There's no doubt that outdoor activities are some of the best memories I have as a kid. If that's the same case for you, then you're probably constantly trying to find different kids' activities for your classroom, backyard, or an upcoming party.
This list of 40 outdoor activities for kids will help you find outdoor learning activities to enhance your students' and kiddos' experiences. So, use these examples for some outdoor playtime with your elementary-aged kids and enjoy!
1. Never too old for sidewalk chalk
Kids are never too old for some sidewalk chalk! It's important to always have some lying around in the classroom and at home. Get kids excited to play outside by supplying different drawing challenges or playground games that can be drawn with chalk.
Learn more: Teach with the Doolhouse Collector
2. Outdoor Multiplication
Outdoor education activities revolving around math can really be adapted to any grade. This activity specifically can be used for any of the math operations. In elementary, we use this primarily for multiplication and division fact families.
Use dice and some natural materials to create different equations.
Learn more: Pearls and Wisdom
3. Lunch with the teacher
Getting outside for a few minutes daily has been known to reduce stress. It's important to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunny days. Eating lunch with the teacher is always a treat, but bringing your kiddos outdoors is a whole new experience for everyone.
Learn more: United Christian Academy Thunder
4. Nature Activity for Kids
I love having fun in nature with my kiddos. At literally any age, they will love creating different art pieces with the nature they can find. Provide students with a theme and let them free outdoors and see what type of pictures they can come up with.
Learn more: Inspire My Play
5. Outdoor Learning | Habitats
Do you have a habitat unit? Throughout elementary school, students are always learning about different habitats and how animals evolve and live in these spaces. Turn your picture sorts and other classic activities into outdoor playtime! Have students create and talk about different habitats that animals would be able to survive in.
Learn more: For Kids Only Afterschool
6. Fairy Doors
Anything is possible with some acrylic paint, canvas, or even some old wood. My students absolutely LOVE painting fairy doors in creative ways, filled with beautiful colors. Tie these doors in with a fairy story and watch as students use their observation skills to create adequate fairy spaces.
Learn more: Willow Banks
7. Christmas in Leaves
If you live somewhere warm around the holidays, then creating different art structures out of leaves is a great way to celebrate! here is an example of adorable leaf Christmas trees, but you could also create wreaths, kissing balls, and more using natural materials from right in your backyard.
Learn more: Willow Banks
8. Remembrance Day Outdoor Simple Activity
You can create this perfect remembrance day craft with a couple of sticks and some red string. Although it may not be a super fun game, add it to your list of outdoor learning activities and watch as your students just love the idea of being outside in the warmth rather than being stuck inside the classroom.
Learn more: Alfresco Learning
9. Perfect Activity for Your Next Sound Unit
This is the perfect activity for spring. After being trapped inside for a long, drawn-out, cold winter, your students will love to get out and listen to all the different sounds that come with spring. Allow student groups (or a whole class) to create a sound map at the playground or basketball court.
Learn more: Alfresco Learning
10. Create a Wishing Tree
I love this idea for a school. It's one of those outdoor kids' activities that can be used for years to come. Creating a wishing tree is both simple and totally worth it. Have students make wishes, laminate them (to protect them from the weather), and tie them onto the trees!
Definitely check with your school first and may have a full-on assembly, donating one tree specifically to serve the purpose of the school's wishing tree.
Learn more: Abbotswood Pre-School and Day Nursery
11. Place Value Scavenger Hunt
This game can be created with a piece of paper, a permanent marker, and some scissors. It's so easy, and your students will absolutely love the outdoor game aspect. Whichever area of place value you're studying, use it as a guide to get students to match the numbers on their papers to the numbers throughout the scavenger hunt.
Learn more: Alfresco Learning
12. Rainbow Leaves
If you're just trying to find outdoor learning activities that will give your students a little brain break, this color recognition activity is perfect for beautiful autumn days. Have students collect all the different colored leaves they can and create their own rainbow out of natural materials.
Learn more: Play of the Wild
13. Rocks + String = Shape Learning
Have you taught your shape lessons outdoors yet?
Honestly, this is one of those outdoor learning activities you'll be using yearly. The best news is that even on rainy days, you can still complete this activity indoors (sadly). It's perfect for building hand-eye coordination as well as knowledge of creating different shapes.
