Nine Ways to Play Outside


When you have young children, you often want to take them outside to get fresh air, but lack creativity when you need it the most. Playing with children outside is relatively simple – so long as you have an imagination and endurance. Young children play hard, even if they don’t play a single game for very long.

The Jumping Game

Jumping is fun for kids, so encourage your child to jump outside as much as possible. To do this you can start jumping at random, but it’s always best to have some structure to the game. To give a jumping game structure, you can use chalk to draw on the ground or sidewalk. Older children will enjoy hopscotch and younger children can simply hop from one circle or square to another. Make a pathway of hopping spots and your child can have plenty of fun using nothing more than chalk and the sidewalk.

The Throwing Game

While throwing a ball to each other is certainly fun, it is much more fun to toss a ball as high as you can in the air and try to catch it. Toddlers especially love this game as it seems so silly. They throw the ball as best they can and then get to run after it, again – as best they know. When you play this kind of ball game, you can expect your toddler to have fun, even if the ball never officially makes it to the air.

The Camping Game

If you have a pop-up tent or even just a blanket and a clothesline, you can make your own small tent in the backyard. The tent encourages children to play a form of “house” in the backyard and can be a terrific learning experience for getting along in small spaces and making do with what you have. Older children might be able to spend the night in the tent depending on its location and your comfort level, but young children will need to come in and sleep in their beds rather than spending the night in the garden, even snug inside a tent.

The Truck Game

An inexpensive collection of die cast trucks and construction toys can provide hours of fun in the dirt and mud of the garden. Show your child how to make paths through a pile of dirt and then you can sit back and watch him send his truck driving it from here to there over mountains and down into valleys – all created from a bit of dirt and possibly some mud.

The Bubbles Games

Children of all ages love bubbles. There is a certain magic to the glossy bubbles floating away into the sky, and it is especially fun for children because they get to help catch and pop the bubbles. Invest in a bubble blowing machine if you’re not able to blow bubbles for long stretches of time and then sit back and watch the fun begin. Children will be running about stomping on bubbles that stick to the wet ground and snatching them out of the air. Mum and dad are almost always finished blowing bubbles long before little ones are finished popping them.

Sand Games

If you are lucky enough to have a sand pit or sand box, your child can have all manner of fun building in the sand and transporting it about in his trucks. A good dump truck and shovel seem to be sand box must-have accessories as your child can likely sit quite contentedly for long stretched of time shoveling sand into a working dump truck and dumping it off-site – most likely into the grass as this is a favorite location for all children it seems.

Nature Games

Nothing can be simpler than taking your toddler or preschooler on a nature hike. Grab a bag to collect with and set off down the sidewalk or off into the woods. As you walk, look for things that would be interesting to children such as oddly shaped rocks, clover, insects and animals. While you do have a bag along, most parents choose to collect acorns and pinecones rather than any animal discovery made along the way.

Painting Games

Offer your child a paintbrush or roller along with a paint tray filled to the brim with water. Then, encourage him to paint the fence or even the side of your home. The water will show up as a darker color on wood than the still dry surfaces. This will give your child the satisfaction of seeing their job being done and it might even help you by helping to keep your fence clean and drawing your attention to portions that need a bit of repair that you might not see otherwise.

Chalk Games

Just as you used chalk to draw shapes on the concrete, offer your child the chalk so that he can draw as many pictures as he likes. Be sure to have at least one chalk for every child that will be coloring outside as they are often hotly contested items as the novelty of writing all over the ground makes this game especially fun. Parents can also use chalk drawing and words as tools for teaching as well.

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