16 Outdoor Play Ideas for Kids

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15 Outdoor Play Ideas for KidsDo you like to get outside with your kids? We are so lucky to have a HUGE backyard with lots of space to run around, play and explore. Most of our yard is covered in lovely, lush grass – it’s my husbands other ‘baby’. He takes very good care of it and it makes the perfect soft landing for play. There are so many fun things to do when you’ve got grass to play on. Here are just a few ideas:

16 Outdoor Play Ideas for Kids

Make animal prints on dewy grass

Have a backyard scavenger hunt

Hunt for creatures in the backyard

Make animal prints of dewy grass (Wildlife Fun 4 Kids)

Make animal prints on dewy grass (Wildlife Fun 4 Kids)

Create an outdoor obstacle course

Discover dinosaur frost

Paint with mud

Outdoor play ideas for kids

Painting with mud (My Little Bookcase)

Have a treasure hunt with painted rocks

Make your own balance stumps

Have an outdoor alphabet hunt

Outdoor play ideas for kids

Create an outdoor obstacle course (Happy Whimsical Hearts)

Create a garden art studio 

Play with hoops

Grow a living willow cave

Play with hoops and rope (Happy Hooligans)

Play with hoops and rope (Happy Hooligans)

Cloud watching

Play with water

Fly a {Homemade} Kite

Have some foamy fun

DIY Sprinkler (Housing a Forest)

DIY Sprinkler (Housing a Forest)

Tips for growing a kid friendly lawn

  • In the spring it’s a good idea to top dress with a bit of sandy loam. If you’re looking for a fertiliser try any variety that has high Potash.
  • During winter keep the sour sobs under control with Kamba 500, which is also good for taming broad leaf weeds. Winter is also a good time to use a dynamic lifter or chicken manure to give your lawn a good feed.
  • In summer keep your lawn happy with a good heavy soak. This will give you much better results than lots of little drinks.
  • When putting new lawn in make sure you use a good base. About 150mm of top soil will do the trick.
  • For a lovely lawn, keep it nice and short year round.

Thanks to Doug Fleet from Marne Valley Turf for these great tips. Doug is passionate about growing good lawn and would love to help you out with your lawn anytime. Please contact him on 0417 894 497.

{Giveaway} $250 Bunnings Voucher

bunnings_logo

Thanks to Turf Australia one lucky Octavia and Vicky reader will win a $250 Bunnings Voucher (Australian readers only, sorry). Just leave a comment answering this question: What is favourite memory of playing outdoors as a child?

Competition details:

  • Entries will be judged based on creativity and originality.
  • One entry per person.
  • Australian entries only (sorry international readers!)
  • The winner will be notified by email. Please leave your email address when entering your comment.
  • The winner must claim their prize within 14 days of notification or forfeit the prize.
  • Competition ends Monday, 12 August 2013, midnight AEST.

Disclosure: Octavia and Vicky did not receive any financial compensation for writing this giveaway. 


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65 Comments

  1. Definitely running through the sprinkler. I’m glad water restrictions were lifted for a bit so I could give my daughter a taste of this Aussie pastime.

  2. All the kids in our neighbourhood played a game called White rose, Red rose. You were either on the red or white team and the playingfield was the entire neighbourhood and surrounds (countrytown). The battles of the roses were epic and kids all ages would play, even the teens. I will never forget, so much fun and an adventure in a day.

  3. I remember playing cricket in our front yard using a rubbish bin as stumps. It was hot and humid, but we didn’t care- we loved spending time as a family. My mum would enforce the rule that over the fence was out because otherwise dad would keep hitting it too far. My parents would pretend that they ‘accidentally’ hit it so that my brother or I could catch it, it was all about fun and everyone joining in. I was probably the worst batter ever- I was forever getting out for a duck and that hasn’t changed over the years, cricket is not something I am good at. It’s funny that it is my fondest memory but I guess it’s not about the game but the time that we had together as a family- it all changed not long after when unfortunately my dad developed a brain tumour and our lives changed forever.

  4. Throughout my primary school years we lived in desert South Australia, 500km north of Adelaide. When we first arrived the town was very new; only a few houses had gardens and none had fences yet. Our back yard was the bush scrub with wattle, acacia, spinifex and paddy melons. Even once the back fence went up we constantly climbed over it to play in the bush. We built endless cubbies from sticks and spinifex and saved our pocket money to buy nails so we could build tree houses using scrap lumber scavenged from the buildings that were going up all over town. We rode our bikes everywhere. Paddy melons are about the size of cricket balls and the most trouble we ever got in was for having paddy melon fights with the boys next door. I remember those years very fondly.

