Go Play Outside!

Who says you have to spend a ton of money to have a good time?

Alaska ParentAlaska Parent MagazineAlaska Parent

This summer, before your kids have a chance to say, “Mom, I’m boooored!” you can be ready with this list of great ideas for free outdoor fun.

1 Go for a walk.

2 Have a picnic at a local park.

3 Learn to do cartwheels.

4 Wash and detail the car (which will probably turn into a water fight!).

5 Plant a garden and have the kids be in charge of caring for it all summer.

6 Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog.

7 Build a fort using lawn furniture.

8 Do things you’d normally do inside out. Like play board games or have a pillow fight or watch a movie (bring out your computer or portable DVD player).

9 Blow bubbles. Older kids will enjoy making the bubbles with dish soap, water and pipe cleaners.

10 Roller skate.

11 Make play dough and bring it outside. (Clean up is a breeze!)

12 Dig in the dirt.

13 Drive to a neighboring town and check out their playgrounds. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite!

14 Set up a canvas outside and let your little ones paint. (Again, less mess to clean up!)

15 Find a shady tree and read.

16 Take a ton of pictures.

17 Run through the sprinkler.

18 Drive to another neighborhood and go for a walk there. What’s different? What is the same?

19 Gather up a wagon, some stuffed animals and a few pots and pans. Instant parade!

20 Find shapes in the clouds.

21 Take a nap, either in a hammock or just on a blanket you lie on the grass.

22 Go “fishing” – set up a wading pool with objects and let your little one try to catch them.

23 Have an all-family water balloon fight.

24 Color eggs (not just for Easter!) and then make egg salad. (Another great activity to do outside with less mess!)

25 Go collect rocks and then paint them. Make “Rock People” by adding googly eyes and yarn hair.

26 Make nature bracelets. Wrap a piece of duct tape around your wrist with the sticky side up. Take a walk around the neighborhood and stick leaves, small pebbles, sticks, and other treasures onto your bracelet.

27 Host a neighborhood reading party and invite kids to bring their favorite book to read outside in the shade. Serve lemonade.

28 Go fishing at a nearby lake.

29 Go on a treasure hunt. Make a map (burn the edges to make it look like an old pirate map) and show how to get to the “treasure.” This is fun for older kids to make for younger kids!

30 Go on an “alphabet tour.” Bring a camera and a notebook. Head into town and walk around. Beginning with the letter A, find something that starts with that letter (i.e. Adams Street). Take a picture of that item and write it down in your notebook. Continue with each letter and when you are done, each child has a personal and creative alphabet memory book.

31 Fly a kite.

32 Have kids collect small outdoor objects (blades of grass, leaves, etc.) in a pail and then look at them under a magnifying glass.

33 Decorate your bikes and have a bike parade.

34 Have a Hula-Hoop contest.

35 Plan a picnic/tea party outside on a blanket for all your child’s dolls and stuffed animals.

36 Get the binoculars and watch birds.

37 Take a bubble bath outside. If the kids are tiring of the inflatable pool, make it fun again by filling it with bubbles – and tossing small toys in for them to find under all the foam.

38 Set your tot outside with some large pieces of white paper and crayons and have her draw all the nature she sees, such as birds, butterflies, gardens and trees.

39 Designate your own Earth Day and help your kids with cleanups in your local park and community.

40 Pitch a tent in the backyard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows if you have a fire pit (or on the grill).

41 Take a hike along nature trails or at a nearby forest. For example, kids of all ages and abilities enjoy hiking to Exit Glacier, a short half-mile through the forest.

42 Have a scavenger hunt. Hide items in your yard, then give the kids a list of the items and see who can find them the fastest.

43 Create an obstacle course in the backyard and let the kids race.

44 Visit a construction site. For little boys (or girls) who love hammering, sawing and big machines, let them be mesmerized by all the action.

45 Participate in nature programs. City park systems that have nature centers usually offer free programs for children that let them explore the outdoor world.

46 Take advantage of free days at the zoo. At the Anchorage Zoo, kids 2 and under are free every day.

47 “Paint” the sidewalk using water instead of paint – no clean-up! They can also do handprints and footprints by getting their hands and feet wet.

48 Listen to a free concert in the park.

49 Hide all the plastic army men, mini animals, etc., in the sand pit and then have an excavation. (Read a book about archeologists beforehand.)

50 Go fishing.

51 Go on a bike ride.

52 Set up a lemonade stand.

53 Play “I Spy” as you walk around your neighborhood.

54 Go to a minor-league baseball game or other outdoor sporting event. At the Anchorage Bucs games, for example, it’s free for children under 6.

55 Play tennis, soccer, kickball, football, etc.

56 Fill a plastic kiddie pool with sand for an instant sandbox to keep the kids creatively occupied for hours.

57 Host a neighborhood sidewalk chalk drawing competition.

58 Splash around in a stream or lake.

59 Make a collection of leaf or bark rubbings and then learn the names of the trees.

60 Have a paper airplane flying contest.

61 Go camping.

62 Have a neighborhood concert or talent show in your backyard.

63 Make mud pies, decorate them with leaves and grass and let them bake in the sun.

64 Find a river, pond or lake and study the habitat it provides.

65 Play “old-fashioned” games like croquet, badminton, hopscotch and jump rope.

66 Do summer things at a winter place (like a ski resort): ride a lift, look at the mountains and forested slopes.

67 Throw a Frisbee or play Frisbee golf.

68 Make a list of all the wild things in your backyard: bugs, plants, trees, etc.

69 Have a watermelon seed spitting contest.

70 Use your imagination and think up more things to do outdoors.