20 Simple Summer Backyard Activities

As much fun as it is going from concert to carnival to park and then back again, this mama fizzles out like a firework after the 4thof July festivities. So if you are like me and hoping for a few weeks of sweet, slow summer before the back to school shenanigans start up, then check out this list of 20 Simple Summer Backyard Activities. They don’t require many supplies (or much parental guidance for that matter) and are a great way to wind down and savor summer.

DIY Chalk Paint

Organize your gnarly and leftover random pieces of chalk by color in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Smash the chalk into a powder using a hammer or other heavy object. Pour a bit of colored chalk in the separate sections of a cupcake pan. Slowly add water and mix the chalk/water solution until it becomes your preferred paint-like texture.


“TOY” Car Wash

Leave the big cars to the experts and instead wash all of the cars that are strewn around your house. Not only will your playroom, living room, and heck, let’s face it, your bedroom become clutter free, but you can also wash all the germs off these well-loved toys. Put out lots of buckets, dish soap, and sponges to make your toy car wash as professional as possible.


Spiced Up S’mores

One of the best things about summertime? S’mores. But take your s’mores to the next level by trying some of these fun and unique twists on a summertime classic.


Flashlight Tag

Ignoring bed time is worth it in order to play flashlight tag. To play, the “tagger” is the one with a flashlight and goes chasing around with a flashlight. When the light shines on you, you are out. This is a perfect game to play when dusk hits because it isn’t too dark to run around…just don’t forget the bug spray!

Raise Butterflies

Tiny little caterpillar eggs are hiding around you every single day as you play in your backyard and your neighborhood. Go on a hunt for milkweed and look under the leaves for tiny white dots. Those are caterpillar eggs! You can break off the leaf and keep the egg safe and growing in a jar with breathing holes, a stick or two, and a steady stream of milkweed to eat once the caterpillar emerges from the egg. You can also find caterpillars on dill plants. They are so easy to care for and so fun to watch because of their beautifully unique life cycle.


Pool Noodle “Light Sabers”

Yes, I know, we shouldn’t encourage our children to beat each other up. But with pool noodles, it’s nearly impossible to get hurt. To make them into light sabers, cut a regular pool noodle in half and then cover one of the edges with gray duct tape to make it look like something Darth Vader would use. Or Luke Skywalker. Whatever side of the force you prefer. 😉


DIY Bubble Solution

Bubbles are amazing…but they are also expensive if you want the “good” kind. So make your own sticky solution using 1 gallon distilled (trust me, it makes a difference) water, 2/3 cup dish soap, and 5-7 tablespoons of glycerin (adjust based on how sticky/bubbly you want your solution to be).


Show What You Know with Water Balloons

Thanks to the genius “Bunch O Balloons,” it is very easy to fill and play with water balloons. The only downfall? They are expensive and kids go through them in the blink of an eye. So extend their water balloon fun by playing a “Show What You Know” game. Write different things on the ground in chalk, whether your child is learning letters, numbers, sight words, math facts. They can smash their water balloon on the correct answer, thereby practicing what they are learning at school and having fun all at once.

Chalk Art

You know what makes drawing with chalk even more fun? Turning your chalk creations into interactive art. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to pretend that a shark is eating him or her?


Paint with Nature

Who needs paint brushes when you have sticks, leaves, pine cones, flowers, grasses, and more? See what your kids can come up with using natural mediums to paint. It is even more fun when you take out a massive roll of butcher paper to paint on.


DIY Popsicles

Save yourself a trip to the frigid section of the grocery store (my kids FREAK out every time our shopping cart heads that way) and make your own popsicles. The best part? You can get really creative with whatever you have on hand at home. Freeze smoothies, yogurt, lemonade…the options are endless. And maybe make a special boozy flavor for you. You’ve earned it after keeping the kids busy all summer long!

Host a Lemonade Stand

We live on a very busy corner, so we are sold out of lemonade within an hour. It’s a great thing because of my boys’ somewhat short attention spans, and my desire to sit out in the sun has about a 45 minute limit. Not only can hosting a lemonade stand show your kiddo how to run a business, but you can also determine how to spend your earnings…hopefully by donating to a charity!


Tie Dye Shirts

Yes, I know. Tie dying shirts is messy. But it’s also REALLY fun. What do you need to make it a stress free (and stylish) process? Plastic gloves, food coloring, squeeze bottles, a white shirt, rubber bands, and a plastic bag. Scrunch up, fold, or twist sections of the white t shirt and wrap a rubber band around the tied fabric. Next, dunk the shirt in a bucket of water so that it damp before you start adding the color dye. Place between 3-5 drops of food coloring (add more if you want richer colors) in each squeeze bottle. Add water to the bottle and shake until the color is fully mixed. Then start squeezing and coloring your shirt! After the entire shirt is colored, wrap it in a plastic bag to set for at least 24 hours. Rinse out the shirt under running water before washing (separately—no other clothing so the colors don’t mix) in your washing machine.


Chalk Paint Bombs

Water balloons are fun…but have you ever tried paint bombs? My Dollar Store hack is to get regular sized balloons and fill them with a mixture of ¾ parts water and ¼ part chalk paint. Tie the balloon closed and then launch it to make a paint splatter on the driveway, fence, etc. The good news—the chalk paint washes away VERY easily!


Ice Cube Hunt

What to do with all of those small, annoying toys from goody bags and happy meals? Throw them in a large plastic container, fill the container with water, and make a frozen ice cube hunt. Kids will have a blast figuring out how to break the ice in order to get to their toys.

Backyard Skee Ball

Let’s face it, Skee Ball is an AMAZINGLY awesome game. So create the same excitement on your driveway or in your backyard with this summer hack. Simply draw concentric circles (think of the Target bullseye) and then have a game of trying to toss items into the target. You can even do this with hula hoops or whatever other rings you have hanging out in your backyard.


Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

This is one of our favorite things to do, even in our own backyard! To read all about the different variations of what to hunt for, check out this popular post.


Lawn Scrabble

The set up might take some time (prepare 72 letters—you can Google the “Scrabble List” for guidance) but it is such a great way to get kids reading and thinking all summer long. We like to use old cardboard, cut them into squares, and then label each square with a letter using a permanent marker. All traditional Scrabble rules apply.


Kindness Rocks

Make your community a kinder and more beautiful place by nestling kindness rocks in different nooks and crannies. To learn how to make these simple yet powerful kindness rocks, head to this popular blog post.


Chase Fireflies

Quintessential summer fun, plain and simple.

Need more ideas on what to do this summer? Here is our summer bucket list, as well as how our family is embracing boredom this summer (because everyone needs a break once in a while!).

Happy Summer!
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  1. Aditi Wardhan Singh says

    Such wonderfully happy ideas. I specially like the chalk art, lemonade stand and raise butter flies. Had never thought of these. Can you tell me if you set up a lemonade stand, do you need permits of any kind?

    Also, head over to this popular post doesn’t link to anything? Can you please add the link or email it to me 🙂 Thank you … and again for the great post!

  2. Becca Wilson says

    These are some really great ideas to keep the kids busy and outdoors. I love the idea of a toy car wash. My kids would probably really enjoy doing that!

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