All you need is a patch of grass, your kids’ favorite messy kids' T-shirt or kids' swimsuit, and some supplies. Having a day of fun and messy outdoor activities is a super-easy way to unleash some energy the old-fashioned way by getting your kids away from the screens and enjoying some vitamin D together! The big secret? Adults love getting messy, too.
Getting outside and getting messy is one of the best ways to spend the day, allowing children and adults to get creative without boundaries and encouraging ourselves to paint outside the lines (literally).
So grab your supplies and don’t worry about staying clean, here are seven of our favorite messy outdoor activities for the whole family.
A true classic. Fingerpainting taps into our desire to create while engaging with the tactile nature of the medium itself—in short, paint feels awesome! Tape some paper onto your play table and lay out all the washable paint you have. Either squirt it on a plate or let the kids have at it! You can guide the activity a bit by encouraging everyone to paint the same animal, object, person, or concept. Or, you could have everyone contribute to a mural, with each person painting a different part. Gentle guidance is encouraged, but the fewer rules, the better!
Oh, how we love a super messy Slip N’ Slide! There’s nothing better than putting on your bathing suit, hyping yourself up, and sliding down the wet plastic at the speed of light. If you want to get really messy, add a little something extra to the plastic. We recommend shaving cream, or better yet, sudsy, soapy water, for a bubbly trip down the slide!
Careful not to break them! A water balloon toss is a super fun way to get messy and wet in the backyard. Simply fill up the balloons with water, and have teams of two toss them back and forth at the same time. Whoever keeps theirs from breaking for the longest time wins! And here's a little tip to keep things extra messy: add paint to the balloons instead of water! You'll find yourself with an even wilder outdoor activity, along with a new shirt with an amazingly explosive pattern to show off at your next event.
For those who want to take their painting game up a notch, try squirt gun painting! It’s as simple as it sounds. Set up your easel or table, add some washable paint to your squirt gun, and create your very own Jackson Pollock! The squirt guns can also be used for water (or paint) fights. We love getting creative with the household toys we have lying around in kids' toy storage, and seeing what new things we can create with what we already have!
Give kids an activity that leaves them with some wearable art of their own creation! Tie-Dye is best conducted outdoors, since the dye can stain and be, well…messy. Grab a shirt or top (it doesn’t have to be a plain white tee—we also love tie-dying graphic t-shirts or even girls' dresses. Wrap the clothing item with rubber bands however you like, and plunge into a tub of dye! Let them sit, and then unravel your finished product! Make sure to check out Lands' End's tie-dying kits for everything you need for this creative activity.
There are so many ways to get messy with food games outdoors. We especially love a gummy worm hunt! Stash a few gummy worms in a pie dish or bowl, fill it up with whipped cream, and have contestants search for the worms without using their hands! When the sun goes down, we also love to light up the fire or barbeque and make s’mores, one of the messiest foods of all time. Melty chocolate plus sticky marshmallows, paired with a crumbly graham cracker equals ultimate messy and delicious fun.
Perhaps a theme is emerging here: any game can be made messy with a little water, paint, or other substance! To put a new spin on this classic camp activity, blend your slip n’ slide with tug of war and have contestants line up on the soaking wet, soapy, or shaving cream-lined plastic, and try to keep their balance as they pull on the rope! This one is bound to be a short, but eventful game! Water shoes might help some contestants keep their balance.
Outdoor activities are made even more fun and memorable by adding a messy component. You may never want to do “clean” activities again! Check out the links below for more tips and tricks from Lands’ End!