Summertime in Tennessee is a hot, humid, and sticky mess, but we don’t let that stop us from having summer fun as a family! We try to take advantage of each and every chance to spend time together outdoors during the summer…from gardening with our kiddos to playing camp-style lawn games to splashing in a homemade pool. Take a look at some of our favorite outdoor summer activities that I’m sure your family will enjoy as well!
Outdoor Summer Activities for the Family
I have heard a lot of negative talk about Trampolines, but this has been one of the best purchases that we have made for the kids! We have a net up around the sides and it is right beside our porch so we can keep a close eye on them even from the house. They LOVE jumping!
Put the trampoline in the ground for added safety.
2. BACKYARD CAMPING
Our oldest kiddo had a camping themed birthday party this year. We had some friends over to camp in the backyard overnight. It was a blast! All you have to do is set up your tent and throw in some flashlights & pillows! Light a bon fire after dark for the kids to roast marshmallows and hot dogs for a little extra fun!
3. MUD KITCHEN
This simple mud kitchen was inspired by a friend of mine (I’ll share her blog a little further down). I paid $0 to make this and it took about 15 minutes to set up. A mud kitchen can be made with any scrap wood that you have lying around. Give the kids some pots, pans, and water and let them get to work…erhm…I mean play. 🙂
We have recently changed out our mud kitchen because we were gifted with one that has a sink and an “oven” space. Here is what it looks like this year…
4. SPLASH POOL
Inflatable pools always get busted at our house between the kids and animals. We don’t have the budget for a full size pool so we opted to take the DIY route last year. We placed several straw bales in a large rectangle, secured a tarp over it, and filled it up with the garden hose… The kids love, love, LOVED this pool all summer long!
My sweet husband is a bit of a golf ball hoarder. He has tons of extra golf balls lying around so he takes the kids out to hit them over the pond. Our oldest child gets a kick out of seeing how far he can hit them (he does a pretty good job making it all the way across) and the littles just like to try to make a splash.
6. SAND TENT
Sandboxes seem to be a backyard staple for families with young children. Playing in the sand encourages open ended & sensory play in the great outdoors. Our family opted for a sand tent over a regular sandbox because a tent can protect the kids & the sand from animals, sun, rain, and wind. A sand tent is simply a child-sized tent with play sand covering the bottom. Our kids could play in here for hours on end!
7. WATER TABLE/SAND TABLE
We made water tables for our youngest child’s 1st birthday party. We added sensory balls and water guns to each table. These things were a hit with all of the kids! In the cold months, you can replace the water with sand for a digging/sensory table that won’t freeze their little fingers.
Fishing is a favorite past time for our family as well! If you don’t have a pond, you can find a neighbor who does or go to a local lake. Just make sure that your kids are supervised when fishing.
9. BOCCE BALL
Bocce Ball is a simple yard game that even your littles can play. All you have to do is toss a colored ball to score points.
Some of my fondest childhood memories with my parents took place while playing horseshoes. My kids started making the same kind of memories last year when we set up a simple horseshoe pit in our backyard for them.
11. PLAY GARDEN
I turned a raised bed frame into a play garden for the kids this year. They have a bench, some flower pots, child-sized garden tools, and a wheel barrow in this garden right next to my tomato garden. They LOVE this. Every time they eat apples they go outside to “plant an apple tree” 🙂
You can even create a garden hideout for the kiddos with a climbing plant den.
2020 update: This year, the girls took the initiative to plant their own garden outside of the play garden area. They already have cucumber sprouts popping up!
A swing (of some sort) is one of the essential outdoor summer activities for our family. We have had a tire swing, a bucking bull swing, and now we have a regular swing set with a circle swing and a wooden toddler swing. The kids loved them all!
Go for a family picnic! Grab a blanket, a basket, and some snacks and enjoy a little quality time together. You can even set out a picnic table if you want to create a more permanent picnic spot for your family.
14. LAWN GAMES
15. GEOMETRIC DOME CLIMBER
I have wanted one of these bad boys for a couple of years and I am really not sure why we don’t have one yet. Maybe having their own Geometric Dome Climber will encourage my kiddos to climb on mama a little bit less than they do right now.
16. OUTDOOR CHALK BOARD
My kids currently use their sidewalk chalk on my porch and driveway. I would love to refocus that artwork to a cute little outdoor chalk board!
17. DIY SPRINKLER
Looking for outdoor summer activities to help you cool down in the heat? Try this simple & affordable DIY sprinkler!
18. NATURE WALK
Our family takes nature walks all.the.time! This outdoor activity costs nothing, but your family can gain so much from it. Teach your kiddos about nature, caring for the environment, and about taking the time to appreciate the things that we take for granted (like weeds and worms).
Going on a foraging walk with your kids can teach them some pretty neat nature facts as well as survival skills. Our favorite wild foods to forage are white clover, purple dead nettle, and morel mushrooms.
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My friends at JM Funny Farm have the backyard of my dreams! They have just about all of the outdoor summer activities that you could think of! From a Back to Eden garden, to lots of animals, to a pond with a zip line, to a homemade playground set, to a Gaga Ball Pit, to carpet ball, to an awesome mud kitchen (the inspiration for mine), and they are always creating fun new games with items from around the house (like this one). “Thou shalt not covet”… gotta chant that one over & over after visiting these friends 😉
Don’t’ forget your sunscreen! Babies and big kids can burn quickly in the hot summer sun… Be sure to give them the protection that they need to stay safe!
We use a Natural Mineral sunscreen from Block Island Organics on our kids. This sunscreen is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, dyes and artificial
fragrances. Block Island also made The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Best Beach & Sport Sunscreen list for the third year in a row!
What are your favorite outdoor summer activities??
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