Even if we are social distancing, it is physically and mentally good for all of us — especially kids — to spend time outside. Here are 11 ideas for getting outdoors, while staying close to home.


Go on a bear hunt. You may have seen this cute and easy idea on social media: Tour your neighborhood to look for stuffed animals perched in windows. Be sure to put a bear in your window to participate, too.


Super Nature Adventures Kit Facebook post

Explore nature with a Super Nature Adventures kit. Explore Your Own World is a new downloadable series to help you explore your own backyard. In each issue, there are activities and crafts to explore the outdoors in an accessible and fun way. Each issue is $5, and one dollar of every purchase goes to the GlobalGiving Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

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Try a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Take the kids on a scavenger hunt and see how many items they can find and check off. You can make up your own, or check out one of these from our Pinterest board.


Have a backyard picnic or go “camping.” Eat lunch or dinner outside, and, if you have a tent, set it up for some outdoor play time. You could also make a simple tent with a blanket or tarp. That brings us to the next idea . . .


Build an outdoor fort. This post from Kari at Rewildhood Blog has some tips to get started building an outdoor fort with tree branches. If you’re not ready for a large fort like this, think smaller—the kids can build a fort or house for dolls or stuffies, or even a fairy house.


Chalk the walk. Kids can set up a hopscotch course, or beautify your sidewalk with cheery messages and art for passersby. Or go all out on a labyrinth or maze.


Instead of a Snapchat streak, try a photo streak via text. My daughter is doing this with her grandfather in Florida. Every day, they each venture out in the neighborhood and take a photo to share what they are seeing. It’s a nice excuse to get out and a simple way to check in. It creates some good-natured pressure to go outside to keep up the streak.

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Start growing. You can use your old yogurt containers or egg cartons to start seeds for flowers, vegetables or herbs. (Maybe you even have an old packet of the seeds that Burgerville used to give out in the kids’ meals, like this PDX Parent team member.) Another idea — if you don’t have much space or you’d like to skip some of the prep work —you can plant lettuce seeds right in a bag of potting soil.

If you don’t want to start small (or need supplies), some nurseries like Al’s Garden & Home are open, and also offering pickup and delivery.


Set up an outdoor obstacle course. Check out fun ideas to keep the kids busy on our Pinterest board.


Catch ‘em all. Download Pokémon GO to your phone and entice your kiddo outside with some screen time. Just be sure you are mindful of social distancing with humans while capturing Pokémon.


Gather art supplies. Take a walk to find the supplies you need for cool crafts. This idea from local artist Julz Nally uses twigs and sticks to make decorations, and in this project from Portland Child Art Studio, you use natural materials to make a 3D portrait of yourself, or someone or something else.

How are you spending time outside with the family? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Michelle Carew
Latest posts by Michelle Carew (see all)

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