Summer activities | 130 garden adventures for kids

Summer activities for kids are cheap if you open the back door and set the kids free. The garden is an amazing adventure playground! In the days before digital kids were happy to dig a hole in the garden. They were content to study a snail in the wild or jump on a trampoline until the sun went down.

Summer activities in my childhood included silly acts like eating cake and collecting up prickles in our t-shirts. When we had enough ‘ammo’ we’d throw them over the neighbours fence until we got told off. We’d play Elastics until someone cheated and we’d make up silly songs. We had a long list of songs including one about the most sickening foods ever. We’d stage dress-ups and talent shows in the garage to songs like ‘We’re the kids in America.’

These days I spend my weekends delivering a small gang of children into the great outdoors. These kids include two of my own, two kids from next door and one kid from across the road. They grace our living room most Saturday afternoons. It is my job to get these kids off their digital devices and into the garden. Alternatively, I will send them to the park next door to rustle around in the trees or hang around the monkey bars. But as I bid goodbye to this fresh-eyed gang of spirited kids, I catch them sneaking iPods into pockets.

They think, in all their worldly knowledge, that this ole’ lady won’t notice.

I’ve become Army-Sergeant-like about these kids and line them up on the porch. Each child will pass me their respective iPod with a look of dismay or sadness. I’ve even had resentment. That came from my three-turning-thirty, but I forgave her because she doesn’t know what she’s doing yet.

As the iPod-Sergeant, I feel like one of my old Aunties. The one who wouldn’t let me have the second helping of Upside Down Pineapple Cake because I was ‘getting too fat.’ Except I attempt the whole Army Sergeant routine in a comical, non-threatening way, which involves not calling anyone a name or fracturing any young person’s hope at self-esteem.

At the very least, when these kids grow up,  I hope they won’t blame me for any of their adult hang-ups. I’m picturing a gangly googly-eyed spectacle-wearing iPod-loving therapist bad-mouthing me during a weekly session with one of these kids.

That wouldn’t be good, for the kid anyway…

Anyway, after their return from ‘the wild’ (i.e visit to the park), the faces of these kids are fresh. They look rosy-faced and alive after their humble game of chasey and making daisy chains in the sun, for, in their words, ‘way too long.’  They would admit to me what fun that was, if I was anyone other than the woman holding their precious iPods for ransom. But what these little cherubs don’t know is that I’ve got a cheat sheet (a very special weapon) that is going to keep their iPod-loving gang busy well into their teens.  And they think they can pull the wool over my eyes because they’re so hip and ‘digital.’ Mmmm…..


So here is that long list I’ve created.

130 garden adventures for kids

Stick this list on the fridge over the holidays as a quick reference. Access it for cheap and quick summer activities to keep kids refreshed and to give them a digital break. (Pssst…you can access the list on your phone too – just don’t tell the kids.)

Of course, if you have any great ideas yourself – please submit them in the comments!

Your ideas will help grow more kids with creative minds and vivid imaginations!

Lookout Minecraft! Here come a new wave of mothers and we are ready for YOU 🙂

In the backyard

  1. Afternoon tea in the garden
  2. Blow bubbles
  3. Build a cardboard cubby
  4. Build a cubby house
  5. Build a fort
  6. Build a go-kart
  7. Catch bugs
  8. Chase butterflies
  9. Climb trees
  10. Collect acorns
  11. Create something
  12. Collect firewood
  13. Collect leaves and make art
  14. Conduct science experiments
  15. Count cars
  16. Create a bird bath
  17. Create a cool water slide
  18. Create a garden sculpture
  19. Create a water play table
  20. Create a treasure hunt
  21. Create a treasure map
  22. Create an obstacle course

Get digging!

  1. Dig a hole
  2. Dig and bury items
  3. Dig up dinosaurs from plaster
  4. Do some stargazing
  5. Draw with chalk
  6. Eat lunch outside together
  7. Feed birds and animals
  8. Find cloud shapes together
  9. Follow an ant trail
  10. Get the kids out weeding
  11. Hang candles outdoors
  12. Have a mud bath
  13. Have morning tea in the garden

Hold an event

  1. Hold a garage sale
  2. Hold a kids’ garden party
  3. Hold a street party
  4. Hula-hoop
  5. Identify garden sounds
  6. Install a swing set
  7. Jump on a pogo stick
  8. Jump on a trampoline
  9. Kick a ball
  10. Kick a footy
  11. Learn about the different trees in your garden
  12. Learn bird calls
  13. Learn Macramé
  14. Learn the names of flowers
  15. Lie on the grass together

Make something

  1. Make a bird feeder
  2. Make a cheap tyre swing
  3. Make a collage using garden materials
  4. Make a fish pond
  5. Make a go-kart
  6. Make a robot
  7. Make a rock garden
  8. Make a snowman
  9. Make water slip-and-slide
  10. Make a wind chime
  11. Make an ant farm
  12. Make and throw mud pies
  13. Make collages from magazines
  14. Make daisy chains
  15. Make jewellery
  16. Make leaf-rubbing pictures
  17. Make lemonade
  18. Make mini parachutes
  19. Make play dough
  20. Make recycled paper
  21. Organise garden play dates
  22. Paddle in a shell pool
  23. Paint a face
  24. Paint pinecones
  25. Photograph birds’ nests
  26. Photograph spider webs
  27. Plant flowers

Play games

  1. Play badminton
  2. Play blindfolded tag
  3. Play Bocce Ball
  4. Play catch
  5. Play cricket
  6. Play croquet
  7. Play detectives
  8. Play Elastics
  9. Play Four Square
  10. Play handball
  11. Play Hopscotch
  12. Play I Spy
  13. Play in the rain
  14. Play with toy cars, trikes and bikes
  15. Play Kick Ball
  16. Play lawn darts
  17. Play Noughts and Crosses
  18. Play Newcomb Ball
  19. Play random games
  20. Play Red Rover
  21. Play Simon Says
  22. Play T-Ball
  23. Play tag
  24. Play toy lawnmowers
  25. Play under the sprinkler
  26. Play volleyball
  27. Play water pistols
  28. Play water tag with a spray bottle
  29. Rake up leaves
  30. Read a book series over the summer holidays
  31. Relax on a camping chair
  32. Scooter on a paved area
  33. Set up easels and paint
  34. Skateboard on the patio

Start a project

  1. Start a herb garden
  2. Start a nature notebook
  3. Start a veggie patch
  4. Sting up fairy lights
  5. Study bugs
  6. Study nature with binoculars
  7. Study the garden with a magnifying glass
  8. Take photos in the garden
  9. Take up garden golf
  10. Throw hoops on targets
  11. Throw horseshoes on targets
  12. Throw stones in a pond
  13. Tie knots
  14. Touch flowers and bark

Take those shoes off

  1. Walk barefoot on the grass
  2. Walk in the rain
  3. Walk on a balancing beam
  4. Wash the family pet
  5. Watch the moon