14 Activities To Encourage Kids To Play Outside

by Jenn

Playtime is important for children; it’s sad to think children are spending less time outside and more time playing video games.  Thankfully my kids don’t care for video games too much!  I mean now and then they like to sit down and play, but it’s not something they do daily, but going outside is.  However, the older Vayda gets, the less she wants to go outside because our backyard is only so much fun.  She thinks she has discovered everything there is to discover, and she wants more!  So we have had to get creative and encourage outside play.  

Activities To Encourage Kids To Play Outside

14 Activities To Encourage Kids To Play Outside

Here are a few activities to encourage kids to play outside more:

water fight

1.) Water fights
– Water fights are always fun!  We like to get water fun, develop teams, and hide from one another.  I don’t know that we ever have a winner; everyone tends to come out SUPER soaked.  Regardless it’s fun, and a great way to get some energy out in the evenings.

fun at the park

2.) Park – The park is always a great way for the kids to enjoy time outside playing.  I love watching my two girls use their imagination and seeing them interact with other children.  Children tend to make friends so easy. 

Boy playing in autumn park with a golden retriever.

3.) Pets – If there is a way to get kids outside it’s animals!  It doesn’t even matter what time of year, lol.  We have dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, etc. and the kids are always outside doing something with the animals.  Whether it’s walking the dog or dressing up the kitty having pets that need love and attention is a great way to get the kids outside.

4.) Playdates – Playdates are a great way to add some excitement to outside play.  We all enjoy hanging out with friends for some fun in the sun. 

5.) Backyard camping – We have an 8-foot privacy fence and several large dogs, which helps me feel better about the kids wanting to camp out in the yard without mom.  The girls have waited a long time and this year Vayda was finally old enough for me to allow them to have a backyard campout with a friend and mom not be outside with them, lol.  Thankfully I didn’t have to stay up all night checking on the because they ended up back inside by 11 pm, but they had a blast until they got scared. 

outdoor happy faces between the leaves of the trees

6.) Learning about wildlife – Whether it’s hiking in the wilderness or grabbing some binoculars and watching the birds in the tree outside learning about nature can be an awesome way to encourage children to spend time outside. 

7.) Photography – My kids share my love for photography, so I bought them each an inexpensive camera, and I sent them out on photo adventures.  I’ll tell them I need great shots of flowers, puddles, etc. and they will set up props, find flowers, and enjoy the simple pleasures photography brings.

8.) Take advantage of the seasons – Kids love to collect things – rocks, flowers, pine cones, etc.  Why not spend a day collecting things you can use later for crafts or decorations for your home. 

9.) Playing in the no-so play-friendly weather – Let the kids go play in the rain!  WAIT, why not go with them and enjoy dancing in the rain, jumping in puddles and seeing your children enjoy mother nature at her finest.  Of course, you don’t want to send them out in a thunderstorm, but a beautiful summer rain is fun and who can resist playing in the snow? 

get dirty

10.) Let kids get dirty
– One of my favorite things to do, when I was younger, was get dirty, and I’ve caught myself telling the kids to stay out of the mud.  I had to stop and remember how much fun it was to play in the mud, dig holes, bake mud pies, etc.  Needless to say, I now have my kids line up and spray them off with the hose before they come in lol.  They love it!

11.) Nighttime walks – Since it’s so hot during the summer months in southern New Mexico, we have learned to take advantage of the evening and nights as much as possible.  The kids and I love going on walks after the sun has gone down, it’s peaceful, and the moon shines bright. 


12.) Outdoor spots – Get the kids involved in outdoor sports they enjoy.

Small group of children eating apples together, shalow DOF

13.) Have breakfast/lunch/dinner outdoors as a family – Why not head outside for a meal together as a family.  I’ve found eating outside together as a family a great way to encourage the family to spend time outside.  Plus, it normally just the way things start.  Before I know it, we are doing something in the garden or playing a game with the kids.  Sometimes it’s just finding a way to get everyone outside together that starts the fun. 

riding bikes

14.) Riding bikes – Of course we can’t forget about riding bikes!  Not only is it an AWESOME way to spend time outside, but did you know that nowadays kids are more likely to spend time playing video games than riding their bikes?  Yes, as a matter of fact children are SIX times more likely to play a video game than go outside and ride their bike.   And, 70 percent of moms played outside when they were kids, but ONLY 31 percent of their children play outdoors today?

Did you know kids today are playing less than any previous generation?  I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to play in the sprinklers, ride their bikes, hide-n-seek and anything else they think is fun.  Well, according to Stanford University School of Medicine kids are spending less time outside because there are too few places to pay, and they are not given enough time to play.  Which I can relate to where we live there isn’t a whole lot for children to do, it’s also a lot of the reasons my husband and I have decided to move away from southern New Mexico.  We want our kids to have the best possible childhood we can give them, and we feel there are better places out there for our children.  

To help raise awareness CLIF Kids has teamed up with a national non-profit KaBOOM! They want to help encourage families like you, and I go get out and play every single day, especially since playing is essential for social and cognitive development for kids. 

How can you help?

This is the awesome part!  For every post on social media with the hashtag #outtoplay, $1 will be donated to KaBOOM

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Anita Duvall October 17, 2015 - 7:46 pm

Wasn’t it wonderful when we were kids! We begged to go outside and play in all kinds of weather. You hardly ever had an obese child. We played hard and did not have to worry about ‘extra’ exercise. We got it just by playing.

Linda Manns Linneman October 11, 2015 - 6:59 am

Playtime outdoors is very good for children. I often have a hard time getting my grandchildren to do this. Thank you so much for sharing these tips

lisa September 6, 2015 - 11:28 am

When I was a kid, that’s just what we did. There wasn’t all of the electronic gadgets around. Kids should get outdoors and be active.

Katica Anusic August 29, 2015 - 6:58 pm

Great ideas!

Lauryn R August 24, 2015 - 1:25 pm

These are all great ideas!! We do a lot of these activities in our backyard as well. One of our favorites is water fights, everyone enjoys this one a lot! We also love taking the kids to the park, to get out of the house for a little bit.

diana ware page August 24, 2015 - 1:57 am

Always having cold ready to eat outside snacks will have your kids wanting to go outside to play

Jenn August 24, 2015 - 7:21 am

I couldn’t agree more… GREAT idea! Thanks so much for sharing!


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