Planning a playdate: fun outdoor ideas for young children

These activities will keep your little ones and their friends happy – and with minimal prep on your part!

Your children have probably been cooped up indoors all winter, so now that the weather's warming up, you can finally throw open the front door and let them burn off some of that abundant energy in the great outdoors.

But of course, no one has time for elaborate planning – so here are some cheap and easy outdoor activities that will fuel your little one’s inquisitive mind, and keep them and their friends entertained for hours….

1. Host a teddy bears’ picnic

Invite your mum friends and their children round for a teddy bears’ picnic in the garden or at a local park. Have all the kids bring their favourite toy as a special guest to 'eat' alongside them, then throw down rugs on the grass to make the most of the sunshine while everyone gets fed.

Either ask each mum to bring an individual packed lunch for her child, or divide up the food shopping list as an easy way to create a picnic feast. The best part is that, while the kids eat and play together, you can get your weekly dose of mum-to-mum therapy.

2. Messy art afternoon

Put everyone in some scruffy clothes and let their creative sides take over. Using cardboard boxes and big sheets of paper in the garden, fill some trays with an array of washable paints and let them go wild creating giant colourful pictures and cardboard houses.

Let them walk in it, roll in it, and splash paint around to create their masterpieces. When the artworks are dry, hang with pride, or cut up their designs to make birthday or Christmas cards from the children later in the year.

And don’t worry about the state of their clothes; simply wash them with Ariel 3in1 Pods, as the combined super-concentrated detergents remove stains and leave even the messiest of clothes clean and vibrant.

3. Outdoor scavenger hunt

Embrace the power of outdoor play and go on an adventurous scavenger hunt. Meet in the woods or on the beach, and give the children a printed list of things they have to find on the walk – from an ant to a green leaf, shell, cobweb, butterfly, wild mushroom and so on.

They’ll love running around trying to find the things on their list. And not only will exploring help build up their immune system and physical health (and yours!), but this kind of educational game will encourage them to observe the world, take risks and use their imaginations.

4. Ride-on rally

Have all the children bring their favourite ride-on toy – depending on their ages, that may be a scooter, balance bike or trike – then set up a course for them in the park or a quiet cul-de-sac where you won't be disturbed by cars.

Map out a start and finish line in chalk, set up some small cones for them to weave around or a net for them to go under and create a wacky race track. Whether they race each other or just whizz around as fast as they can - they'll love the challenge. On your marks, get set, go!

What’s your child’s favourite outdoor playdate? Let us know in the comments section below.