Monday, 18 June 2018

CHILDREN: The Ultimate List of Fun Garden Activities to do this Summer

CHILDREN: The Ultimate List of Fun Garden Activities to do this Summer
Summer is well and truly here, which I for one am so thankful for! Parenting two children while being stuck indoors thanks to the rain is hard work, so we are truly making the most of being able to be outdoors all day long. As the UK summer holidays are quickly approaching I thought I'd put together some of our favourite garden activities that will keep children of all ages busy for hours and hours. There are activities for children that love being creative, sporty and/or imaginative, so hopefully something for everyone. 


1) Create a fairy garden - If there's a way of adding a sprinkle of magic to your garden and child's fay it's putting together a fairy garden. This set from Hobbycraft (£15) is perfect for easily creating a little fairy garden because it contains everything you'll need other than soil. Isabella absolutely loved adding all of the little accessories, including the washing line, toadstool and fairy house. Once everything is in place you sprinkle over the grass seed and within one to two weeks your fairy garden will come to life. It's a great way to give children some responsibility and allow them to help keep the garden growing. Isabella has made up an imaginary world with the fairy (that comes with the set), including taking her out on adventures around the garden. 
2) Make a kite - Decorate a toilet roll tube with glue and tissue paper, then cut long strands of tissue paper and glue them around one end of the tube. Fix a string loop on the other end and let your child run around the garden with it, watching the tissue paper flapping around as they run.
3) Make an outdoor cinema - Going to the cinema in our house is a firm favourite, but in the summer it seems a shame to sit inside for hours. This is where the idea to create our own outdoor cinema came from; now if you had a projector and a suitable wall outside that would be perfect. But, if you're like me and that's only ever going to be a dream, then a tablet with a downloaded tv show/film from iPlayer or Netflix works really well. Pair a good film with a bag of delicious Portlebay Popcorn, which come in an interesting range of flavours including Lemon Sherbet and Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup. Their popcorn is seriously crispy, packed with flavour and each packet is the ideal size for a snack 
4) Play Frisbee - get increasingly further apart while throwing the Frisbee between you. It is a different technique to throwing a ball, so it can take a bit of practice but a lot of fun once they've mastered the skill.
5) Make an obstacle course - use any play equipment you have in your garden already to create an obstacle course. Give your child directions of what to do and then countdown until they can begin, for example go down the slide, run around the swing, kick the football and throw me the tennis ball.
6) Mess free painting with Paint Sticks - Yes, you read right. Painting no longer has to be messy, thanks to the Paint Sticks from little brian. A revolution in our house and something that both girls love playing with. There's no need for water or brushes, you just twist up and down (like a glue stick) to reveal the vibrant, solid  colour of a Paint Stick. Once your piece of art has been created just pop the lid back on and you're done! No need to wait for the picture to dry either, as it dries in seconds allowing your little one to proudly show-off their piece of art straight away. They can even be used on windows, if you fancy adding a splash of colour to your view. The Paint Sticks are available in a wide array of colours, finishes and sizes, something for all works of art. The Mini Paint Sticks are perfect for little hands or adding detail to paintings, whilst the Fabric Paint Sticks allow you to customise your clothes too. 
7) Giving yourself wings and crowns using chalk on a patio area -  Using Chalkriffic Glitter Pavement Chalks from Hobbycraft draw crowns, wings or superhero caps on your patio/side of the house or one of these chalkboards from Hobbycraft if you don't have anywhere suitable. Show your little one where to lay/stand to make it look like they're wearing the item, photograph and show them their transformation. Take it in turns to create different chalk wardrobe additions for each other.  
8) Have a picnic - An obvious, yet essential one. Invite friends over or just enjoy a quiet family picnic outdoors. The key is lots of delicious food, a picnic blanket and sunshine. Isabella has been really enjoying the new Cheese & Onion Lentil Hoops from Organix (suitable from 12 months+), which is perfect because they are baked with over 65% lentils and have no added salt/sugar. Picnics can be a tempting place for little ones, but those tasty treats for us adults are potentially dangerously high in salt for toddlers and children. Giving Isabella a bag of the Lentil Hoops means she doesn't feel like she's missing out and reassures me that she won't be consuming too much salt/sugar. We can't forget that babies love a good picnic too and with the new Organix Cheese Baby Biscuits (suitable from 10 months+) they are catered for. Poppy has been a big fan of their Strawberry and Banana Baby Biscuits from the moment she turned 10 months, so it's nice to add a savoury variety to the range. They're the baby version of crackers and cheese; a picnic essential. The ring shaped biscuit makes it easy for babies to hold and as with all Organix products there isn't any sweeteners, flavours or salt added. 

