20 Outdoor activities for your 2016 Summer Bucket List

20 Outdoor activities for your 2016 Summer Bucket List
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The summer holidays are approaching, and we have suggested 20 activities to keep your children inspired and learning over the six week break. From bird watching and puppet shows to sensory trays and star gazing, there’s an activity for children of all ages and interests to go and explore the outdoors!


1) Make a butterfly painting

Butterflies have large colourful wings and are symmetrical. This means they can be painted by folding paper! To start, fold a piece of paper in half, on one side draw the wings of the butterfly and then fold the paper over and press down. Keep adding detail and folding until you are happy with your design. Once dry, draw on the body and antenna with a pen, you can also add some googly eyes to bring your painting to life. Click here to download the activity sheet from the Wildlife Watch.


2) Bird watching

Can you spot a robin? Can you see a seagull?  Binoculars are a great tool for bird watching. There are 259 species of birds in the UK, see how many birds you can find! Why not try using the RSPB’s bird identifier, to name your findings?


2) Nature trail

Explore a new outside space by going on a nature trail! Take time to observe surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for trees, plants, animals and insects! Can you find different habitats? Can you draw your discoveries?  Try magnifying your findings to see if you can discover new details that are invisible to the naked eye.


Primary Science™ Outdoor Discovery Set


4) Family games

Spend some quality time with family and friends and play board games!  Perfect for indoor or outdoor play, they help to build social, problem solving and vocabulary skills whilst having fun!  Early learning games such as Sophie’s Seashell Scramble™ also help to build fine motor skills, essential for early handwriting.


5) Create your own small world zoo

Build a home for elephants, tigers and bears in your garden! Collect grass, sticks and stones and create a zoo within a tray or sandpit. Talk about the different habitat each animal would like and don’t forget to make food and water available!


Jumbo Zoo Animals

6) Garden Olympics

If the sun is shining, why not build your child’s motor skills with some outdoor play games? Obstacle courses are a fun and simple way the whole family can get involved. Lay out challenges at different areas of the garden such as:

  • Hula-hooping
  • Bean-bag balancing
  • Cone weaving
  • Relay racing
  • Tunnel crawling
  • Limbo
  • Stilts walking

7) Camping


Pretend & Play® Camp Set

Why not pitch up a tent and create your own camping adventure? Outdoor pretend play scenarios provide hours of fun with imaginative play scenarios, such as cooking on the stove and singing songs around the campfire.


8) Make your own compost

Compost is made from green waste, such as leaves and food that decompose over a period of weeks or months. Making compost is a fun activity that also encourages children to think about recycling. All you will need is:

  • A shady spot where a heap will stay moist
  • Some old bricks
  • A watering can
  • Shredded wood waste or newspaper
  • Gardening fork
  • A piece of old carpet or polythene
  • Green compostable ingredients

View the activity sheet from Wildlife Watch here.

9) Puppet show



Puppets are a great way to build communication skills by combining imaginative play with social interaction. Creating scenes with make believe characters allow children to work out feelings such as fear and frustration. Try creating your own puppet theatre, using cardboard and fabric, and encourage your children to put on a puppet show for family and friends.


10) Create a den

Did you know that the 17th of June is Den Day? It’s organised by Save the Children and invites children and families to build their own den to raise money to help make life better for children around the world. From princess castles to forest hide-outs, why not get involved and create a den in your household?


11) Make a hedgehog home

Did you know you can make a hedgehog home with a few simple materials such as a plastic box and a carrier bag? View the activity sheet from the Wildlife Watch here. Once you have made your hedgehog home, try using binoculars to find out if you have any new prickly residents!


12) Explore terrains

There can be lots of different terrains in a garden or park such as grass, sand, stone and soil. Try investigating the differences between them by comparing the texture, smell, colour and sound. What insects can you find in the soil? Do flowers grow in the grass?


GeoSafari® Jr Science Utility Vehicle™


13) Sensory tray

Sensory trays are great to play with outside as you don’t need to worry about mess and can often be made with everyday items. Young children learn with their senses, and sensory experiences help children to make sense of the world and lay the foundation for further learning skills. Science Sparks have created an easy sensory flower tray activity which is great for the summer months.


14) Flower pressing

Start by taking a trip into the garden and selecting some flowers that you would like to press, making sure you have permission to pick them. Try to pick the flowers in the morning when they are slightly damp, this will make them more prone to moulding in your press. Arrange them on a piece of card how you would like them to be presented and leave them within the press to dry out. The Nancy B’s Science Club® Nature Keeper and Tree Diary is complete with flower/leaf press, craft punch, tweezers and journal, perfect for creating decorative artworks inspired by nature.


15) Travel games

If you are travelling this summer, it’s always handy to have some portable games to try out on long journeys. Kanoodle is a compact 2D and 3D challenge that is ideal for individual play, testing critical thinking skills with interlocking puzzle pieces.


16) Water investigations

Water-play is a great open-ended play experience for young learners, allowing sensory exploration and an introduction to concepts such as buoyancy, density and gravity. Try collecting objects from the house and garden and predicting if they will sink or float. Then test out your predictions at the water table and see how many you can get right. What made the object sink? Will combining two objects that float make them sink?


STEM – Sink or Float Activity Set


17) Star-gazing

Take a look at the night-sky using a telescope and see what you can discover. Did you know on a clear night, you can see approximately 3,000 stars to the naked eye!  Is it a full moon? Can you find the North Star? Write down in a journal what you can see each night, are there any patterns?


18) Have a teddy bear picnic

If the sun is shining, why not invite some of your favourite teddies to tea? This simple activity is great for imaginative play and helps to develop creativity, problem solving and social skills. Lay down a picnic blanket and serve up your favourite snacks such as pretend fruit salad or sandwiches. Check out our New Sprouts range for some great ideas.


New Sprouts® Fresh Fruit Salad Set


19) Plant some seeds

Create a miniature garden in a seed tray, flower bed, egg box or cup.  Fill half way with compost, add a little water and then lay down the seed. Cover the seed with compost all the way to the top and then label each seed so you know what is growing. Start a chart so that you can record the progress of your seeds and see if you can predict which one will flower first!

20) Underwater exploring

If you are going to the seaside during the summer, or visiting a pond or lake, try taking a closer look beneath the surface of shallow water to see what you can discover.  Using equipment such as a SeaScope® or Subscope™, young learners can peek under water without getting their head wet! Lights and magnifiers are great to discover life that isn’t visible with the naked eye. Why not document your finds in a journal and see how many species you can discover?


GeoSafari® Jr Subscope™