No one likes being stuck at home all day, but sometimes we have to make the best of it. To cure some of the lockdown boredom that we were all experiencing during quarantine, I found some great outdoor activities for kids that Ziya and I were able to do using only dollar store items and things that you probably already have around the house. Most of these activities can be adapted to smaller outdoor spaces too!
Quick and Easy Games
These games are super fun and a great way to get your kids to start playing outdoors – no more being cooped up in the house! They are also really easy to create and will keep your kids busy for a long time.
1. Giant Tic-tac-toe
All you’ll need is a stick of regular sidewalk chalk and 2 different color pool noodles. Use the chalk to create a big tic tac toe board outside and cut up the pool noodles to use as game pieces. You can play over and over again using the same pieces on the same board, which keeps it simple – no need to spend time erasing the chalk or have your driveway completely covered with tic-tac-toe boards.
2. Scavenger Hunt/Nature Bingo
For this activity you can create your own bingo card or print out a blank bingo card that you can find on the internet. I chose simple things to put on the cards like flowers, sticks, rocks, grass, and clouds. You can write it out and have your kids draw pictures of each item on the card.
When the cards are finished, go for a walk – take a crayon or marker and go exploring around the neighborhood. Try to get bingo by crossing things out as they’re found along the way.
4. Ice Block Smash
Kids don’t usually have the opportunity to destroy things, so this is a great, super fun activity for them. Create a glacier full of “fossils” that they can dig out and smash using a hammer. They can pretend to be an archeologist, explorer, adventurer, pirate – or whatever sparks their imagination!
Take a plastic container and some water, and add some stones, gems, or toy animals to act as “treasure” (stick to plastic/rubber toys so that they don’t break when smashed with a hammer). Create the ice block in layers; add a bit of water and some treasure, put it in the freezer, and repeat once it is frozen. Once it is done, bring it outside and let them hammer away (I made sure Ziya knew to use both hands, so that there were no fingers accidentally hit!).
Kids love getting dirty and messy, but who really likes cleaning up afterwards? These are some fun outdoor games that let your kids get down and dirty – but yet keep the mess easy to clean!
1. DIY Puffy Chalk Paint
Puffy paint is a really cute and fun alternative to regular chalk. You’ll need:
Mix the flour, water, food coloring, and shaving cream in a large Ziplock bag and shake it well so that there are no lumps. Cut the tip off of the plastic bag so that it is easy to fill up the bottles.
Kids can squeeze the bottles onto the sidewalk/driveway and make all kinds of pictures, letters, and fun designs. The chalk does NOT stain the concrete – it easily washes off with regular water. (TIP: If you’re not allowed to draw on the sidewalk where you live, you can also do this on a poster board or piece of cardboard!)
2. Rock Painting
Ziya and I actually found and picked up rocks during our nature bingo/scavenger hunt to use for this activity. We looked for rocks of different shapes, colors, and sizes, and rinsed them off before painting. I bought some inexpensive washable kids paint from the Dollar Store and we spent time painting cute little designs and colors together.
3. Mud Kitchen/Café
For this activity, kids can make mud pies in their own “kitchen”. I bought a bunch of things from dollar store that add to the mud kitchen vibe, like some large hard-plastic bowls, cups, and trays, a water dispenser, mini spoons and spatulas, and mini shovels from the outdoor play section. I also got some decorative rocks and stones and small plastic toys that Ziya used to decorate her mud pies. I had to also buy dirt for this, which I put into a large bin (make sure to use regular topsoil or sand so that it doesn’t contain anything dangerous, like glass or manure).
This can keep kids entertained for hours. I let Ziya get as dirty as she wants – and used the water hose to wash down the play area and spray her off. She went straight into the bathtub when she was done.
These are some great activities for a hot day when you’re looking to cool off! Put your swimsuits on and go outside for some fun.
1. DIY Water Slide
This actually ended up being an epic fail for me at first. I saw a lot of ideas on Pinterest, and noticed people were taking rolls of plastic sheeting to use as a slide. I ended up buying a plastic tablecloth to create a mini version; I cut it and tried to lay it out, but it didn’t quite work.
I had a plastic tarp that is usually used for painting that I tried out, which worked a bit better. I flattened it out, put some things on top to hold it down, and used some baby soap and water to make it slippery. This actually worked much better on our sloped backyard. (TIP: Create a DIY sprinkler: Just poke some holes in a pool noodle, clog up one side with a cut up piece of another noodle, and put a garden hose in the other side!)
2. Fishing/Water Balloon Fight
I had a small inflatable baby pool that we filled up with water (you can also use a large plastic container) and some little toys that we used as fish; you can also use the cut up pool noodles from earlier. I bought a small pool net that Ziya used to “go fishing”. You can also get educational by using some plastic letters as the fish and calling out certain letters that the kids can try fishing out with the net.
I also got a lot of water balloons from the Dollar Store and put them in the water for a little game: Kids can race to try and collect as many balloons into a small container as possible to use as ammo in a water balloon fight!
3. Giant Bubbles
Create a bubble wand by threading some string through 2 straws. Hide the knot inside the straw so that you end up with a square shape. Fill a large container with water, a whole bunch of dish soap, and a scoop of corn starch to make the bubble solution. Dip the bubble wand inside, and wave it around to create huge bubbles (you can make a GIANT version of this in a baby pool using a hula hoop as a bubble wand).
4. DIY Bubble Art
You can make your own bubble solution using the items above or you can buy some from the store. Add some food coloring into the bubble solution. Create the art by blowing bubbles directly onto some thick or heavy paper.
Ziya and I definitely had a great time doing these fun outdoor activities! They are so easy to do and are great ways to keep kids entertained during this hectic time in our lives. For some fun indoor activities for preschool/kindergarten-aged kids, click here. More DIY kids activity videos coming soon, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
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