Schools didn’t always have summer vacations. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the US used summer vacations on a broad scale, but before that, one of the ways people determined a ‘good school’ was by how many days per year it was open.
Fortunately, that’s not an issue anymore, but they need something to do. Here are my top ten outdoor activities for elementary students.
The best outdoor summer activities for elementary students are physical games that get them moving. From playing in the park to swimming and sports, kids need a way to use up their restless energy and stay healthy. It’s essential for elementary kids to get active and play outside, so they develop their bodies as much as they use their minds.
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Best Outdoor Summer Activities For Elementary Students
Summer programs and camps are great, but it’s not always a workable solution. It can be incredibly frustrating when you want to make sure your kids get plenty of exercise and time outdoors, but you don’t know what to do with them. Luckily, I can help with that.
Here are 10 classic, fun outdoor summer activities for elementary students:
1 – Eco-Friendly Water Balloon and Squirt Gun Fight
We’ve all seen the local park littered with shreds of plastic balloons. While it’s a sure sign someone had a good time, this summer activity also contributes to the growing microplastics problem.
Instead of old-fashioned water balloons, consider their eco-friendly cousins.
You can find sponge-filled, washable faux water balloons that you dip in water and then throw. Add some high-quality water guns that last, and you can have a cooling water fight without creating a litter problem.
Everything is a teachable moment at this age, so talk to your kids about why balloons aren’t the best option, and then have a fun water-based play day. Just remember that waterproof sunscreen.
I recommend ThrillZoo 51 Reusable Water Balls Water Balloons for Kids from Amazon. There are plenty of these clever, washable ‘balloons’ to throw, and they come in lots of bright colors so you can pick them up easily later.
- REUSABLE WATER BALLS - Lot of 51 colorful water balls (17 each of green, blue & red water balloons), plus a sturdy mesh bag for storage and carrying. These new kids water balloons are great pool balloons, and also popular with trampoline sprinklers.
- LATEX FREE WATER BALLOONS - ThrillZoo water balls are made of premium quality, absorbent cotton, making them a safer refillable water balloon. Latex free is the safest choice for outdoor balls, especially during kids birthday parties and sleepovers.
- WATER BALLS FOR POOL - These sponge balls can also be used with sprinklers for trampolines, at waterparks, the beach, inflatable pools, or just in the backyard with a hose or kiddie pool. Unlike standard and giant water balloons, ours don't break!
- MORE THRILLZOO FUN - Our other outdoor games and trampoline accessories can be combined with these reusable balloons for an unforgettable summer experience.
- UNIQUE GIFT IDEA - Bulk water balloons make a great birthday gift idea, housewarming gift idea, holiday gift idea, or pool party decor. Refillable water balloon gifts are rarely expected yet always well received.
Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2 – Faux Drive-In For Summer Evenings
Maybe you want to get outside, but you don’t want to deal with the heat and all that sunscreen. You can still head outdoors for a movie night.
Set up a big white sheet and a movie projector on warm summer evenings. You can ‘go to the drive-in’ by setting it up in a garage.
Alternately, have the kids grab big cardboard boxes and decorate them like cars. You can ‘park’ on the lawn and fill them with pillows and blankets for comfort.
Then all you need is popcorn and maybe a bag of M&Ms to have a genuinely epic outdoor evening under the stars. This idea is excellent if you have a large yard and want to have some friends over.
3 – Giant Versions Of Classic Games
A lot of families have a family game night at home. You can take that same idea and bring everyone together for a good time outside. You can cut a massive puzzle out of old cardboard boxes.
Flatten the boxes and tape them together with painter’s tape. Then paint a picture on it together. Once that dries, have the adults cut out the shapes, scramble up the pieces, and have the kids put it back together on the lawn.
You get two really cool activities, and the giant puzzle is easy to customize for all age groups and skill levels.
4 – Nerf
The world of Nerf toys is extensive. From tiny one-shot pocket pistols to massive battery-powered automatic dart shooting guns, you can work with any budget. Best of all, setting up games with these reusable toys is a breeze.
Grab some sodas and when you’re done driving them, rinse the bottles or cans. Now you can set up a row for target practice on a table or wall.
If you want something a little more interactive, use obstacles and play dart-tag. If you pick models of these dart guns that all use the same size darts, no one will run out of ammo.
I suggest picking up these easy-to-use Skywin Obstacles for Nerf from Amazon. All you have to do is blow them up and set them out. The kids can hide and play darts all day.
- GREAT FOR NERF WAR PARTY - Party supplies for building the ultimate battle zone at your home or backyard. Play Laser Tag and Paint Ball. Compatible with all Nerf guns
- DURABLE AND STRONG FOR BATTLE - Made of sturdy material provides effective cover for blasters battles. For fun and safe games with family and friends.
- BRING THE BATTLE ZONE TO YOU - Transform your house or backyard into an inflatable battlefield. Inflatable pieces become instant defensive cover.
- BE CREATIVE AND CUSTOMIZE - Arrange battle obstacles however you want and create your desired obstacle course or fort.
- EASY SET UP - Easy setup battle bunkers, over-sized valves lets enough air in for rapid inflation/deflation
Last update on 2023-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
5 – Tree Swings and Tree Houses
A treehouse is the best place to hang out with friends over the summer, and elementary students are certainly old enough to climb a ladder.
You can make it more challenging if you set up a climbing wall-style set of handholds or a rope ladder instead. And for those who don’t want to go that far, a tree swing is great.
All you need to DIY a tree swing is some sturdy rope, a sturdy branch, and a literal piece of wood to sit on. I suggest a wide flat board like a 2×8 for stability.
