30 Outdoor Activities With Kids To Keep Them Active
Health Risks for Children Is Increasing
Warmer weather should get kids outside more to play and have fun. However, many young kids are trading outside activity with indoor screen time now that iPads, cell phones, and other electronics have become extremely popular among tweens and teenagers. An abcNews report from Oct. 2019 suggests that tweens (ages 8-12) spend an average of four hours and forty-four minutes a day on phones.Teenagers are almost double and spend an average of seven hours and twenty-two minutes on their phones. Other reports show lower numbers but still report over two hours a day are spent on screens consuming various forms of media. In either case, the amount of time on phones has drastically increased over the last decade.
The lack of physical activity plus unhealthy eating habits has led to numerous health risks and increased childhood obesity.
Physical Health Guidelines for Kids
Kids these days need physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The general guidelines given by the CDC suggest that pre-school aged kids (between 3-5 years old) all the way up to adolescent aged kids (ages 6-17 years old) have at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity throughout the day. They also suggest you take into account various types of activity to help them as they grow, which includes aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening activities.
Here is a quick guide to better understand each type of physical activity your kids should be getting week to week to help fight obesity and improve kids overall health.
- Aerobic: This includes things like jogging/running, riding a bike and even doing chores around the houses. This activity is designed to get your kids heart rate up.
- Strength/Muscle training: This includes calisthenic activities like pull ups, sit ups, pushups, etc. and also things like climbing.
- Bone Strength training: In order to improve bone strength, kids should be doing things like jumping such as jump rope or activities that cause them to change direction quickly.
List of Outdoor Games and Activities For Kids
There are so many games that can be played outside which involve some form of physical activity. We have created a list of old and new games of various outdoor activities to keep your kids active and moving all summer long that account for the different types of activity they should be getting.
- Get up and move scavenger hunt: Not just your typical scavenger hunt. This one requires your kids to find objects they have to climb on or through, jump over, crawl under, and be active. Look for things that will help improve your child's motor skills and that will increase their heart rate as they find the list of objects and perform tasks to check off their list. Not sure where to start with this one? The Inspired TreeHouse has a quick checklist to print out for ideas. Outdoor areas for some fun scavenger hunts include a park or places with a playground and trails or wooded areas as the kids look for various objects.
- Kick the can: You can reuse soda cans or bottles for this game. Similar to tag but with a twist. Put a can (soda cans work great for younger kids) in an open area. One kid is “it” and counts to 20-30 seconds while the rest of the kids go hide. The one that is “it” has to look for the others that are hiding. When the person who is “it” finds those that are hiding, they have to go to jail. If the kids that are still hiding can run and kick the can without being tagged first then everyone in jail is free to run and hide again.
- Hopscotch: You can make this game as complex or as basic as you need depending on the age of your kid(s).
Steps to playing hopscotch:
1. Help your kids draw a series of shapes on the ground. Use different shapes and sizes to create some fun variations. If you need ideas here are some examples:
You can use chalk or some painters tape to make the shapes. If you use painters tape the kids can color in each shape with chalk to make it even more fun. Number the shapes like the image(s) above.
2. Toss a hopscotch disc, or other small flat object (small rock, bean bag) inside the first box numbered
3. Hop through all of the other shapes skipping over the first box. On the way back to the start the child needs to pick up the object that was tossed into the first shape.
4.Pick up the item that was tossed into the first shape while on the way back. Once the child makes their way through ALL of the other shapes, and gets back to the starting point they will
5.Hand the item being tossed to the next person in line and continue till all of the players have a turn. The goal is to complete the course and get through all of the shapes the fastest.
4. Freeze tag: The person who is “it” will chase the other kids, or adults if they join in, and try and tag them. When the person who is “it” tags another player, the player must freeze and stay frozen till someone who has not been tagged tags them. The game ends when all players have been frozen. Change who is “it” and keep playing till everyone gets a turn to be “it”.
5. Red light, green light: This is a classic game that keeps kids active and works on observation skills. One child faces away from all of the rest who stand a good distance behind. Facing away, the child who is “it” will yell “green light.” The children behind then have to move forward to the “it” child. That child then has to turn around saying “red light,” and the kids moving forward have to freeze. If anyone is seen moving, they are out! This repeats until someone manages to tag the child in the front.
6. Red rover red rover: Two groups of (generally five or more per group) link hands and form two lines (teams) facing each other. One team will then call a player out from the other team by saying,”red rover, red rover send (name here) right over.” That person will then have to run between two players on the other team trying to break the link. If they do, they may rejoin their team. If they do not break the link, they join the opposite team! The game ends when a team only has one player left.
7. Capture the flag: No, this isn’t Call of Duty! This is a classic offensive and defensive game that can be played in so many different ways. There are generally two teams that each have a flag at a base, or you can have one centrally located flag. The other team’s flag (or the one central flag) has to be captured and returned to your base. There are so many ways you can come up with your own rules to make the game more fun such as how to make someone drop the flag if you find them! This can get more fun closer to dusk when it becomes harder to see the other players. Be safe!
8. Monkey in the middle: This game has one child standing between two or more other players. The goal is for the kids around the “monkey in the middle” to throw a ball to each other, with the child in the middle attempting to intercept the throw. If the Money catches the ball, the person who threw it becomes the monkey. This is a great game to play in a pool!
9. Pickle/Recess Pickle: Start off with two bases about 20-30 feet apart. Each base will have a thrower, and everyone else will be a runner. The throwers will throw the ball back and forth to each other while the other players attempt to steal a base. This is done by reaching the base and standing on or behind it. The throwers have to tag the runners before they reach the base by touching them with the ball while holding it. The winner who is who reaches the bases most! Generally you switch out with a thrower after you have been tagged three times.
