Keeping your kids busy doesn’t have to be a challenge of epic proportions. As long as you've got a garden and a few parenting hacks up your sleeve, there's a world of possibility waiting for you.
If you're looking for things to do with your kids, you're in the right place. Check out these super cheap garden activities now...
Before we get into the activities, let's not forget about garden safety. Follow these steps to ensure a day full of fun:
- Apply high SPF sun cream regularly throughout the day.
- Keep everyone hydrated - why not set up a drink dispenser station so the kids can help themselves?
- Keep heads covered with sunhats.
- Check that the perimeter of your garden is secure and that the gates are locked shut.
- Child-proof the area by putting away any garden tools or sharp objects.
- Don't forget about the pets - keep them in shaded areas with plenty of fresh water.
- Keep a first aid kit to hand for any accidents.
Garden activities for kids
1. Plan a treasure hunt
A treasure hunt is a smart way to keep your kids busy for hours. The longer you make the quest, the longer this game will hold their attention! Before you get started, you need to make sure you have some prizes ready. They could be as simple as some sweets, a colouring book or getting to choose a film to watch. It’s important that there’s something for your little ones to win in the end to keep them engaged.
Next, it’s time to make up some riddles. Each clue should lead your children to the next. For example, the first clue you give them could be “I have bark, but I’m not a dog!” That will lead them to a tree where you’ve hidden the second clue. Follow this pattern to create an epic treasure hunt that leads your children to the final prize (or prizes).
TOP TIP: Get your children to work together on this task and give their teamwork skills a boost! It leads to hours of garden fun.
2. Make a kite
Kites are so easy to make - all you need is a plastic bag and some light, wooden dowels. Have fun making and decorating your own before watching them take flight in the garden.
3. Make a vegetable patch
Next up, why not try growing your own? Now is the ideal time to teach your kids how to garden and start growing some tasty vegetables.
Be warned: This will take some groundwork (literally!) on your part before you can get started. You will need to dig up a square of your garden, weed the area, and add some compost to the soil. You can find more information on how to prepare your vegetable patch on Gardeners World here.
When you’ve prepared the patch, it’s time to get planting. Start by planting some easy-to-grow vegetables. These include potatoes, strawberries, courgettes, beans, and radishes. Whatever you choose, make sure that it's in season. Keep the kids busy and show them how to plant and look after their crops. This is one of the best family activities, as you can return to it on a weekly basis.
Watching the vegetables grow together is truly satisfying. What’s more, if your little ones happen to be fussy eaters, this activity could be extra useful. Forget the hidden vegetable recipes, ask your children to pick the vegetables you grow (under your supervision!) and you can incorporate them into meals. Your kids will relish the idea of eating something that they have grown from a simple seed.
4. Open your own bug hotel
If your children don't mind creepy crawlies, a bug hotel could be fascinating fun. Make one by layering up natural materials like wood, leaves and moss. Every few days you can peek inside the layers and see who has come to stay!
5. Have a water fight
With the weather heating up, your little ones will be itching to get outside. Making the most of the garden is key. Why not get active with a water fight? Get your children running around and have a blast while doing so! This is one of the best family activities for sneaking some exercise into the day.
You may be lucky enough to already have some water guns at home but, if your arsenal is empty, you can make some yourself. Get an empty plastic bottle and pierce the lid with a knife or pair of scissors. When you’ve done that, you can fill up the bottle and screw on the lid. Squeezing the bottle will mean water shoots out the end. For more brilliant ideas like this, check out our article on creative uses for plastic bottles.
Whenever you have a water fight, it’s safest to lay down some ground rules. For example, you don’t want the kids to run into the house and make a mess. Be clear from the start and let them know what they can (and absolutely can not) do. You might want to split the family into teams or take the ‘every man for himself’ approach. It’s entirely up to you.
6. Listen to sounds
Put a blanket down on the grass, lay back and close your eyes. What can you hear from your garden? See if you can listen out for birdsong, a car going past, a dog barking and much more!
7. Give bird watching a go
Spring has most definitely sprung… which means that it’s a good time to give bird watching a whirl. You can keep the kids entertained in the garden with this fun and educational activity. Before you get started, try to dig out some binoculars. If you don’t have any, don’t panic. You can have just as much fun looking without them or whip up a pair with some cardboard tubes.
