Written by contributor Emily McClements of Live Renewed.

Ah, the lazy days of summer are finally here. Where I live, in Northern Indiana, we have finally had a stretch of beautiful, summer weather the past few weeks. And we are enjoying every minute of it by spending as much time outside as possible.

But, I don”t know what it is about my kids. Sometimes they seem to get… well, a little bored outside. I think that they should just be able to spend hours exploring and discovering nature. But really, they are only two and three years old. Maybe it”s more that they just need a little direction for playing outside.

Beyond the classic running through the sprinkler, and going on nature walks, here are more ways to help your little ones play and enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

1. Homemade Bubbles

What kid doesn”t love bubbles? I think we can go through a big bottle of bubbles in an hour. Usually because it gets spilled at some point.

Because my kids love bubbles so much, and we often run out of bubble solution long before they are ready to be done playing with them, I discovered a super easy homemade bubble recipe that I can whip up in a few minutes whenever the mood for bubbles strikes my kiddos, which is basically ever day.

Homemade, Non-Toxic Bubbles

  • 1/4 cup natural dishwashing detergent (I use Seventh Generation)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 drops of glycerin (I got mine at my local health food store)

Mix together in a small bowl, or add to a mason jar and shake gently. Start blowing bubbles to your heart”s (or your little one”s heart”s) content. You can also make this the night before and let it sit out for even better bubbles.

I also love this idea for keeping homemade bubble solution at the ready, instead of having to mix up a new batch every few days!

2. Wash the Car

Kids obviously love to play in water. You can give water play a little more direction by giving your kids a bucket with some soapy water (use natural dishsoap to make the suds) and a big sponge, and let them help you wash your car, outdoor toys, patio furniture, or whatever else might need a good scrubbing. Kids love the opportunity to help, and of course love getting themselves soaked and covered in soapy suds.

Photo by biofriendly

3. Create Your Own Sandbox

Give your kiddos a taste of the beach in their own back yard by creating a sandbox for them. You don”t need to actually have a sandbox, or an actual back yard, for this one.

You can use a kiddie pool, or even an under-the-bed storage container, and fill it with sand from the hardware store. If you don”t have a back yard you could even set this up on a deck or porch.

You don”t have to have special sand toys either. Raid your kitchen cabinets for everything your tots need to scoop, pour, dig and build sand castles with.

4. Run Through an Obstacle Course

Help your kids get active and have a little fun, and adventure at the same time. Use things that you already have on hand, and set up a small obstacle course for them, of course making it appropriate for their age.

Here”s a sample obstacle course to get you started:

  • Put inside play tunnels on the grass for them to crawl through
  • Set hula hoops on the ground, or just use rope to create circles, to hop through,
  • Use a picnic table to climb up, over, and down,
  • Score points by shooting a ball through a hoop, or even into a bucket,
  • Jump rope five times, or just hop five times for little ones who can”t jump rope
  • Then set up their bike, trike or scooter to ride down the driveway to the finish line!

Of course, every obstacle course is more fun if you”re racing your mom!

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5. Messy Activities

There are a lot of activities that my kids are always asking me to do because they have so much fun doing them, but I”m sometimes resistant of the mess I know they”ll create. When the weather is nice you can let your kids take their favorite messy activities outdoors and not have to worry (as much) about the cleanup!

This includes everything from finger painting, to playing with flour, and even just plain old digging in the dirt. Whatever your kid”s favorite messy activity is – let them take it outside! Here are some of my favorite !

6. Fizzing Sidewalk Paint

I found this activity on Pinterest, and can”t wait to try it with my kids! It includes making your own sidewalk chalk paint and then spraying it with vinegar and watching it fizz up. What a fun and great idea! And I love that it uses ingredients I already have on hand in bulk, because I use them to clean my house.

However you choose to play outside, enjoy these long summer days with your kiddos!

What are your family”s favorite backyard activities?