Creative Child

15 Backyard Activities for Kids

by Rebecca Eanes

Spring is here at last, and the weather has been lovely despite this global pandemic. As most Americans and many around the world are under stay at home orders, I’m hearing that kids are starting to bounce off the walls. Now that the warmer weather is rolling in, thankfully we can remove the walls! 


As I was doing my research for this article, I came across some really amazing (and expensive) ideas such as building your child a treehouse and burying a trampoline in the yard. Those are certainly awesome activities your kids will love, but I wanted to find fun, simple, and mostly free activities for your kids. No backhoes or contractors required!

  1. Water bins and tables are always a blast because there are so many different ways to play. Fill the largest container you can find with water and let your child’s imagination do the rest! Provide boats, small plastic toys, and cups for pouring. For a sensory activity, fill the bin with water beads
  2. Have an outdoor movie night. We’ve done this twice already this spring and for some reason, kids just love watching a movie outside. It’s simple to set up our TV on our back deck and grab a few blankets. Give it a try and make some fantastic memories!
  3. Fill up those water balloons! There are lots of fun ways to play. Try drawing a target circle on your wooden fence if you have one or several circles on the sidewalk. Assign points to each circle and have the kids throw at the targets and add up their points. Or you can play water balloon catch or water balloon baseball!
  4. Conduct a science experiment. Diet Coke and Mentos is always a fun one as is baking soda and vinegar. Here are 40+ experiments to choose from!
  5. Blow giant bubbles! The recipe is from Happy Hooligans. You’ll need 6 cups of water, ½ cup of blue Dawn dish detergent, ½ cup cornstarch, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1 tbsp glycerine (personal lubricant). Dissolve the cornstarch in water and stir well. Add remaining ingredients and allow to sit for at least an hour. You’ll also need a large bubble wand which you can purchase here or make your own.
  6. Create a fun dino dig with hardened oobleck. Mix cornstarch and water to make oobleck in a container. You’ll need about twice as much cornstarch as water. Place dinosaurs or other small toys into the oobleck and push them down as much as possible. Make sure they are buried. Leave it outside in the sun for a couple of days and it will become very hard. Then your child can “excavate” the dinosaurs with a hammer, brush, screwdriver, and other tools you have lying around. Fun!
  7. Make a creative nature journal with your child to document neat insects, pretty flowers, and beautiful wildlife that she sees in her own backyard. Encourage her to write or draw something in her journal daily.
  8. Kids love running through sprinklers, but if you don’t have a store-bought sprinkler, you can easily make your own with a 2L bottle. Here are the instructions.
  9. The back yard is a great place to practice those painting skills because they won’t ruin your table and floors! Painting rocks is a favorite activity here, but we also enjoy laying a blank canvas on the grass and doing splatter painting. For an extra kick, fill water balloons with watered down tempera paint and throw at the canvas!
  10. Are you up for a night of camping? Backyard camping is the only camping I’d personally consider as I can always run into the house to use the bathroom or grab a snack! However, setting up your tent in the backyard, making smore’s, and telling stories in the dark with flashlights is sure to make great memories!
  11. Nature scavenger hunts are another fun activity we never tire of. Make a quick list of things you want your child to find and set them loose! 
  12. Build a fort. No tent? That’s okay! Grab some chairs, a sheet, a few pillows, and make a fort for your kids to play in. It takes minutes to set up, but it’s somehow magical to children.
  13. Make a birdfeeder for our feathered friends. The simplest one is to smear and empty toilet paper roll with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. Hang with a piece of ribbon and that’s it!
  14. Make a time capsule and bury it in the corner of the yard. Commemorate everything about 2020 so far, including the pandemic, any trips you’ve taken, schooling from home, and how much they’ve grown! How fun it will be to dig it up in 5 years!
  15. Create a map of the yard! You might even ask them to bury a small treasure and then draw a map with an X to mark the spot!
Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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