Welcome to Summer: Join the 31-Day Outdoor Challenge


After a year or so of running this blog, I have learned that there are times when parents struggle with screens: in cars, during dinner preparation and whilst getting ready in the morning. Personally, I would not think summer would be one of those challenging times but the number of news articles on screens and summertime suggest that I am wrong.

Summer appears to be a challenge for older children who now have a lot of free-time and screens are one easy fill. This is not just a screen-time problem, but a broader cultural problem of our children not being free to play outside as they had been in the past due to (often unfounded) concerns about safety.

I’m sure some kids will have more screen-time this summer. As I’ve written previously, I am less worried about a little bit of screen-time than I am about what screen-time might be displacing. In the summer, the largest threat to being outside is no longer school or overschedule lives, but screen-time.

So, let’s challenge one another as parents of young children, to get those kids outside every single day. Let’s keep it interesting with some fun (and very simple ideas), you can do with your kids every day. Join us for 31 days of outdoor fun for July.

Here’s the 31-Day Outdoor Challenge from Screen-Free Parenting

I won’t assign the items specific dates since it might be easier to accomplish some things on particular days based on weather and schedules. Just pick something from the list each day in July, or better yet, have your child create their own outdoor challenge or pick something from their list each day.

  1. Pick a seasonal fruit like strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
  2. Go for a walk in the rain.
  3. Run in a sprinkler
  4. Go to a fair/festival/amusement park.
  5. Watch a parade.
  6. Sell lemonade.
  7. Set up a slip and slide
  8. Ride bikes (can be altered for little ones to moving around on whatever they can – in our house, it’s a plasma car).
  9. Lay out and watch stars.
  10. Go for a nature scavenger hunt.
  11. Go on a walk to pick up litter.
  12. Climb a tree.
  13. Visit a local playground.
  14. Walk in the woods.
  15. Camp in your backyard.
  16. Play in the dirt: dig, bury, etc.
  17. Watch the clouds and talk about what you see.
  18. Roast marshmallows and make ‘smores.
  19. Visit a natural body of water (stream/lake/ocean).
  20. Play with water balloons.
  21. Have an outdoor picnic.
  22. Make mudpies.
  23. Find a big hill and have fun rolling or running down it.
  24. Smell flowers.
  25. Play hopscotch.
  26. Swim in a pool: big or baby, public or private.
  27. Watch fireworks or set off some of your own (safely, of course).
  28. Color with sidewalk chalk.
  29. Blow bubbles.
  30. Play catch. (We use a big ball for our two-year-old and are teaching our five-year-old how to use a glove and softball).
  31. Jump rope. (Little ones can hop over it, big ones can challenge themselves).

If you’re creative and have lots of time, there are loads of creative summer ideas you can setup for your kids. They will be fun for everyone, but it’s also okay to keep it simple if that’s your style. After all, if I provided you a list of how we spent our June outdoors, it would look like this:

  1. Play in the dirt bin (two-year-old).
  2. Make a waterslide out of a plastic slide on the ground (five-year-old).
  3. Every. Single. Day.

The Bottom Line

Get those kids (and yourself) in the habit of going outside every day. Summer is a great time to start this habit. The benefits of being outside are numerous for you and your kids. If you are looking for some good outdoor toys to invest in, we suggest these nine.

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