Backyard Nature Play (20 Fun Ideas)

Remember your days as a child, playing in the backyard, feeling the fresh air on your face and grass between your toes… Many of us have childhood memories of being out in nature and immersed in our own imaginations.

There’s no better experience for children to explore than to get their hands dirty and get stuck in with nature play. But what are the top 20 fun ideas for backyard nature play?

Backyard nature play (20 fun ideas)

It’s easy to forget your time as a child and how you used to innocently play.

As adults we become distracted with responsibilities and modern distractions that lead us to become rigid and sometimes even lose our sense of imagination. 

A great way to ignite not only your imagination but to spark your child’s sense of activity, imagination and independence is to introduce them to nature play.

You can do this by either joining in, introducing them to games and activities or simply letting them roam free. This post will give you 20 fun ideas of backyard nature play. 

Backyard Nature Play (20 Fun Ideas)

1. Planting Flowers 

Whether you choose to plant a flower, shrub or a tree, teaching your child how to plant is a valuable lesson and better still… fun!

Not only is this a great way to encourage your child to get stuck in and get their hands dirty in the mud, iIt is also a fantastic sensory experience as it enables them to explore the smell and feel of the soil and the plants. 

This is a fun backyard nature play idea as it is a great opportunity for you to join in with messy play as you teach your child how plants grow.

Once you have finished planting, caring for the plants can become a responsibility you share to teach your child to take care of something living.

2. Backyard Cloud Gazing 

Cloud gazing is a fun and creative way to let your child’s imagination run wild. Simply lay down and ask them shapes they see appearing in the clouds.

For independent play, you can also provide them with paper and coloring pencils so that they can bring the cloud to life by creating a story or drawing a picture. Though simple, clouds are great for sparking imagination. 

This super simple idea is a great way to engage in backyard nature play seeing all that the sky has to offer.

3. Looking For Wild Animals And Insects In Your Backyard

Backyards are full of a host of unique and amazing insects, whether it be bees, butterflies or woodlice. Creating a bug hotel is a great way to not only look for insects but also to create a haven for them. 

You can do this backyard nature play idea by simply stacking twigs and rocks to create a space suitable for all to visit.

This is a great way for your child to get in touch with the nature around them and to observe the animals that they may not usually have time to see. 

4. Make A Shelter In Your Backyard

Making an outdoor shelter will keep your child entertained for hours. Not only is this a great way for them to assert their independence, it is also a great way for them to practice problem solving and decision making.

It is a super easy backyard nature play idea that will create hours of fun.

Making a shelter need not be difficult, it can be done either using natural materials such as twigs, large leaves, and rope if you have them to hand. Or, by bringing indoor materials such as blankets, poles and cushions outside. 

5. Outdoor Obstacle Course 

Creating an obstacle course in your backyard is a great way for your child to have fun outdoors with friends and engage in nature play.

Using simple materials or even rubbish can become the perfect resources for creating a magical obstacle course of stepping stones, hoops, and bridges. This is a great way to expand imagination and encourage creative thinking. 

6. Messy Play 

Messy Play 

Encouraging messy play is a great way to create a sensory experience. An effective way of doing this is by going barefoot. Doing this is ideal if you have a sand pit or bowl of mud that your kids can get stuck into.

Messy play is a great form of backyard nature play for your kids to enjoy.

7. Water-Fight 

On those hot summer days, there’s nothing better than cooling off with cold water. To make it more fun, why not have a water fight or encourage your child to have one with their friends.

Not only is this a fun way to cool off, it can be made into a game for hours of outdoor play in your backyard. 

8. Leaf Painting 

For children inspired by creativity, a great way to ignite their passion is to set up leaf painting. Decorating leaves with paint or glitter and sticking it to a canvas is a great way to enable your child to express their creativity through backyard nature play, and to take time to enjoy their own company. 

9. Making A Time Capsule

Making a time capsule and treasure map is an exciting way of creating a sense of adventure. It is also a beautiful way for your child to look back on their childhood and memories when they’re older.

