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How to Encourage Kids to Play Outdoors


All parents want what is best for their kids, and with the ever growing demand of kids learning technology in the classrooms and recess being cut from many schools across the United States, it’s important to maintain a level of outdoor play that matters. Obesity is at an all-time high here in the United States and we know screen time is partially to blame. Today I want to share a few ways you can encourage kids to play outdoors so that you can raise well-rounded kids that have a love for their environment.


It may seem easier to let the computer or television screen babysit your kids because you work from home or just arrived back from work and the last thing you want to do is to be a parent. This is a bad habit to get into because your kids are the ones suffering. Learn to balance both indoor and outdoor play by establishing some of these ideas within your household.

  • Teach kids the fun of raking up a pile of leaves and jumping in them.
  • Take a daily walk downtown, if you live close enough, and experience your town together.
  • Create a backyard that tempts the kids to get out and be active.


  • Make bird feeders and have your kids partake in a daily bird watch to see which species arrive.
  • Create an outdoor scavenger hunt day where you all take turns creating a treasure map.
  • Use the deck or porch area to play board games or have a weekly family meeting.
  • Create your own unique versions of childhood games like tag and hide-n-seek.
  • Take the kids out on a local activity such as fishing, kayaking or swimming in a local lake.


  • Purchase outdoor sports equipment such as volleyball, basketball or soccer gear.
  • Start a family garden and enlist the kids as the main gardeners who are in charge of it.
  • Let them play with water on a regular basis.
  • Have outdoor chores as part of the kid’s daily responsibilities.
  • Consider a bicycle and other outdoor riding gear that will entice the kids to play more.


  • Start a dirt mound for an outdoor sandbox for kids who love to make dirt castles.
  • Purchase outdoor trucks for kids who love digging around the yard.
  • Make it a point to take an evening walk around the neighborhood as a family.

The key to encouraging your kids to play outdoors really comes down to parents letting go of their fear of a big mess. The best fun to be had outdoors usually creates quite a mess between water, mud, dirt and bugs. You need to learn to let the kids be kids on an outdoor adventure, because the more restrictions they have placed upon them, the less likely they will want to engage in outdoor play. I will assume you own a hose, a bathtub and some washcloths, right?! Put them to use, because there’s nothing that brings a parent more joy than the pure laughter that comes from kids being encouraged to play outdoors.

Let's discuss: How do you encourage your kids to play outdoors? 

Annmarie John
76 Comments
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76 comments:

  1. These are excellent tips. In today's world of consoles, PCs, and even apps, it can be difficult to get the kids to leave their screens. Love it!

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    1. It can be very difficult. Luckily I have kids who actually enjoy going outdoors. Well at least I have 2 out of 3.

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  2. I'm so glad I only have to nudge my kids out the door instead of booting them out! Kids are so inundated with electronic everything, it's really important to get them out and about.

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    1. It is really important, and with all the technology out there, they would much prefer to stay indoors on their screen. No good!

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  3. These are really good tips! When my kids were younger they used to love playing in the sandbox.

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    1. My daughter actually has a sandbox which I need to replace the sand for but she loves it too!

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  4. These are all great ideas. When my son was younger we played outside all the time. We played with chalk on driveway and played soccer almost every day.

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    1. My son still does it because he loves playing basketball and my daughter has always loved it. No problems at my house.

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  5. Getting outside is so important for kids. These are great ways to encourage kids to get outside and to get active!

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    1. It is important. It not only gives them that Vitamin D that they need but keeping them active also keeps them healthy.

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  6. Great idea to take board games outside, it is so important to get kids outside!

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  7. I remember spending pretty much my entire summers outdoors as a kid. We had a pool and a forest and a stream. My kids have four acres here, so it's sort of a no-brainer. In terms of living somewhere with actual neighbors and people, I'd probably still do the same! Showing them that raking leaves and playing in the sprinkler is FUN!

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    1. Oh those can be lots of fun. Madison just LOVES running around when the sprinklers on, especially when we had those hotter months. It's getting a little bit cooler now.

