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5 Super Simple Educational Outdoor Activities to Entertain the Kids This Summer

posted: 07/06/17
by: Blythe Copeland

During the last weeks of school, a schedule-free summer filled with lazy days at the pool and endless hours of free play sounds enticing -- but by early July, you may need a few simple activities at the ready to keep the kids from getting bored. These slightly educational and extremely simple options let you put a project together in a matter of minutes, using free printables, paper and pens, a few kitchen staples, or sidewalk chalk.

color scavenger hunt
I Heart Crafty Things

1. Scavenger Hunts

Help the kids fine-tune their powers of observation by sending them on a simple scavenger hunt. Free printables will have little ones searching for items in nature (a clover, a flower, a ladybug), or older kids looking for more complicated finds (four different types of birds, three different leaves); other versions list vehicles, fences, and city-specific items. Another idea: Make your own quick scavenger hunt by drawing different colored squares or shapes on a paper and having the kids find items that match.

ice cream in a bag
Simple Play Ideas

2. Ice Cream in a Bag

Making ice cream in a bag with this recipe from Carolyn at The Pleasantest Thing is an easy way to teach kids measuring and math skills -- while they're working off some energy. Seal heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar in two zippered plastic sandwich bags, and then put those bags in a larger bag filled with ice and kosher salt. Have the kids toss, shake, run, and jump with the bag to shake the liquid for 5-10 minutes until it turns into their afternoon snack.

sponge darts
The Seasoned Mom

3. Sponge Darts

A simple game of sponge darts from The Seasoned Mom combines water play -- perfect for hot days -- with sidewalk chalk art, and gets the kids up and moving while practicing their hand-eye coordination. Just use the chalk to draw concentric circles and a bullseye on your driveway, sidewalk, or walkway, and then have the kids toss wet sponges at it while trying to hit the center circle. Adjust the game for older kids by having them stand farther away, or drawing a smaller target.

garden rock caterpillar
Nellie Bellie
4. Garden Rock Caterpillar

Making a garden caterpillar from painted rocks (like this one from Nellie Bellie) is a multi-part activity that offers lots of learning activities. Spend one afternoon with your children looking for just the right rocks -- ones that are smooth and flat, similar in size to each other, interesting looking, and stackable. Then spend another block of time painting the rocks before building the caterpillar; this is a fun indoor project for a rainy day, or another easy outdoor task if you're working with messy painters.

Shadow Drawing
Rookie Parenting

5. Shadow Drawing

This shadow drawing activity from Rookie Parenting is a physics-for-beginners project that you can do with paper, pencils, toys, and the sun. Set up a few small toys so that they cast a shadow onto a paper and have your kids trace it; then talk about how shadows are created when an object blocks the sun. Do the activity at different times throughout the day to see how shadows change as the sun rises and sets -- or have kids trace the shadows without anyone else seeing the objects they're using, and then have the rest of the family try to guess the item the tracer used.