28 Fun Outdoor Games and Activities for Kids to Play in the Garden
If the sun is shining, but you can’t leave the house and have access to a garden, these outdoor game ideas are a great way to keep kids of all ages (and adults) entertained. You might have some equipment you can use already, but don’t worry if not because you can DIY everything with a little imagination. The ideas below all require minimal equipment and can be for as many or as few people as you like.
1. Scavenger hunt
Create a scavenger hunt in your garden and see how long it takes for kids to find the hidden objects. What you hide is up to you, but here are a few ideas:
- An entire deck of cards
- Pictures of their favourite book/tv characters
Get creative to make it a fun activity for the whole family.
The garden is the ideal place to set up a DIY bowling alley. Make some pins with used plastic bottles (ask the kids to decorate them first) and use a ball of your choice to try and knock them all down. No need to keep score, this is all in the name of fun!
3. Ring toss
Make a DIY ring toss game with plastic bottles and a piece of rope or a cardboard cut-out for a game the whole family can join in with.
4. Nature trail
The benefits of kids spending time outdoors, exploring their surroundings are endless. If you can’t get out to your favourite woodland or walking spot, see what you can find in the comfort of your garden. This could include a:
- Flower (unpicked!)
- Birds nest
5. Crayon rubbings
Doing some crayon or pencil rubbings are a great way to extend your nature trail. Take a leaf, piece of paper, and a crayon or pencil and you can create a pretty imprint. Just place the piece of paper over the leaf and colour on top. You can try this with lots of different objects to see, which gives the best result.
Go old-school and draw a hopscotch grid on paving slabs with chalk. This is a great way to use up excess energy, and everyone in the house can have a go.
7. What’s the time, Mr Wolf?
This is a classic outdoor game to keep kids entertained.
How to play:
- Choose one player to be Mr Wolf who stands at one end of the garden with his back to the rest of the players
- The other players shout “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”
- Mr Wolf answers with a time (six o’clock, two o’clock etc.)
- The players then take that number of steps toward Mr Wolf
- Whenever Mr Wolf fancies, he or she can answer “dinnertime” and chase the other players
- The first player to be caught becomes Mr Wolf next
8. Simon says
Pick one person to be Simon; everyone else should stand in a group facing the chosen person. Simon can give any command he/she like such as “Simon says touch your nose” or “Simon says jump on one leg”. If Simon doesn’t say “Simon says” before a command, any player that does the action is out. The last one standing is the winner.
9. Sack races
Get a bit of exercise in with a sack race around the garden. Use a pillowcase or bin bag as your sack.
10. Water play
Fill a bucket or plastic tub with water, add a few plastic toys, and you’re looking at hours of fun in the sunshine. You won’t have to worry about the water making a mess in the house either.
11. Hide and seek
If you haven’t got many places to hide in the garden, make some. Cardboard boxes, tables and even bed sheets on the washing line make sun hiding places. Get creative.
12. Beanbag throwing
Seeing how far you can throw a beanbag is great fun. Don’t have any beanbags? You can make your own at home. Follow this guide here.
Put some music on and have a mini party in the garden with this classic kid’s game. All you need is a broom, someone to hold it and willing participants. Kids should take it turns to go under the broom without touching it, bending at the knees and leaning back as far as they can. Lower the broom a little for each round. The winner is the child that can go the lowest without touching the broom or floor.
14. Dodge ball
There are many ways you can play this; we recommend playing below knee level only, so no one gets hurt. One player throws a ball while the rest of the players try to avoid getting touched. If the ball touches you, you’re out. The last player standing wins the game.
15. Make an obstacle course
Build an obstacle course in the garden to help kids burn off excess energy. You can make it as difficult as you please and because you’re using household items, it’s fully customisable. Plant pots, footballs, hula hoops, tables and skipping ropes are just a few things you could use.
16. Have a teddy bear tea party
Invite your kids and their favourite teddies to a garden tea party. Set up a blanket, cushions and a few of their favourite snacks to enjoy a bit of time in the garden. You could play eye spy, read a book or play a board game at the same time.
Tag is a great one for families with three or more people to play. An adult should pick the first person to be “it” and supervise, so it doesn’t get too chaotic. There isn’t a winner in this game so it can last for as long as it takes for the novelty to wear off.
18. Set up a bird picnic area
Feeding the birds that visit your garden is a great way to do your bit for nature and bring new birds into the mix. You can buy birdseed mixes from supermarkets during your weekly shop, but there are a few foods you’re likely to have in the house that birds will enjoy:
- Cooked pasta or rice
- Boiled potatoes
- Raw unsalted bacon rind
- Chopped apples
If you don’t have a bird feeder, don’t worry. You put food high up, out of the way of predators such as cats. It may take a few days for birds to find the food you’ve left for them, so don’t get disheartened if they don’t visit right away.
Whether you’re feeding the birds or not, there are bound to be a few different species visiting your garden. Older kids that can sit quietly will be able to note down how many different species they see in a set amount of time. Use the RSPB bird identifier to figure out what you’ve seen.
20. Musical chairs
Musical chairs isn’t just a kids' party game. Use garden chairs and play your kids' favourite music. Adults can join in too!
21. Make a bug hotel
You can buy bug hotels which are great for insects, bees and flies but where’s the fun in that when you can build one so easily at home? Use materials you find in the garden such as dead sticks, leaves and moss, tie it together with string and secure firmly in a tree. It’ll look great, and kids will enjoy checking on it occasionally to see if any bugs are setting up home.
22. Tug of war
This is one that needs supervising to make sure everyone plays nicely, but it’s a great one for encouraging a bit of healthy competition. Not got a suitable rope? A dressing gown tie, skipping rope or old tie can all work.
23. Angry birds
Inspired by the ever-popular kids’ game, this involves setting up a pile of objects and knocking them down with a ball. You could pile up teddies, cards, building blocks and any other non-breakables. Use different balls and see which works the best at knocking the objects down.
24. Have a picnic
There’s something special about having a picnic, whether its in the garden or inside. Turn lunchtime into a fun activity, set up a blanket or two on the ground and serve lunch outside for a change.
We’re not sure why but kids love pulling weeds (just make sure that’s all they’re pulling). Watering, planting new seeds, mowing the lawn and tidying up are all fun garden chores kids enjoy helping with.
26. Make your own bubbles
If you’ve run out of bubbles or don’t have a wand, there are plenty of DIY options. For the wand you can use a plastic cup with a hole punched in the bottom or a plastic bottle with the end cut off, using the lip to blow through. Learn how to make your own bubbles on BBC Good Food.
27. Learn a TikTok dance
Everyone’s communicating via social media so much more recently, and TikTok has taken off. Download the app and choose some family-friendly dances or songs to learn with your troop. Upload them onto TikTok and share with your family and friends.
28. Noughts and crosses
If you haven’t got the game already, you can use chalk to draw a 3x3 grid on slabs (or use paper and pencil). Teach kids how to play this classic which sees the first person getting three noughts or crosses in a row winning.
There you have it, plenty of ideas to keep kids occupied in the garden while stuck at home. View our holiday ideas for more inspiration.