By Sarah Wilson
If you're after garden activities for kids, look no further. Now that the weather's warmer, it's a great chance to get little ones away from their screens and out in the fresh air.
No matter your budget or the size of your plot, there are tons of ways to tempt them outdoors. Whether it's foraging for flowers, twigs and leaves to create a nature-inspired piece of art, designing an outdoor den for garden adventures, building a bug hotel to encourage wildlife, or clambering over a fabulous climbing frame, you can bet that our garden activities for kids will get them raring to go.
We've got something for everyone – from energetic activities for blowing off steam, to ideas for more peaceful play. So, for hours of fun for the kids – and a bit more quiet time for you – just keep scrolling.
1. Encourage creativity with an easel
Creative garden activities for kids help little ones to express themselves. What's more, you don't need to worry so much about paint splatters when you're outdoors.
Of course, you could simply bring some paper, paint, pens, and crayons outside for a fun-filled, arty afternoon on the patio or lawn. If you're wary of protecting your surfaces, pop down some newspaper or an old sheet first.
But, if you fancy going the extra mile, why not invest in an easel? This painting screen is a brilliant place to create a masterpiece, and can be wiped clean to be used again and again. It also comes with handy storage holders for brushes and other arty bits and bobs. Soothing wood chimes and even a growing trough to fill with flowers are also included in the design, creating the perfect ambience to inspire a work of art.
Looking for more garden play area ideas? Head over to our feature.
2. Spark a sense of adventure with a lookout tower
If your kids are the adventurous kind then you can't go wrong with adding one of the best climbing frames into your garden.
Opt for a design with a lookout tower to encourage hours of imaginative play. This design also comes with a climbing wall, slide, and even a ball pit beneath – your kids will love it.
Paul Schaffer, Managing Director of Plum Play suggests how you can add an extra element of fun to your play equipment: 'Once you have selected the perfect outdoor toy with your family, personalisation is key,' he says. 'Outdoor toys can be personalised with play accessories, interior design for juniors, or simply a touch of paint.'
'A lot of our products have a beautiful natural wood finish that fits neatly into the garden, however for those looking for a more striking look, get the paint out and make your playhouse, climbing frame or treehouse your own.'
3. Teach them to ride a bike
Learning to ride a bike is a fantastic skill for all ages, so why not give your little ones a head start with a mini version? These balance bikes look simply adorable with their retro aesthetic and are perfect for helping kids between 3-5 build up their confidence on two wheels. Plus, they are height-adjustable, so can be easily adapted as your child grows.
If you've got the space in your garden, they're a great way to keep kids busy. And then, when it's time to upgrade to a pedal bike and take on the world outside your plot, they are less likely to need stabilisers.
4. Ramp up the fun factor with a sandpit
Sandpits are a classic choice for garden activities for kids but have come a long way from a simple square box. Sure, the traditional style is still oodles of fun, but to get your kids really excited, how about opting for a themed version instead?
This pirate boat design is a surefire way to inspire hours of swashbuckling adventures. And, the canopy overhead will help to protect them against the midday sun. Plus, it's great if you're looking for extra garden storage ideas – the bench conceals two handy areas for tidying extra toys and accessories away.
5. Get kids into growing with fun planters
You may have already swooned over our garden planter ideas, but there are some gorgeous kid-friendly designs available too. These ones, for example, are perfect to get kids interested in growing. With a fun design based on the well-loved PLAYMOBIL characters, they'll add a pop of color to any bedroom windowsill or patio.
What's more, the clever irrigation system will help kids to learn about watering their plants – when the water reservoir is full, the figure's eyes turn blue!
If you're a fan of indoor garden ideas then these are a fabulously playful addition.
6. Toast marshmallows on a fire pit
Some garden activities for kids are just as fun for adults, too. A cozy log-fuelled fire is a fantastic example. Of course, a parent will need to supervise (and don't leave it burning unattended), but it's a great opportunity for some family bonding time. Just light it up, crowd around with mugs of cocoa, toast marshmallows, and enjoy the warm glow.
7. Play at being pirates
Encourage your kids to sail the ships and conquer land with a fun-filled pirate adventure. Ahoy, me hearties!
String up some flags between trees, provide a couple of eye patches and allow their imaginations to run wild as they embark on a treasure-finding quest. How about a sea shanty or two? Ready-made den kits can be found online and will provide even more pirate-themed fun.
8. Make a botanical potion
If your little ones have read Roald Dahl's George’s Marvellous Medicine (or, in fact, any book about witches and wizards – Harry Potter, we're looking at you), then making a potion is sure to spike interest.
They can spend hours of fun collecting bits of grass, handfuls of soil, colorful petals, and perhaps a small stone or two, and mixing them up into a special formula.
