Do you need low key stress free backyard play ideas for when the weather warms up? Or do you have a small space to work with? Well we have some simple and easy backyard play ideas that my son thoroughly enjoyed when we weren’t at the park or pool! Kids don’t need tons of play things to keep busy. You can also add fun outdoor play ideas from our science camp ideas.


Backyard Play Ideas and Stress Free Summer Activities Small Spaces Outdoor Activities



I feel very fortunate that our backyard is completely fenced in and nicely manicured by the owner (not us)! On the flip side we aren’t allowed to have any type of play structure or even place items on the lawn that cannot be moved daily to protect the integrity of the grass. Insert rolling of eyes here! So with that said, what can we do? We make the most of a small backyard with simple backyard play ideas for kids. What does your backyard play area look like?


Our favorite kid friendly backyard play ideas on a budget…

  • Stepping Logs (cut by a local man) We could not sink them in the ground, so they are not tall but do vary in height from 6-12″. We enjoy them many ways but mostly for hopping and stepping around the yard!
  • Small toddler climber/slide combination he uses to climb up and over or pretend it’s a ship!
  • Small Basket Ball Hoop and assorted balls.
  • Sandbox/wading pool (empty) kept under the deck and brought out for outdoor water play.
  • Water squirters and buckets.
  • Wagon for filling and pulling.
  • Small Water Table
  • Sensory Table for sand play. Check out him playing here. This can easily be brought in at night.


  • Play tent for camping and enjoying quiet time (what’s that again!)
  • Tunnel for obstacle courses
  • Speed ladder for running and jumping activities
  • Cones and markers for games
  • Soccer Goal and Balls for soccer, football, and basketball
  • Pool Noodles
  • Sensory Bins!
  • All sorts of small toys for play activities.

Do I have everything I would like to have for our backyard play time? No, but we are making the most of a small backyard just the same. I try to come up with some fun and different activities for backyard play when we are home (playgrounds are a must too)! Mixing planned activities, simple play and sports activities are a perfect combination.  Check out specific backyard play ideas we love below!


  1. DIY Water Wall!

Homemade Water Wall for Kids

2. Set Up an Obstacle Course for Gross Motor Backyard Play

With a few simple items, you can create and re-create simple or complex obstacle courses. Grab a stopwatch too.

backyard Obstacle Course

3. Puddle Jumping

No Rain Needed for these backyard play ideas!

Enough said! Great to cool off with on a hot day. Also makes for great gross motor sensory play!

Backyard Puddle Jumping

4. Mud Play

Create a small world under a bush or by a tree or make one in your water table like this dino bin!

Backyard Under Bush Dinosaur Small World

5. Cozy Coupe Wagon Wash (inspired by Stir The Wonder’s Summer Activities)

This is a timeless activity for backyard play. All you need is a bucket and a sponge. Bring the hose out too!

Backyard Car Wash Activity

6. Mini Sports-athon,

Big Ball Play and Stepping Logs for Easy Backyard Play!

We always have an assortment of balls available. We also had some large logs cut into stepping stones!

Backyard Stepping Logs and Ball Play

7. Simple Water Wall 

Use recycled containers and zip ties.

backyard Simple Water Wall

8. Water Squirter and Lots Of Water

We grab a few of these from the dollar store every year! Everyone loves them and they are perfect to cool off with on a hot day. They also make for an excellent game of tag or race around the yard kind of fun. Great energy burner.

Backyard Water Squirter

9. Water Table Play 

Check out our dinosaur activities or these Water Sensory Play Ideas for fun play ideas you can bring outdoors!

Backyard Water Table Play

10. Messy Sensory Play

Make super simple sand foam that’s loads of fun!

sand foam 2 ingredient sensory play

11. Pretend Camping

Relaxing in a tent in the backyard. The perfect place to rest, read and play games!

Backyard Relaxing In Tent

Click here for your FREE Summer activities pack!

12. Ice Activities

Make your own ice cubes to use in one or more of these of fun theme ice activities for kids.

Patriotic Summer Science Ice Melt 4th of July Activity Water Play

13. Soapy Sudsy Washing Bin

top 10 washing activities for summer sensory play

14. Deck Top Sand Box

We need to keep a traditional sand box off the grass, so we made a deck top one with a large sensory bin! Check out this cool engineering sand play or our sand volcano. Both are terrific outdoor play ideas!

engineering play with sand and pipes sensory play STEM activity

15. Painted Rocks

Why not get out the paints to make your own watermelon painted rocks! Then hide them in the backyard to create your own treasure hunt.

16.  Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

Make some simple sidewalk chalk to create artwork on the driveway or pavement.  Easy to clean up, we also loved trying out fizzing sidewalk paint!

I hope we have inspired you to come up with some new backyard play ideas for your space. There’s nothing better than enjoying a stress free summer with kids! While the kids are out in the backyard make some of our frozen watermelon pops to enjoy for a healthy and refreshing treat!


Click on the image below or on the link for all our summer STEM activities for kids.

100 days of summer science and STEM to try with kids. Includes science experiments and STEM projects.


  1. These are all fabulous ideas! Your kids aren’t missing out on a thing 🙂 It all looks like lots of fun with a good dose of learning thrown in!

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