Encouraging Outdoor Summer Play

Young blonde girl holding blue chalk looks directly upward at the camera. She's standing on asphalt covered in chalk drawings of flowers, watermelons, and the word SUMMER.


The start of summer and warm, sunny weather means an opportunity to get children outside playing. Time for both unstructured playtime and organized activities can help children’s overall well-being and development.

Bringing the children in your care together to play outdoor games and engage in outdoor activities can teach them a range of skills while they’re having fun. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Colors and shapes chalk game: Helps younger children learn colors, shapes and how to count as they hop from shape to shape. They are also working on their gross motor skills.
  • Noodle ball: Taking turns using two blow-up beach balls and two pool noodles, have children race two at a time each steering a beach ball with a pool noodle towards a finish line. Coordinating the noodles and running the race will help develop gross motor skills.
  • Garden treasure hunt: Glue several items such as leaves, sticks, and small pebbles on to a piece of construction paper or poster board and write a number next to each. Explain to the children that they’re going on a treasure hunt for these items, and that they need to find the specific number of each item. Leave the paper or poster easily in view to reference it during the game. The treasure hunt will give you an opportunity to incorporate science about the nature items that the children find and simple math by counting the number of items they collect.

What fun and engaging outdoor activities do you like to do with the children in your care? Please share your stories and photos with us at social@marylandexcels.org.