If you really want to ramp up the fun (and hours spent occupied) when it comes to your garden activities for kids, then invest in an outdoor potion kit. This will provide natural colorings, dried flowers, and other bits and pieces to make it feel extra absorbing. Just make sure they don't then drink it (or give it to grandma...).
9. Build a mud kitchen for messy play
There's no getting away from the fact that children are likely to get messy when it comes to garden activities for kids. After all, show a child a big muddy puddle and you can guarantee they'll jump straight in it – all while wearing inappropriate shoes, of course, because they've refused to put on their wellies. So why not embrace the messiness and try out some mud kitchen ideas?
If you don't want to go to the expense of buying a ready-made design, you can simply create one in the corner of your garden. Try using a couple of upcycled pallets, or maybe even an old cupboard that was destined for the tip.
Simply add a few old metal pots, pans and wooden spoons and they'll have hours of (messy) fun making mud pies.
10. Create a garden den
Children love to make dens in the house and creating a garden hideaway is a fun thing to do too. Don't make it too easy for them though. Instead, encourage your children to use their imaginations to come up with ideas for how they want their den to look.
String up a sturdy line or rope between the branches of trees, or use bamboo canes to make a simple wigwam frame. Drape over an old sheet, throw or blanket. If you have a waterproof groundsheet from camping use this to line the inside of the den before piling on a duvet, throws and cushions to make a super snug space.
Alternatively, there are some great kits to buy online, like this one above.
11. Create a fence mural together
Let the blue sky shine through whatever the weather with this clever garden activities for kids idea. This is a great project to do together, on a sunny weekend.
Paint your fence in one color then cut a piece of cardboard into a cloud shape to use as a template. Simply draw around it on the fence, wherever you would like the clouds to be, and paint the cloud shape with a paler color. Bingo – a great new space for the kids to play in.
If you'd like some more ideas on how to design a child friendly garden, take a look at our feature.
12. Make bird seed cakes
It's always good to support the local wildlife when it comes to garden activities for kids. This charming idea from the National Garden Scheme only requires wild bird seed, peanut butter, apples, scissors and a knife.
Simply slice the apples, cover a section of each slice in peanut butter, and then dip in birdseed so it sticks. Once done, you can hang them in a tree or bush for the birds to enjoy, and why not make a note of which bird species enjoy it the most?
There's more ideas on how to make bird feeders in our guide.
13. Play a game as part of your garden activities for kids
Board games teach children patience, learning to wait for your turn, and how to win and lose gracefully. Young players will also learn how to count spaces and develop their hand-eye coordination. It's a great way to spend family bonding time too.
This giant draughts set is a fun way to introduce children to the popular board game. Each piece is 10cm in diameter and the PVC playing mat is 1.2 metres, so it's suitable for your small garden ideas too.
14. Organise an outdoor treasure hunt
Garden activities for kids can be educational. Choose a nature-themed treasure hunt and children will learn to identify things in their natural environment. Try theming the hunt – searching for bugs, birds or butterflies, or identifying leaves and flowers. Or, try a checklist of sensory experiences, such as cloud watching, smelling scented flowers, listening for birdsong, and walking barefoot in the grass (head over to our sensory garden ideas for more inspiration). The prize at the end could be a jam jar filled with coins or a bag of loot from the pound shop.
For another idea, GiftsOnline4U will personalise a jigsaw puzzle that's delivered. Then, all you have to do is hide the pieces in the garden, fill in the cards to offer clues where they’re hidden, and hand over the map. If it ends up raining you can easily switch this one indoors.
15. Construct a sundial
This activity is good for all age groups from four years up. Little ones will learn numbers whilst seeing them change and older kids can learn about finding north and how we move around the sun. All you need is a sunny spot.
There are lots of ways to make a sundial, including drawing round your shadow from the same point at different times during the day. But, the easiest way is to buy a kit.
All that’s needed for this paper sundial above is something to weigh down the gnomon (the part of the sundial that casts the shadow – pebbles or coins will do). And, of course, some sunshine.
16. Make measuring fun
This is a great option if you're after educational garden activities for kids. Award-winning company Learning Resources has a range of educational toys and games that will help kids learn through exploration with fun outdoor activities.
Budding young mathematicians will love this kit shown above, which will help 4-8 year-olds get their heads around measurement. As well as a vertical measure for freestanding objects, there are callipers to measure internal and external objects, a trundle wheel to measure distances (1 click = 1 metre), a spirit level, and a measuring stick.
Learning Resources also has free downloadable activity sheets and resources to help you make the most of the garden.
17. Create a fairy garden
This delightful idea simply needs a dash of imagination, a container, some compost, a few pebbles, and some lovely pieces collected from your garden.