Learn more: Alfresco Learning
14. Bucket Relay
If you're looking for some water play for the exceptionally hot days coming up this summer, then this might just be one of your best outdoor activities yet. It's challenging but also very engaging and promotes a pretty high level of teamwork.
Simply have a tub or bucket of water ready for your kiddos and have them work together to transfer the bucket to the other side. Whoever gets it there first wins!
Learn more: 26th Cospicua Girl Guides
15. Bucket Drumming
Looking for outdoor kids' activities for music class? No worries! This is a perfect activity for your drumming unit. Plan it for a time when the weather is nice, and you can easily get your kiddos outdoors. They'll love being out and about drumming away.
Learn more: Bandology
16. Painting with Water Guns
Skip the water fight this year and instead paint with that beautiful, colorful water stream. Students can fill their water guns with the colorful water that's already in the buckets! Hang a large piece of paper on the wall and let your kiddos go crazy. Or use chalk paint, and then it will wash off.
Learn more: Oxford Schools
17. Jump Rope Songs
18. Paper Plate Memory Game
Increase students' visual observation skills with a simple memory game! Using paper plates and some markers, you can easily manipulate this memory game to fit anything you're teaching. Be it math equations, vocabulary review, or shape matching; you can literally create anything!
Learn more: 123Homeschool4me
19. Balancing Ball Backyard Party
Get your kids to practice with some active movements. This game is challenging to work on all their motor and concentration skills. But it's the best kind of challenge. Your students will love the friendly competition with other classmates.
Learn more: Learn As You Play
20. Hula Hoop Pass
Looking for a team-building outdoor game? This is it!
Can your entire class pass the hula hoop? There are so many variations to how this game can be played; here are some examples:
- Time it and see if you can get faster with practice
- Split the class into two and see who can get it across the fastest
- Challenge another class
Learn more: A Girl and a Glue Gun
21. Capture the Cones
Capture the cones. Yes, this is a phys ed game, but it is an active game that can be played anywhere. It's perfect for students who just need a little break but may need to practice their sportsmanship skills.
Learn more: Wes Snowalker
22. The Rabbit Hole Game
Add this to your outdoor game list for sure. If your students are constantly struggling to find games for recess, then set up the rabbit hole game somewhere in the playground. Students will love playing. It's also a great game for some backyard family fun.
Learn more: The Inspired Tree House
23. Hungry, Hungry, Hippos
Real-life Hungry Hungry Hippos is ALWAYS a favorite. Save your Easter eggs, use balls from an old ball pit, or buy some new ones! This game can be as creative or as basic as you want. Either way, students are going to have a blast playing! If you don't have scooters, then skateboards will work as well.
Learn more: Pinterest
24. Backyard Measuring
Practicing measurements? Take it outside!
This measure backyard scavenger hunt checklist is perfect for any unit on measurements. No matter the metrics being used, your students will love finding different objects throughout the backyard and measuring and recording.
Learn more: Creative Family Fun
25. Trail Marking Scavenger Hunt
Take your kiddos out on a little trail hike. Teach them about marking trails so that you can find your way back. There are so many different ways and objects that can be used to mark trails:
- And many more!
Learn more: There's Just One Mommy
26. Compass Directions Game
To be honest, I didn't learn how to follow one until I was learning how to play this game. Although we may not use them in our daily lives, it's still an important tool to be able to use when necessary. Spend your next few hours of outdoor playtime working on building your child's compass skills.
Learn more: Educate Outside
27. Create a Bird Book
Add your student's own personal bird book to your out education activities. Bird watching is so beneficial to kids, teaching empathy and building a love for even the smallest living things. It's a beautiful way to give your kiddos something to do out in nature and enjoy.
Learn more: Buggy and Buddy
28. Whole Class Treasure Hunt
Add this treasure hunt to your outdoor game list, and you won't be disappointed. Creating the entire treasure map may take some time, but your kiddos will LOVE it. Use it in the classroom year after year to really work those compass skills out.
Learn more: Teaching Ideas
Geocaching is the perfect game to play with your kids on the weekend. Simply download the Geocaching app or learn more and read the maps online. Either way, it's perfect to get your kiddos out in nature and exploring. Create a Geocaching log to boost observational and note-taking skills.
