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11 fun backyard activities that will keep kids entertained for hours

When the warm weather finally rolls in, you want to get kids outside and off the screens. Since every day can’t be an outing, the backyard is the perfect place for the kiddos to get fresh air, exercise, and have some fun. Kids will be kids, though, and as parents know, it doesn’t take long for the “I’m bored” or “there’s nothing to do” lament to make an appearance.

The key to keeping kids engaged outdoors is similar to inside. Have a few interactive kid-friendly backyard activities on hand that will keep the kiddos entertained for a while. In addition to swing sets and sandboxes, what are some other fun backyard activities kids of all ages will enjoy? Here are 11 fun ideas.

Green and orange pool noodles
Sophia Cole/Shutterstock

Pool noodle obstacle course

Pool noodles really are a handy backyard accessory and not just for the deep end of a pool. Always keep a bunch of pool noodles on hand because they are great for cool backyard games. With a few pool noodles, pencils as stakes, and duct tape if need be, you can fashion a backyard obstacle course the kids will have a blast crawling through, running around, and jumping over.

Castle creations

Let the imaginations run wild and make use of all those Amazon boxes in the garage by having kids create their own backyard castle. Kids can design their own castle from the boxes and even decorate with washable paint or markers. All you need is a hose or Mother Nature’s next rain to wash away the paint stains from the grass. Once the castle is finished, kids can play inside.


This popular backyard game is serious business for some adults. (There’s actually a pro cornhole league.) Outfit the backyard with a cornhole set for the kiddos to play with or make one of your own. All you need are beanbags and a laundry basket. For a more sophisticated target, cut beanbag-sized holes in the bottom of a box for a makeshift cornhole board.

Recycling bowling

Reuse 10 empty water bottles by recycling them as bowling pins. Set the bottles up on the deck or patio, and kids can take turns trying to roll strikes with a rubber ball or a plastic bowling ball.

Ring toss

Like cornhole, a ring toss is another backyard game that isn’t just fun at a barbecue. Order a ring toss set for the backyard or make one using pool noodles with pencils as anchors. Pick up a set of rings at a nearby dollar store or order a set online.

Brother and sister on a scavenger hunt
Erica Finstad/

Nature scavenger hunt

Kids love a scavenger hunt, and organizing one in the backyard is a snap. Give kids a list of items to find right in their own backyard. Easy-to-find nature scavenger-hunt items include:

  • Bird’s nest
  • Tree
  • Flowers
  • Weeds
  • Blade of grass
  • Rock
  • Leaf
  • Insect
  • Squirrel
  • Chipmunk
  • Bird
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Garden
  • Dirt
  • Cloud
  • Fence
  • Lawn chair
  • Sunblock
  • Branch
  • Stick
  • Feather

Backyard blanket fort

Whether inside or outside, blanket forts are cool and keep kids entertained for a long time. All you need to make a simple blanket fort are queen- or king-sized sheets, lawn chairs, weighted items for anchors, and a cozy blanket for a floor. Stock the backyard blanket fort with books and toys. Be sure to include a few snacks and water bottles or juice boxes.

Family in a tent on a camping trip
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pitch a tent

Like a backyard fort, camping out right in your own backyard has its perks, too. Use the family camping gear for a fun afternoon of backyard camping or pitch an inexpensive tent just for use at home on those “I’m bored” days.

Nerf battles

Nothing says backyard fun like Nerf blasters. Plus, it’s an activity that can appeal to everyone — even the teens will head outside for a Nerf battle. Keep a set of mini Nerf blasters on hand and always have plenty of darts. Kids and teens will definitely have a blast with these skirmishes on a sunny afternoon.

Water battles

Water balloons can be fun, but unfortunately, they’re gone in a flash. It actually takes much longer to fill them up than for the kids to use a whole basket. Keep the water fun spraying on a hot day with water blasters. Like Nerf battles, kids and teens will have a lot of fun splashing each other for hours.

Baby pool

You can do a lot with a baby pool in your backyard. Fill it with water and toss in some rubber duckies, buckets, and cups. If toddlers are hopping in the baby pool, be sure to have supervision. Fill up a baby pool with sand for a little taste of the beach right in your own backyard. You can also fill a baby pool with mini play balls for a homemade backyard ball pit.

Every day can’t be a family outing day, even in the summertime, especially when moms and dads work from home. Fun backyard games and activities can keep the kiddos outside in the fresh air and getting exercise while having fun. Outfitting your backyard with cool games is a lot easier than you think. With pool noodles, recycling, and empty boxes, you can turn your backyard into a wonderland that the kiddos will enjoy.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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