Any parent knows kids are mentally, physically, and emotionally stronger with regular time spent in the great outdoors. And the research proves it. The benefits of playing outside even for a short time can be numerous.
But simply going outside isn’t enough. To help children flex and strengthen their imaginative and creative muscles, parents must craft outdoor experiences. Here are ten fun outdoor activities for kids of all ages that can help foster engaging educational experiences.
Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids on the Younger Side
In truth, parents of very young children know the outdoors needs to be experienced in small doses. Remember that viral trend years back of videos showing babies’ first experience with grass? Babies and nature might not be as bad as oil and water, but they might be a close second.
Rather than jumping into the deep end, here are a few considerations for outdoor activities designed for young children:
1. Nature Walks
Children don’t need to actually walk to gain the benefits of time spent outdoors. With a baby harness or large-wheeled stroller, babies and toddlers alike can take in the majesty of nature. The dappled sunlight, rows of verdant trees, and even the odd animal are sure to spark their wonder.
2. A Game of Pick-Up Sticks
For toddlers learning to count, pick-up sticks is educational and engaging. It’s a great way to experience exercise and a dynamic learning experience outside.
For a fun nature twist on the game, encourage them to gather as many sticks as they can carry. Or have them count along with you as you verbalize each stick you choose for your bundle.
Outdoor Activities for 5-Year-Olds and Up
3. Scavenger Hunt
The key to any good scavenger hunt is diversity. Add some items they’re sure to find like evergreen trees as well as some more elusive objects, like specific wildlife. The completionist in your child will inspire them to keep going on a nature walk that will yield intrigue with every step!
4. I Spy in the Woods
Outdoor activities for 5-year-olds should help underscore the basic skills they’re learning at preschool. I Spy is a great game that inspires focus, attention, and descriptiveness in young children. They can foster their color recognition, broaden their vocabulary, and more.
5. Backyard Bingo
For children less apt to go on a miles-long hike, a backyard bingo card is the perfect in-between.
Simply print out different grids of the common backyard items, such as a squirrel or a rose. Next, equip your child with a stamp. Then, let them scavenge with glee as they try to complete a BINGO line.
Plus, for parents of multiples: backyard bingo is one of the best competitive outdoor activities for 5-year-olds.
6. Obstacle Course
Set up different physical challenges for your children to overcome. Simple yard structures and decor can be used. Bonus tip: if you really want to boost the physical activity, turn the obstacle course into a game of the floor is lava!
Outdoor Activities for 12-Year-Olds and Up
7. A Game of Cliffhangers
Don’t let the ominous name fool you: this is a great kid-friendly game that inspires creativity. And the great thing about it is it can be incorporated on a nature walk or hike.
To play, a parent can start an ad-libbed story about something they see around them. “Once upon a time, a young bird sat atop a tree branch.” The child goes next, adding a line to the story with something they see.
More than anything, this is one of the great outdoor activities for 12-year-olds. It can help them tap into their environment and focus on the here and now.
8. Taking Nature Samples
As children delve into STEM in the classroom, their curiosity is likely to be piqued. That’s because science-based thinking explodes the world around them.
Help foster that wonder with STEM-themed exploration that adds context to their science lessons in school. Pocket microscopes are a great way of seeing the building blocks of nature. Meanwhile, hunting for unique water or soil samples allows them to understand the hidden world around us.
9. Historical Context
Give your child the gift of hindsight with outdoor exploration focused on prior generations. You can plan a historic walking tour of your town. Or, together, chart how your area grew and changed over time. There are countless history lessons to be explored while you trek with your child.
Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids of All Ages
10. Bird Watching
Discover the wonder of birds. Young children will be wowed by their distinct colors and patterns. Meanwhile, you can discuss the mind-baffling ergonomics and physics of bird flight with older children.
Bird watching truly is one of the all-time all-ages recreational activities for kids. And it’s doable all year long!
Hydrate While Exploring
Kids old and young are sure to have a blast exploring outside. But whether in winter or summer, don't forget the importance of water breaks! Shop our collection of water bottles and stay hydrated while enjoying the outdoors.