Learn more: Homegrown Hearts Academy
30. DIY Compass
Make your own compass! Yes, we've talked a lot about compasses, mainly because it's a skill that's still thriving and essential in the world. The idea behind how a compass works are also very enticing and your kiddos will be totally engaged by the magic that happens deep within the earth. pass works are also very enticing and your kiddos will be totally engaged by the magic that happens deep within the earth.
Learn more: Sci Show Kids
31. Pizza Box Oven
The Pizza Box Oven is a STEAM activity that has been around for years. Your students or kiddos at home will absolutely love this activity. The entire idea behind it is so awesome and just totally outside the box. Have your kiddos try to create their very own oven and see how it works!
Learn more: Science Buddies
32. Nature Painting
With acrylic paint and a collection of beautiful materials, you'll have some of the most beautiful paintings. Have your kids create any painting they desire, with the catch that they can only use materials found outside to create them (besides the paint).
Make it even more challenging, and learn how to create more using natural paint!
Learn more: Moose Mischief
33. Water Balloon Painting
Okay, this is definitely a favorite with kids of any age! Although simple, it will create hours of fun for your little ones. Be cautious, as putting the thumbtacks into the cardboard can be dangerous for little hands. Make sure that this is done with adult supervision.
Learn more: Mr. Otter Art Studio
34. Water Balloon Dodge Ball
Filling balloons with water unleashes a whole new level for field events. This water balloon dodgeball game is great for upper elementary and middle school field days or birthday parties. It's so much fun and also very challenging. Perfect for those hot summer days.
Learn more: Channel Super Fun
35. Four Square
Four square is a classic. Yet, some schools don't have it set up! It's one of those games that can get really competitive fairly quickly. Meaning it's very important to establish the basic rules with everyone before playing the game. Maybe even assigning one student to be the "referee" per game.
Learn more: Active Cambridge
36. Swamp Monster
Swamp monster is a really fun game that can be set up anywhere. Kids of all ages can play this game and will most likely enjoy playing it. Once kids learn it, it can be an easy game that students can take on their own and play whenever they have free outdoor time.
Learn more: Splash Games
37. Paper Rockets
Create some paper rockets! This is a great free time activity. Your students will be super excited to create these rockets and even more excited to get outside and launch them! This is a great way to work some STEM activities into your additional class time.
Learn more: Sience Buddies
38. Nature Journal
Have your kiddos get outside with their nature journal. This is a great material for students to keep with them outside and at home. They can find different things in nature to keep in their journals whenever they're outside.
Learn more: Kendra Renee At Home
39. Plant Confetti Cannon
I love this idea! It's an excellent idea for the 4th of July or even for a birthday party. Have your students or kiddos create this plant cannon overall quickly and easily! They'll love letting them off and want to continue to create more and more.
Learn more: Kendra Renee At Home
40. Water Balloon Toss
Of course, you can't have a list of outdoor activities without a water balloon toss! This game is so much fun, less expensive, and less messy than its egg toss counterpart. Kids of any age will love this game's challenge, focus, and competition.
Learn more: Denver Torr Productions
41. Go on a nature walk
The simplest activity for young children can involve a simple walk through nature. Whether it's through your backyard or on a nature path at the local park, the outdoors have much to offer in the way of visual stimulus, physical health, and learning about local ecosystems!
Learn More: Raising Children
42. Collect and catalog findings from a nature walk
Maybe you've been on a nature walk (or two) and you want to try something more intentional with your outings. Children always love to bring little souvenirs home with them, so why not let them? Flowers, leaves, and rocks can all provide small insights into the larger picture of your local ecosystem (Just be careful you research any potentially hazardous materials first!).
43. Investigate with a nature scavenger hunt
A little different from the last suggestion, this has you prep for the nature walk first. Identify what wildlife you want to look for, making note of preferred locations and ideal conditions. Newts and salamanders prefer dark cool places, right? Help children by investigating under rocks or park equipment! Don't be afraid to get down and dirty!
Learn More: NAEYC
44. Fun with chalk
This requires some sort of pavement or flat surface for children to draw on. Give them the creative freedom to show you their imaginations! Additionally, let them record their findings from their nature walk. What did their favorite flower look like? Was there a type of bird they saw most often?
45. Outdoor Art Gallery
Set up a gallery walk outside to display the artwork of your children! Invite important people to your child: friends, teachers, and family members, to enjoy a small event that makes use of natural lighting for your little ones. This gives them an opportunity to feel pride in their work while also learning ways to communicate their praise to others. Providing compliments and distinguishing constructive feedback for other children is a nuanced social skill that can help them as they grow.