9) Painting with water - the cheapest and mess-free way to let children loose with a paintbrush. Give them a pot of water and a paintbrush and let them 'paint' the house, patio or playhouse. You could also draw pictures using chalk and let them watch in fascination as it disappears when they paint over it.
10) Make a quiet area - Fix a long piece of material (could be an old curtain) around a hoop, tie strong to create a hanging loop and then hang it from a strong tree branch in your garden. The material provides a quieter area for children to cool down or relax in during a hot summers day. It would also be the perfect little reading nook. 
11) Eat homemade ice lollies - I have a recipe for 3 Ingredient Mango and Strawberry Ice Lollies, which aren't just easy to make but also good for you too! Blitz up your favourite fruit, pop into an ice lolly mould and enjoy a few hours later once frozen. The perfect way to cool down on a hot summers day.
12) Do a Mud & Bloom Gardening Box - Mud & Bloom is a gardening and nature monthly subscription box (£7.95 a month), which include a range of fun activities to do in the garden/outdoors. Activities include seeds to sow, flower crowns, bug hunts, flower looms and best of all pretty much everything you need it included. The only thing left to do is to use the nature around you to create the different activities. It is inspired by Forest School and run by a mum of three young children; I always find it so inspiring when fellow mummies start up their own businesses.
13) Make a Peanut Butter Toilet Roll Bird Feed Tube - spread smooth peanut butter on a cardboard tube, roll it in bird seed mix, thread some string through the tube to create a hanging loop and place on a branch in your garden.
14) Paint a Bird Box - encouraging wildlife to your garden is a fun way to educate your little ones all about what animals eat and where they live. Painting their own bird box helps them to feel like they're personally contributing to
15) Do a big Art Attack - This one is so much fun for adults and children alike! Hobbycraft have recently launched this Kids' Outdoor Paints in a range of colours, including white, pink, lilac and sky blue. They are washable paints that you can spray all over pavements/walls (or a big roll of white easel paper if you're feel slightly less brave) and then wash it away when you're finished. The fact they're spray adds a fun twist and means they create beautiful pieces of 'modern art' in seconds. 
16) Toast marshmallows - Who doesn't love toasting marshmallows and having a BBQ? The lightweight VonHaus 2 in 1 Copper Folding Fire Pit (£34.95) is perfect for this because it folds up and fits into a convenient carry bag (provided), so it can easily be moved around your garden or even taken on holidays/days out. It also comes with a removable bbq grill, mesh lid spark guard and poker, which is very handy. The fact that it is both a bbq and firepit makes it appealing to the marshmallow roasting supervised children, bbq fans and adults who want to enjoy a glass of wine by the fire in the evening. Isabella has loved toasting marshmallows (and then squeezing them between two biscuits) on it with adult supervision; the ultimate treat. I've also enjoyed relaxing next to the fire in the cooler evenings. 

17) Plant seeds - look up what is ideal for planting at this time of year and get planting. Most plants need to spend the first month or so indoors, so save your yogurt pots/egg cartons to plant them into.
18) Washing line badminton - two badminton rackets, one shuttlecock and one washing line (drying washing optional); everything you need to play a game of badminton in your own back garden.
19) Make a barefoot sensory walk - take some paper plates/large Tupperware boxes and fill them with different textured items, such as stones, water, jelly, leaves, feathers etc. Put them together to make a sensory path and then children walk barefoot carefully between each texture.
20) Press flowers - go around your garden together picking pretty flowers (be careful of spikey or poisonous ones), then use this Instant Flower Press to press them in seconds. You just pop them in-between the layers of felt and cotton, pop in the microwave with a cup of water and then the flowers come out dried! Once pressed you could use them to make cards, crafts or frame them for your little ones bedroom.

