Backyard Projects & Activities: Encourage dirty hands with these fun outdoor activities you can do right at home.

Header for Backyard Projects and Activities Page, Image of boys playing with a wheelbarrow full of water

Looking for some creative ways to get your kids outside? There are so many fun activities that you can do in the backyard or near home. From arts and crafts to neighborhood nature walks to starting a family garden, there is something for everyone!

Button to skip ahead to art, craft, and activity section (graphic of origami crane)
Button to skip ahead to nature walks (graphic of hills, trees, and sun)
Button to skip ahead to gardening section (graphic of a hand watering plants)

Outdoor art, crafts & Activities

After working in art museums for over a decade, it can be hard for me to introduce a new concept without using the arts as a pedagogical tool!  When we’re not out and about, the boys can often be find in our backyard “art studio,” creating with foraged materials or exploring through sensory play.

Testing Slime with All Five Senses - Marshmallow Slime Touch Test
Cypress Grove Trail - Point Lobos Hike
The boys looking for ants at the root of a tree

Nature Walks

Some of my favorite mornings with the kids involve walking the trails at one of our local parks. The boys are usually happy to go, but every now and again we all need some extra motivation to head outside. The following ideas are designed to help on those days when the usual walk has lost some of its appeal. 

Growing up gardeners

Like countless others, we started a quarantine-garden in the spring of 2020. It gave us more to do outdoors, and taught all of us about the work that goes into growing our favorite fruits and vegetables. We also discovered the challenges of gardening in a small “yard” with uneven patches of sun! Here’s where I share our favorite ideas for gardening with kids at home and at our favorite community garden.

JJ gets to harvest the fall cabbages we planted

Outdoor Time Can Be Fun and Easy Family Time 

Nature Connection Pyramid

When people think of an “outdoorsy” family, they likely imagine people straight out of a Patagonia ad. That’s not us.

The truth is, getting outside with your kids and helping them build nature connections doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Kenny Ballentine’s “Nature Connection Pyramid” illustrates what a balanced nature diet can look like. The vast majority of time is spent playing outside near home or at a local park. Easy peasy!

Unstructured outdoor playtime is the foundation of the pyramid, but as you move up to weekly Nature Exploring, a plan can help. On this page we share projects and activities that can help you share outdoor time together. This can be as simple as making time for closer looks on your neighborhood walk or as messy as using mud for your next masterpiece. 

In these posts, we offer some simple tutorials and our own stories and experiences in the hopes of making it easier for others to get outside together.   

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