Backyard Photo Scavenger Hunt

outside activities for kids

This outside activity is perfect for children who love treasure hunts and can work with multiple ages since there are no words to read ( although you could add them). My goal with this project was to familiarize my son with his new yard and what better way to do that than make it a game. You could build on this activity by returning inside and researching some of the plants, painting with the flowers or even dissecting them.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a camera, printer, self laminating photo pouches, hole punch, binder rings, scissors , a yard and someone eager to go on a hunt!
  2. Pop outside when you are not with your child(ren) and take some pictures of things all around your yard.
  3. Print them out , trim and place in the self laminating pouches. I love these because they are way easier to use than contact paper and are sturdy for outside play. I placed 2 pictures in each pouch so there was one picture on the back and one on the front. I purposely laid out the pictures so my son would have to go from the front yard to the back, to the front etc… this isn’t just about getting to know the yard it’s also gross motor so I wanted to make him move as much as possible.
  4. Punch holes in the corner.  
  5. Add the ring.
  6. Study the pictures .
  7. Go on the hunt! The roses were found right away.
  8. So were the apples.
  9. He knew exactly where the birdhouse was too.
  10. The lily behind him was the tricky one, but we celebrated when he found it.

Please note the sword ( plastic golf club) and Knight’s Shield are completely optional.

Books About Gardens

A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian is a fresh and so richly illustrated alphabet book you will likely have the same thoughts I did while reading it with my son ” I need to frame these pages!” they are that awesome. What I think the main benefit of this book is , is that the words chosen for each letter are not the same old ones you see over and over in alphabet books. The words used are things like Japanese Garden for J, Lawn Ornaments for L and my favorite was Underground for U with a cool illustrations of worms, root vegetables and roots !


Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert  will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.


The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Is a really touching book that I would happily recommend for school age children. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl during the depression who is shipped to the city to work in her uncle’s bakery because both her parents are out of work.  She is obviously nervous but knows that it’s something she has to do.  She takes a little of the country with her in seed packets which she plants in the city while she learns about baking and becomes friends with her uncles employees. This is more a story about making the most of hard times, and would be a great way to talk about the great depression with your child. There are so many little things in the illustrations by David Small to talk about , from a picture of FDR to traveling by train and  the general sense of sadness .  In the end it’s a warm hearted book that I can’t wait to share with my son in a few years.

Water Balloon Color Mixing- Outside Art Project

If you combine water balloons with art you’ll get this super fun summer activity!  Right after my son turned 4 all of a sudden his finger took the shape of a gun, his pretend play switched from firefighters to police, bad guys and super heroes and my sanity got a little more fragile. I am a born pacifist so it’s taken me some time to acclimatize to bombs, blasters and such. One way that we have addressed it in our house is you guessed it, art and play.  A project like this that channels the aggression and need for destruction was the answer for us. It was also fun!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some water balloons, a container, a canvas, water color crayons ( or washable markers), and a kid ready to blast a few things.
  2. Start by coloring the canvas with water color crayons – washable markers will work too, just use darker more vibrant colors.
  3. Fill up some balloons.
  4. Go outside.
  5. Throw!  My son was adamant that he could throw it at it and had fun even though none of the first round of balloons hit it, although some were really close.
  6. Dropping them worked way better!
  7. Check out how the canvas has changed! 
  8. A few days later we tried adding washable marker.
  9. Blasted it with water “shooters”- liquid syringes since we were all out of water balloons, after I told him we could go blast some, luckily this was available and just as “cool”.
  10. Worked great.
  11. Let dry – pull out again and again, I think we are going to do this many more times for the rest of the summer. The layers of color will be so cool.

