It’s Summer – Let’s Play Outside!

Well, that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Floortime, but all the same, who wants to be indoors in the summer?

Here is a list of activities I think might engage my children.  My list doesn’t look much different than a list of activities for typical young children, but the difference is in the purpose.  We won’t just “do” each activity – our goal will be to use these activities as springboards for play and interaction.  If the kids aren’t interested, we’ll model so they’re more comfortable and likely to join in next time, but also watch to see what does intrigue them.  We’re playing with a goal – to build our children’s social, language, and problem-solving skills – outdoors!

  1. fly a kite
  2. put up a tent – bring out the books and toys
  3. inflate the bouncer
  4. water balloons
  5. turn on the sprinkler
  6. stick a ball in one leg of a pair of nylons – stand against a wall and swing it back and forth to bounce it.  Make it interactive by standing together and taking turns.
  7. use pool noodles to bat balloons or beach balls around
  8. make a scavenger hunt – using pictures or words as clues
  9. blow bubbles
  10. turn the kiddie pool into a sensory tub – add bubbles or turn it into a ball pit
  11. show them how a telescope or binoculars work
  12. collect and sort rocks
  13. have a water fight – with or without water guns
  14. sidewalk chalk
  15. beanbag toss – outside
  16. obstacle course
  17. catch bugs
  18. feed ducks (birdseed is best)
  19. find cheap outdoor toys at the Dollar store
  20. talk about shapes in clouds
  21. make letters and shapes out of licorice strings (then eat them)
  22. watch the clouds
  23. play with flashlights and shadow puppets
  24. have a picnic
  25. make and sail paper boats
  26. bring toys to the playground – favorite stuffies or dolls can go down the slide too!
  27. go for walks and name/describe everything we see (e.g. “I Spy”)
  28. pack up shovels and pails and find a really big sandbox
  29. paint daisies (and rocks, and whatever else needs painting)
  30. make a slip ‘n slide out of a plastic tablecloth and a can of shaving cream
  31. make paper fans
  32. stack paper cups to shoot down with a water pistol
  33. paint with water (on surfaces that change color)
  34. make mud pies
  35. try a sound safari: instructions here
  36. walk in the rain
  37. ride bikes (or tractors with pedals, depending on preference)
  38. practice Hide and Seek, Tag, Follow the Leader, Ring Around the Rosie, London Bridge, Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says and Red Light/Green Light
  39. go berry picking
  40. Pretend to be super heroes, airplanes, zoo animals, galloping horses, trains…together!
  41. visit a flea market or farmer’s market, talk about what’s for sale (maybe buy lots of fruits and veggies and see if they will eat them!)
  42. pick a bouquet
  43. go paddleboating
  44. throw rocks in a river or pond
  45. have a wiener and marshmallow roast
  46. climb a tree (even just a little ways up)
  47. Swim.
  48. play with yo-yos
  49. read books about summer
  50. take pictures and make books of our outings


Well, that should keep us busy!


Any more ideas?  We’d love to hear them.


The National Wildlife Federation has created a website of great things to do outside with your kids: click here.

If you like Pinterest, I’m also collecting ideas here.


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