Ideas for Outdoor Play

Great Outdoor Play Spaces in Our Area

Ideas for Indoor Play


Resources and Links


Ideas for Outdoor Play


  • Foster children who are happier, healthier, and filled with positive, long-lasting childhood memories
  • Help children to share, negotiate, interact, and bond with others
  • Allow children to learn by doing, explore their senses, solve real problems, reason, observe, and provide a deep understanding of their world
  • Provide opportunities for children to be physically active and “blow off steam”, as well as enhance their motor skills (e.g. balance, coordination, and agility)
  • Prompt more diverse, imaginative, and creative play, as well as increase language and cognitive skills
  • Develop children’s independence and autonomy
  • Foster a love of nature and affinity for the environment For more information about the importance of nature and outdoor play, see: ACM_KidsDigDirt_GreenPaper.pdf and

How do I encourage kids to play together in our neighborhood? Great ideas from Playborhood:

  • Spend more time in the front yard or on the front porch instead of the back yard.
  • Get to know your neighbors (i.e., create a block contact list; plan a block party; host a backyard happy hour; schedule a play event for the children).
  • Turn your front yard into a family room.
  • Post a “Let’s Play” sign in your front yard to start the conversation with your neighbors. • Try some attention-grabbing activities in your yard to attract kids to stop by.

My Goal
by Mike Lanza, founder of Playborhood,

I want my kids to play outside with other neighborhood kids every day.
I want them to create their own games and rules.
I want them to play big, complex games with large groups of kids, and simpler games one-on-one with a best friend.
I want them to decide for themselves what to play, where, and with whom.
I want them to settle their own disputes with their friends.
I want them to create their own private clubs with secret rules.
I want them to make lasting physical artifacts that show the world that this is their place. I want them to laugh and run and think.
Every day.
That’s what I had. It’s my standard for a good childhood. It’s my goal for my kids.

Check out for details on these and other great ideas!



Backyard Bubbles
Recommended for children of all ages

  • “Bubbles love high humidity. They prefer cool, shady areas, sheltered from the wind. The finest bubble days are foggy or overcast. Best of all, try right after a rain. No matter what the weather, you can usually find pools of air damp, cool, or quiet enough to make impressive bubbles.” (John Cassidy, The Unbelievable Bubble Book, 1987)
  • Yellow or blue Ultra Dawn or any Ivory liquid are the recommended liquid dishwashing soaps to use (John Cassidy)
  • Mix up the recipes the day before for best results.
  • Glycerin is inexpensive and can be found in most drug stores. The children think that the bubbles are so much better that it is worth keeping a small bottle on hand.
  • Soap is slippery. Avoid smooth marble pavements. Stay on rough, nonskid surfaces – concrete, asphalt, grass (John Cassidy)

Basic Bubble Recipe
(John Cassidy, The Unbelievable Bubble Book, 1987) Materials:

1 clean pail
1 cup yellow or blue Ultra Dawn or Ivory dish soap
3-4 tablespoons glycerin (optional)
12 cups clean, cold water (up to 50% more on dry days)
1.Measure 12 cups water into the pail. Add 1 cup dish soap.
2.Add the glycerin. In most atmospheres, it makes the bubbles more durable by reducing evaporation.
Stir, but not too much. You don’t want froth on the top because it tends to break the bubbles. If you get any, skim it off with your hand.

Lemonade Stand
Steps to Creating a Lemonade Stand
Recommended for children ages 4 and up

  • Work with the kids to develop a plan on how the lemonade stand will work. This can be very basic. Remember that lemonade stands are a wonderful, practical, and motivating way to help children understand the concept of money.
  • Make signs for your lemonade stand. This can be the key to success, since most adults will buy a cup to support the neighborhood children.
  • Determine the cost of your lemonade. For older children, help them to calculate the costs to make the lemonade, in order to teach about profits.
  • Consider offering ½ price refills. This is great to talk to kids about repeat business and customer service.
  • Setup your stand in front of your house.

Lemonade Stand—Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade Recipe
Have your children help you squeeze the lemons to make this perfect recipe for a summertime lemonade stand

3 cups fresh lemon juice (about 20 lemons)
2 ¼ cups sugar
12 cups chilled water teaspoon vegetable oil
Combine juice and sugar in a one-gallon container; stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in water. Serve over ice.
Yields: 16 servings (1 cup each)

Cardboard Boxes
Recommended for children of all ages

  • Cardboard Box City/Sculptures – Tape the boxes closed. Have tape, crayons, paint, available for the kids to arrange the boxes into their neighborhood, buildings, a town, animals, a farm…
  • Easel – Tape paper around the sides of a large box. OR Select a sturdy box, cut off the top flaps or remove the lid. Then cut the box in half diagonally. Set on the table like a tent. Tape paper to both sides of the easel.
  • Cardboard cars
  • Mystery boxes
  • Teddy Bear trains
  • Read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis with your kids