21) Make a bug hotel - There is a really easy to follow tutorial on the RSPB website all about how to make a bug hotel if you want to have that addition to your garden. 
22) Create a den - Use a washing line, play equipment or even sticks to create a structure. Then throw over old bed sheets, throws, curtains etc. to make a den. A good way of keeping unwilling children in the shade and with the imagination of a child the den can become anything.
23) Treasure hunt - Hide little toys, signs or messages around your garden without your child seeing. Give them a bucket and tell them to go and see if they can find everything you've hidden. It could be timed for an added bit of competition. If your child is older then each hiding spot could have a clue to the next one, which they need to read.
24) Go on a minibeast hunt - On a piece of paper draw or write the names of various minibeasts you are likely to find in the garden. Draw a tick box next to each one and go off on a minibeast hunt. When you find one tick it off; can they find them all?
25) Make flower 'perfume' - Using a selection of different jars, water sprayers and flowers children can mix the flowers and water together to make their own 'perfume'. Alice from NewYoungMum has a lovely blog post showing how she did something similar with her daughter.
26) Create a pouring station - this is ideal for doing on a patio area or in an empty paddling pool. Collect together a range of jugs, tubs and plastic cups, then let your little one pour water between them all. You could take it one step further a have jugs of different coloured water, using food colouring, to add a fun twist.
27) Fill the paddling pool - a summer garden essential for cooling off and hours of fun. Fill the paddling pool then pop in bath toys, balls or even reposition a slide to land in the paddling pool.
28) Open a sand ice-cream shop - Use damp sand, an ice-cream scoop and either plastic cones or tubs to open an ice-cream shop. Your child could make a sign with prices if they're a bit older and then invite everyone to come and buy an ice-cream of their choice. A good one for combining play and maths, in fact I have written a blog post featuring 10 numbers and counting activities for the garden if this is something your little one enjoys.
29) Play hide and seek - a childhood classic. As long as your garden has safe places for your little one to hide then this game can be played over and over again. 
30) Catch the bubbles - blow loads of bubbles (or put on a bubble machine) and let your child/ren run around trying to catch them.
31) Have a water fight - Take it to the extreme with water balloons or keep it tame with the garden hose, either way it is a guaranteed way to get everyone smiling. Why not make an assault course they have to try and get through during the water fight?
32) Make a mud pie - Mix mud and water together to create an almost 'dough', then let your child make a mud pie. Use old baking trays, wooden spoons and rolling pins for that authentic 'baking' feel. 
33) Dolls bath time - Take out a bucket of warm water, add some bubble bath to it and let your child wash their dolls (ensuring they're suitable for being submerged in water). They can wash their hair, get them dry in the sunshine and all dressed again. The same idea can be used for muddy plastic animals or construction vehicles.
34) Do a bark rubbing - take some paper and a wax crayon outside and collect some different bark rubbings. Place the paper onto the tree trunk (you could sellotape it for younger children), keep it still and then rub the wax crayon on its side across the paper to reveal the bark rubbing.
35) Water balloon catch - fill up water balloons with water, then stand opposite each other and throw the balloon between you. The aim of the game is to not burst the balloon! You could make teams with family and friends; who can last the longest? Add an extra challenge by taking a step further away from each other between each throw.
36) Do a jumbo puzzle - Orchard Toys are well known for their impressive and comprehensive range of games for children of all ages. New to their range is this One Dog, Ten Frogs Jumbo Game (£10), which is perfect for playing in the garden with anywhere between one and four players. The aim of the game is to create a giant 1-15 number line and to do this you have to turn over matching cards. It's such a fun way to get children counting, as they have to work out how many animals are on the cards they pick up. There is a number line included, which children can use to help them compile the jumbo number line at the end of the game. I like that you can add your own twist on the game, for instance hiding the pieces around your garden for older children or focusing on certain numbers your child finds difficult. 
37) Outdoor Pictionary - Using a chalkboard or easel outside, create teams that have to use the chalkboards to draw a given 'thing'. The rest of their team has to guess what it is, as soon as someone guesses correctly it is their turn to draw something. You could either have a person whispering what to draw to the team members or cards with different words/pictures (depending on the age of the players) drawn on.
38) Sponge catch - Two teams (or people) each have a bucket filled with water and sponges. The aim of the game is to throw the wet sponges to the other person/team, they have to catch it and then throw back a new wet sponge. The person with the most sponges in their bucket at the end wins. 
39) Make leaf people - I've already done a step-by-step guide on how to make these leaf people, which you can find here. These are ideal for children who enjoy putting on puppet shows or creating imaginary worlds. 
40) Blanket run - Sit your little one (as long as they are big enough to hold on to a moving blanket) on a blanket, you grab the other end and tell them to hold on tight. Pull them around your garden on the blanket for a fun ride or compete with other family members/friends to cross over a finish line. 
41) Rainbow nature hunt - Colour in a variety of different coloured boxes on a piece of paper and go on a hunt to find things that match those colours. This could be leaves, flowers, plants, herbs, vegetables etc., anything you find outdoors. 
42) Make plant labels - Ask your little one to draw pictures of different fruit, vegetables or plants you have growing in your garden on a piece of card. Laminate it, sellotape to a lollipop stick and then stick in the ground next to the plant.
43) Make a flower crown - Cut out a crown shape from card (could even be cardboard that would otherwise be recycled), hole punch a hole on either side of the crown, thread through a length of string and tie into the place. Ensure it is the right size to sit on your child's head comfortably. Go and collect pretty flowers together and then use PVA glue to stick them into place.
44) Animal leaf pictures - Collect a variety of different shaped leaves, arrange them on a piece of paper to make different animals and stick them down. Then add googly eyes to bring them to life.
45) Make your own bouncy balls - This is such a fun and surprisingly quick activity that children can have endless hours of entertainment with. The Make Your Own Bouncy Balls Kit from Hobbycraft (£3) allows children (3 years+) to make their own bouncy balls seemingly from coloured 'sand.' You get four different coloured sachets inside (pink, green, blue and purple) and an orange mould, in which you pour layers of the 'sand' until it is full. You then immerse it in water for 10 minutes, remove for 30 minutes and you're left with a bouncy ball that really does bounce. So much fun and Isabella was truly fascinated! There is enough 'sand' to make more than one bouncy ball, so ideal for siblings too. 
46) Make a nature loom - Collect sticks and tie them together into a triangle or square shape using wool/string. Next, tie the string/wool to create rows going upwards and sideways. Then you can go on a nature hunt and slide in your finds into your nature loom. 
47) Plant some seeds - It could be fruit, vegetables or flowers, but either way it is a great way to show children how plants grow, what they need and where food/flowers come from. 
48) Paint rocks - A current craze is decorating rocks and hiding them in different places, which makes for a rather fun large scale game of hide and seek. Chloe from Life Unexpected has a really helpful guide on how to paint rocks using acrylic paint pens, which you can see here. You could decorate the rocks and hide them in your own garden or find safe places in your local area; we've found one in the sandpit at a farm near us. 
49) Rainbow nature hunt - Draw squares in a variety of colours on a piece of paper and challenge your child to find things around the garden that match the colours. They could be leaves, flowers, play equipment, even washing on the washing line!
50) Shadow drawing - This one needs to be done on a sunny day because you need to create some shadows. Ask your child to choose their favourite model animal/person/figure from their toy collection and take it out into the garden along with a piece of paper and pencil. Sit somewhere where the sun will create a shadow on the paper when you place the animal/person/figure on the bottom of the page. They can then try and draw around the shadow, which is perfect for practising their fine motor skills. 

