Backyard Play: Quick and Easy Ideas!


Fresh air makes a huge difference. Not just for the kids but myself included. When the forecast calls for decent weather, I know we will spend a lot of time outdoors.

Here are 30 quick and easy backyard play ideas:

  • Camping: we set up our tent in the backyard and enjoy the idea of camping. We come up with a camping menu. The older kids write stories and share around a campfire. Further extensions: search online as a family for campsites around the world. Rank your favorites! Keep reading to explore this neat app!
  • Find the stars: Go outside in the evenings and see what constellations are out using some fun apps. We use the app Star Walk 2 to view a map of the night sky. My kids love learning about constellations in the sky at night.
  • Red light/ green light: Nominate someone to be the person who announces red or green light to other players as they try and race to the announcer.
  • Stations: Set out three or four stations for backyard play or learning and let the kids explore on their own. Put out a few big picnic blankets and set out some favorites. Some ideas include: book station, toy station, snack station, rock painting station, lego station…the ideas are endless. Try these natural play spaces for your backyard as well!art outdoors
  • Obstacle courses: three boys that are very close in age means they have a lot of energy. Popular obstacle courses they loved in the past include hurdles, basketball shots, making soccer goals, hula hoops, ring toss, tunnels, and using our mini-trampoline. All ages love to be challenged and even timed. One kid can be the coach and encourage the other kids along the course.
  • Egg Game: hide plastic eggs in the backyard with pieces of paper that have pictures letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc. inside. Challenge younger ones to find eggs around the yard, open them up, and see what shapes or letters are inside. Older ones? You can challenge them to work together to find the letters to a certain word. Watch the kids not only run around but learn as well!
  • Car wash on a sunny day: put out buckets of warm soapy water and sponges along with your kid’s cars and trucks. Not only do their toys get a good cleaning, but the kids also love to pretend as well. Extensions: make signs for their pretend car washing their cars
  • Balloon fly swatters fun: grab some kid fly swatters and balloons and challenge any age not to let the balloon touch the ground.
  • Robot station: one of my favorites. Take leftover boxes and put them to good use! Set out different sized boxes, tape and glue, and various materials (such as pipe cleaners, googly eyes, buttons, etc.) and watch the kids go to work to create their creative robot.
  • Work station: create a work station and build something. Lowe’s has wonderful kits that are so much fun for you and your kids to build. Check out their Build and Grow series such as building a pirate ship, kid’s bank, or birdhouse.
  • Bring those old costumes outside: the kids love dressing up in their old Halloween costumes and letting their imagination run free! They were firefighters, superheroes, and chefs and came up with a lot of storylines based on their characters.
  • Yoga or boot camp outdoors: Lots of great videos you can watch outdoors or you can have one kiddo lead the class with exercises.
  • Potion station: very popular for my kiddos (supervision recommended). Save water bottles or jars and pour water or vegetable oil and their choice of food coloring in the bottle and add glitter, nature items, beads, etc. Extension: write or draw and describe the potion you are making.
  • Volcano experiment: have kids make the volcano part one day (out of playdough, clay or paper mache) and watch the kids burst with excitement when baking soda and vinegar react together! We love outdoor science experiments!
  • Playdough on a kid’s picnic table: Add some muffin tins and cookie sheets and see the wonderful “food” your kids make. Check out this playdough recipe and some other gooey ideas.
  • Ninja course blueprint: as my kids get older the backyard has changed. Instead of pushing them on swings they now want to take it further. Why not find some fun ninja courses to build together? Find some realistic plans (or have them draw their vision), gather materials and create the course together!
  • Any sport or game: soccer is a favorite! We also love football, basketball, baseball, cornhole, Jenga, you name it!outdoor games to play
  • Dance party outside: dance your blues away! Have themed dance parties with the kids! Some examples: 80’s dance party, Disney songs, Kidz Bop, etc.
  • Plan for spring/summer: Draw a blueprint of your yard and brainstorm where your garden may be for the summer. Extension: write or draw what you will plant and what recipes you will make with herbs, fruits, and veggies you may grow.
  • Outdoor nature or scavenger hunt
  • Take the art easel outside or set up a table with paint and canvases
  • Nature box: have kids create and make a special nature box out of a shoebox where they can select special nature items to put inside. Encourage them to make a collage with the items.
  • Make smoothie pops: we have a popsicle mold we use that we put extra smoothies in and freeze them. When they are frozen we enjoy these healthy and delicious snacks outside.
  • Food Tag: Not sure where my kids learned this game but this has been a favorite during backyard play. When you are about to get tagged, call out a type of food and you are safe. You could mix it up to a veggie, shape, letter, superhero, or spell a word. The possibilities are endless.
  • Buddy and books: have the kids pick out books and favorite stuffed animals to read to outside. Encourage them to find a fun spot for them to read to their buddy.
  • Make a balance beam: Have your older kids find a blueprint of building the balance beam with your help and have the younger ones enjoy testing their balance when it is finished!
  • Outside crazy jar: we have used crazy jars in the past and they are some of our favorite ways to pass the boredom. If anyone declares “I’m bored” we tell them to grab the crazy jar (any jar that you can put ideas in) and pick a piece of paper with an outdoor idea from the jar. Some include: 20 jumping jacks, games, pushups, sports, etc.
  • Clean-Up Crew: brainstorm how to clean up the backyard and get it ready for the next season. Come up with a list and have kids decide which task they want to complete.  Reward yourselves with an outside ice cream bar when you are all done!
  • Craft and card tables: If the weather is nice, take the craft outdoors! Set up a few craft tables and watch the creativity flow as kids get some fresh air too.
  • Backyard Plays and Talent Shows: Have the kids make puppets or put on costumes.  Set up some chairs outdoor and have kids perform their play or put on a musical play!

I believe any idea is better when it is done outside while enjoying some fresh air. Hopefully, the kids will not only sleep better after participating in these backyard play ideas but will make some amazing family memories as well! 

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Melissa Burnett
Melissa Burnett was born in New Jersey but moved to Ohio at the beginning of a school year where she thought her parents forgot her at Kindergarten and spent most of her first day in tears. Since then, she learned to transfer her imagination onto paper and write stories. She taught Title 1 Reading and wrote children’s books before embarking on her journey into parenthood. Melissa is a mother to twin boys and a younger boy who keeps her on her toes. She enjoys Friday stay home movie night with her boys and dreaming up business ideas with her extremely patient and loving husband. When she is not breaking up wrestling matches, Melissa and her husband spend their time working on rental cabins in Hocking Hills. They also enjoy popcorn and coming up with new popcorn flavors. Melissa promises she does not have motherhood figured out, but she does have many funny stories to share and a word of advice “when you go through the car wash with kids…make sure your window lock is on.” Follow her blog: Mommy of 3 Boys