10. Stand off: In this simple two player game, two kids stand apart from each other with their feet firmly planted. They then attempt to push each other. The first person to move their feet loses!
11. Wall ball/Butts up: All you need is a ball and a wall! Throw the ball at the wall and catch it. Easy, right? If you miss the catch, you have to run to the wall and tag it before someone else can pick up the ball and throw it all the wall first. Miss three times, and you have to stand against the wall while someone throws the ball at you (lightly of course).
12. Four-square: This fun and simple game needs four children to play. Each child will stand in the corner of a “square” and face in. The ball will then be bounced around to each other in any order with one bounce. If someone misses the ball, they either get a point, or cycle out for another player waiting. Everyone then rotates to the next box.
13. Sharks and minnows: This game does require a pool. One child is the shark who attempts to tag all the other children who are minnows attempting to get from one side of the pool to the other. However, the shark has to have their eyes closed! If someone is tagged, they then become a shark. Each round, the remaining minnows attempt to go to the opposite side of the pool until there is only one minnow left.
14. Build an obstacle course: This is a great one for little kids, and you can use whatever you have at home. Take items kids can crawl through, up over or on, or knock over! Determine how they win such as the fastest time from point A to point B, and let them have fun! This can be done inside or outside. Here is a video with one mom creating a really cool indoor obstacle course for kids using what she had at home!
15. Sidewalk chalk art using painters tape: This can actually create some stunning work! All you need is some painters tape and sidewalk chalk. Tape out an abstract design on a sidewalk, wall, or fence and color in the sections! Peel away the tape, and check out the amazing artwork. You can be as simple or as creative as you want.
Image courtesy of Hip2Save
16. Group jump rope: This is as easy as it sounds! Get a big rope, and try to get as many children playing as possible. It’s a great way to build up team coordination.
17. Feather game: This simple game involves blowing on a feather and trying to keep it in the air as long as possible. This can be done with a balloon and your hands as well.
18. Ninja warrior course: If your kids are adventurous and really want to stay fit, a ninja warrior course is a fantastic option. This involves skills and strength, and it’s a great way for kids to build up both. They can do this as a team, or individually. You can make your own out of what you have laying around, but if you really want to go the extra step, you can buy a children’s ninja warrior course kit online!
19. Disc Slam: This fun activity requires good throwing skills and hand-eye-coordination! With this disc slam kit, you set up the buckets about 50 feet apart. One teammate is the thrower, and on the other side is your partner known as the deflector. You throw the disc to your partner who has to smack the disc into the can. Smacking it in is 3 points, bouncing it off (from the deflector) is 1, hitting the can with your throw is 2, and getting it through the slot on the front is an instant win!
20. Mini bounce house: If you have little kids, you know they like to jump around a lot. You can keep that jumping contained in a mini bounce house. Set it up inside or outside and let the kids have fun! You can find a mini bounce house online for a decent price.
21. Kickball: This is a great sport for kids of all ages. It has the basic rules or baseball, but you’re kicking a much larger ball instead. This is great for those who have a hard time with a bat, and a really good way to build up team spirit and fitness.
22. Water balloon fight: There really isn’t much of a more iconic summer activity compared to a water balloon fight. Zuru makes a device called a Bunch O Balloons that makes hundreds of water balloons in minutes! Perfect for those large parties. Fill them up, place them all in a bucket, and have fun!
23. Body balls: Kids do like to get physical sometimes, and there is a safe way to do it. Body balls are large inflatable balls that slide over the top of a person. Get a few, put them on the kids, and let them run wild safely.
Image Courtesy of ToyVelt
24. Splash pads: These can be found all over in parks and beyond. These are areas where water fountains/jets spray water up into the air. They are great for little kids to run around in. Click this link to find splash pads near you!
25. Paper airplanes: While this is not the most physically demanding activity, this can be a great team building and competitive option. There are tons of guides online about how to build the best and most impressive paper airplanes. Make it a competition to see who can make one that flies the best or farthest!
26. Car Wash Fundraiser: Lemonade stands are a thing of the past (maybe not but they could be)! Everyone has a car, and everyone needs it washed. Set up something in your driveway or local (approved) location, and have some signs set up. It’s a great way to raise money, be active, and spend time with friends if you do it in a group!
27. Neighborhood bike ride: Nothing beats a good bike ride with friends. Back in the day, that was how so many kids got to hang out. While it is a lost art of transportation, it is a great way to be active and spend time with friends and family.
28. Nature walk: Nature is all around us, yet we don’t always take the time to appreciate it. Seek by iNaturalist is a fantastic app designed for just this. Hold your phone up to a plant or bug and take a picture. It will determine what it is! You can also save the location so that way if anyone else using the app wants to see what you found, they can know where it is.
29. Frisbee golf: This fun sport is something you can set up at home, or find a place that offers it near you. Your goal is to throw the disc into a chain net down range, similar to hitting a golf ball into a hole. If you go to a park that offers this, I would suggest slightly older children for this.
30. Paddle boarding/canoeing/kayaking: If you have the time, location, and ability, these activities are not only a workout, but they are extremely fun! You can see some amazing sights in your own backyard, or make a trip to someone else's!
One way to mix it up and let kids pick is to do activity pong: Fill up some short but very round plastic cups with water about 2 inches below the top. Label each cup with a marker or tap a popsicle stick to each one with the activity listed at the top of the stick or on a piece of paper. Each kid gets a turn bouncing the ball into the cups as they are all piled close together. Whichever cup the ball lands in, that is the game you are supposed to play. Put a time limit on each game so you can get through a few different games.
Whatever you do, get out there and have fun while staying fit and healthy!