  5. We had a beautiful climbing tree in our front yard that was lush and green and shady. The real treat for me was when the leaves embraced the changing seasons and began falling by the bucket-full. I would wait for them to get brown and crinkly and then … it was time for my secret pleasure. No-one else in the family enjoyed raking up the leaves so I would always put up my hand for the job. The smell and the texture and the repetitive raking and bucket filling soothed and enlivened me as nothing else did. I was an anxious kid, prone to worry about every little thing, and this did wonders for my soul. Now a mama to another little worrier, I am eagerly searching for someone else with a tree just like that one!

  6. One of my favourite memories is climbing the trees in the backyard, particularly the mulberry tree to eat fresh mulberries. The bush across the road was a great place for making cubbies, eating sourgrass (?) and hiding. I hope my son gets to have as much fun as I did in the outdoors!

  7. My brothers and I used to love jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath in summer, such great fun and memories!

  8. I like the hoops and rope idea, will have to set that up for Izzy, she is right into hoops at the moment.
    With four brothers and sisters, my greatest memory is playing ’rounders’ in our backyard as kids, our version of baseball, with rules that evolved every time we played! There is nothing better than the smell of fresh cut grass to take me back to my childhood :)

  9. So many lovely outdoor play ideas and a fab giveaway! Thank you for including our garden treasure hunt post. My favourite childhood memory of playing outdoors would have to be running through the sprinkler! Such a classic Aussie childhood pastime. Dodging the spray, running under the tunnel of water, and cooling off from the heat. Then sitting on the soft grass all soaked, eating lemonade ice blocks. Such good memories.

  10. We had fields of long grass all around us and we used to play hide and seek in the long grass, you just had to lay down flat so no one could find you. Hoping you didn’t get bitten by anything was park of the fun!

  11. I used to play house.
    My parents were always busy just trying to put food on the table for us, and provide for us in the most basic of ways. We never had much in the backyard – a small slide, a rickety old swing, and lots of time to amuse ourselves. I couldn’t believe my luck when, one day, I came across a stack of old bricks left behind by a previous tenant. With those bricks I built some steps in our big, open garage – 3 going up, then 3 going down, and as wide as a doorway. The steps defined the entry into my own little play world, and I was now the queen of the castle! I would rush home from school to inhabit my “house,” and happily go about the business of making it a home – complete with food preparation and visitors. I’m not sure how many weeks this kept me occupied for, but I certainly remember it fondly.
    And now, I’m a Mum who has both the opportunity to enjoy time with my kids, and the means to provide countless toys for them. But I totally understand why my daughter bypasses the stacks of toys in her bedroom in favour of some cardboard, textas, scissors and sticky tape to make props for her own make-believe games!

  12. It would be climbing my favourite tree and placing my car seat on one of the branches so I had a comfy seat and sitting there picking the buds of the flowers and opening them up. I can’t really remember what else I did up there I just remember spending hours up there and absolutely loving it. I guess like my own space just for me.

  13. So many happy memories of the backyard! One that stands out was when I was playing ‘circus’ and dismantled my mum’s garden edging (logs cut into about 1m sections) and started to walk/run on the log, clown-style. I also did my first cartwheel that day!

  14. Climbing way up into the climbing tree with my best friend – wearing roller skates. We dreamed of having our own treehouse up there, but made do with our own ‘outpost tent’ underneath, made from two old doors!

  15. Lots and lots come to mind, cricket, jumping on the trampoline, turning it into a cubby house with sheets and playing in the sprinkler and shooting the hose into the air so the water fell down like a rainy mist!

  16. One of my favorite memories of playing outside would have to be putting the sprinkler on but underneath the trampoline. We would lay there feeling the droplets underneath and the. Turn it off to jump on the wetness

  17. My favourite memoray of playing outside when I was a kid was definately throwing the plums against the brick garage wall. We all (my 2 brothers and I) hated eating plums so we would pick them off the tree and throw them or hit them against the wall and watch them splat everywhere then we would stick whatever we could find to the plum splats and make it decorative for my mum.

  18. My sisters and I spent every summer day all day every day from sun up to sun down using our slip n slide. Man were we sunkissed little vegemites.

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  19. Throwing a tennis ball for my Hush puppy (a beagle) – his name was Hush (really) and waiting for him to fetch the ball (slowly – I could go inside for a biscuit). Backyard camp-outs with Hush too.
    My sisters were 6 & 9 yrs older than me , so he was my only buddy.