Don’t know your blue tit from your yellowhammer? That’s okay! Fortunately, you don’t have to be a bird expert to give this a go. The RSPB has a handy online bird identifier you can use with your kids. Why not load up the page on a tablet or laptop and take it outside? Each time one of your children sports a feathered friend, they can answer the questions and find out what its name is. It couldn’t be easier.
8. Have a teddy bear picnic
Looking for family activities for smaller kids? No sweat. One of the simplest ways to have some fun is to have a teddy bear picnic in the back garden. Gather up a blanket, some cutlery, and a handful of your little ones’ favourite cuddly toys. Sometimes, the best garden activities are also the easiest to do.
To kill two birds with one stone, you should plan your picnic during lunchtime. Whip up some tasty cold snacks, such as mini sandwiches, sausage rolls, fruit and vegetable slices, and some biscuits. You can even treat yourself to a pot of tea for the occasion.
Of course, the fun of a teddy bear picnic is all about playing pretend! When the spread is done, it’s time to get creative and indulge your child’s imagination. Yes, that may mean putting on silly voices for the cuddly toys and making out that they want to eat something. You might even find yourself ‘feeding’ the bears the odd sausage roll. Just go with it.
TOP TIP: This idea makes for some adorable photos!
9. Easy science lesson
Did you ever have a science lesson involving quadrats? A quadrat is a square, metal frame used to randomly study outdoor environments. You can make your own by taking an old metal hanger and bending it into a square shape.
Have your children throw their DIY quadrat onto the ground and make a list of all of the insects and plants they see inside the square.
10. Play I spy
As well as there being so much to do in the garden, there's also so much to see. Why not play I Spy and see if you can guess what the other person has chosen?
Another fun idea, whether for walks or in the garden, is to write a list of things to find. This could be a simple list of things or something a bit more challenging like a specific type of tree, bird or flower.
11. Create an obstacle course
Spoiler: Kids have a whole lot of energy. But you already knew that. The best way to let off some of that steam is through exercise. While there are plenty of YouTube video sessions you can get them to do, the best way to see them getting active is to get them outside in the garden.
Why not use household items to create an obstacle course in your garden? For instance, you could line up some cushions for your kids to jump over, use old mugs for them to weave around when running, and even mark out a finish line with the cord from your dressing gown. Make it a challenge and time your children to see who can complete it fastest.
12. Play some classic garden games
This is an easy way to get the whole family stuck into something a little bit competitive. Here are some ideas to try with your kids:
If you're really pushing the boat out, you could even get your hands on some giant garden equipment. For example giant Jenga, a bouncy castle or Four in a Row. If you're likely to use it often, it might be a good idea to invest in it to save on a lifetime of hire costs!
NOTE: Most of these activities will require equipment, but we thought we'd share them for those that have the gear to hand.
13. Get the paddling pool out
It might sound obvious, but you'll be amazed by how many hours children will spend splashing around in a paddling pool when the weather is just right. Add some cheap plastic toys and let their imaginations run wild. You could even set up a grass sprinkler for hours of entertainment.
14. Make a fairy garden
Ever heard of a fairy garden? We think they are oh so sweet! Find a magical spot in your garden and set up your very own.
You could spend money on a fancy set, but it's easy to DIY with pebbles, ice lolly sticks, plant pots and grass seed.
15. Make some art from nature
Have you got a flair for creativity? One of the best activities for children involves using things they find outside. Send your little ones on a scavenger hunt in the back garden and ask them to get things they can use to make art. Prime examples include branches, leaves, stones, grass (yes, grass!), and weeds. Warning: Make sure you tell your kids to stay well away from your flower beds ahead of time. You can thank us later.
When your children have brought back a load of stuff from the garden, it’s time to hold an impromptu art class. There are plenty of ways your kids can use their finds in their art. For example:
- Make collages out of leaves and twigs.
- Paint pictures onto rocks
- Try making paintbrushes out of twigs and grass
The garden can also inspire some beautiful works of art - just take the craft supplies outside and pick a subject to draw.
TOP TIP: Set up an art table outside! That way, your children won’t make a mess of the house and they will spend longer playing in the outdoors.
16. Try metal detecting
Could there be buried treasure in your garden? If you don't mind doing a little digging, a metal detector could provide a whole bunch of entertainment.
Alternatively, if you're not so keen on your lawn being uprooted, a fun activity could be holding the metal detector up to different surfaces in the garden. You can have fun working out if they're made of metal or not.
17. Mud kitchen
If you're brave enough to give this one a go, we salute you. Children love playing with mud - the messier the better.
