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Encourage children to play outdoors this summer

Updated on November 10, 2011

Active kids

With summer just around the corner, the headache facing most parents is "how to keep the kids occupied for 6 or 7 weeks". This will seem like an eternity if children are not kept busy. If you're anything like me you'll  want them to be outdoors in the fresh air as much as possible in the summer months. As an ex-childminder I am constantly thinking of ways to make the long summer enjoyable and try to prevent them from becoming bored.

Outdoor toys needn't be expensive. My favourite childrens outdoor toys listed below are all affordable and I hope that they give you some ideas.

Outdoor games and toys

  • 1. Swingball - great for 1 or 2 children to play. It provides hours of fun and even the adults can join in too. The one my daughter has is portable and the base can be filled with water or sand and can be taken anywhere and played on any surface. Can be bought for around £25.00
  • 2. Skittles - Plastic skittles are a good way for children to develop their physical and motor skills as they try to knock down the pins by rolling the ball. Good family fun for under £10
  • 3. Roller skates - children from age 3 upwards love to skate. They come in all stages, i.e. starter skates, tri-skates and roller skates/blades. There is a huge variety of colours to choose from and are ideal for boys and girls. I would recommend purchasing knee and elbow pads as a safety precaution and ensure that your child always wears a helmet. Prices range from around £15-£50
  • 4. Pop-up/play tents - This encourages role-play amongst children. When my kids were younger they played in their tents every day regardless of the weather! Why not make up a picnic and get them to invite their friends round for tea in their "house". Some tents even come with a play tunnel which attaches to the side with velcro. Easily folds away for storage when not in use. Prices from around £12
  • 5.Golf set - Plastic golf sets are ideal for kids who want to be a golfer like their "mummy" or "daddy". Sets start from around £10 and have 3 clubs, 3 balls, a few holes and a plastic tubular golf bag for storage. Why not give your kids a challenge by setting up a mini golf course. It's great fun and will keep them amused for hours.
  • 6. Paddling pools - A very inexpensive way of keeping the children occupied. Even if its not warm enough to use as a paddling pool, fill it with a few inches of water and it becomes an ocean for boats, a bath for their dolls or the seaside for the animals. The possibilities are endless. Children love playing with water. Add a few plastic bottles, beakers, measuring jug and/or small childs watering can. Never leave children unattended when playing with or near water.
  • 7. Hopscotch - This brings back lots of childhood memories for me. I remember chalking the pavement with numbered boxes and threw a stone onto the boxes trying to get the numbered box I needed. Nowadays you can buy a hopscotch mat or inter-locking hopscotch tiles made of durable rubber which are easy to assemble. A good investment for around £10
  • 8. Basketball hoop - A fun outdoor activity for boys and girls alike. They come in two types: freestanding and wall mounted. They can practice their shooting skills for hours on end. Prices start at around £15
  • 9. Trampolines - A terrific way to keep fit and burn up all that excess energy. Kids just love to bounce. They range in size from junior trampolines with hold on handles (suitable from ages 2-8) to larger ones suitable for adults too. Go on unleash the child in you! I would recommend buying a safety enclosure net for the larger trampolines. They vary in price from around £25 for a junior trampoline to around £150 for an 8ft diameter with safety enclosure.
  • 10.Pro Training Kit  - An outdoor football set which comprises of a goal net, football, shin pads, training cones, drinks bottle, football pump, boot bag, stopwatch and junior goalie gloves. Maybe your little one will be the next big signing! Buy for around £25

Fresh air and excercise

Outdoor games are great family fun and in my opinion it is much healthier for children to be outside enjoying themselves than being indoors couped up. I think that it is up to us as adults to encourage children to be more active rather than have them couped up inside watching tv, camped on the computer or gaming all day. There is plenty of time in the cold dark winter nights to be indoors, so why not make the most of summer?


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    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      I know what you mean. My mum told us to go out and play in all weathers. Nowadays so many children hardly get any fresh air. I appreciate your comment. Thank you.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      It is a different time now - when I was a kid my mum stayed home and basically told us "go play outside" and we'd be out all day long. Now my wife and I both work and my children spend the summer at my mother-in-law's house where she doesn't quite give them the same outdoor time as my mom did. We still manage to keep them reasonably active, however. Great hub with some good ideas - I liked the basketball hoop as a kid the most.

    • profile image

      Jacqueline Pollock 6 years ago

      Yes skittles is very much like bowling - its great family fun. Unfortunately there hasnt been much opportunity with the British weather recently,but hopefully this will improve! Thank you for your comment.

    • Treasuresofheaven profile image

      Sima Ballinger 6 years ago from Michigan

      Skittles sounds like bowling in the U.S. Good outdoor activities for kids. Thanks. I thought of playing table tennis outdoors while I was reading this hub