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If you are looking for ways to make sure your kids have a brilliant school summer break without it costing you a small fortune every day, use this list of 50 free outdoor activities for kids to get them playing and having fun for free.

There is a lot of pressure to spend money in order to make your kids’ summer break a totally amazing experience. But the reality is that most of us can’t and don’t want to spend big bucks every day.

The other big challenge is finding a way to compete with the lure of tech, the instant gratification of watching YouTube or, for older kids, scrolling endlessly through social media like TikTok.

To help take the pressure off, just think back to your own childhood to remember how sometimes it is the simple things that can give you the most pleasure.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are simply playing in the garden with my brother and our family dog, making ‘perfume’ from rose petals, seeing how many different ways I could hula hoop and making ‘radio shows’ with my best friend.

So, whilst it is lovely to be able to create memories doing big-ticket activities like going on holiday or visiting an amusement park, there are plenty of things you can encourage your kids to do outside in the sunshine that are equally fun to do in the moment, are just as likely to create wonderful memories and balance out the budget against the big spend days.

Many of these ideas also work well if you are planning an outdoor kids’ birthday party on a budget.


Use this list of fun but free outdoor activities for kids to encourage your kids to make the most of the long sunny days of summer by having fun outdoors.

1. Nature Scavenger Hunt

Take the kids on a nature scavenger hunt, where they find and collect natural items like leaves, rocks, or pinecones. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Little kids can find magic in the smallest of things.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

2. Bug Spotting

Turn your garden into a mini safari, using binoculars and/or a magnifying glass to spot and study insects.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+
Kids on a bug hunt.
Go on a bug hunt!

3. Gardening

Teach kids how to plant seeds and care for them as they grow into plants. If you plan ahead, you can collect seeds from your garden ready to plant next year. In fact, that’s another lovely activity for kids to do. Here’s a quick guide from the Royal Horticultural Society on how to collect and save seeds.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

4. Picnicking in the Park

Pack a lunch and enjoy a meal outdoors in your local park. You’re going to eat lunch anyway, so turn it into an event on a sunny day. Find a tree to sit under and spread out your picnic.

  • Suitable for kids of all ages

5. Cloud Gazing

Get the kids to lie on their backs and let their imaginations run wild with the shapes of the clouds. Obviously, do make sure they know that they should never look directly at the sun.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

6. Cycling

Explore your local area or a park on bicycles. It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook the most simple of things. Bikes end up gathering dust in sheds rather than being used.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+ (or whenever they are able to ride a bike)

7. Hopscotch

Use sidewalk chalk to create a hopscotch grid and jump through it.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

8. Bird Watching

Learn about different species of birds and try to spot them in your area. This is one where you can incorporate a bit of tech to really bring the bird-watching to life. The kids can spot a bird and then look it up online.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

9. Rock Painting

Find some smooth stones and paint them with colourful paint. Get involved in the Kindness Rocks Project by leaving the decorated rocks for others to find.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

10. Leaf Rubbing Art

Create art by placing leaves under paper and rubbing over the leaves with crayons. Watch the video for a quick guide on leaf rubbing.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+
YouTube video
How to make leaf rubbing art.

11. Frisbee in the Park

Have some fun throwing a Frisbee back and forth in a local park.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

12. Outdoor Story Time

Read a book to your child/children under the shade of a tree or in a cosy outdoor spot. This is a lovely thing to do after lunch or just ahead of bedtime.

  • Suitable for kids of all ages

13. Stargazing

Make the most of not having a set bedtime by allowing the kids to stay up and stargaze on a clear summer’s night. Read up on the constellation so you can be their star guide.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+
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2023 Guide to the Night Sky: A month-by-month guide to exploring the skies above Britain and Ireland.

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14. Hide and Seek

Kids can play this timeless game in the back garden or local park. I’ve included Hide and Seek in my roundup of the best party games for kids. There are plenty of other fun games on the list that work well for the summer.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

15. DIY Obstacle Course

Create a simple obstacle course using household items like chairs and buckets.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

16. Sidewalk Chalk Drawing

Let the kids express their creativity by drawing pictures or writing messages on the sidewalk with chalk.

  • Suitable for kids aged 2+
CRAYOLA Washable Sidewalk Chalk (Pack of 48)
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The novelty of drawing on patios and sidewalks never ends. Also useful for hopscotch grids.
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17. Mud Kitchen Capers

Mud kitchens are a thing. And one of the best things about them is that they don’t need fancy toy pots and pans. The best mud kitchens use old pots, pans and utensils. Kids can make mud pies to their hearts’ content.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+
Mud kitchens are so much fun!

18. Jump Rope Contest

Have a friendly competition to see who can jump rope the longest.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

19. Tree Climbing

Find a safe, sturdy tree and let the kids climb under supervision.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+

20. Shadow Puppets

This is a fun way to while away the late afternoon as the sun starts to dip. Teach your kids how to create shadow puppets with their hands and encourage them to create their own show.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

21. Outdoor Dance Party

Play some music and have a dance party in your backyard. Let’s face it, this is fun for kids of all ages, from the tiniest toddlers to adults who want to keep their inner child-busting moves.

  • Suitable for kids of all ages

22. Beach Combing

Leave near a beach? Search the beach for unique shells, rocks, and sea glass.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

23. Hula Hoop Games

Hula hoops might be simple hoops of coloured plastic, but they provide kids with the chance to be endlessly creative with how they spin them. My favourites include spinning around the neck, wrist, and ankle and spinning two around the waist at once.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

24. Building Forts with Sticks

Find an area with fallen branches and let kids construct their own little forts. Maybe they can have a picnic in the fort once it’s built?