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  8. These pictures make my heart happy, because your little one looks like she's having such a great time. Playing outdoors is so incredibly important for kids - and I love that you're sharing that message here.

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    1. Oh she just LOVES playing outdoors. Every day she goes out and even now that the weather is getting cooler she's outside riding her bike.

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  9. These are all wonderful ideas. I sincerely miss our backyard. We have a backyard, but the deck takes up most of it and the rest of it is plants, flowers, and pavers. I look forward to buying my own home again, so we can do whatever we want with OUR yard.
    Thankfully, there's a park down the street and we have a basketball hoop for the kids in the side yard. :)
    XO
    www.mrsaokaworkinprogress.com

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    1. Sounds like you're still doing your best to get the kids outdoors. My closest park is within driving distance and her dad takes her there. I prefer going to places I can walk to. :)

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  10. Can I just say that I absolutely adore this post and you have given me some great ideas to keep both of my kids off the couch and outdoors! The scavenger hunt is wonderful as is the family garden!

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    1. Thank you, and yes you've got to get them outdoors.

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  11. The mosquitoes are eating us alive right now, so sadly, we aren't getting much outdoor play. I can't wait for fall. The girls do love raking up leaves and jumping in the piles.

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    1. So sorry to hear that. We don't seem to have that problem right now but raking and jumping into leaves is always fun.

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  12. We definitely need to encourage outdoor play. It does so much for a child's imagination and coordination!

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    1. Yes it really does and you do need to encourage the kids to get outside more.

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  13. It's sad that most kids nowadays prefer to stay in their rooms playing with their gadgets. These are great tips to encourage them to play outdoors.

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    1. It is rather sad but we as adults need to get them out.

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  14. We played a lot outdoors because our parents did with us! We swam, they were out there with us, they went to the park and played soccer with us, I mean it was just so interactive. You can't just tell kids to just go outside and play - it works for a little bit but so many great memories are made when parents join in!

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    1. Sounds like you had great parents who joined in quite a lot. I know that I played outdoors A LOT, but that's because I had a lot of cousins living next door so we were always outside running around, playing and having fun.

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  15. My kids honestly don't need more urging to go play outdoors. They love it!! Still, you have some really great tips here :)

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    1. That's awesome! You're one of the few whose kids just love playing outdoors.

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  16. I struggled to get my kids outdoors this summer, they had no friends in our area. They do love to go outside finding new games for them to play really makes a difference.

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    1. My kids are mostly loners so they love playing by themselves and guess what, they have each other. They'll make friends.

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  17. Great ideas...kids are forgetting that there are things to do beyond electronics. You made me want to go play outside :)

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    1. And you should, go outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

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  18. It's hard with my toddler since I have to go outside with him. I try to avoid the heat and go in the mornings or early evenings.

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    1. As long as you're going outdoors you're doing good!

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  19. Such great ideas! My kids love few of these activities. But we will try the others too!

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    1. Thank you Toni and getting them outdoors to do even one is great.

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  20. Wonderful tips! My kids would stay outdoors 24/7 if I'd let them so that really hasn't ever been a problem for us! Except our teenager he hates being outside now, and its driving me nuts! - Jeanine

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    1. That's the thing with teenagers. I have a tween who would prefer to stay indoors as well. My oldest loves playing basketball so he's always outside jumping hoops while my daughter goes out on her bike 24/7. ;)

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  21. My big thing is not introducing them to a tablet too early. They won't miss won't they don't have haha

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    1. That's too true. You don't miss what you don't have. lol

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  22. I tell them that for every ten minutes they play outside, they can have 5 minutes on their gadgets. This seems to do the trick!

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    1. That's sounds like a good compromise. I'm sure they'll enjoy playing even more so they can get more time.

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  23. My kids love to play outside but my toddler hates when it's too bright and he runs back inside! These are some great tips! I have to always encourage my kids to spend time outside because if I don't, they will sit and watch TV ALL SUMMER LONG :(

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    1. Sounds like my 11 year old. If I don't send him outside he'll play on his Xbox One all day long. My pre-schooler LOVES the outdoors.

