Rachel Mills
July 1, 2024

Ways to have family fun outdoors this summer

It’s nearly the school summer holidays. How many of us are already thinking about how we can persuade our children to step away from screens (whether that’s TVs, phones or laptops) and enjoy some outdoor fun and fresh air together,…

It’s nearly the school summer holidays. How many of us are already thinking about how we can persuade our children to step away from screens (whether that’s TVs, phones or laptops) and enjoy some outdoor fun and fresh air together, as a family?

As our children get older, it’s harder to protect them from the influence of what their peers are seeing on screens, as well as the time they spend on screens themselves and the impact that has. By showing them the fun that they can have outdoors, we can bring more balance into their lives, which is better for their overall health and well-being. It’s also more likely to pave the way for them living more balanced lives as adults.

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing some of our ideas for outdoor family activities, which are nature inspired. 

The importance of outdoor play

Playing outdoors is good for fresh air and exercise and being in the natural environment can also have a calming effect. Over recent decades, there has been a general decline in outdoor play and this is having a negative impact on the younger generations and society as a whole.

‘Balanced and active play lays the foundation for a skilled, healthy, resilient, and successful society. Sadly, play is rapidly disappearing from our homes, schools, and communities. Did you know that while approximately 70% of moms played outside when they were young, only 31% of their kids play outside today?’ (Fireflies and Mudpies)

Explore your local area, park or woodland

It’s fun to pack a picnic and go on a family adventure. Follow a trail or see if you can spot animal tracks. Look out for birds, fish, pondlife, other creatures, seeds, fruits and flowers. Our twice-monthly newsletters always have ideas of what to look for in nature, depending on the season, as well as ideas for nature-inspired activities. You can sign up for our newsletters here: https://buttercuplearning.com/newsletter/


This is a great way to bring us closer to nature, whether it’s in the back garden or further afield. Try going back to basics with the camping; cooking your own food, toasting marshmallows, going for a night hike and being completely screen free.

Be creative with natural materials

  • Organise a scavenger hunt of loose materials, such as fallen leaves and seeds. See who can find the most objects from a list.
  • Create beach art – make sand silhouettes, sand sculptures, shell pictures and pebble patterns on the beach.
  • Make outdoor wind chimes or a nature mobile, using natural materials found outdoors.
  • Create stick puppets using twigs and leaves.
  • Make a stick maze.

For more sedentary, nature-based activities, try:

  • cloud spotting – lie on the ground or on a grassy bank, look up at the sky and try to spot patterns, shapes, figures and faces in the clouds
  • looking for moths – take a white sheet and a torch and sit out on a warm evening with the kids and watch them flying around you
  • painting with just water and a brush, on a plain surface
  • painting using natural paints, created from fruits
  • creating leaf pictures
  • making a sun print

When collecting natural materials, only use loose materials, such as fallen leaves, twigs or fruits. Avoid gathering or damaging trees or other plants and don’t make art in protected spaces, such as woodlands.

Always remember to take home any materials that you have used which are not natural, such as string used to make dens or shelters.

Take toys outside

Playing outside is good for helping our children to run off their excess energy and for their all-round health and wellbeing. Toys that are great for this are:

  • kites for windy days
  • bats and balls
  • skipping ropes
  • footballs
  • hula hoops
  • water guns
  • homemade planes and gliders

A sand pit and a paddling pool are great for warm weather days

Bring the outdoors back inside

Collect shells, pebbles, leaves and seeds to use for creative projects at home. These could include:

  • making shell necklaces
  • covering a box in shells
  • making leaf bugs
  • making sun catchers
  • leaf rubbing
  • leaf printing

Projects like these can occupy children on rainy days and also remind them of the fun they had outdoors. 

You can find more ideas for activities on the sites below.


‘Creating Nature Art with Kids’ Fireflies and Mudpies (updated 24/10/19) https://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/outdoor-art-ideas/

‘5o Fun Things to Do Outside with Kids as a Family’ Very Well Family. Amanda Rock. Updated 19/10/2021


‘100 Best Nature Crafts and Activities For Kids’ Thimble and Twig https://thimbleandtwig.com/100-best-nature-crafts-and-activities-for-kids


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