Are you looking for something new, fun, and exciting to get your kids outside? These low prep backyard activities for kids are exactly what you need. They’re proven to keep your kids busy (and outside) for hours!
Most of these backyard activities require only a little prep time and a lot of imagination. They’re the perfect way to get kids off their screens and outside soaking up some vitamin D.
Low Prep Backyard Activities to Get Kids Outside
Every mom’s favorite words on a gorgeous day, “Go play outside!” There are so many different games to play and things to do outside. If your kids are in a rut, check out some of these fun ideas to get their creative juices flowing. You may need to help with a little bit of set up, then let their imaginations take over!
Let’s take a look at some awesome, low prep backyard activities for kids!
1. Go on a treasure hunt
Create a map or write out clues and instructions to lead your kids to the hidden treasure. The treasure can be anything, but I recommend a new book, a small trinket, or even something they haven’t played with in a while!
2. Create a time capsule (and bury it)
Memorialize this moment in time and create a time capsule. Get an old shoe box and help your kids pick out a few things to put in it. Pictures of them at their current age, little trinkets that represent them now and an about me printable. Then tape it up, set a date to open and bury it in your yard!
3. Play follow the leader
I did this recently with my son and nephew, and it lasted for quite a while. After I got tired of marching around the yard, I started doing dance moves that they tried to mimic. I was impressed with how long it kept their attention!
4. Color with sidewalk chalk
The ultimate low prep backyard activity: sidewalk chalk. Draw hopscotch, make a fun game to follow, trace each other’s bodies, create a beautiful picture, whatever you want! Also, take a look at these sidewalk chalk obstacle courses they can create!
5. Plant a small garden
It doesn’t have to be a garden, even just a potted plant or something small. Let them get their hands dirty and plant some seeds. Over time they can care for their plants, water them and watch them grow!
6. Play tag (any kind – regular, freeze, sharks & minnows, etc)
Here are some fun ways to transform the game of tag to spice things up!
7. Play with a water table
Build your own water table using a large plastic tub and some bath toys, or check out some awesome options to add to your backyard!
This first option is the newer version of ours above! The second is too cool not to share, and the third is the one we have at my parents’ house. Can you tell we love water tables?
8. Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great way to get kids active and playing outside! They’re extra low prep outdoor activities because the kids have to find everything!
Here are 4 different types of scavenger hunts for all ages. Toddlers can do it “all by myself” with an image scavenger hunt. Meanwhile, older kids can do an ABC photo scavenger hunt finding something that starts with every letter of the alphabet and taking photos!
9. Have a picnic
Bust out your picnic blankets, baskets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a backyard picnic. There’s something fun about gathering everything to eat outside!
10. Build your own bowling
Start saving some tin cans or plastic water bottles to create your own bowling pins! Decorate them and grab a ball for some backyard activity fun. There are several different ways to create your own bowling pins. I found this upcycled water bottle option that I love as well as this one with tin cans!
While this backyard activity requires a little more prep work, once the bowling pins are created, it’s easy to bust out again and again.
11. Go backyard camping
Set up a tent or create one like an indoor fort! Bust out the sleeping bags, cook some popcorn, and set up your backyard like a mini campsite. If you have a fire pit, make some s’mores or cook a fun campfire dinner. I found this awesome article on campfire meals for families that I’m dying to try with my kids!
12. Run through sprinklers (with your clothes on!)
Sprinklers are always a good decision! Want the kids to enjoy it even more? Let them run with their clothes on!
You can use your regular everyday lawn sprinklers, or check out some of these super fun options below:
13. Paint some rocks!
I found this idea when looking for fun Easter activities to do as a family. Find some flat stones, ours were from a fountain in our backyard, grab some paint and brushes and start decorating! You can even write kind words on them and leave them at a neighborhood park for others to find. It’s always nice to brighten someone’s day.
Grab a rock painting kit to help you get started! (It also makes for an awesome gift!)
14. Play hide and seek
A classic, but always fun. We play as a family and our kids love it. Our 5 year old is all about hiding and our 2 year old likes to follow around and see if he can find anyone. It’s really sweet and can actually be super funny and entertaining for all.