Put your children in some worn-out clothes and give them some old, plastic kitchen equipment to play with. Supply some mud (topsoil works well) and let them get to work baking those mud pies!
If you're wanting an activity that's just a little less disastrous, a sandpit can be just as much fun.
18. Put on your own Sport's Day
We love Sport's Day. For an event your family will never forget, why not host your own? Keep it classic by including the following:
- Egg and spoon race
- Sack race
- Running races
- Three-legged race
- Obstacle course
For an authentic day, don't forget medals or stickers for the winners and the all-important Sport's Day Picnic!
19. Have fun with chalk
An oldie, but a goodie. Chalk is fun to play with and easy to clean. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Try hopskotch
- Draw on the pavement or patio
- Have a game of Tic Tac Toe
- Mark how far you can jump
- Play follow the line
- Write each other messages
- Trace around each other and fill in the portrait
20. Experiment with ice
We don't know what it is about ice that's so interesting, but it makes for a cheap garden activity. Here are a few ideas:
- Freeze some objects into a large block of ice. See how quickly they can free them!
- Place ice cubes in different places of the garden. Time how long it takes for each one to melt.
- Make your own ice slushy drinks by putting ice in a blender. Enjoy them in the sunshine!
21. Bury a time capsule
This is a fun idea! Take a sturdy container like a glass jar or a Tupperware and fill it with memories and fun information about your family. Everyone can contribute something to the capsule and then you can have fun burying it in the garden.
22. Train your pets
Want to teach your puppy some new tricks? Now could be a perfect opportunity. Why not set up a basic agility course or encourage them to fetch a ball?
TOP TIP: Keep pets in shaded areas and always ensure that they have fresh water available to drink.
23. Have fun with flowers
There is so much fun to be had with flowers in your garden. Why not try making flower crowns or daisy chains? Alternatively, pressing flowers is a lovely activity. It's really simple, too:
- Choose your flowers - give your children some guidance with this so that they don't pluck anything too pretty!
- Lay them flat between two pieces of paper.
- Put the paper inside of a thick book.
- Add some weight by stacking up some heavy books on top.
- Wait a few weeks before removing the flowers.
Why not use your pressed flowers as decorations for future art projects?
24. Make a bird feeder
Bird-watching is no fun if there aren't any in the garden! Entice them by making a simple bird feeder. There are lots of ways you can do this, but the easiest one uses a toilet roll tube.
- Cover the toilet roll tube in lard or suet.
- Sprinkle birdseed on top.
- Take a piece of string and loop it through your toilet roll tube.
- Hang your new bird feeder on a branch and watch as the wildlife comes to say hello!
25. Water play
If you don't have a paddling pool, you can have just as much fun with a large bowl of water. Grab that washing up bowl and let them have fun making witches potions, petal perfumes and treating their barbies to a spa day.
That's all of our outdoor garden activities! We hope you enjoy them. If the weather has taken a turn, why not try some of our indoor ideas, like making cloud slime?
How can I make my garden fun for kids?
The truth is that gardens are already fun for kids! There are plenty of things to do with kids in the garden. For example, you can start bird watching, look for creepy-crawlies, or simply run around and play tag. Let your imagination run wild and make a game out of it. The most important thing is to ensure that the space is safe and secure. For cheap and easy ideas that'll transform your garden, check out our article.
Why do kids need outdoor activities?
Spending time in nature is good for your kids. Research from the Porto Biomedical Journal suggests that outdoor play could be essential to children’s learning and development. Try to incorporate some garden time into each day and make the sessions educational.
How do I entertain my child at home?
Entertaining your child or children at home doesn’t have to be tough. It’s important to consider what their interests are and what they enjoy. For example, if your little ones have a sweet tooth, consider making some food with them. If they have a load of energy, you may want to play outside and have a water fight. The sky’s the limit.
Are garden activities for kids expensive?
No… at least, they don’t have to be. As we have shown in this guide, there are lots of fun activities for kids that cost next to nothing. If you’re looking for free family activities, try bird watching, making an obstacle course, or learning about the bugs in the garden.
What are some fun activities for kids?
When you’re thinking up fun activities for kids, creativity is always key. The more you let your imagination run wild, the more likely you are to come up with ideas. Examples include playing in the garden, planting vegetables, having a treasure hunt, and so much more.
What are your favourite garden activities? Share them in the comments below so we can all get inspired.
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