May 6, 2014

Your Voice: 10 Simple, Fun Outdoor Family Activities for a Sunny Day

Written by: Lauren Hartmann – Owner & Author of The Little Things We Do and Contributor for Disney Baby and Babble

If you are lucky enough to live in a sun-shiney state (I’m looking at you California and Florida!), you have the luxury of heading out for sunny day outdoor family activities on a regular basis. But for those of us who live in slightly (or significantly) cooler climates, sunny days are a hot commodity and worth taking full advantage of.

Here in Portland Oregon where I live, sunny days are unmistakable because people are out in droves to soak up their fair share of vitamin D in any way they can – families included. My daughter gets so excited for sunny days and as such we’ve come up with quite a few simple, fun and inexpensive ways to enjoy them. Here are just a few…

10 Simple and Fun Sunny Day Outdoor Family Activities:

1. Go to the park

The park may be the most obvious answer to the “How should we spend our sunny day?” dilemma, but it really is a good one. Little ones never tire of the park and in order to keep things fresh you can create a list of new parks in your neighborhood and surrounding areas that you’d like to try out over the coming months. Getting to try out new places will make your outdoor family activities at the park even more fun!

2. Have a picnic

Why not pack a picnic and bring it along to the park with you? There’s just something about the novelty of eating outside that feels a little bit more special – both for parents and kids. You don’t have to go far though! If you don’t have time to head to a park, just bring that blanket out to your yard and set up lunch right there. We do this all the time!

3. Break out the side walk chalk or water paint

Sidewalk chalk is pretty much a childhood rite of passage and a great way to teach your child without them even realize it. As they draw you can incorporate learning about colors, shapes, letters, and numbers and more and your kids will love seeing their works of art on display for the whole neighborhood. Water painting can be just as much fun as sidewalk chalk, but there’s no cleanup or mess! Just fill vessels with water and arm your littles with paintbrushes and let them have at your sidewalk by “painting” their designs with water. When the sun evaporates the water they can start all over again. It’s a great way to exercise those art skills and stay cool in the process.

4. Set up a car wash station

Depending on the age of your kids you can have them help you wash your actual car, or for little ones you can set up a car washing station with toy cars. All you need is a bowl of soapy water, a bowl of clean water, a sponge, some old rags for drying, and toy cars for a surefire way to enjoy the warm temperatures with your kids. My daughter loves washing her cars while we wash our “big car”. Fun and productive outdoor family activity for all!

5. Head to your local farmer’s market

When the weather turns warm, the farmer’s markets come back to life, so take advantage! Head out with your family and pick up supplies for a farm to table meal. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your kids about where their food comes from and how it grows. It’s also a great way to support local business in your area.

6. Go on a treasure walk

Treasure walks are something my daughter and I do often. You can get specific and turn this into a scavenger hunt by creating a list of items to look for before you head out which would be great for older children, but for little ones simply going out and collecting found objects is a fun adventure. We like to head out with a little bucket to collect “treasures” as we go and then we come back and lay them all out on the table to admire and talk about all the little things we found. Little ones love collecting objects and even the smallest things like a rock or a leaf can become a priceless treasure. You could also opt to frame some of these “treasure” items in a shadow box or a jar to create a fun memory of the outing later on.

7. Feed the ducks

One of my most favorite outdoor family activities as a child was when my parents would take us to a nearby pond to feed ducks. It was a fun way for us to be outside and interacting with wildlife and there were plenty of great teachable moments to be had while we were there. I haven’t taken my toddler yet, but I’m planning to on one of the next sunny days. We always fed the ducks bread when I was a kid, but I’ve since learned that there are a lot more fowl-friendly food options available like peas, halved grapes or even duck feed (you can find other suggestions here).

8. Spray bottle wars

When the temperatures rise, we like a little water play. Heading to a pool or fountain to splash in is obviously ideal, but it’s not always possible – especially during the earlier sunny spring days when these water attractions may not be open yet. During those times we opt for spray bottle water wars. Plastic spray bottles can be easily obtained from dollar stores and then all you have to do is fill them up and enjoy running around spraying each other. This is hands down one of my daughter’s most favorite sunny day activities and it’s so simple!

9. Indulge in a cold treat

Nothing says sunny day like a delicious cold treat, so why not try making your own to sweeten up your outdoor family activities day? There are plenty of great recipes for slushies, popsicles and ice cream on Pinterest (here are a few) and I have a feeling your little ones will enjoy your special treat, even more, when it’s homemade!

10. Create an outdoor water table

There are plenty of great sensory tables available to purchase out there, but creating a water table doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply fill a plastic storage container with water and set it outside on a table (you can even just set it on the ground!) and let your little ones go to town! Fill your water table with soap, food coloring, plastic animals or whatever else strikes your fancy. It will keep them cool and occupied for a good long while.

So there you have it, ten simple and fun outdoor family activities I enjoy with my daughter whenever we have a sunny day to take advantage of!

How do you take advantage of a sunny day? Please feel free to share any outdoor family activities that your family enjoys together in a comment, let’s spread the good ideas around!?