12 fun garden activities for kids
The outdoors offers so many benefits to children, whatever the time of year. Kids who spend more time outside will increase their Vitamin D levels, enjoy more creative play and even boost their overall happiness. Outdoor play also reduces the risk of obesity, improves long-sightedness, clears the lungs of common pollutants, and helps burn off that excess energy that children have in spades.
But what do you do if you can’t accompany your child to the local playground, park or forest? Perhaps you have to work, or transport is a problem? Maybe your physical health prevents it or there’s simply nowhere suitable nearby? Then don’t worry; you can simply enjoy your own garden. And if you’re concerned your children will be bored, here are 12 different activities for you to think about:
Things to consider when choosing garden activities for children:
When choosing a garden activity, size matters. A small garden won’t lend itself to hosting a full-size football match, and sometimes there’s not even room for a swing, for that matter. Perhaps you’d also like to keep a corner for the adults to enjoy?
If you have a big garden, then a small climbing frame or swing might be a good idea, as you can keep one area of the garden for playtime, while freeing up the rest for drying clothes, relaxing, or hosting barbeques. You could even have a designated space for water activities for kids, to prevent your lawn from becoming a mud pile.
For those with smaller gardens, rather than setting up permanent structures, you might want to invest in toys and play equipment that can easily be packed away into a shed or garage. These could be smaller items, inflatables, or toys that can be taken apart.
Another important thing to consider is the main purpose of the garden. Is it somewhere that parents use to grow food or flowers? Do household (or perhaps neighbourhood) pets have access to the garden? Was it designed for adults, and therefore lacks some safety features such as handrails or a fence around the pond? Consider blocking off sections of the garden that might not be safe for kids in your absence.
Different options depending on the weather and season
As we all know, the UK weather can be pretty unpredictable. It can go from bright and sunny one minute, to thunder and lightning the next – and that’s in the summer! Some activities that are the best fun ever on a warm July day can be completely unsuitable in freezing November. With that in mind, let’s look at some fun garden activities for kids – whatever the weather.
Activities for sunny weather
In sunny weather – and especially warm, summer weather – there’s nothing that delights children more than playing in water. Think about the following ideas:
- Install a sprinkler on the grass to run through.
- Set up a small paddling pool – and don’t forget to add some bath toys.
- Create a water wall like this one, using tubes, some PVC pipe and some funnels. Setting this up is a fun activity in itself, and it’s great in small gardens as it takes up vertical space rather than floor space. By putting a bucket underneath, you can have a lot of water fun without too much waste, or risk of flooding the grass.
- Make a ‘slip-and-slide’, with a tarpaulin and a garden hose (be careful of any flower beds!)
- Or, if you really love sliding and you have a bit more space, buy an inflatable slide. The best part of these inflatable slides is that once it cools off again, you can simply swap the water for balls and have even more fun!
Activities for colder weather
When the temperature drops outside, the main thing to worry about with children is the cold. And the key to playing in the cold – besides a warm coat and a hat – is to keep active! Here are some ideas to keep your kids busy running and jumping so they can enjoy some cold weather outdoor fun:
- A good old-fashioned sack race: fun for 2 or more kids. Let them hop in and see who can get to the other side of the grass first! For more advanced jumpers, set up a small circuit!
- For those who really love to jump, nothing beats a bouncy castle. Whether you go for a fun bounce house, an exciting inflatable pirate ship, or you look for a bouncy castle for sale, there’s no better – or safer – way for kids to spend active time outdoors. All you need is a flat surface, and 10 minutes to set it up. Then the fun can begin! If you have a small garden, or your chosen area for the bouncy house is normally used for other things, it’s just as easy to put away again and store in the shed or garage.
- Set up a ninja course for the children to show off their incredible skills, using everyday household objects. Why not use a yoga mat to perform a cartwheel, repurpose a cardboard box as a tunnel, transform a broom on two chairs to a limbo-dancing zone, or even attach a dressing-gown belt to two garden chairs with two clothes pegs, to create an obstacle to jump over? Your imagination is the limit with this one, and the kids will definitely love using theirs!
Activities for small gardeners
When you want to teach your children something as well as having fun, a garden is the perfect place to start. Whatever the season, there’s always something to learn – whether it’s about the seasons, the weather, nature, plants or so much more! Here are some activities to consider:
- Make a bug hotel ready for the colder months, using pinecones, seed heads or sticks.
- Grow some vegetables that your children like to eat (whether that’s tomatoes in the summer or broccoli, potatoes or onions during the colder months), or impressive plants such as sunflowers.
- Make a bird feeder and spot the feathered friends that come along to visit.
(Tip: by mounting your bird feeder onto a PVC pole rather than a wooden one, you’ll avoid cats climbing up it and using it as an all-you-can-eat buffet
- Use a magnifying glass and a small container (or a glass jar for older kids), and study insects and other creepy crawlies up-close.
- Pick flowers and dry them in a press, or simply between some heavy books and sheets of paper towel. Use them for art projects when they’re dry, create postcards or a dried flower garden to frame.
- Plant strawberries or other berries to make jam once they ripen.
As you can see, there are many activities that don’t necessarily involve leaving the house. And if you’ve already tried the ideas in our list, there are many more ideas to be found online. Have fun!