Outdoor Family Fun

Outdoor Family Fun

Get ideas for fun family activities you can do outdoors.


K, 1 - 12+


Biology, Earth Science, Geology

Photograph by Patricia Norris, National Geographic

No matter where you live, gather friends and family and enjoy some time outdoors! Begin an outdoor project, like planting a garden, that will keep you in touch with nature for seasons to come.

Picture of flowers in Versailles.
Design a Flower Garden

Plant seeds that will result in a planned pattern of flowers when they bloom. Take photos to document your design.

Picture of monarchs.
Help Monarch Butterflies

Create a way station, grow milkweed, or even raise them from eggs.

Close up of the Clotilda's ship registration document with a focus on the name.
Create a Treasure Hunt

Give clues based on the cardinal points. If you don't have a compass, remember, sunrise happens in the east. Sunset happens in the west.

Picture of colorful street.
Compare Neighborhoods

Compare your neighborhood with another nearby neighborhood. Note differences in the amount of houses and apartments, size of yards, and amount of green space. Be sure to take an adult with you when exploring a new neighborhood.

Picture of buildings and a car.
Take a Neighborhood Inventory

Count houses, apartments, and cars per block in different parts of town. Consider reasons for the differences you observe.

Picture of dry land.
Soil lnvestigation

Use your eyes, hands, and nose to investigate the soil in your backyard. Is it moist? Sandy? Muddy? Does it have any particular odor? What grows best there?

Map Your Neighborhood

Create a map for visitors that shows your favorite neighborhood places to play and explore. Add photographs or drawings to your map.

Picture of kids with binoculars.
Make an Exploration Bag

Create a toolkit for exploring the plants, animals, and nature in your neighborhood. Include binoculars, a hand lens, small gardening tools such as a trowel and claw, measuring tape, a camera, flashlight, plastic bag for collecting, a weatherproof notebook, and pens and pencils.

Three little children exploring in the woods together.
Explore Biodiversity

As a family, discuss the importance of biodiversity. Spend time outdoors together observing wildlife. Keep a family field notebook in which you record your family's animal and plant observations during weekly or monthly nature walks.

Picture of a squirrel.
Create a Backyard Habitat

Choose and research a native animal species. Create a habitat that will provide the species with food, water, cover, and a place to raise young. Observe the habitat over time. Take photos and use your observations to create a guide.

Three people, including a child, garden together.
Soil Conditions

Dig up some soil from a few different areas in your neighborhood. Use the soil to plant and grow the same type of small potted plant. Which plant grows the best? What does this tell you about the different soil?

Photo: Hand holding leaves
Investigate Growing Conditions

Explore your neighborhood to see what types of plants grow in different conditions, for example, shade versus sun or dry versus wet.

Picture of a squirrel at a bird feeder.
Put Out Birdseed

Identify which animals come to eat it. Keep a photo journal of the birds and animals.

Picture of pebbles.
Identify Rocks

Collect and identify rocks from your neighborhood. When you get home, sort the rocks by type or appearance. How many different kinds can you find? Try a different route and see if you find different types of rocks.

Picture of prickly pear.
Look for Invasives

Take an inventory of the different types of plants growing in your neighborhood. Are any of them invasive species? With permission, remove weeds or plants that are not native to the area.

Picture of a tomato.
Plant a Garden

Plant a garden of flowers, vegetables, or plants for your family. You can do this in your yard, on your balcony, or even inside!

Picture of flowers.
Plant a “Birthday Garden”

The next time someone in your family has a birthday, instead of presents guests should bring local plants to contribute to the garden. During the party invite everyone to plant what they brought. If conditions aren’t right for planting, guests can bring a packet of seeds, a potted plant, or other garden-related gifts.

Picture of chickens on a compost pile.
Create a Compost Pile

In layers, add “wet” waste, such as kitchen scraps or grass clippings. Add “dry” waste, such as dry leaves or hay. Add some water as you go. Fruit and vegetable material is great for compost; never add raw meat, eggs, or human or pet waste. Consider getting worms to help with the project.

Picture of tracks in the snow.
Look for Tracks

Look for animal and bird tracks in the mud or snow. Draw a quick sketch of what you see. Try to identify which animal left the track.

Picture of an ant.
Dig in the Dirt

Dig down up to six inches into the soil. Find and record all the critters, such as bugs and worms, that live in the dirt.

Picture of a plant.
Adopt a Plant

Choose a plant to observe throughout the growing season. Measure its growth each week, starting when sprouts first appear out of the ground. Record the appearance of buds, flowers, and other growth.

Grid of colorful insects.
Collect Insects

Using a butterfly net, go out and collect some insects. Note how many different types you find and where you found them. Repeat the activity during a different season and compare your findings. Be sure to be gentle with the bugs and let them go when you are finished observing them.

Picture of a woman photographing plants.
Photograph Nature

Keep a camera handy for impromptu photography sessions and bring your camera along when you visit the park and other community locations. You can even take photos of the treasures right in your backyard. Keep a scrapbook of photographs taken around town and share them with out-of-town guests who want to learn more about your community.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Christina Riska Simmons
Jessica Shea, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Photo Researcher
Emily Connor
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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