* As with every craft please make sure you only do crafts that you and your child can do safely. Broken balloons can be very dangerous for kids who are still putting things in their mouths. Please ensure all pieces are picked up and disposed of so we can all keep playing and creating. *

Backyard Dinosaur Dig

dinosaur themed activitiy

We hit the Dollar Store for some supplies for summer crafts and activities and while there we saw these dog bones and decided to grab a handful and use them for some outside fun. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? This would be a great for all ages and as a game for a dinosaur birthday party. We left the plastic on the bones because the ground here is still pretty damp and the feeling of wet dog bones totally skeeves me out. Do what works for you!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some dog bones, and any props you might want to use for your little paleontologists!
  2. Hide your bones! Can you see ours?  You could do this egg hunt style like we did or use a whole bunch and make a whole excavation site, how cool would that be?
  3. Time to hunt for some dinosaur bones. Think he was excited?
  4. Dig them out.
  5. He closed his eyes while I re hid the bones.
  6. Hunt all over again.

This is a great activity that can be quick or a much longer adventure.  After finding the bones don’t forget about writing or drawing a scientific report detailing your findings!

Dinosaur Books

Dinosaurs! by Gail Gibbons is an interesting and comprehensive introduction to dinosaurs for preschoolers. If you have a little one who wants to know more, this is a great book for them. It covers the basics and then some about dinosaurs and paleontology.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda is truly awesome. You will gasp, giggle and find yourself amazed at every turn of the page when you read this incredible book. There is a large pop up in each two page spread ( beware some might be scary! ), as well as smaller pop ups on the pages as well. Under neath the intricate art are a ton of facts as well, it can just be a little tricky to get some kids to pay attention to the text with a giant dinosaur coming out of the book.  My sister bought this for my son years ago but we waited until last year to give it to him, and at 4.5 he is still awed and distracted by the pop ups . My guess is as his reading skills get stronger this will be a favorite quiet time book to read and play with.

Dinosaur Roar! Board Book by Paul and  Henrietta Stickland and is a board book that I’ve read often enough , I don’t need to look at the book. The premise is simple, using 2 different dinosaurs every page illustrates a pair of opposites. Toddlers and young preschoolers adore this book and I can’t blame them, it’s adorable and a great tool for teaching ! My son loves how funny the illustrations are and clearly enjoys the rigidity of the opposite concepts.

Water Activities For Kids

summer activities for kidsSummer is the perfect time to learn and play outside so grab the sunscreen and head outdoors. Kids love water and even if you don’t live near a beach or have a pool you can still let them play and explore to their hearts content.  Here are some fun water themed activities like Letter Spraying ( pictured above) to try this summer.

Painting With Water

Sink or Float?

Color Mixing ( check out his hair in this post , all my fault!)

Angry Birds Water Balloon Game

Angry Birds Inspired Water Balloon Game

angry birds gross motor game Blast those darn piggies with water balloon Angry Birds! Inspired by the mega popular video game Angry Birds this takes the game outside into the sun for fun all summer long.
Earlier this year we featured a post by contributing writer Kim about playing Real Life Angry Birds. Well because of that post I finally downloaded the game and have been not so shamefully in love with the game ever since.  When the sun finally came out I knew we needed to adapt Kim’s post into something for outside in the sun. So of course we needed to include water balloons and a little art too!  To say we had fun would be the understatement of the century- this was incredibly awesome.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some water balloons, a permanent marker ( optional) and some washable sidewalk chalk . The washable chalk obviously comes off when hit with a few balloons so it’s great for this activity. You may also want a bag or bowl to rest your balloons in so that they aren’t on the pavement where they may pop.
  2. Start by filling your balloons.
  3. Carefully add angry faces with the permanent marker.
  4. Draw your pigs ( if you aren’t familiar with the game these piggies are your targets). I did the green, he did (some) blue!
  5. Get ready to smash those pigs! This can also be a lesson in sizes .
  6. Aim!
  7. Get those bad pigs!
  8. Keep blasting .  Between balloons I would pretend to tweet a whistle and announce ” Clean Up Crew – Time Out!” then quickly retrieve all the pieces of each water balloon. Please be sure to dispose of them carefully, and keep them out of your children’s reach as deflated balloons are unsafe for kids. We used neon balloons so the bright colors would be easy to spot.
  9. We kept going back to make more “birds”.
  10. At the end of the game I had my son be the final cleaning crew looking for balloon pieces.