What are your favourite summer garden activities?

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x

*This post contains PR samples. As always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest. 

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20 comments

  1. What a fab list! We've done lots of these but this will give us ideas all summer. I love the outdoor cinema idea and my son is reading over my shoulder and has just asked to do flower pressing.

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  2. What a great list! I've got great memories of playing with a frisbee with my sisters in the graden so it's good to see one still appears on your list lol!

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  3. I want to make a fairy garden of my own as the stone fairy doors look so cute, great list x

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  4. Wow this is a really comprehensive list of outdoor activities, hoping the weather lasts long enough to try some out. I love the look of the spray bottle paints and a great idea to do them outside, I will definitely be investing in some of those.

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  5. Oh my goodness. What a list! I am bookmarking this page and adding so many of these to our family summer bucket list! I loved so many things on here and only about 5 we do already so there is a lot of fun things we need to try out .x

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  6. This is such a fabulous list and you have so many great ideas! I'd find it hard to pick a favourite although I love the idea of the flower press and your home made ice-lollies look absolutely gorgeous, I'd say they are really refreshing.

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  7. What a lovely summer fairy garden. I love the idea of flower pressing and all those yummy super snacks x

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  8. These are all really lovely ideas. I really like the make an outdoor cinema as it's so simple to do. We all have an ipad now days and it's something different which makes it fun!!

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  9. I love the idea of the outdoor cinema (popcorn is a winner!) and the outdoor pictionary idea - this would be fun for all ages. I love this list, so many good ideas.

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  10. So many great idea here! My daughter loves being in the garden and loves her Fairy Garden even more!!!

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  11. I love all these fab ideas!! We will definitely do some of these in the next couple of months.

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  12. Epic list! The instant flower press is mind blowing! I really want to make a fairy garden.

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  13. What a comprehensive list. This is going to come in handy when my son finishes school for the summer. I love the idea of those paint sticks as I hate the mess of crafting/painting!

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  14. Amazing list of great and fun packed things to do in your back garden! WHO says you always need to be out of the house doing lots of activities to keep the little ones happy and exited!

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  15. These are great activities! Picnic will always be on top of my list.

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  16. Brilliant activities for the summer! The fairy garden would definitely be a winner in my house: my 3 girls are fairy-addicts! I love the chalks: glitter rocks :)

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  17. Such a long list of things! I want to do some of these with my friends children, they'll love them

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  18. These are all such lovely ideas and we are going to do the outdoor cinema this year - just so much fun. Also planning to put up some fairy doors for my boys. Thanks for sharing

    Laura x

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  19. Some amazing ideas here, we love roasting marshmallows and painting in th garden

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