15. Make mud pies
Most kids love to get dirty, so why not let them make mud pies? This would be perfect after a rainy day when the ground is wet, or you can just add water to dirt! If you want to go beyond mud pies, let them make mud birthday cakes and decorate with rocks, leaves, and sticks. You can also encourage them to play bakery or restaurant taking their creativity one step further.
16. Create spray art
Spray art is a fun way to create something outside! Use stencils, nature or even masking tape to create unique spray art. You can learn all about how to make the paint and different ideas for your spray art!
17. Do an outdoor workout
This is a big one for me as a fitness instructor. Workout WITH them. It doesn’t have to be every day, but plan out your workout at home and get them to do it with you. There are lots of kid friendly workouts you can find. I would also suggest kid yoga, but that does technically involve them watching a screen.
18. Play the spell your name fitness game
This spell your name workout game for kids is a great way to work on letters or spelling words while getting them moving! Check out this game as well as several others that will keep your kids active and off screens for hours.
19. Create an obstacle course
Have your kids gather different items to create an obstacle course with! Here are a few different items you can recommend:
- Hula hoops
- Sidewalk chalk (to draw some challenges)
- Buckets and cups
- The swing set (utilize the swings, rings, slide, ladder, monkey bars)
- Plastic baseball bat or golf club
- Agility ladder
20. Play tug of war
A little competition never hurt anyone! Grab a rope and tie some knots. Don’t have a rope? How about using an old bed sheet!
21. Build a bean bag toss with bowls
Grab your assorted mixing bowls and let’s do a bean bag toss. You can easily make some bean bags with dried beans, a little bit of fabric and some hot glue (if you don’t sew).
22. Have a hula hoop or jump rope competition
Create different events using a hula hoop or jump rope. Who can do it the longest, the fastest, or create the best tricks! This hula hoop is adjustable based on size if you’re looking for a good one for your kids. Mine love it!
23. Create chalk paint and paint your fence or porch
Chalk paint is super easy to make! I use this 3 ingredient recipe. The best part is that it’s fun and it easily washes off, so let the kids paint the fence. They’ll get a kick at being allowed to paint it, and you’ll have a fun fence to look at until it rains!
24. Animal races
Quite possibly one of the funniest games to watch! Have your kids take turns choosing an animal and race across the yard the same way that animal would.
Funny story: My husband plays this game with the kids sometimes! Snake, snail, and kangaroo are quite possibly some of my favorites!
25. Set out a plastic or inflatable pool
Let the kids get creative and see what they do with it. If it isn’t warm enough for water, they can turn it into a ball pit, a pretend house or anything. Let them get creative on their own. If it is warm enough out for water fun, they can create an aquarium or turn it into a carnival game. Really the opportunities are endless!
What backyard activities do your kids love?
My kids are big fans of anything active, wet, and messy! The biggest thing for me is finding low prep activities that get my kids outside. This momma doesn’t have time to spend on extra set up or clean up. The easier, the better in my book!
I hope you and your family find these low prep backyard activities fun and entertaining! Be sure to drop your favorite in the comments and let me know if there is anything else I could add to my list!
Amy ~ This list is fantastic! A BIG thanks for including my upcycled bowling DIY in your list of fun backyard activities. Love all of these ideas and have pinned this post for summer. Cheers ~ Trish
You are so welcome! It was such a neat idea that I had to share. I can’t wait to create it with my kids!
Wow these are all such awesome ideas! It’s hard to pick out a favourite but my kid would enjoy anything involving water!
My kids are total water babies too!
Love all of these ideas! I do few of them even with my teens. Enjoy gardening, chalk work and pairing rocks or just exploring outdoors
These are fantastic ideas! I like that you suggested a book as a prize for the treasure hunt. Growing up books were certainly a treasure but, my kids probably don’t feel the same way. lol. Still, great suggestion. That and the spray art. My kids are definitely more into the messy, colorful, creative vibe.
My kids love the messy stuff too! The spray art was a big hit! So was the scavenger hunt and the book at the end was more exciting for them than I thought. It was great because it led to them wanting me to read it. A win in my eyes!
Such great ideas! I don’t think we’ve created an obstacle course before, now, that would be fun!
It’s definitely a fun way to keep the kids busy and active outside!
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