Want to get outside with your kids but struggling for ideas? Then check out our new weekly series of 101 outdoor activities for families. There’s something in here for every little explorer!
Good riddance winter, what took you so long spring?
I bloody love this time of year. With six months of long evenings stretching out in front of us, birdsong exploding every morning, leaves finally starting to creep back along tree branches, temperatures nudging back in the right direction, and the opportunity for endless outdoor adventure.
Getting children outside in winter certainly isn’t impossible, but it’s a million times easier in spring and summer. And to make it even easier for all you outdoorsy parents out there, I’ve searched back through my childhood memories (and a few Google pages) to magic up a list of 101 simple ways to get your kids outdoors.
Here are the first 20, with more to follow in weekly installments for the next 5 weeks. I hope you find something in here you love doing as a family!
101 outdoor activities for families (1-20)
1. Go on a bike ride
Whether your kids can ride their own bikes or are still strapped into a bike seat or trailer, this is a great way to cover some good distances and explore new places in your local area. There’s a great network of cycle paths around the UK now that means you can cycle long distances completely away from roads, so plan your trips carefully to make sure they’re as fun and enjoyable as possible.
2. Camp in your garden
Big camping trips can be terrifying to organise and prepare for. Just think about all the gear. And the weather! But if you camp in your own back garden you can pick a nice warm night; all you’ll need is a tent, air beds and a couple of sleeping bags; and if you all decide you hate the whole experience you can run back into the house and snuggle up in your nice warm beds.
3. Buy a hammock
For some reason I wasted 33 years of my life without owning a hammock, but ever since I got this one from Grand Trunk I’ve realised the error of my ways! Not only does my little boy Sonny love swinging in it in our garden or at the local park (it’s best to get one that’s easily transportable), the hammock is also a great place for me to catch up on sleep when he’s kept me awake all night with his adorable screaming.
4. Go Gruffalo hunting
If you’ve got kids, no doubt you’re familiar with the Gruffalo. If for some reason you aren’t all you need to know is that he’s a big famous brown monster who lives in the woods – and he has knobbly knees, turned out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose! The Forestry Commission jumped all over the Gruffalo craze a few years ago and have created trails, giant sculptures and downloadable activity sheets and play packs for families who visit their sites around the UK. Find out more HERE.
5. Have a water balloon fight
This is every bit as simple and fun as it sounds. Buy yourself a bag of water balloons (they only cost a couple of quid), fill up a big pile of them and stick them in a bucket, then head outside and start launching them at each other. It’s perfectly safe and loads of fun – just make sure you have a change of clothes nearby!
6. Try wild swimming
I’m not talking about shooting down whitewater rapids or flying over waterfalls. Just find a calm, shallow river or lake near your house and go for a dip with your kids on a warm day. Check out this article from the author of the best-selling Wild Swimming book series for some great safety tips on swimming outdoors with kids.
7. Take a boat trip
Whether it’s a rowing boat, petrol-powered river boat, canal barge, or canoe, give your kids that amazing experience of being out on the water surrounded by nature. I’ve owned canoes for the past 10 years and the thing I love most is how unafraid wildlife is of you when you’re on the water, giving you and your kids the chance to see water birds, dragonflies, frogs and other amazing creatures at eye level in their natural environment.
8. Go puddle jumping
There’s no big secret to a successful puddle jump. Just find a big pool of water, stick on some wellies, then kaboom! Did you know there’s even a Puddle Jumping World Championships? Read all about it with my 7 top tips for Puddle Jumping.
9. Walk the dog (or someone else’s)
My crazy jack russell terrier Mario is a gigantic pain in the arse, but he’s also been my No.1 adventure buddy for the past 11 years and is the sole reason I get outside for three walks every day. From my experience most kids love dogs, so even if it’s just a short stroll this is a great thing to do as a family.
10. Play football
It doesn’t get more simple than a game of footy. Grab a ball, find two trees or chuck down some jumpers for goalposts, then get outside and score some goals!
11. Go to the park
Who doesn’t love parks? Well, probably most adults after they’ve been stuck in the park pushing their kid on the same swing for over an hour, but even if you’re bored your kids will be having the time of their life. Slides, roundabouts, climbing frames – they might seem dull to us parents but they’re mega exciting for kids.
12. Climb a hill
It’s important not to be over ambitious here. Just because you want to prove to your kids that you’re an expert mountaineer doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy climbing Ben Nevis. Find a small local hill, give them a little backpack to carry so they feel epic and adventurous, then head for the summit to create a memorable family expedition.
13. Build a den
Go into your garden or, even better, down to your local woods and make yourself a cool outdoor shelter. And be inventive! You don’t need more than a few sticks, an old bit of tarp, some pegs and some washing line or paracord, and your kids will have their very own outdoor den. Here are some great den-building tips from Get Out With the Kids.
14. Go on a garden safari
Even if you can’t obviously see them, your garden contains hundreds of thousands of minibeasts just waiting to be discovered. From worms poking out of the soil and spiders hiding in the corners of your shed to slugs crawling across leaves and woodlice sheltering under logs and rocks, there’s an endless amount of creepy-crawlies to discover.
15. Feed the birds
Encourage your kids to hang up some feeders in your garden, fill them with quality bird seed, put out some bowls of water, then sit and wait for birds to arrive. It usually happens quicker than you think – and your kids will be so excited to see a real-life bird eat their food. Read our top tips on attracting birds to your garden.
16. Tidy the garden
This is genius! Since young kids love copying their parents, why not put them to work? If you’ve got weeds to pull out, leaves to rake up, holes to dig, bulbs to plant, or patios to brush, why not rope in your children to help you? They’ll enjoy it – and it makes your life easier too!
17. Play nature bingo
Google nature bingo and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of downloadable or printable nature bingo cards. And of course you can create your own too! The game itself is so simple – head outside on a walk, bike ride, or just into your own back garden, and try to spot all of the things on your bingo card. They could be birds, flowers, worms, clouds, puddles, anything. First person to see everything wins!
18. Take leaf or bark rubbings
You probably did this yourself at school or with your parents, so now it’s time to pass it on to your own kids. All you need is a sheet of paper, some crayons, and some leaves or tree bark. Take the rubbing by placing the sheet of paper on top of the object and using the wide part of the crayon to rub over the top. More tips here from the Woodland Trust!
19. Play Pooh sticks
Pooh sticks is one of my favourite outdoor games ever, and certainly one of the easiest to play. All you need is a bridge over a stream or river and a couple of sticks. The the aim of the game is for players to throw their sticks into the water, then race to the other side of the bridge to see which one appears first. Prepare to get competitive!
20. Visit a country park
There are more than 400 Country Parks in England, which are public green spaces usually found on the edge of built-up urban areas. We live near Milton Country Park and Hinchingbrooke Country Park, and both are great for families. They have parking, toilets, cafes, adventure playgrounds, lakes, woodlands, walking trails, and even BBQ stations for the summer. Check out your local Country Park today – they’re fantastic places for family adventures.