  20. My sister and I were very close to our four cousins, especially after the passing of our brother when he was aged just 12.
    We would visit them regularly and have sleep-overs.
    One of my fondest outdoor memories would have to be sitting on the fence at the front of my cousin’s home; we would be split into two teams (team names were ‘The Bingo Kids’ and ‘The Op Shop Kids’, the reason for those team names eludes me!)
    We would take it in turn to try and get the attention of the cars driving by and get them to toot their horns. The team that received the highest amount of ‘beeps’ would be declared the winners.
    We would do little dances, hold up signs, and do the ‘toot toot’ signal to the big trucks.
    Of course, nowadays it would be an entirely different story, but back then it was harmless fun!

  21. We lived next to a small creek, and would spend hours playing in the water, watching the animals, birds, insects, fish etc, and building dams with sticks then knocking them down. It was only a small stream and back then had clean water, these days sadly I wouldn’t let my kids play in creeks, the water just isn’t the same now.

  22. On hot days my mum would turn on the sprinkler on the front lawn and we would dress in our bather and run through the water. We would turn up the sprinkler as high as we could, and see if we cold still jump over the water. When the grass got really wet we would end up sliding down the lawn.

  23. Sliding down that yellow mat with the water spraying over us. I think it was called Slip and Slide? it was awesome fun in summer!

  24. My brothers, sister and I always loved setting treasure hunts for each other with stick signs and paper clues buried in the garden!

  25. So many memories of playing outside but I guess the main thing is we were allowed outside until it was dark. Our parents didn’t really know exactly where we were but they knew we were all together and would return like homing pigeons as soon as the sun set. My children would find that whole scenario bizarre!

  26. One of my most favourite would have to be playing mud pies that always ended up in a mud pie fight, what a mess we made but boy did we have fun.

  27. We had five mulberry trees in our back yard so one of my fondest memories was mulberry season time …. we’d climb the trees pick as many mulberries as we could and have mulberry fights…. we’d be covered in mulberries …. and when mulberry season was finished we’d get buckets of water and make mud so we could stomp in the mud and let it squish through our toes and make mud pies then we’d have mud fights we use to have so much fun ….i miss those times so much

  28. Although frowned upon now, nothing used to beat running around, butt naked under the sprinkler on a hot day.

  29. So many memories but my favorites are climbing trees with the next door neighbors kids. We spent many hours of adventure slaying dragons, hiding from the bad guys & coming home the hero’s in the cool, lofty branches. We even used to have lunch up there!

  30. My Tyre Swing was the best! Hours upon hours spent swinging the days away in the tyre!

  31. My neighbours down the road had chickens and I loved going there to fossick around in the roosting boxes to see if there were any eggs that morning. Somehow finding an egg stuck with bits of feathers and dirt and hay was the most exciting thing ever!

  32. The kids made a cubby under a old water tank. That cubby became a fort, a rocket ship, a club house, a secret hideaway and a place they could call their own.

  33. My dad made me a slip and slide with a tarpaulin in the back yard and I loved sliding down it with my friends especially in the hot west Qld summer.

  34. Definitely hiding in the bushes out the back. We had a long row of hedges in our backyard separating the lawn from the vegie patch and there were some great hiding spots in there, and we’d often pretend we’d run away from home and have little secret picnics in the hedge. I say ‘secret’ but of course Mum knew all about it. :-)

  35. Making mud pies, stirring the mixture, then pouring it into various containers and tins, leaving them out in the sun to bake! Then my favourite part was decorating them with delicious flower petals, and spider webs collected gingerly with a very long stick.

  36. Totem tennis, it was my childhood addiction. I couldn’t get enough of it or find enough bodies to play it with me. Favourite memory for all the fun it gave me AND for the time my two uncles decided to play and somehow one of them ended up in the hospital with a broken wrist! Wasn’t until years later my parents told me they were a little bit piddled, and things got out of hand with their rough play!

  37. Most of my happy childhood memories are outdoor ones!!

    My favourite times were in the summer. We’d swim and then bury ourselves in the sand until we heated up so much we’d have to go and swim and then start it all over again. This was interspersed with rock pool play, sticky icy poles and beach cricket … idyllic childhood memories for sure

  38. Not wearing shoes anywhere and having to dance across the concrete on hot summer days to stop my feet from burning!!!!

  39. Bouncing on our trampoline, while our crazy dog chased our feet from underneath!

  40. Spending the days riding our bikes all over town and coming home when the street lights came on. Once we had dinner we would be out in the street kicking the football or playing cricket until we could no longer see the ball!

  41. My fave is when dad made us a flying fox ride from the treehouse to the trampoline. It was so much fun – great adrenalin rush

  42. All the kids getting together on the vacant block up the road and having great games of marbles

  43. My older brother telling me the butterfly that had been flying around near me for a while, was one of his magic butterflies he sends to check up on me, and I believed him!

