
14. Go On A Nature Walk
15. Bake Mud Pies
Do kids these days make mud pies? Let’s bring this oldie but goodie back!
If you have any old baking tins or wooden spoons, give them to your child and let her go wild. If not, a plain old stick will do the trick!
16. Have A Picnic
My kids LOVE eating outside, but they love eating outside on a blanket even more. It’s not special at all, but it feels like it is.
Super secret tip: This is the perfect time to introduce new food to your child because she will be more likely to eat it in a different setting!
Include these summer would you rather questions as part as your picnic!
17. Jump In Puddles
Rain boots optional! And the next time it rains, send your kids out to play in the rain with their rain boots and umbrellas.
18. Play Tag
We really enjoy playing Sock Tag. Each player should get two pairs of socks to stuff into their waistbands (with half of the sock hanging out). Then everyone runs around (there is no one that is “it”) until all of the socks have been grabbed. Whoever has the most socks, wins!
19. Read Outside
Reading outside is one of my FAVORITE outdoor activities.
And if you have a kiddie pool (without water in it), you could even fill it up with pillows and blankets from inside to read in! If you don’t, just take a blanket and some pillows and make a cozy reading spot.
20. Play Catch Or Kickball
21. Go On A Photo Scavenger Hunt
Give your child a list of simple things to find in your backyard and a kid camera (or your phone if your child can be trusted!) and have your child photograph each item on the list.
22. Having A Stacking Rock Competition
Does your child love building? This is super fun. Make it into a game to see who can stack the most rocks on top of each other!
How fun but how simple, right?
23. Play Hot And Cold
Hide an object (or a little, new toy) and play Hot And Cold to help your child find it.
24. Look For A Four Leaf Clover
This should take a long time (unless you’re like my daughter who seems to be super lucky and finds them quickly all the time).
25. Look For Shapes In The Clouds
26. Have A Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest
Throwback to our 80’s childhood, mamas! When is the last time you spit watermelon seeds to see how far they would fly?
27. Let Your Kids Paint Themselves
28. Paint With Flowers
First your child can hunt for and pick flowers, and then use them to paint pretty designs.
29. Bring The Inside Out
This is another one of my favorite outdoor activities. Think about the activities that make you cringe inside during the colder months. I don’t like when my kids play with their kinetic sand, play doh and anything to do with sand or glitter inside. But outside? I’m totally game!
30. Set Up A Tent Or Teepee
Just use the one that you typically put up inside. That’s all you need to do. I guarantee that once you take it outside and set it up, your child’s imagination will take over and come up with something super fun to do with it.
31. Create A Fairy House
Have your child collect twigs, cut grass, rocks and leaves to create a fairy house.
32. Draw Nature
Grab some paper and colored pencils and encourage your child to draw something in nature. She can draw the sky, the trees, the yard, whatever!
If your kids need something more concrete to look at for their drawings, check out these kid’s drawing ideas.
33. Play Aqua Limbo
Use the stream of water from the hose as a “stick” in order to play limbo.
34. Paint With Squirt Guns
This one is a little messy but really fun. Start by mixing half paint and half water. Put the paint mixture in your squirt guns, then set up an easel or large paper and create an amazing squirt gun painting!
You could also use a spray bottle instead of the squirt guns.
35 Play “Unfreeze Your Prize”
Freeze some small toys in ice cube trays with water and play a water relay race. Have your child fill up their sponge with warm water, and then run over to the ice cubes and squeeze the warm water over them to try to melt them.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a relay. Have your child experiment with different ideas by asking her “What do you think would melt these ice cubes the fastest?”
36. Play I Spy
I love this activity for toddlers who are just starting to learn their colors.
37. Play With Water
There are so many different ways to play with water, but sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. Fill up a big storage container with water and then give your child a variety of different sized cups, bowls, pitchers, etc. to play with.
38. Draw With Dry Erase Markers On A Sliding Glass Door
Don’t worry, it washes right off!
When they are done, they can wash the windows themselves with spray bottles filled with water. Don’t be surprised if it ends with a spray bottle fight.
39. Have Your Child Perform A Play Or Dance Show
If your kids are anything like mine, they perform shows inside all the time. Putting on a show outside will be extra fun.
40. Start A Collection
Encourage your child to start a new collection: pressed flowers, pressed leaves or rocks are popular options.
Just beware that you will have flowers, leaves and rocks all over your house. For what feels like eternity.
41. Play Red Rover
This of course will only work with a larger group of kids. Perfect for parties or play dates!
42. Play Red Light, Green Light
This is a great activity for developing coordination in younger kids.
43. Play Kick The Can
Kick the Can is like Hide and Seek, Tag and Capture the Flag all in one. One player will count while the rest of the players hide. Then, once the seeker starts seeking, players in hiding will come out of their hiding spots to try to “kick the can”. Players who are tagged by the seeker go to “jail” and those in jail can be let out when another player successfully kicks the can.
