Ideas for indoor and outdoor kids activities

Running out of ideas for keeping the kids entertained? Check out our list of fun kids activities that will keep them occupied and learning, too! From arts and crafts to outdoor games, we’ve got you covered. Read more below.

Indoor activities for kids

Stuck inside and not sure what to do? Some of my favorite indoor activities include creating art, coloring, or attending a local event.

Use some of the engaging ideas below to keep toddlers and kids busy while passing the time indoors!

Two shells painted to look like ladybugs with a red body, black spots, and googly eyes.
A simple craft with painted shells from a beach day.

Arts & crafts

Arts and crafts can be as simple or complex as your children are ready for. Consider what you already have, and work with the kiddos to find a craft they are excited about.

One thing that is important is emphasizing the process over the result. Sure, Pinterest crafts are cute, but not many kids can replicate the perfect crafts we see online. Make sure to communicate this with your little ones and use lots of positive affirmations along the way!

Here are some fun arts and crafts ideas to get you started:

  • Seasonal-based crafts: You can create tear-and-stick crafts with paper or leaves to fill in the outline of a design on paper, seasonal nature collages to celebrate nature’s changes, or even build sleighs out of cardboard boxes for Christmas… These are all examples of simple yet fun crafts I have done throughout the seasons that children have loved.
  • Painting: If your little one enjoys painting with a paintbrush and paints, great! But you can also get creative and use random materials to paint (like sponges, plastic toys, or stamps). One fun painting activity I’ve done was spreading paint on pre-cut bubble wrap tree shapes and imprinting it on cards for Christmas, for example (see photo below).
  • Create something with purpose: Crafting can be a fun way to create or decorate purposeful items like planter pots, wall decor, or vases, for example. Making and giving a homemade craft is also fun for both the giver and the receiver!
Paper tree decorated with green, blue, and cold dots. It also has a yellow star on the top.
Ideas for indoor and outdoor kids activities

Coloring pages

Many children love coloring, especially when the coloring page reflects their interests. It can also help your child’s development, too!

Coloring is a fine motor strengthening tool that many Occupational Therapists recommend and use in treatment sessions. 

The Occupational Toolbox

If you’d like some free coloring pages to print off, head over to these posts:

A cardboard reindeer with a googly eye and a red nose and a cardboard sleigh.
The result of “child’s choice” when asked what they wanted to create with a large box. I cut the pieces, and they glued/taped them on, then decorated the sleigh. The sleigh kept them entertained for hours!

Child’s choice!

This may seem like a non-answer to the question, “how do I keep my children busy indoors?” but nothing quite compares to children’s imaginations! They surely have favorite activities or games they like to play and will appreciate having a choice over how to spend their time. Plus, giving them a break from structured activities is always nice too.

Giving children choices helps them feel like they have some power and control over what they do. It’s a step in growing up. Everything isn’t planned for them. Making good choices is a skill that children will use for the rest of their lives.

PennState Extension

When letting your little ones decide what they want to play or which skill they want to practice, setting clear boundaries and giving them a time limit will help them anticipate transitions.

For example, if they want to create some art, ask them which supplies they might need and let them know where they can create the art. By having clear routines and boundaries, you can give them more space to be creative while still knowing that they are safe. Of course, if they use anything that requires adult supervision, like scissors or paints, stick close to ensure you can monitor their safety.

Giving them a time frame (even if they may not yet have a concept of exactly how long 30 minutes is) will make transitions much easier for both you and the child. I also like to give a five-minute warning before starting clean-up, so they can finish what they are focussed on and move on to the next task or activity.

Sightseeing in the community

Sightseeing may be an outdoor or indoor activity, depending on where you go. Either way, taking time to explore the area you live in and interact with your neighbors is an excellent way to pass the time with children!

Many cities offer learning activities like hour-long classes, library book readings, or even opportunities for physical activity like play groups. If you have a museum or science center, it’s also worth asking what kinds of kids activities are offered, as they often have special events, day camps, or summer camps!