Gather a few seeds together and encourage your children to sow a few in their box for the flower fairies to water overnight. Or why not follow our guide to planting bulbs for a surprise display in the spring?
18. Design a butterfly suncatcher
Encourage your children to get creative with a project that's guaranteed to put a smile on their faces. Add some magical light and pattern with a suncatcher hung from the branches of a tree or pergola. Also known as rainbow makers, when they catch the sunlight colorful patterns will dance and flicker around the garden.
The kit shown above has everything you need for an afternoon of contented crafting. It includes wooden shapes to make eight butterflies and three bees, pre-cut transparent paper, wooden hangers, pens and glue, and an informative sheet about butterflies and bees.
19. Watch an outdoor movie
If you're looking for more garden activities for kids that all the family can enjoy, then nothing beats snuggling up together for a film night. Moving it outside to the garden will turn the experience into something to remember. Easy to set up, all you need is a white sheet thrown over a washing line and the best outdoor projector.
Set the scene with lots of magical garden lighting ideas. Multi-colored festoon lights add a special touch that children will love. Dot around some lanterns too for a fairytale vibe, then pile up the blankets and throws. And don't forget the popcorn!
20. Make a bee hotel
Bees have lost much of their natural habitat as wildflower meadows vanish. So, they need a helping hand to find a safe nesting place. Learning how to make a bug hotel is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Children will love the idea of doing something to save the bees and other insects, whilst crafting a hotel from scratch is an activity the whole family can enjoy.
There are lots to choose from online too, if you decide that crafting one yourself is a step too far. Once ready, secure your bee hotel at shoulder height to a fence or wall in a sheltered spot. Put it near bee-friendly plants too, such as lavender, and you'll get to enjoy the buzz next spring.
21. Throw a tea party
One of the easiest ways to keep kids amused for hours is to set up an imaginative play scenario in the garden. Tea parties and picnics are always popular, especially if you invite the teddy bears too.
Throw down a picnic rug, string up pretty fairy lights or bunting, then add a few key accessories to get the party started. It's a lovely idea if you're looking for slightly more peaceful garden activities for kids.
22. Camp out
For adventurous garden activities for kids, camping can be just as fun on the lawn as it is on a campsite. Add duvets, throws, a few cushions, and an airbed, if you want to take things to the next level.
If you can't find the tent pegs, or find it a palaver putting it up for one night, a wooden teepee also makes a great hideaway (they can come with a fabric door to keep parents out). Plus, you can find a space for it that doesn’t leave a big patch of dead grass on the lawn.
23. Build a bird feeder
Learn how to attract birds into your garden with a simple building project that kids will love. Bird feeders should be placed in a quiet and sheltered spot, but they can also be attached to a window with suction pads. Seeing them feed up close becomes a more personal experience for children.
You can find simple DIY bird feeder kits online, which then can be painted once made. The RSPB recommends seeds, suet and peanuts for blue tits and sunflower hearts for finches.
Or, if you don't fancy building your own, head over to our guide to the best bird feeders to find the right design for your space.
24. Treat them to a garden station
Encourage kids to get involved with the gardening by giving them their very own mini potting bench. They can fill up small pots with compost and seeds, or even try planting bulbs for spring.
Alternatively, they can simply use it for making delicious mud pies with leaves and some soil. Just don't hold us responsible for the state of their clothes afterwards!
If you don't want to splash out on a ready-made one, it's relatively simple to create a DIY version with a couple of old wooden pallets.
25. Incorporate growing into your garden activities for kids
Encouraging kids to get involved with growing fruit and veg is a brilliant way to spark their interest in different types of food. In summer, herbs such as mint (add to homemade lemonade) and basil (for homemade pizza oven recipes) are super easy to grow. If children want to try flowers, a pack of forget-me-not seeds is a good starter.
They can be grown throughout summer and into September. In autumn, you can get kids planting spring bulbs, which helps them learn about the growing seasons. Set aside a small area of the garden they can call their own and kit it out with a kiddie potting bench, such as this planter bench, and the right tools for little hands (widely available, try Amazon).
Head over to our guide to growing vegetables in pots for more easy ideas.
26. Try zorbing
Looking for high-energy garden activities for kids? This is a fun pastime that children of all ages will love. And, you don't need a slope for zorbing, as it works on a flat lawn too. A different take on the inflatable balls you climb inside, this rainbow roller promises hours of thrills and spills.
It works in water too, if you're planning any pool parties come summer. Made of environmentally-friendly, high quality and extra tough PVC, it's guaranteed to see a lot of action.
