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Outdoor Summer Activities for Preschoolers

Summertime fun has changed.

Many of you reading this are part of the last generation, born before the turn of the century. The generation that got to enjoy childhood before handheld screentime became a way of life for even the youngest of little people. If you were born before 2000, then you’re probably quite familiar with what it was like to be a preschooler playing outside all day, during the summer, splashing in kiddie pools and playing under the sprinkler, digging in the dirt and trying to eat ice pops before they melted.

Summertime doesn’t look like that anymore. At least not in my neck of the woods.

This past Memorial Day, my husband and I took a 22-mile round trip in the afternoon, passing hundreds of houses many with pools and swing sets in the backyard. The entire trip we did not see one child outside playing. Not one.

The year before, on Memorial Day, we went with our granddaughter to a huge park complex (walking trails, hiking, baseball and soccer fields, playgrounds…) It was deserted except for one other family! I know some people go camping or to the shore during the long weekend, but where was everyone else?

Prayerfully, you’re one of the few that we would have seen at the park if you lived in our area (or been enjoying some other type of fun outdoor activity that day.) So I’m hoping this list helps inspire ideas so you’ll continue to enjoy the great outdoors with your family.

We all want the best for our children. We want them to be a healthy, energetic, creative, and loving life. Soaking up the sun and fresh air will give them a much better advantage in achieving those goals than any digital device has to offer. Enjoy your summertime outside with your kids. We send a powerful message to our children when we put aside our own screen time and enjoy the great outdoors with them.

Preschool boy playing in the mud

Summer Activities for Preschoolers

As you’re outside enjoying these summer activities with your little ones, make sure everyone keeps safe. Preschoolers should have someone keeping an eye on them at all times. Make sure everyone has suntan lotion, something to protect them from bug bites, and plenty of water available to drink. Also, make sure it’s not too hot. The Iowa Department of Health has a free download for a Child Weather Watch chart, based on both temperature and humidity, which lets you know when it’s not safe for children to be out too long.

I know you can’t wait to get outside so here’s your list of over 50 summer activity ideas to help encourage your preschooler to get outside more this summer. Be sure to download the printable version at the bottom of this post. Have FUN!!

  • do art projects outside ( paint, color, draw)
  • eat a picnic snack and /or picnic lunch outside
  • draw with chalk on a sidewalk – they can also trace shadows with the chalk
  • let your child ‘paint’ the house, a shed, or their swing set with a paintbrush and a bucket of water
  • act out a story
  • lay on a blanket and look for shapes in the clouds
  • make tree rubbings with paper and the side of a crayon
  • let them water the outdoor plants or the grass
  • go fishing
  • set up a tent to play in
  • bring toys outside to play with
  • build a fort with sheets and cardboard boxes
  • play hopscotch
  • blow with bubbles
  • fly a kite
  • collect tadpoles and watch them turn into frogs
  • kick a ball around
  • play catch
  • play on a slip and slide
  • play with a sand or water table
  • jump rope
  • ride tricycles or other riding toys
  • practice balancing by walking on curbs or boards
  • use magnifying glasses to look for insects

  • play in a sandbox
  • play in a kiddie pool or under a sprinkler
  • practice doing cartwheels
  • try to do handstands
  • take a walk around the block or through the neighborhood
  • jog around the yard
  • see how far they can jump
  • wash the car
  • collect things like sticks, stones, pinecones and dandelions
  • practice skimming stones across a lake
  • play in mud puddles on a rainy day
Boys playing in the mud
  • make mud pies
  • try roller skating
  • learn to use a scooter
  • play board games outside
  • climb a tree
  • collect flowers and press them in a book between wax paper
  • learn to skip
  • sit on the porch and name the color of the cars as they go by. A fun alternative would be to guess what color the next car will be.
  • gather some friends and play games like Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, Freeze Tag, Hide and Seek, Simon Says or What Time is it, Mr. Fox
  • read stories under a tree or at a picnic table
mom reading to child outside

  • make a ‘road’ to push cars and trucks on
  • set up a playdate and have friends come over
  • set up a dinosaur world, zoo world or ocean world with plastic animals
  • roll down a hill
  • go bird watching – see how many birds you can see or hear
  • set up empty water bottles and have them try to knock them down by hitting them with a ball
  • learn to use a hula hoop
  • set up an outdoor obstacle course
  • play yard games like cornhole or bocce
  • play catch with wet sponges
Collage of preschoolers playing outside

Be sure to grab your free printable list below. Have a safe and FUN summer!

Be sure to check out more summer fun ideas for kids :

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