The letter "o" is written on a green piece  of paper and placed inside a bag with rice. Bside it is another piece of white paper with the letters "f, g, h, i" written.
This is a super simple activity where I wrote out letters on green paper, put it into a Ziploc bag, and filled it with rice. Make sure to secure the bag with tape! Children can then use their fingers to move the rice around and find letters. I also wrote the letters on a white piece of paper for reference.

Other fun ideas for indoors

Here are some other ideas to keep children entertained when playing indoors:

  • Get an activity book so they have something to choose from: I like this one, Awesome Engineering ,because they are educational STEAM activities that use items readily available in more classrooms or households! Note: For ages 5-10.
  • Bake together: Try making cupcakes, cookies, or whatever else you’re craving! This is a fun way to practice math skills like measuring during family time.
  • Play board games together or complete a puzzle .
  • Have a scavenger hunt.
  • Create a science experiment.
  • Have a dance party or do yoga together.

For some awesome Montessori-inspired activities that are cheap and easy to create, check out this video by All Hart:

Outdoor activities for kids

Time outside is good for the mind and body! Here are some ideas for outdoor activities that will keep your children entertained while playing outside. Whether playing outside in the yard or heading to the local park, kids can run, jump, and play in many different ways.

One fun thing you could do is create your own family time capsule, for example! Save your favorite memories and mark to spot you buried it in so you can come back to it in a few years.

If you want a list of activities that you can do, Pure Wow has one with 50 fun outdoor activities for kids! Check it out here.

Child walking towards a blue, red, and yellow star made of sponges.
This was a simple math activity that turned into an opportunity for gross motor development and outdoor play! See how we made these sponge stars in our post, Summer activities for toddlers.

Outdoor learning

There are tons of opportunities for outdoor learning! You could go on a nature walk and practice using your five senses (free worksheet here), make a nature craft (10 ideas here), or do some guided physical exercise!

When it comes to learning in the great outdoors, things don’t need to be super complicated. Find out what your little ones are interested in learning and go from there! Learn the basics of outdoor education here.

Another easy thing that I like to do is have a picnic and bring some books along. This way, you’re centering literacy but switching up the environment and spending time outside. It’s especially fun if you have a book or story related to something you can explore outside after lunch, like books about bugs, plants, or animals.

You can also easily incorporate art or drawing outdoors by bringing your drawing supplies on a nature walk. Find a spot to sit and observe the world around you, then let your kiddos draw whatever they see. For older kids, you could accompany this with nature journaling so they can practice writing too.

Click here for more outdoor learning ideas.

Paper mache volcano with little plastic dinosaurs and red "lava".
Sometimes science gets messy and needs to be taken outdoors…

Outdoor math and science

There are lots of opportunities to practice math skills or explore the world through science outside. For ideas about how to teach math outside, check out my article here.

For science, you could try one of these 50 science experiments for kids!

Physical activities

The best part about playing outside is plenty of space to move around! Head to the local park to get some gross motor development by playing on the equipment or playing a sport together as a family. You can also set up a simple obstacle course with objects children need to jump over, balance on, or crawl through!

If you have a group of children, try playing a game like tag or capture the flag. Group games are great for developing strategy building, practicing cooperation, and for relationship-building with friends.

You might also consider going on a nature walk or a hike! If it’s your first time hiking with young ones, read my post here to learn how to prepare.

To learn more about the benefits of outdoor physical education, click here!

Two children running in a yard with green grass and a colorful garden.
Outdoor play can be as simple as racing! We switched up the modes of movement by racing like hopping kangaroos, running on all fours like a bear, and flying like birds.

FAQs

What are some good activities for kids?

Arts and crafts, science experiments or STEAM building activities, or outdoor learning and playtime are all great activities for kids.

What are the best indoor activities for kids?

You can create art together, bake or cook, play board games, or even do yoga together. The best indoor activities are ones that keep children engaged and entertained for a while and can often be educational, too.

What are the best outdoor activities for kids?

Nature walks or hikes, trips to local parks, or outdoor learning activities are all great ways to spend time outside with children.

Resources

Here are some other articles you may be interested in:

References

Giving Children Choices, by PennState Extension

Looking for more children’s activities?

Check out this page for more kid’s activities, like coloring pages, seasonal activities, and ways to learn outside!

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

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