Outdoor Break/Recess Ideas

We all know the importance of getting outside, even if it’s just to breathe outside air for 15 minutes, but with virtual school and all the things we have to do (especially if you’re working on top of it all) getting outside for a break/recess seems impossible sometimes and then trying to think of things for the kids to do or having to entice them to get out…it can feel like a monstrous task. I brainstormed all weekend, asked friends, gathered ideas from some outdoor sites I follow and compiled a list.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sending your kids outside with nothing to do, free play is good, my 6yo is amazing at it, makes up all kinds of games on his own, but my other guy isn’t having it, he wants ideas (and they better be good because everything is BORING), so I get it if you need ideas.
I hope this helps you get your kids outside for break and I hope your day is a little less stressful because of it. Because fresh air is always good for a fresh start.

  • backyard bowling – grab some plastic bottles and cans from your recycling bin and a ball and set up a a bowling game
  • Bluey fans? A game of keepy-uppy is just as fun outside, it’s exactly what it sounds like, keep the balloon up, don’t let it touch the ground
  • set up your backyard patio furniture and anything from your yard to make an obstacle course, arrange it all so they can jump over, go under, climb on or hang from
  • pool noodles and balloons – balloons are fun to bat around with pool noodles
  • soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball – outdoor summer sports can be played in the winter too
  • nerf gun target practice – grab some plastic bottles and cans from your recycling bin, set them up and shoot them down
  • hopscotch
  • sidewalk chalk drawings
  • outdoor summer sports are just as fun in the winter – soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball can all be played in the winter
  • ice cube scavenger hunt – make ice cubes with food colouring, hide them around the yard
  • when it finally snows get them to shovel the driveway (or a neighbours) win-win
  • the obvious snow play – build a fort, snowman, snow angels, sledding, snow paint, snowball fight
  • stick houses for hot wheels and/or dolls – gather up some sticks and make some teepees
  • bike ride around the block
  • if you have an outdoor fire pit or fire table, make s’mores
  • after a fresh snow see how many animal and bird tracks you can find
  • get some bubble solution and some bubble wands, they work in winter too and if you’re lucky they’ll even freeze!
  • send them outside to eat their snack or lunch, who says they have to eat inside, an outdoor winter picnic is fun and you won’t have to sweep up 🙂
  • go outside for hot chocolate
  • if there is snow falling, send them out with a magnifying glass to check out the snowflakes
  • driveway hockey
  • send them out with a list of things to find. How many birds can you see, how many squirrels, how many pinecones (make a list specific to your backyard)
  • collect items in the yard to make a frozen sun catcher (collect items – leaves, berries, pine cones, pine needles, small sticks put them in a dish, add a string for hanging, add water and freeze, remove from dish once frozen and hang in the yard
  • skip rope
  • backyard dance party – turn the music on and let them dance it out
  • work out outside – there are tons of short, kid friendly workouts online and the workout would be even harder with winter gear on
  • the floor is lava
  • bark rubbing – you don’t even need trees for this because they would use the fence, bricks, driveway, deck, patio furniture – anything with texture. Send them out with paper and pencils or crayons. Put the paper agains the bark (or whatever you have) and rub the crayon over the paper to see what kind of texture they get
  • take a walk around the block
  • hide things (small toys/items) around your yard and have your own scavenger hunt
  • make ice cubes with different colour food colouring and now you have outdoor building blocks
  • make a stick maze


I love the outdoors and I hike a lot. Sometimes I bring my kids. I love to inspire others to get outside and explore too! I post trail reviews, outdoor events and tips and tricks for getting out more. Join the chat on Facebook for even more inspiration.

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