Top 10 Backyard Activities for Summer Fun

What can we do outside without a playground? Here are some low cost, low-prep options for outdoor play without playground equipment.

Fun backyard activities for summertime

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1. Scavenger hunt

Give each child or team a list of objects to find. Your list might include: green leaf, brown twig, flat rock, pine cone, clothespin, sandal, toy shovel. Pictures of the items may be included for young children.


Outdoor summer activities

2. Sand play/water play

Fill a small wading pool or large container with play sand purchased at a local hardware store. Add toy cars, funnels, plastic rakes, shovels, measuring spoons. Cover the container when not in use.

Fill another plastic tub with water for water play.

You can also make a mud play area with a simple setup like this mud pie kitchen from Tinkerlab.

3. Bubbles

Use store-bought or homemade solutions with a variety of wands.

This DIY bubble station from Crafty Mama in ME will ensure a steady supply of homemade bubble solution!

4. Picnic-in-the-shade

Pack a picnic basket with crackers and cheese, finger sandwiches, thermos or drink boxes, along with a checkered tablecloth.

5. Reading-in-the-shade

Spread a blanket under a tree or lounge in the hammock with picture books about nature. Here are some we like:

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
In My Backyard by John DeVries
Bunny's Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown
The Water Hole by Graeme Base


Outdoor summer activities

6. Nature Walk

Go exploring with binoculars and magnifiers.

7. Parade

Dress up in costumes; carry banners or wave flags made by the children; ride on tricycles or pull wagons.

8. Obstacle course

Identify natural props for going under, over and around: under the tree branch, around the lilac bush, over the big rock!

You can also build a backyard obstacle course with man-made props like these bloggers did.


9. Relay races

Establish a start line and a finish line, allowing lots of room between them for the races. Include gross motor options such as wheelbarrow races, walking backwards, hopping on one foot.

Outdoor summer activities

10. Toys

Provide skipping ropes, hoops, and sports balls, along with a ring toss game.

Place large toy dump trucks and other vehicles in an area with pea gravel or loose earth for digging.


Bonus Game!

Pine cone trail outdoor activity for toddlers and preschoolers from









This follow-the-pine cone trail is a fun game for toddlers and older kids too!


These are a few of our favorite backyard activities.

What can you add to the list?

Be sure to pack sunscreen, bug spray and other essentials when heading outdoors. Keep hydrated (drink water), wear a hat and protective clothing, and seek out shade, or stay indoors, during the hottest part of the day.


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