All that’s required is filling a small box with trinkets of their choice and burying it in an area of the backyard. The next step is for them to create an awesome treasure map that can be as wacky as they like. 

10. Backyard Vegetable Patch 

Like flower planting, creating a vegetable patch in your backyard is a great way to teach your child about the importance of nutrition and growing fresh vegetables.

It’s also a fantastic way to get them involved in nature play as it will require regular tending which will instill responsibility and pride. 

11. Make A Bird Feeder 

Make A Bird Feeder 

Making a bird feeder in an easy way and fun way of getting your child involved in backyard nature play. With only a couple of ingredients required, this is a fun outdoor activity for you to get involved with.

Once hung up, you and your child can enjoy seeing new birds landing in your backyard and remaking new bird feeders time and time again. 

12. Camp Out In The Backyard 

There’s nothing better than a camping trip with toasted marshmallows and scary stories around the campfire. Why not have a camping trip in the backyard and make the best of a backyard nature play idea.

Not only does this require minimal packing… It’s a great way for both you and your child to let your imagination run wild and become one with nature. 

13. Paint Rocks 

Rock painting is a fun and creative way to create something beautiful that your child can keep for years to come. They can either be kept as an ornament or you can use smaller stones to create pieces for a game.

Rock painting is a great, fun example of backyard nature play.  

14. Star-Gazing 

Star-gazing is a brilliant way of exploring the sky at night. If you want to go the extra mile, using a telescope is a great way to really open your child’s eyes and get them to start asking questions about the wider world and universe. Star-gazing is a memorable experience you can share from the comfort of your backyard. 

15. Create A Backyard Nature Diary 

Creating a nature diary is a great idea for any budding authors and a fun example of backyard nature play. This is fantastic independent play as your child can make up stories of the adventures they have had in the backyard or the magical creatures they have come across.

Once complete, this may be something they can put in their treasure box…

16. Recycled Bottle Bowling 

Recycled bottle bowling is a great game for the whole family. Not only is this an effective way of reusing waste material, it makes a fun game that can be played time and time again.

All that’s required are a couple of bottles filled with either earth or water and a ball. 

17. Backyard Nature Play Scavenger Hunt 

Creating a scavenger hunt in the backyard is a fun and creative idea that is ideal for parties or for when friends are over. Using simple materials such as rope or coloured poles is an easy way to create a trail that will keep them entertained for hours. 

18. Car Wash 

A car cash is a brilliant way for the whole family to get stuck in. With bubbles and water splashing everywhere, you’re all bound to have fun.

This is a fantastic way to keep your child entertained during the summer months and an effective way to get chores done at the same time. 

19. Backyard Nature Play Picnic 

Backyard nature play doesn’t have to be complicated. Backyard picnics are great for keeping your child’s hands busy and they can get involved with making picnic snacks such as sandwiches or making lemonade.

Setting up the picnic can be lots of fun especially when others are invited. It can even be turned into a themed event such as a tea party. 

20. Make A Rope Swing 

Making a rope swing is a great way to create a fun outdoor feature that can be used for years to come. Making a rope swing will require adult supervision as it will require you to ensure that the swing is sturdy and secure.

This backyard nature play idea is super fun for older kids and adults young at heart.


Being in the great outdoors can provide your child with hours of fun. From using the natural materials found in the backyard to using their imagination, the potential for their adventure is endless.

Whether your child is 5 or 10, these games can be adapted to suit their age. Many of the ideas listed also encourage you to get stuck in to enable you to also open up your imagination and let your inner child out. 

Nature play stands to hold numerous benefits. Not only are the ideas presented super fun, they also encourage development, creativity and growth. They encourage children to delve into their imagination, practise motor skills and decision making skills. 

Additionally, being immersed in nature enables them to get some exercise and plenty of fresh air which works to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 

We hope that with our handy guide of 20 fun ideas to get involved in backyard nature play, there will be something for everyone.

Joyce Bailey
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