Cut a section and drill large holes the diameter of your rope carefully, a couple of inches in from the sides. Then feed your rope down through the holes and tie some big knots below to secure the board.
If you want to be extra and protect the board from weather, use a liquid rubberized in a pale color and coat the board and ends of the rope to preserve it.
Don’t use black because it will get too hot. Once that dries, toss those ropes over your tree and tie off the ends securely.
6 – Bubbles
You can never go wrong with bubbles. Little ones love them, but their older elementary school siblings can have a ton of fun playing with them as well.
Plus, you can mix your own bubble solution with Dawn dish soap and water.
Not only will you have more refills, but dawn is safe for plants and animals. This is the soap they use to clean oil off of animals when it spills in the ocean.
Grab a giant bubble maker or bubble guns and let the kids run wild with them.
7 – Go Camping
You don’t have to drive for hours to camp. Set up a tent in your backyard and have a camp-in instead of a camp-out.
Bring sleeping bags and plan to stay the night outdoors for the sheer entertainment value. Best of all, you have a bathroom when you need it.
Make this idea extra by adding a small barbecue grill and roasting some hotdogs or making smores. You can bring a flashlight and tell spooky stories or set up a telescope and spot some galaxies like Perseus, where the Perseid meteor shower will show up.
According to EarthSky.org, “Every year, from around July 17 to August 24, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent of the Perseid meteor shower.”
So, you can even plan to camp when there will probably be shooting stars to wish on.
8 – Ziplines
Going ziplining is a blast. If you have a tree and a ladder, or even a sturdy roof beam, you can set up a small zipline for your kids in the yard. These are easy and fast to put up and take down.
I suggest going with a kit with a seat and a brake like the wildly popular CTSC 95 Foot Zip Line Kit from Amazon.
You’ll get everything you need to set up a high-quality, kid-safe zipline that they can play with all year.
- ✅SAFETY COMES FIRST: Our zip line kits includes a 5.9 Foot Stainless Steel Spring Brake as a braking system, so the zipline does not end at a sudden stop. When it comes to kids' outdoor activities and playground equipment, quality means the world to parents- that’s why we have carefully constructed a product that guarantees complete safety for our little ones. This zip line meets the international quality standards (RoHS & CE) and can easily hold up to 250 lbs!
- ✅ PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA WHICH YOUR KIDS MAY REMEMBER FOR A LIFETIME: Are you looking for a wonderful outdoor activity or a birthday gift that will help you bond with your kids and enjoy unforgettable moments? Look no further. Now you can spend endless hours of backyard fun with your children. Your backyard will instantly become a stunning amusement park, and you will become the neighbourhood’s coolest parent!
- ✅ OFFER CUSTOMIZED SOLUTIONS: Our zipline kit come with a 7 foot sling cable and 95 foot main cable, the 7 foot sling cable was used to wrapped around the start tree, and the 95 foot main cable should cover the distance between the two trees and the end tree's circumference, if the trees in your backyard are too far apart, CONTACT Us FIRST, simply provide us with the exact distance, and then we will develop a personalized zip line kit for you!
- ✅ CONVENIENCE FOR YOUR CHILD: Our product is specifically designed for children- non-slippery rubber grips help riders keep a firm hold on the zip line while playing. Remember that using the zip line CORRECTLY IS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP SAFE! Kids MUST hold the handle tightly and sit on the seat when using it. Please MAKE SURE the knot under the seat is FIRM enough. It SHOULD BE TESTED FIRST after installed!
- ✅ 10-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY, ENJOY HAPPY FAMILY MOMENTS FOR YEARS TO COME! – Designed by loving parents, the CTSC durable children’s zip line set is the ideal way to make your kids smile! You will absolutely blow their mind with this fantastic gift idea! However, if for any reason, you are not 100% satisfied with this heavy-duty zip line kit, you can return it within 30 days and we will offer you a full refund. Above all, we want you and your children to be happy!
Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
9 – Sidewalk Chalk and Finger Paint
One of the great things about being an elementary-age kid is that it’s easy to get creative. Grab some sidewalk chalk or go crazy and bring out the butcher paper and finger paints for a summer your kids will never forget.
If you’re worried about the mess, put down a tarp and have the kids paint or even chalk on paper on the ground. When you’re done, the hose will get them clean again with no trouble.
10 – Ride Bikes or Skate
If your kids have bikes or skates, all you need is a sidewalk or empty parking lot to have fun. Of course, you can do one better if your town has a skate park and take them to ride on a unique, skate-friendly obstacle course.
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing some wheels and heading out for a truly classic no-added-materials-needed day in the sun.
Helpful Tips To Know About Outdoor Summer Activities For Elementary Students
There’s no question that obesity is a problem in America. Going outside alone won’t solve health problems, but it does help burn energy, build healthy muscle and create lifelong habits that will help your kids stay fit.
Here are some helpful tips about outdoor summer activities for elementary students.
- Not every outside activity has to be wild. Sometimes it’s nice to sit under a tree and read books or have a picnic. Make sure outdoor kids have a shady place to rest.
- Choose the summer activities that suit your kids. If they don’t like camping, hit the park instead, or vice versa. It’s all about getting out there and making memories and good habits, so don’t limit yourself.
- Remember to stay hydrated in warm weather. Summer is a great time to give kids their own canteen and teach them to bring it when they go outside to play in the heat.
Kids love playing outside, and with good reason. The sun provides their bodies with much-needed vitamin D, which helps them stay happy and healthy.
Getting out more is essential for a good summer. Use these ten ideas for the best outdoor summertime activities for elementary students, then build on them with your own innovative ideas. Your kids will thank you.