This morning, I’m wrapped up in a cozy blanket, wishing the snow would melt away. (Who ordered snow in March???)
So, naturally, I’m dreaming of summer. And all of the fun things we’ll do when the weather is sunny and warm and inviting.
In my daydreaming, I’ve compiled a list of super simple, low prep (or no prep!) activities to do with little kids in warm weather.
I know there are a bazillion ideas out there, but these are the ones that I can actually see myself doing with the kiddos on a regular basis.
These warm weather activities provide hours of fun and learning.
Without a crazy amount of work or purchasing anything expensive, and bonus – while staying close to home! (What can I say? I’m a major homebody.)
Here are my 10 go-to spring & summertime activities with little kids:
A quick note: Many of these activities can be done simultaneously. But I recommend only choosing one focus at a time. You don’t want your kiddos to get confused about what’s happening or be overwhelmed with a hundred tasks. Plus, choosing one focus helps the activity stand out and feel more exciting.
So, if you’re headed out with the kids, make it just about the penny walk. Or just to search for leaves. Or just to have a picnic. Or just to find homes for your painted rocks. Not everything at once.
1. Have a picnic
If you’re already going to be making lunch, why not adapt it into something you can enjoy outside with the kids?
Try to stick with finger-foods like sandwiches, crackers, fruits, etc. that can be packed in little baggies or a lunchbox. And bring an outdoor blanket. Super duper simple.
That’s really all you need to take a normal part of the routine and turn it into a fun summer activity.
2. Tend a garden
Again, if it’s already something you plan to do, then why not adapt it a little bit to include the kids?
This is a great opportunity to teach your kiddos how to be gentle with flowers. (… instead of instantly plucking them up. Because we all know how much kids love that.)
You can involve them in the process of planting seeds and explain when it is and is not okay to dig in the dirt. You could even section out a small portion of the garden that’s just for them.
3. Penny walk
I love this activity. It’s something my mom used to do with my siblings and me when we were little.
Instead of going on a normal walk, bring a penny along. Every time you reach a crossroads, flip the penny. If it lands on heads, turn right. Tails, turn left.
The kids can take turns flipping the penny and feel like they have some ownership in the journey.
Obviously, keep track of where you’re going so you can find your way home. And you might need to make some executive decisions to stay on a safe path.
But try the penny walk next time you head out for a stroll, and see what new places you can discover near home!
4. Paint rocks
While on a walk, enlist the kids’ help to search for smooth rocks. Or look around your garden. Pick out a couple of rocks to save for later.
Then, when “later” comes, grab some paints and brushes, and let your little ones decorate the rocks.
This can definitely be an outdoor activity. (minimizing the amount of prep or mess you have to deal with inside your house!)
After the rocks are painted, let the kids place them in special spots around the garden. Or save them for your next walk, to leave along the path for other wanderers to discover.
5. Look for bugs
Another super simple activity to do in your own garden or while out on a walk.
Lift up rocks, sticks, and leaves. Look closely at the bark on trees or sift through the grass.
Search for and identify little critters. You could even collect them in a jar to investigate closer (just make sure there are holes for the bugs to breathe) and then release them later.
6. Leaf rubbings
This is yet another activity that could be started either in your own garden or while you’re out and about in the neighborhood.
Search for leaves of different shapes and sizes. The most important thing you’re looking for is distinct veins on the leaves. But if the veins are subtle, that’s okay too. Collect them up anyways and see how well they work out for the activity.
At home in your yard or on the front steps, pull out some crayons and paper.
Lay out the leaves on a flat surface (bottom) and place the paper over them (top).
Then gently rub the crayon over both parts (the leaf and paper) to create a fun leaf impression.
7. Sidewalk chalk
There is so much that can be done with sidewalk chalk. You can let the kids have free reign to create whatever drawings they want. Or if they’re older and capable, you can designate a theme (animals, Disney, beach, vehicles, etc.).
When my siblings and I were younger, we loved using chalk to create elaborate bike courses. Then, we would have races or pretend we were driving around town on our custom roads.
Another frequent design we would do is a patterned caterpillar. My mom would draw a long caterpillar, and we would fill every circle of the caterpillar with a different pattern or picture.
8. Water painting
This activity is fun because it gives kids a chance to get creative, without any real mess.
Give them a bucket of water and some paintbrushes, sponges, or rags. Then, encourage them to “paint” the fence or side of the house. (I would choose something that stands upright, off the ground, or you’re quickly going to deal with lots of mud and dirty tools right at the beginning of the activity.)
You could even add a little soap to the water and let the kids think they’re cleaning.
I don’t know why kids get such a kick out of cleaning, but if it works, why not?
It’s pretty much inevitable that the kids will be soaking wet by the end of this activity. But on a hot summer day, that’s not such a bad thing.
9. Water animals
Another water activity.
Choose some plastic animals or dinosaurs that can be designated as outdoor toys- toys that you don’t care about as much or that can be easily cleaned up.
Then, get a bunch of buckets, bowls, spoons, measuring cups, whisks, etc (Dollar store is a great place to find these if you don’t want to use your kitchen dishes). Fill the buckets with a small amount of water, give the animals/dinosaurs and other supplies to the kids, and let them play to their hearts’ content.
10. Nature scavenger hunts
Again, don’t try to squeeze a ton of activities into one event. But if you want the purpose of your outdoor time to be exploring, consider doing a nature scavenger hunt.
There are multiple ways to do this.
You can choose a theme – colors, shapes, sizes – and do the scavenger hunt like a game of I Spy – “I’m looking for something red…”
Or you can come up with a list beforehand, and ask your kids to gather every item on the list.
I’ve included an example scavenger hunt below. (This may be a bit too advanced for little kids, but you could have fun doing it with them, or come up with an easier list for now. :))
And that’s all there is to it!
10 simple and fun activities to enjoy with your kiddos when the weather warms up.
Will you be trying any of these? What are your go-to spring or summertime activities? Feel free to share in the comments below!