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Outdoor Games for Kids: Make a Collection

Make a Collection is a simple nature play idea that develops observation and classification skills for children.


Sometimes my kids rush outside at the beginning of the day; other times they need a little prompting. Giving them an idea of something to do always helps, and making collections is a current favorite! They pulled the particular collection featured above together at a park we visited while we were staying in Utah. Once the collection is made, there are all sorts of things you can do with it:

  • Run a store: Once they are in a collection, items suddenly become valuable! My kids enjoy running specialized stores – one child might specialize in rocks, while another will collect leaves to “sell” to one another.
  • Build something: Fairy villages are always popular, but my kids enjoy building small-scale forts as well!
  • Create art: Contact paper makes for fun instant collages, but if you want an eco-friendly alternative, simply use the sticks, rocks, and leaves to create a design on the ground!
  • Pretend play: Pine cones can become space ships, with bits of playground mulch perched precariously as small passengers! Sticks make wonderful boats in a stream, as do leaves and even blades of grass!
  • Use them as educational tools: Seven-year-old Emma recently created a rock collection, that she used to share knowledge she had learned in science class at school.

Do your kids build collections? What do they use them for?

Looking for more ideas of things kids can do outside? Sidewalk chalk is always a favorite with my kids, but my best tip is to go outside yourself – in my experience, the kids soon follow! I shared some tips for ways to have fun outdoors as a family in this post – we have since added geocaching to our repertoire – actually finding a geocache is optional. Come to think of it, I think it’s time to look for some caches near our new home!

What are your favorite outdoor games for kids?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

11 thoughts on “Outdoor Games for Kids: Make a Collection”

  1. My girls love their collections – especially my oldest. I love the idea of turning them into a store!

  2. I am sure you will have no problems keeping your kids outside in California :) Strangely, Anna is not a collector – perhaps because we trained her from early ages to leave nature alone, especially when we go on hikes and such. Sometimes she collects leaves or sticks but then she just drops them at the door and moves to other things.

  3. Nice idea to get kids outside! Helps them become creative and adventurous! Hope to do this with my little ones once they are a little bigger.
    Stopping by from the “Fun Friday” blog hop. Following you on G+ and Twitter. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    Have a great weekend :)
    Bismah @
    Simple Mama

  4. Thank you for this MaryAnne! My kids have been spending way too much time indoors lately! I love your ideas and I’m so glad to know that other kids need prompting with outdoor activities.

  5. My kids love to collect rocks and leaves from the forest. We have them everywhere! I remember “selling” things as a kid. One time my brother and I had a florist and used the air conditioner unit outside as our counter.

  6. What a beautiful collection in your photo!!

    My kids cycle, play on the swingset, sit on the front fence and talk to passers-by, run, inspect their gardens… I rarely suggest activities, but usually they are phys ed type things, like hula hooping, hitting a tennis ball, relay races, monkey grips on the swingset, etc.

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