10 Things To Do Outside With Kids This Summer


1. Use Water + Sponges to Teach Science and Math Skills

Fill one bucket half full of water, and leave a second bucket empty. Show children how submerging a sponge into the first bucket soaks up water. Transfer the water by wringing out the sponge into the empty bucket. Show the children how to make a tally mark on a piece of paper to count each time the sponge is squeezed out into the empty bucket. Have kids take turns using the sponge to move the water into the empty bucket. Talk to the children about estimating how many times the sponge will need to be squeezed to move the water from one bucket to the other. Count the tally marks together.

Idea from: Incredible Edible Science

2. Go on a Tree Safari

Discuss how trees provide shade, homes for animals, oxygen for people and plants to breathe, and wood to make things. Head outdoors with children and

  • Look for a tree that has buds on it
  • Find a tree with a nest in it
  • Watch a tree in the wind
  • Find a tree in the shade
  • Find a young tree, find and old tree
  • Watch a tree in the rain
  • Look for oak/apple/cherry/pine/walnut/cedar/spruce/orange/pecan trees

Idea from: Nature Sparks

3. Role Play as Bloomin’ Flowers

Explain to the children that they get to pretend to be their favorite summer flower. Ask them to show you their beauty. Begin by saying, “Tell me about yourself!” Children should use “I” statements when telling you about being their favorite blooms. Use open-ended questions to stimulate the children’s development of higher-level thinking: “How did you get here?” always creates a fine opening and generates some imaginative dialogue. Other helpful questions include:

  • What do you look like?
  • What is your favorite part about being here?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What is your purpose?
  • Tell me more about yourself.

Idea from: Celebrate Nature!

4. Take a Bird and Animal Walk

Most children are curious about small animals and birds, their comings and goings. Taking children on a walk to observe these living creatures will be an exciting adventure and can help children learn more them. During the walk:

  • Have children listen for animals and birds
  • Bring homemade binoculars, paper bags for collecting things, a tape recorder to record animal and bird sounds, clipboards and paper for the children to jot down “field notes” or draw pictures of things they observe
  • Take photographs of any animals that you see

Idea from: Hey Kids! Out the Door, Let’s Explore

5. Take a Tricycle Ride with Bubble Wrap

One of the great aspects of outside time is that children are free to make noise. A simple addition to the playground that allows children to make noise is a strip of bubble wrap taped to the tricycle path — children love the popping sound they can create by riding over it. At first there are many loud pops, but gradually the sound decreases as the pops become more intermittent. It is interesting for children to observe the bubble wrap before and after it has been popped. Popping bubble wrap allows children to experience the quick release of air that is trapped within the plastic bubbles. They discover that the force of the tricycle is enough to split open the plastic and release the air.

In another part of the playground, children can also brush tempura paint over bubble wrap and lay the painted side on top of paper or the pavement. The bubble wrap produces endless rows of circles organized in parallel lines. After the paint dries, children can use markers to connect some of the circles and create shapes.

Idea from: Teaching STEM in the Early Years

6. Make Rain Gauges

Use small clear-plastic containers, permanent markers, and rulers to create your own rain gauges. Help children measure and mark the gauge in half-inch increments, or simply mark off a day’s collected rain. Ask the children what changes they can observe over time, and talk about the importance of rain.

Idea from: Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth

7. Play Pass the Pretzel

With children sitting in a circle in the grass, have them pass a large pretzel or other circular object (a bagel or bracelet, for example) from one child to the next using only chopsticks or small dowels. It might sound easy, but it can be quite challenging to balance the pretzel on the stick and slide it off to the other child’s stick without using hands. Children will gain problem-solving skills as they work on their fine-motor skills. Try blindfolding children to add sensory complexity.

Idea from: Brain-Based Early Learning Activities

8. Roll Balls and Sing Songs

This is a great activity for toddlers and twos. Gather soft or rubber balls of varying sizes. Sit in the grass and roll the ball to the child. Verbally describe what you are doing, and have the children roll the ball back to you. Use different size balls to change the game.

Sing “There’s a Ball on the Ground” to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”:

There’s a ball on the ground, on the ground.

There’s a ball on the ground, on the ground.

Let’s watch it roll our way

As it spins and twirls this way.

There’s a ball on the ground, on the ground.

Next verse:

Let’s pass it back and forth

As we share it all around

Idea from: Activities for Responsive Caregiving

9. Snack on “Squirrel Mix”

Combine 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds, ½ cup sliced almonds (check for nut allergies children might have!), ½ cup dried cranberries, ½ golden raisins, and ½ cup oat Os cereal. It’s a fun snack for children to munch on outdoors! To make it portable, use plain ice cream cones as a cup for the mix.

Idea from: Cooking Is Cool

10. Cool Off with Frozen Treasures

Freeze small items (such as plastic animals) into ice cubes. You could also add a few drops of food coloring before freezing, or use trays in different shapes. Freeze a craft stick onto the top of each cube. Let the children slide the cubes back and forth on the ground or in a shallow tub to melt the ice and discover the items that are frozen in the center.

Idea from: 200 Essential Preschool Activities


Photo from Activities for Responsive Caregiving

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2 Responses to 10 Things To Do Outside With Kids This Summer

  1. Kara Lee says:

    Great article, these things are all so important for cognitive development in children. Being outside, particularly being physical outside is linked to cognitive milestones.

  2. ask says:

    Hi to all, the contents existing at this website are actually awesome for people knowledge,
    well, keep up the good work fellows.

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