27. Build a bug sanctuary
Choose a dark corner of the garden to build a haven with lots of nooks and crannies for insects to hide in. Help your children look for twigs, leaves, moss and bark. If you have any broken terracotta pots, bricks, old roof tiles or logs, then add them to the mix to provide plenty of cool damp places for bugs to hide in. Check out local skips for old pallets too, as these make an ideal base for building up layers.
If you want something a little more swish and you're handy with a drill, use wood to create a set of hollow interconnecting shapes you can then fill. Build up layers of wood, bricks and logs, pushing moss and leaves into holes and spaces to create retreats.
Birds, hedgehogs and frogs will be attracted to your sanctuary too, so it's a great all-rounder for wildlife garden ideas.
28. Press flowers for craft projects
Encourage children to find flowers in the garden that can be kept and used later for decorative art and craft projects such as cards, journals and framed pictures. Make sure they pick the flowers on a dry day after the morning dew has evaporated, as the blooms need to be dry. You can get good results from common garden flowers such as roses and daisies.
Trim off any stamens to avoid the petals getting stained and keep some leaves on the stem for a more natural look. The flowers should then be arranged between two sheets of non-stick baking paper. Alternatively, a neat trick is to slip flowers inside coffee filter papers. Always make sure the flowers and foliage don't overlap when arranging them.
Insert into a large book and pile more books on top to add weight. In two weeks your flowers should be ready.
29. Have a swinging time
With all of us spending more time in our gardens than before, you might want to bring a little more adventure to your play equipment this season. And most children love a swing. From traditional sets, to double seaters like the one above – they're bound to provide tons of thrills for adventure-lovers.
30. Get creative with ice ornaments
One for the winter months – make the most of the chilly weather by showing your kids how to make ice ornaments. These garden activities for kids are inspired by Mud & Bloom. It's so easy, yet children will love the results.
Start by finding plastic containers around the house – things like old plastic food boxes, small dishes, even silicone cupcake holders. Fill with water and then add a selection of colorful leaves, flowers, twigs, and other interesting bits and bobs from the garden. Lay a jute string across the middle (letting the ends hang off the sides of the container, ready to tie together later).
Then, leave the filled containers outside on a frosty night, allowing them to freeze solid. In the morning, run each container gently under warm water to release a beautiful ice ornament to hang on a nearby tree.
31. Make a home for hedgehogs
They might be spiny, but hedgehogs are cute little beings. They're actually rather helpful in the garden, too, keeping slugs and other pests at bay.
But, during the winter months, hedgehogs are on the lookout for safe places to rest. So, if you've got a wilder patch to your garden, help the kids make them a home using logs and leaves, or perhaps a small cardboard box with a doorway cut out.
Small dishes of fresh water and cat or dog food (but not the fish-based kind), can be tucked amongst it, to provide the hedgehogs with sustenance.
The activity itself (and the possibility of inhabitants) will be exciting enough, but the sight of a prickly critter wandering across the lawn at dusk will bring an extra dose of delight – to both you and your children! You could even set up an outdoor camera to see if you get any visitors.
Just remember to cover any nearby drains, and be careful when strimming, or lighting any bonfires – always check they are hedgehog-free first.
What are good activities for 5 year olds?
Five year olds are full of beans and love to play pretend. Makeshift forts or ready-built playhouses (take a look at Waltons for a good range) will keep their imaginations occupied for hours.
Arts and crafts are also good to try, especially in the garden where any mess is easy to clean up. Provide poster paints, Pritt sticks and colorful paper, and encourage them to create their own masterpieces inspired by (and using) the nature around them. For example, you could show them how to make rubbings of tree trunks, using wax crayons.
What are some outdoor activities for toddlers?
Toddlers often need a bit more supervision in the garden, but there are still lots of outdoor things they love to do.
Try a simple treasure hunt, as suggested by Verywellfamily.com, by hiding toys (or even washed out recyclables) in easy-to-find places around the garden. Draw the items on a sheet of paper, and help them cross them off as they go.
Toddlers can also engage in getting creative – try using jumbo chalks to encourage the creation of patterns and shapes on the patio. Most chalks will wash away very easily with water, but do a small test-run first, just to check.
What are some good gardening activities for kids?
If you're looking for your garden activities for kids to be educational as well as fun, how about showing children how to plant flowers or vegetables? As we mentioned, it's a great way to get them interested in different kinds of food, plus is a lovely activity to help them learn how things grow. And, (extra bonus!) it might well encourage them to eat their greens, as a lettuce leaf or radish can suddenly seem quite exciting if they've been involved in its growth.
Watering the garden can also be engaging and give kids a sense of responsibility – especially if they have their very own watering can to do it with. For older children, you can even show them how to weed the beds (take a look at our weed control tips and tricks first). They'll enjoy hunting for ones to pull up and it'll save you a job.
Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines.
Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.
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