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  24. My kids hate playing outdoors, it's as if the zombi apocalypse is outside and they don't want to be caught in it. I usually tell them get out or no video games on the weekend. That always works.

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    1. LOL about the zombie apocalypse. Telling my kids no video games usually work, well at least for the 11 year old, everyone else loves the outdoors.

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  25. This post has really inspired me a lot!
    I have seen many kids crying because their parents did not allow them take their ipads outside. I was like what?! Outside has always been so fun, of course, when I was growing up.

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    1. No iPads outside? Please!! My kids aren't allowed any electronics outside. They're going outside to play, not be on their electronics.

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  26. Love the idea of making sure your yard is a welcoming space! They're so much more likely to go out there and if it's tidy and they have gear to play with!

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    1. Madison has a jungle gym and we also have a bounce house in the back. That usually encourages her to go out and jump around some more. Thinking of having a trampoline next summer to make it even more inviting. :)

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  27. My kids will only play outside if I go with them. So funny. Means I get my vitamin D too!

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    1. Well I guess they learn by example so if you go as well, you're showing them that it's ok to be outdoors and have fun.

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  28. It is so important to get kids to spend time outside. I was lucky with my kids. They always wanted to go outside and play sports.

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    1. My kids are easy, well all except the 11yr old who would prefer to sit inside and watch TV or play video games.

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  29. I only let my kids out when I go too. When I was a kid I was on my own. I wish I could trust mine going out as much as I did.

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    1. Why can't you trust your kids outdoors if they're together? Do you live in a bad neighborhood? My daughter is 4 and she rides her bike outside with me just checking in on her occasionally.

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  30. My son really loved to play outside. I'm thankful that I found this helpful ideas.

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    1. Does he not love playing outdoors any longer? You said "loved" as in past tense. :)

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  31. My kids don't need much encouragement. They've always been outdoor kids and would stay outside as long as I would let them.

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    1. Way to go Jill! That's the way to go. Sounds like you have very active kids.

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  32. Such great ideas to have a blast outside! Its kinda crazy how we need to encourage kids to go outdoors, as when I was a kid I would BEG to get out there every second I could!

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    1. I know right?! I used to love going outside as soon as I got home from school. All this technology has made kids so lazy these days.

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  33. I am a huge advocate for outdoor play, especially since we live in an apartment. I am trying to get in as much time outdoors before the weather gets cold.

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    1. I remember when we lived in NYC, we used to go to the park everyday, even when the weather got cooler. The kids are now here in CO where there are wide open spaces and my 11yr old would prefer to stay indoors but I encourage him to get outside. My other kids LOVES the outdoors. I'm glad to hear that you're trying to get out as much as possible.

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  34. We limit outside time in the summer here in Phoenix because it's way too hot (even at 8 am, it's already 100! LOL) but when it cools down, we are ALWAYS outside. We hibernate in the summer and come out in the winter. LOL My daughter loves when it cools and can be outside. These are great tips!

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    1. Did you say 100 degrees? I don't know how you do it. We barely got to 90 here in the summer and I hated it. I love the cool weather and I'm so looking forward to the fall. Winter is a great time to play outdoors as well.

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  35. Encouraging outdoor play is so important. We get so wrapped up in technology that sometimes as parents we even forget.

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    1. Oh I totally get that. Sometimes I'm on the computer for so long that even I forget that I should go outside for some fresh air. :)

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  36. I have the opposite problem getting my kid to come inside. He never stays inside even in the rain or cold.

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    1. I have no problems with the kids going outside, but they do want to come in so I guess that's my problem, having them stay out longer.

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  37. I think I'm one the few moms who have problems with encoraging kids to play outdoors. One of my kids just like to stay at home and read books. I know books are good for her but outdoors activities also are. These tips are really useful. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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    1. You're very welcome. My oldest was very much like that. She would stay indoors and read all the time, now she's away at college and she's always out. :)

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  38. These are excellent tips, Encouraging outdoor play is so important. My kid really loved to play outside
    thanks for sharing

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    1. My own kids also love playing outdoors. Sometimes I can't even get my daughter to come inside.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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