44. Play Hide And Seek With Flashlights
This is one of our favorite outdoor activities, and when we recently did it outside, it quickly became another favorite. It’s like Hide and Seek, but spookier and of course should be played at night.
45. Water The Plants And Flowers
If you have younger children, this is always a hit and should become a daily routine. Believe me, someday your child will be too cool to water the flowers.
46. Practice Cartwheels
What kid doesn’t want to learn how to cartwheel?
This video is so helpful in helping your child perfect the cartwheel.
47. Do An Art Class
It doesn’t matter whether or not you are artistic, your kids can be with the magic of the Internet. We LOVE LOVE LOVE Art For Kids Hub on YouTube which has super simple-to-follow drawing tutorials.
Just take an iPad outside and start drawing!
48. Play Beanbag Tag
It’s the same as tag, but you can throw beanbags at each other instead of tagging. Way more fun, in my opinion.
49. Have A Treasure Hunt In The Dirt Or Sand
Hide some little toys or figurines and have your child dig for treasures.
50. Create An Agility Course For Your Family Dog
Leave it up to your kids to collect things from around the house in order to make a course. They will surprise you with their creativity!
51. Do Water Gun Target Practice
Set up some really light objects (Solo cups work well) and try to knock them down with a water gun. Have your child start really close to it, and more back as she gets better and better.
You could also literally draw a target on a tree and see how good your child is at hitting the target.
52. Create Nature Art
Creating a picture of nature USING nature is such a great hands on activity. Your child can use paper and glue in order to glue rocks, leaves, flowers, etc onto paper, creating a nature scene.
53. Make A Flower Arrangement
Pick flowers, give your kids a vase, and have them create their own flower bouquet in a vase.
54. Play Capture The Flag
First, split players into two teams and into two different sides of the yard. Then, the teams should work together in order to steal the other team’s flag and get back to their area without being tagged.
Playing Capture The Flag is one of my favorite memories from my childhood!
55. Play Crab Soccer
Get into the crab position (back facing the ground and walking on hands and feet) and play soccer. This is super tough but sure to elicit major giggles.
56. Play Cone Guardian
Two different teams (or players) will try to knock over the other team’s cone by throwing a ball at it.
57. Play Manhunt
Manhunt is kind of like the opposite version of Hide and Seek. In this version, only one person hides and all other players try to find him.
58. Have A Pool Noodle Fight
This is best if you have some sort of balance beam or plank that your kids can stand on. Give each kid a pool noodle and have them try to knock each other off of the plank.
59. Make Some Simple Bird Feeders
All you need for this activity is a toilet paper roll (or a paper towel roll), some peanut butter and some bird seed.
First, use a butter knife to spread peanut butter on a toilet paper roll.
Then, roll the toilet paper roll on a plate filled with birdseed in order to coat the entire roll in birdseed.
Then, slide the roll onto a tree branch.
60. Make Paper Boats
There are lots of different tutorials for how to make origami paper boats. I have one below.
Everyone in the family can make their own paper boat and then have a race to see which one will float the fastest.
If you have a pool or a stream, ditch, etc, then you can do this from your own home. If not, you can take it to a nearby lake for some paper boat racing.
61. Perfect Your Child’s Throw
Take a laundry basket outside, along with a ball. Set your child up close to the basket at first. For each throw that makes it into the basket, your child should step back one step. Once she misses, she will start all over again at the beginning. Encourage her to beat her own score!
This activity is even more fun in the summertime if you have one child stand in the laundry basket and the other child throws water balloons into it. They are much more likely to break when they hit the plastic of the laundry basket!
62. Take A Bike Ride Around The House
My kids love doing this, and they do it several times a week. Have your child see how many times she can go around the house without stopping or falling off her bike.
Everyday, my 7 year old tries to beat her personal best.
This is a GREAT before bed activity to make sure that your kids are extra sleepy!
63. Create An Obstacle Course
Prompt your kids to look around the house for anything that would work for an obstacle course. Then, have them compete to see who can design the coolest obstacle course.
Show them this list of obstacle course ideas for inspiration!
64. Set Up The Garden Hose On The Trampoline
If you have a trampoline, you might face the same problem that we have in my household. My kids want to jump on the trampoline, but during the day, it’s just too hot. Setting up your hose on the spray setting to act like a sprinkler is the perfect solution to this problem for a hot day.
65. Blow Bubbles
It’s also super fun to add some food coloring to your bubble solution and blow them over some paper for some bubble art!
That’s it! I cannot imagine that in this HUGE list of no-prep outdoor activities for kids you didn’t find at least one new, fun activity for your family. Let me know in the comments which activity you plan to do! Have fun!