Monday, June 23, 2014

Fun Spring & Summer Outdoor Activities: Our Family-Made Playmaker Playspaces

As a member of the Children's Claritin Mom Crew, I receive product samples and promotional items to share and use as I see fit. No monetary compensation has been received and all opinions expressed are my own.

We love, love, love being outside.  Outdoor space is so important to us.  We've lived in country settings and we've lived in city settings, we've lived in small indoor spaces and we've lived in larger indoor spaces.  There have been pros and cons to all, but in the end we have established one rule about our dwelling place.  We must have outdoor space; its importance far surpasses the details of our indoor space.  It may sound silly, but for us, it's true!  Being outside is healthy, it's therapeutic, it's educational, it's productive, and it's fun!

Where we currently live, we don't even have an outdoor playset (gasp!).  I wish we did, but right now we don't.  There is no boredom here, however!  You don't need a professional playset to play.  You don't need any fancy equipment or supplies.  In fact, you don't even really need a big yard!  Anyone can be a playmaker and create a playspace that is conducive to adventure, learning, and fun!  Here's a list, in no particular order, of some of our favorite family-created outdoor playspaces and our favorite spring and summer outdoor activities.  They are easy to pull together, inexpensive if they cost anything at all, and have provided us with hours of fun.  None of these ideas are fancy, but as a mom, I know that sometimes it's easy to feel stuck and to need something new and exciting to do. Hopefully this list will provide you with at least one new idea to enjoy with your kids during this sunny season!

And one more thing.  It's okay if your kids get dirty, it's okay if your kids get wet, and it's okay to make a mess!  I'm writing this to myself as much as I am to you.  You're outside. Let me challenge you (and myself) to take a deep breath, and say "yes" more than you typically do.  Grab a hose and a towel and clean up later!

On with the list!

Go on a nature walk...
We have a fairly large wooded area right next to our house.  We've cleared some of the trees and brush and created some nature trails to enjoy.  Other than the mosquitos, it's the perfect place to adventure!

Make mud pies and mud cakes...
Just gather together some trays or dishes and some cooking supplies (the more actual kitchen ones the better... like measuring cups, spoons, something in addition to typical sand toys... you can wash them later!)  Get some dirt, some water, and some nature (rocks, sticks, pine needles, leaves, flowers, etc) for mix-ins!

Draw with sidewalk chalk...
The possibilities are endless!  You can do hopscotch, balance beams, trace bodies, practice letters and numbers, or simply draw and color!

Blow bubbles...
The more bubble blowing supplies the better but even just a simple bottle of bubble solution and a wand will work.  Or make your own from dish soap and water!  We've gotten lots and lots of bubble supplies from our local freecycle list.

Play in the dirt...
Maybe build a sandcastle, create a village for animals or toys, or just jump around and get dirty!

Play sports...
We enjoy soccer, catch, tag, frisbee, whiffle ball, basketball... I'm sure there's more!

Paint with Colored Ice...
This is perfect for a hot day.  Just add some food coloring to your ice cubes, freeze with a stick in them, and paint paper, shells, tree stumps, or rocks!

Paint with Water...
It doesn't get any easier than this!  Just get a bucket of water, a paintbrush, and a dry surface!

Learn about floating and sinking...
You'd be surprised how early you can start this educational activity.  I think my daughter had just turned 2 when I got her a bucket of water, explained the general concept of some things floating and other things sinking, and then sent her to find items to explore with.  She still, just short of age 4, loves this.

Find critters...
We have a nearby pond with tons of tadpoles and a yard full of frogs of all different shapes, sizes and colors!  We also have snakes, chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, and bugs.  Some we find, but we don't touch them all.  My daughter has recently enjoyed collecting the small frogs and creating a habitat (more like an obstacle course) for them.  She gathers up some rocks and lets them hop their way out! Earlier today she put a small pile of dirt in the driveway, added some puddles of water, and tried to entice ants to come set up a new home there.

Make nature bracelets...
All you need for this is some packing tape and pieces of nature.  It's so easy and fun!

Run through the sprinkler, swim in the pool, or play with the hose...
This is self explanatory but a lot of fun.  We have a big pool but love having a small pool that we fill early in the morning on warm days so it's warm enough to swim in when the sun is hot.  It keeps me from having to go in the big pool if I'm not in the mood and it provides my daughter with hours of entertainment.  The sprinkler is just as fun... or even just playing with the hose.

Ride a bike or scooter, fix a bike or scooter, or take a pretend trip through the drive-thru...
My daughter loves to ride her bike and scooter but she also loves to bring out her toy tool box and fix them.  Another more recent twist has been me sitting in a chair (yes!) and her riding up on her bike to order some donuts, hot chocolate, or a new shirt.

Have a picnic...
We love picnics and my daughter requests them almost daily!  Just grab a blanket and a lunch!

Jump in puddles...
Remember, you can always dry off later!  Put on some water shoes, a bathing suit, clothes, PJ's, or panties!

Plant a garden...
We have a big garden that my husband works on but he tries to let our daughter help with tasks that are kid-friendly.  We also have a patch of garden just for her where she planted some wildflower seeds that she picked out herself at the store.

Play hide and seek...
We have our favorite hiding spots, like behind this old tree, and stick to those but the fun never gets old for our daughter.

Make a bird feeder...
We have regular bird feeders that our daughter helps fill, but we've also made our own out of an old milk jug!

Pick dandelions or search for 4 leaf clovers...
Talk about a productive game, right?  Picking the weeds!

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good start!  Get your family outside to play!  I (along with the makers of Children's Claritin) want you and your family to feel inspired to be playmakers and create your own innovative and fun outdoor playspaces... and to be able to enjoy the time you spend outdoors, free of allergy symptoms!

What are your favorite outdoor activities?  Are you able to enjoy them allergy free?

As a member of the Children's Claritin Mom Crew, I receive product samples and promotional items to share and use as I see fit.  No monetary compensation has taken place and any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.


  1. One of my summer goals is to keep the little ones outside as much as possible! My house appreciates it and they sleep so much better!

  2. I wish I had something like the wooded area by my house that you do! I can close my eyes and imagine I'm walking in the woods right now. I really miss walking in the woods! I really love the outdoors as well, but my issue is that we live in an awful neighborhood. I can't go out without someone strange trying to talk to me just walking down the street, or taking the bus from this neighborhood, so it tends to discourage me. We should be moving shortly, and I cannot wait! It can't come soon enough.

    1. Laila, that's what it was like where we used to live. Thankfully I was able to find some great little outdoor spaces nearby that served the purpose (although we had to drive to get there). I hope you're able to get to a place that feels comfortable soon!

  3. I love how simple these ideas are, and in a good way. There is nothing wrong with just going outside and exploring. I think we forget that we don't need to be plugged in ALL of the time, that there is a world outside of phones and tablets.

    1. We definitely try to minimize our electronic usage on nice days, Trisha. And yes, simple is very very good!

  4. There a a few really great ideas in here that I never thought of! Our summer bucket list is running a little thin already this year so we will be adding a few of these to our to do list for sure!

    1. Oh good! I'm glad to hear this, Miranda! Enjoy!!

  5. Love being outside also! So fun!

  6. I love how simple and easy these ideas are. We do a lot of these already but I seen a few we are definitely going to do. I really loved the colored ice one, perfect for a hot day.

  7. I totally love being out in nature. Its just so peaceful and there are so many things that you can do and teach your children when you are out there.

  8. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here european vacation packages from san francisco


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