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

25. Flying Kites

On a windy day, take a kite to the park and learn how to fly it.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

26. Water Balloon Toss

Fill up some water balloons and play a friendly game of catch, where the aim is not to let them burst. I’ve included this game in my roundup of outdoor party games for kids.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+
Four outdoor party games for kids, kids playing outdoor games at a party

27. Outdoor Yoga

Lead a kid-friendly yoga session outdoors, introducing simple poses and stretching exercises. I am a regular user of the FitOn yoga sessions. Some of the simple ones would work really well for kids.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

28. Duck Feeding

Now this has to be an absolute classic! Visit a local pond or lake to feed the ducks with healthy snacks. Here is a list of things that it is safe to feed ducks. Do remember, NEVER feed them bread.

  • Suitable for kids of all ages

29. Skipping Stones

At a calm body of water, practice the art of skipping stones.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+

30. Football (Soccer) Game

Gather some friends for a fun and informal game of football in the park.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

31. Sack Races

Have a laugh with old-fashioned sack races – you can use old pillowcases as sacks.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+
Sack races are an absolute classic!

32. Nature Photography

This is another great way to let the kids use their tech for something positive. Challenge them to create some artistic photography from what they can see in the great outdoors.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+

33. Tree Identification

Learn about different types of trees in your area and go for a walk to identify them.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+
Ultimate Explorer Field Guides British Trees

Use this book to help turn your kids into tree detectives.

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34. Fossil Hunting

Go on a hunt for fossils or interesting stones in your local area. This is a useful guide to fossil hunting for beginners.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+

35. Wildflower Picking

Go for a walk and pick wildflowers to make a bouquet (only where allowed and without damaging nature).

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

36. Homemade Bubble Blowing

Mix a simple bubble solution and make giant bubbles with homemade blowers. Red Ted Art has a useful guide to making your own bubble mixture at home.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

37. Pebble Stacking

Pebble stacking is so zen! It is also a traditional Montessori activity for kids. Pebble stacking is a great way to get kids to do something calm that requires them to focus their concentration, flex their motor skills and keep their cool.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

38. Sand Sculpture Contest

At the beach, host a contest to see who can build the most creative sandcastle or sand sculpture.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

39. Ball Bouncing Games

Don’t just focus on footballs and rugby balls. Smaller balls can be lots of fun too. Use a rubber ball for a variety of games, from catch to ‘SPUD’.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

How to play SPUD: Players take turns throwing a ball into the air, calling out a player’s name. That player must catch the ball and yell ‘SPUD’, causing all other players to freeze. The player then tries to hit one of the other players with the ball, assigning them a letter (S-P-U-D) and passing on the role of thrower to that player. The game continues until one player accumulates all four letters.

40. Twig Raft Building

Gather twigs and string and teach kids how to build miniature rafts, then float them on a pond or go to a stream and chase the rafts down the bank of the stream or nudge them along with sticks.

  • Suitable for kids aged 6+

41. Nature Drawing

Bring paper and pencils outside and draw the natural landscape or individual plants and animals.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

42. Pinecone Bird Feeders

Create simple bird feeders using pinecones, peanut butter, and birdseed, then watch who comes to eat.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+
YouTube video
Possibly the cutest how-to video ever made… how to make pinecone bird feeders.

43. Running Races

Set up a finish line and host running races in your backyard or local park.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+

44. Sunset Watching

Find a great spot to sit and appreciate the beauty of the setting sun together. Take a picnic and make an evening of it.

  • Suitable for kids of all ages
family watching a sunset
The magic of watching a sunset

45. Exploring a Nature Trail

Find a local nature trail and while away an afternoon exploring it.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

46. Outdoor Plays and Pantomimes

Create a short play or pantomime and perform it outdoors for family and friends.

  • Suitable for kids aged 5+

47. Leaf Boats

Use large leaves and tiny twigs to construct miniature ‘boats’, then float them on a stream.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

48. Freeze Tag

Play a game of freeze tag, a classic outdoor game that will burn off energy. Here is my roundup of 10 prop-free outdoor games, including Freeze Tag, that can keep kids happy and occupied for hours.

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+
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Super fun games that don’t need props

49. Fruit Picking

Visit a local fruit farm that allows you to pick your own fruit (not technically free but often very cheap, and you get to keep the fruit!).

  • Suitable for kids aged 3+
The juiciest way to have summer fun outdoors

50. Treasure Hunting

Make a simple treasure map of your backyard or local park, hide a small ‘treasure’, and let the kids find it.

  • Suitable for kids aged 4+

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A great list of 50 FREE outdoor activities for freerange kids to have fun in the great wide world during spring, summer, autumn and winter. #OutdoorKids #freerangekids #kidsactivities #kidsactivity

Sarah Reid

Tuesday 9th of June 2015

Some fab ideas! Our boys are particular fans of bug collecting.

Mudpie Fridays

Saturday 6th of June 2015

Great list - will be printing out and ticking off :) #TheList

Mumma McD

Friday 5th of June 2015

Lovely list :)

I like to go on 'treasure hunts' with my kids (2 and 3 yrs), which is basically a walk around the block collecting sticks and stones and flowers!


Five Adventurers

Friday 5th of June 2015

Fantastic list, such easy and simple ideas to get the children outdoors. My little adventurers would love all of these #thelist

Bismah Abdelgawad

Saturday 7th of September 2013

Great list of things to do outside!!! Stopping by from "Sharing Saturday". Now following you on G+, Facebook and Twitter. Have a great weekend :)Bismah @Simple Mama