It’s time for some outdoor activities that encourage play! When we were still living in South Africa, I bought a life-saving book, written by Dawn Isaac, titled “101 Things For Kids To Do Outside“. Not only did this book offer us ideas for hours of fun and constructive activities, but it also saved my life (read sanity) during those LONG holidays.

Now we’re in the twilight of our first Michigan Winter – worlds apart from where we were a year ago! And I must confess that I cannot wait for the snow to melt and the newness of Spring to arrive… So we can again get down and do some of the “101 things for kids to do outside“. There are so many great ideas in this book, but I’ve decided to share my 5 favorite ones with you:

Outdoor Activities that Encourage Play

1. A “Potion” Lab

A Potion Lab

This is such an exciting playtime activity. Set up a table in your garden, with a waterproof tablecloth. You will need many containers of different shapes and sizes. A funnel, jugs, tweezers, anything that might be found (and is safe) in a science lab. As Dawn writes… “After all dragon’s blood and giant’s snot call for some very careful handling”.

Next is food coloring mixed with water, and for a fizzy experience add some bicarbonate of soda before splashing in a little vinegar. She also suggests a few more exciting ingredients, such as glitter, poster paint, flour, rice, and vegetable oil, (give these some creative names ie: unicorn tears, etc.).

The possibilities are endless :)

2. Rustle up a Bird Feast

Bird Feast

I love this idea for Spring and Summer. One sure way to get the birds into your garden!

You will need cut-off branches, a large plant pot, bricks or stones, soil or sand, garden wire, unsalted and un-buttered popcorn, apples, orange halves, lard (rendered fat), flour, oats, and birdseed.

If you don’t have a large tree to hang your creations from, you can build your own tree using the plant pot, sand, cut-off branches, and bricks. Use unsalted and un-buttered popcorn and thread it onto the garden wire to make “nibble rings”. You can also thread apple slices onto the garden wire for a fruity treat. Slice up the oranges into rings, make a mixture out of the lard, flour, oats, and birdseed fill the rings, and thread onto the wire (exact proportions in the book).

You can hang these from your made tree or from a tree in your garden. Colorful and pretty!

3. Setting Up Camp

5 Great Outdoor Activities that Encourage us to Play with Our Kids

I cannot wait to get camping! Our kids are finally at the age where they can appreciate what it’s all about! I think making the frame is the most difficult, but once it is done you can throw over any blanket and decorate to your own desire. You can lay a blanket down on the floor inside, pack a picnic, and there you go!

4. Create a Paving Stone Gallery

Paving Art

I’ve been doing this with my kids since they could hold a piece of chalk! I think people would see our driveway as a collection of beautiful artworks! The possibilities here are endless. You could use chalk, powder paint, homemade paint, and brushes. Let the creative juices flow! The best part about this activity is that you can hose it down when done… I choose to let the artwork linger!

5. “Start a mini vegetable garden”

5 Great Outdoor Activities that Encourage us to Play with Our Kids

This is just gorgeous! Nothing like planting seeds, letting our children watch them grow, and then EAT the Produce!! You can prettify or separate the garden by adding seashells or stones. You can use an old bucket, wheelbarrow, wooden crate, or baby bath! The kids just love getting dirty!


I just HAVE to add one more favorite! This is for my youngest son! He is OBSESSED with wildlife, especially lions!

6. Building a mini Rockery!

Rock Garden

Collect some rocks, stones, and green vegetation… then build a little rockery structure in the corner of your garden. Bring out some animals and there you have it! You can change this to a fairy garden, etc!

Hours of Outdoor Activities that Encourage Play!

I hope you enjoyed this post, I, for one, am feeling really positive about Spring! If you have any new ideas please comment below!

There is nothing more therapeutic than getting outdoors, with the sun on your skin! It is definitely a must when you are a mama! Once the kids are into their activities and you have spent some one-on-one time with them, you can sit and watch them play with a cuppa tea or a glass of wine!  Your choice, your delight!

Dawn has activities for every season, she has written a second book “101 Things For Kids To Do On a Rainy Day”

Some rules:

  1. Always ask an adult
  2. Never eat what you make…

All photos and ideas are credited to Dawn Isaac, Will Heap (Photography), and the book: “101 Things For Kids To Do Outside”.

Please visit Dawn’s website

PS – I write this as I stare out at the falling snow. Spring cannot come soon enough!