Learn More: Porto Biomedical Journal
46. Outside journaling
Practice all those fine motor skills, penmanship, alphabet acquisition, and more when you have your little ones take their writing practice outside! Give them small daily prompts, either invoking their imagination or describing their surroundings using their five senses. Since you're outside, this gives you an excuse to ditch digital screens because the paper is more visible in direct sunlight.
47. Sidewalk Games
Why not throw spatial awareness and coordination into the mix with that previous chalk? Draw up squares for hopscotch. Create your own version of "the floor is lava" by drawing different-sized circles at different distances for kids to jump across areas.
48. Create your own nature palette
"Going green" and protecting the environment can start at a young age and prove to be fun! Instead of buying paint at the store, explore the outdoors with your little ones and identify their favorite colors. Turn clay into red paint and dandelions into yellow paint.
Learn More: NAEYC
49. Fun with sprinklers
Water play is another sensory stimulus that can prove fun and engaging for children. This can be especially true for neurodivergent children.
Learn More: Learn Behavioral
50. Adopt a plant
Teach them about the parts of a plant, stems, roots, and petals. Have them grow and cultivate a plant of their own from their own germinated seeds.
51. DIY bubble wands
A little soap and water can go a long way. Try to find items in nature: long blades of grass that can make a loop. Or maybe old materials lying around your house such as unused kitchen utensils.
52. Games with pool noodles
Try an old classic but switch it for unwieldy pool noodles! The padded material is safer to handle than a hockey stick or a baseball bat and can help little ones grip with their small fingers.
53. Water funnels
Learn about the flow of gravity with some DIY water fountains. Use food coloring to teach sorting and manipulation for kids as they hone fine motor skills to pour colored water into designated containers.
54. Mud cafe
Another new spin on a classic favorite! Don't be afraid to get down and dirty as young ones play with mud as a sensory stimulant. Teach them basic business and transactions but setting up shop: the precursor to their lemonade stands!
55. Nature art
There are more ways to create art than just painting with our homemade paint and drawing with chalk. Collect scraps such as leaves, flowers, and even feathers to paste on paper for children to create a three-dimensional masterpiece!
56. Pet rock
Pet rocks don't have to be a thing of the past. Search for the perfect stone, glue some googly eyes, and your child is on their way to developing their imagination without the inconvenience, responsibility (or potential allergy risk) of a live pet. Parents can later use these pet rocks for garden ornaments as enduring reminders from these fun days.
57. Leaf rubbings
Here is another textured art activity that can double as a science lesson to identify leaves and the trees they came from! Compare leaf shapes and sizes with others you find around the neighborhood. Create an entire collage from all the leaves you collect.
58. Feed the birds
Build a bird feeder to support your local wildlife! Use your previous nature walk to identify the birds common to your area so you can provide specific resources for those species.
59. Reuse and recycle
Don't throw away boxes or old milk cartons and drink bottles. Repurpose them for birdhouses or bug hotels. Familiarize your children or students with local businesses in the community to determine how they reduce waste. Field trips to your local recycling center can prove informative on what materials can and can't be recycled while giving back to your hometown.
Learn More: The Seeds Network
60. Meditation and mindfulness
Sometimes we don't need a grand motive for going outside. Even children need a quiet moment to reflect on their day or what they've learned. Perhaps they need some time to recharge, and a moment of meditation can prove instructive for self-regulating explosive emotions.
61. Clover necklaces
While we're meditating, barefoot on the grass, perhaps you will want to get your hands busy with a seemingly mindless task that also improves fine motor skills. Tie stems of clover flowers together to create necklaces and crowns which can be gifted to friends and serve as beautiful reminders of a lovely day.
Some days, the best lesson for a child is how to help others. Visit local charities and nonprofits to determine if they need help cleaning their parking lots. Maybe your local library needs help organizing boxes from a recent food drive. Ask around local businesses to see if they need flyers posted or passed around. These are great opportunities not only for physical exercise and socialization but for practicing good citizenship and selflessness.
Make the leap!
Finding an appropriate and fun outdoor activity doesn't have to be a daunting task. The world outside your home or school offers many chances to learn about nature, science, and art while practicing socialization and promoting physical wellness. Put a spin on an old classic or combine a few of these suggestions for new and fresh ideas!