With better weather and school out for the summer, it’s no surprise that you’ll be spending more time outside. Thanks to these 15 sweet and simple ideas, playing outside with the kids has never been more fun. Just scroll down for our favorite classic and innovative ways to make every day count.
1. Make a mud pie. Or 20. Decorate them with leaves, acorns, and rocks. Then sell them to someone’s little brother.
photo: Rob Briscoe via flickr
2. Play Star Wars with sticks. We know. Sticks. But are they really that different than the $60 light saber they’re begging for their birthdays? Nah.
3. Melt crayons in the sun. Make art while the asphalt’s still hot (just be sure to put down a piece of card board or canvas to catch all that molten color madness).
photo: R. Cabanilla via flickr
4. Have a toy car wash. Or better yet, have a real carwash. Now we’re using our noodles! Nothing thrills a kiddo—or a carpool queen—like an afternoon spent with a shopvac and a spray bottle.
5. Go on a nature scavenger hunt. Need inspiration? Check out this playbook.
photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via flickr
6. Enjoy story time in the shade. Fresh air. Snuggles. A book. Perfection.
7. Play pickup sticks with sticks from the yard. Whether you go all out and paint the sticks you collect different colors or leave them au natural, this old-school game gets new legs with a larger-than-life game board—your yard!
photo: S. Massey
8. Play red light, green light. Did that last 5 minutes? Check out these classic yard games to keep the party going.
9. Make a clover necklace. And headband. And bracelet. And ring. And pageant sash. And …
photo: Shannon McGee via flickr
10. Look for lightning bugs. They stay awake all night, so no need to rush that bedtime. No need, at all.
11. Play hide and seek. It never fails to get your adrenaline pumping and set your giggles free.
photo: Bradley Olin via flickr
12. Create a hideout under the low-hanging branches of a tree. Decorate the limbs from underneath with pinecone ornaments, leaf garlands, and particularly intriguing rocks. Let the kids be critters for the day.
13. Play leapfrog, because it may actually be faster than getting them to walk quickly.
photo: Chicago’s North Shore and Visitor’s Bureau via flickr
14. Speaking of frogs, track down a frog by its call. Use this awesome audio guide as a resource.
15. Run through the sprinklers. The air is still warm and when they’re running, jumping, and laughing ’till they can’t breathe, they’ll be working up a sweat, regardless.
photo: Sharon Mollerus via flickr
How do you keep the kiddos happy in the great outdoors? Don’t be shy. Tell us all your secrets in the comments section below!