  44. all the snails in my old sandpit

  45. picking almonds with my friend and getting a whole plastic bag full and peeling them and eating so many I was sick

  46. On hot summer nights the whole family slept on our front lawn. Dad would start telling a storiy and we took turns at making up parts of it. It was fabulous fun, sometime scary and took our minds off the oppressive heat, mosquitoes and difficulties of getting to sleep

  47. Just being with my Dad, fishing, camping, listening to stories about Bunyips and Yowies. Dad even used to create Yowi ‘footprints’ using Mercurochrome(sore thumb, burnt bum, Mercurochrome will fix it all!) for us to find in the mornings on the floor of our tent…! Dad was my hero and I thought he would always be there, so I took him for granted… Now that he is gone, I treasure those memories of times spent together more than I can say… I try to make the time spent with my own children just as magical and memorable…

  48. The togetherness as a family, with my brothers and I playing with toy trains in the garden and our parents laying tracks and making ‘choo choo’ noises! That’s devotion! Precious memories as my parents died many years ago.

  49. Growing up on a 50,000 acre farm in North west Tasmania, our backyard was like having a whole country to play in, we had ocean, beach, river, and forest. I just wish now that i could share that with my family, our suburban block just doesnt have the majesty that the farm provided.

  50. Growing up on a fruit property most of our play was done outside. I remember spending hours playing rebound against the side of the house. As an adult I realise the sound of a basketball continuous hitting the side of the weatherboard house probably draw my Mum insane.

  51. My favourite thing to do outdoors when I was a kid was painting my Nanna’s house! Nan would give my brother and I a bucket of water each and one a big paint brush each and we would spend all day painting the outside of her weatherboard house! :)

  52. My favourite memory is the excitement I felt when Dad said he was putting the pool up for summer. It was one of those tin ones with the blue lining. We would spend hours trying to patch the holes and then without fail one of us would puncture it causing a flood in the back yard. Ahh the days before water restrictions!!

  53. Oh how I miss Firecracker night. All the kids in the neighborhood scavenging for anything that would burn. Huge bonfire with a scarecrow on top, all made by us children. Fireworks and sparklers and my favourite was the firecracker that dropped parachutes.

  54. My most favourite memory is climbing Nana & Grandads Mulberry Tree every Sunday (after our family Roast lunch of course) and packing up an entire ice cream tub full of em’ stained hands, feet and mouths, not a care in the world, these are the days I miss most!!

  55. Loved the way our whole neighbourhood would join in on a Sunday Arvo Footy game. Fathers, mothers, brothers & sisters would gather in our little cul-de-sac and play till sunset. I miss the good old days!!

  56. I absolutely loved when it came to summer and dad put the pool up in the backyard. Myself, my sister and my brother had an absolute blast and it was so refreshing. We used to host ‘swimming carnival’ competitions and compete over different challenges and mum and dad would give the winner a gold medal. Its a wonderful memory I will definitely never forget nor will my siblings!

  57. Playing frisbee in the snow!

  58. Setting our sprinkler up under the trampoline.. We spent many hot summer days cooling down this way!

  59. Our play was only limited by our imagination and a dusk curfew.

  60. When I was small then playing outside was our main source of entertainment. There were no laptops,ipads,ipods or other gadgets which were easily available.
    My favourite memory is playing with water sprinkler during summers – I use to water plants, wash my toys, dolls, my bicycle and use to have hours of water play in our backyard with my little sister.

  61. My favourite memory is playing in street with friends, with old tyres we would climb inside and roll down street we had so much fun can’t believe parents allowed this.
    We also played cricket in street with neighbourhood so much fun also french cricket.

  62. Chewing on sour grass in winter time,my mum used to say a doggie could have peed on that,but it didn’t stop me that’s a fact,i loved their yellow flowers and that super sour taste a memory from my childhood that will never be araised.

  63. Nothing is more fun than dodging flying pomegranates!
    We’d sneak into our neighbour’s front yard and pick them from the tree.
    You always knew if you hit your target, because little pips flew everywhere – Bulls-eye!!
    If only we’d realised back then how tasty and expensive they were!

  64. Going away from home to play in the bush, making flying foxes and riding them over the gullies and the mounds that used to be in abundance where I lived. We would only come home for lunch and dinner, its all developed now and kids now have computers and other electronic games

  65. Going camping, and staying up really late telling ghost stories – but no tents for us. We slept in the back of the milk truck, as my dad was a milkman!

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