Outdoor Fun with Kids: 30 Ways to Get Messy in the Backyard

Hand them a pail and a spoon, er, shovel, and let kids dig in the dirt.
Hand them a pail and a spoon, er, shovel, and let kids dig in the dirt.
4/14/19 - By Stephanie Forton

If the kids can't take one more indoor activity, send them out to the yard or the park for some messy outdoor activities and games. Kids love to get their hands (and everything else) dirty. The best part? When they're done playing, simply turn on the hose and wash away the muck. We've come up with a list of fun, messy ways to spend a warm day outdoors. From making mud pies to body painting, these ideas are sure to please your little ragamuffin. And if the weather just won't cooperate and you're stuck inside, check out our list of 50 indoor activities for a rainy day.


  1. Start a garden. If you're short on space, an herb garden is the perfect project for kids.
  2. Learn about earthworms by creating a wormery. Easy step-by-step instructions can be found here. Kids can dig for worms in their own yard or they can be purchased at a bait store.
  3. Like to make mud pies? Have a Princess Mud Tea Party.
  4. Throw on some white T-shirts, fill water guns with colored water and have a backyard color war.
  5. Create some wearable art by tie-dying. Easy to follow directions and helpful tips can be found here.
  6. Make some washable spray chalk with this great recipe, and the world can be your canvas.
  7. Recreate a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. Splatter painting is the perfect outdoor activity. 
  8. Create colored bubbles with Kool-Aid
  9. Make your own slime, silly putty and flubber. Follow these simple recipes for hours of gooey, messy fun.
  10. Reduce your family's carbon footprint by creating a compost bin
  11. Make your own moon sand with this easy recipe.
  12. Do some body painting. Check out this great recipe for homemade body paint that rinses off easily.
  13. Fill your water table with a mix of dirt and water and create a kid-size mud pit.
  14. Learn about the benefits of ladybugs. Build a ladybug house for your garden. Live ladybugs can be purchased on gardensalive.com. It's a blast to set them free in the yard.
  15. Make your own Slip and Slide. Create 50 feet of slippery fun with these easy directions.
  16. Create a home-made sprinkler with a hose and soda bottle.
  17. Make environmentally-friendly mud paint with this easy recipe.
  18. Take part in a local Color Run.
  19. Create a masterpiece by doing a little squirt gun painting.
  20. Paint in a box. Small kids love big boxes. Throw them inside with some paint and they will stay busy for hours.
  21. Create mini mud bricks and do some building.
  22. Make Fairy Soup. With just water, spoons, food coloring, glitter and some treasures found on a nature walk, kids can mix up a bowl of magic.
  23. Have a shaving cream balloon fight. Just fill balloons with shaving cream and start throwing. 
  24. Paint in the Rain. Use watercolor paints on a heavy-duty paper, then place it outside on a rainy day.  Mother Nature will turn your creation into an impressionist work of art. 
  25. Have some fun with science by building a backyard volcano.
  26. Create mud sculptures. With the right mix of dirt and water, mud can be molded and shaped into all kinds of fun shapes. 
  27. Make a bubble shooter with straws and elastic bands.
  28. Create child-size bubbles in a small backyard pool. View this tutorial for directions.
  29. Create an outdoor mud kitchen, complete with pots, pans, and utensils.
  30. Build your own kiddie car wash with some piping, sponges and a hose. We love this design. The perfect end to a messy day, this activity will make clean-up fun.