12 Outdoor Play Ideas for Kids

girl sitting on kids lounge chair sipping a drink

We like winter for all the cozy cuddles, but we love spring and summer for the sunny days outdoor play. Now that the weather is warming up, take your crew outside and enjoy a few of these 12 no-fuss outdoor play ideas!

Build a sandcastle

Sandcastles aren’t just for the beach! If you have a sandbox, break out your beach toys so the kids can perfect their castle-building skills in the backyard!

Paint with water

No, not watercolors – just painting the porch or their wooden outdoor play set with plain water. It’s a mess-free way kids can get creative, and the “designs” actually show up surprisingly well if the wood and concrete are dry enough. A bucket full of water, sponges, and brushes of various sizes are all you need.

Splash around with water tables and sprinklers

Are the kids feeling grumpy? Just add water! Something about pouring and splashing just seems to reset their mood, and it’s a great way to keep cool in the summer sun. We love the convenience of water tables and sprinklers when filling up a kiddie pool is too much of a hassle.

Get imaginative

Yep, the coolest kind of play is often the kind your kids come up with entirely on their own. And something about the outdoors adds a little extra magic to imaginative play. Kids get creative with natural objects they find, and their outdoor toys take on whole new roles. The swingset becomes a pirate ship, and the playhouse becomes a fox’s den. Just offer to play make-believe and enjoy watching what they come up with!

Play the ground is lava

The outdoor version of the floor is lava...you get it. Use anything your yard has available – from landscaping stones to patches of clover – as designated “safe zones”. If there’s still too much open space, add more safe zones by spreading out some beach towels or your outdoor furniture cushions. Of course, if you have an outdoor playset, be sure to use the monkey bars or swings to cross the sea of lava!

Use a magnifying glass

A simple magnifying glass lets your kids discover a whole new world in your backyard! (Just be sure no bugs get scorched in the process).

Have a picnic

Lunchtime can be playtime too when the kids get to set up their own picnic! Let them fill a basket or lunch kit and head outside! They’ll love it so much, they might even try those kale chips you bought. If ants are a problem, a kid-sized picnic table might be worth the investment!

Get swinging

Pushing your kiddo on the swing is a great time for bonding...but when they finally learn to swing by themselves? That’s pretty great too. They’re totally engaged, and you can spend a minute working in the yard or relaxing on the porch.

Have a bug hunt

Have the kids look for as many different types of bugs as possible. They can describe or draw what they see, and if the creepy-crawlies don’t creep you out, they’ll love showing you a few of their finds. Of course, you’ll want to supervise young kids who can’t recognize stinging and biting bugs they should leave alone.

Watch the clouds

Is it a little sentimental? Sure. But if you haven’t stopped and watched the clouds with your kids, you’re missing out! You’re guaranteed to hear something silly and adorable when you ask what the clouds look like.

Play with the pup

The family dog just might be an untapped resource for playtime. Even if your dog’s energetic years are behind them, your kids can still have fun taking them for walks or hiding treats for them in the backyard.

Plant a garden

Giving kids their own little area to plant flowers and vegetables encourages independence, patience, and curiosity for the natural world. Set it up in front of their playhouse for an even cuter effect!

Need a few additions to get your backyard playtime ready? KidKraft has you covered with all the outdoor toy classics: swing sets, climbers, playhouses, and sandboxes, all made to last and look great in your backyard!