This year, spring has been an early bloomer, but also a tease. 80 degrees one weekend, snowstorm the next. But when summer finally rolls around, we can finally hang up the skis and snow jackets — every day is an outside play day.

So now that summer is right around the corner, we’ve rounded up seven of the most amazingly messy (and simple!) outdoor activities to try with your kids this summer, right in your yard.

Plus, our messy rating will let you know just how much mess you can expect to make!

Paint Bombs

This messy activity is perfect for kids to burn off energy, and you could even make some accidental art.

What you’ll need:

  • Water balloons
  • Washable paint
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Flat bed sheet
  • Garden stakes

Directions: Fill up the squeeze bottles halfway with water and halfway with paint. Then, shake to mix. Put the end of the water balloon over the nozzle of the bottle, and fill up the balloon with your desired amount. Secure the flat bed sheet to the ground with garden stakes. Now, your kids are ready to drop some paint bombs!

Pro tip: If you’re setting up the sheet on grass, you’ll need to jump on the balloons instead of dropping them.

Messy rating: 3, just your average mess

Squirt Gun Art

If your children haven’t been outside much this spring, this is a perfect outdoor activity for them — especially if they have an artsy side (and like squirt guns)!

What you’ll need:

  • A squirt gun
  • An easel (or use a tree)
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolors

Directions: Set up an easel outside, with the watercolor paper securely fastened to it. Or, safely fasten the watercolor paper to a tree with a thumbtack. Fill the squirt guns with watercolors, and now you’re all set to make some outdoor art with your kids.

Reminder: Determine the level of mess you’d like to achieve in order to prevent (or encourage) the kids from squirting each other, instead of their easels.

Messy rating: 3, just your average mess (with a potential to reach 5, maximum mess!)

Jell-O Pool Party

What’s better than making a mess you can eat? Not much. This outdoor activity has it all: snacks and fun.  

What you’ll need:

  • Kiddie pool
  • Jell-O
  • Toys and safe kitchen utensils

Directions: The day before you plan to do this activity, make your batch of Jell-O and let it set overnight. Then, dump it all into a small kiddie pool with toys and safe kitchen utensils like plastic measuring cups. Clean-up is a breeze, too!

Pro tip: Clothe the kids in some swimsuits and goggles to keep Jell-O out of their eyes — and avoid any tears!

Messy rating: 4, now that’s pretty messy

Ice Cube Paintings

When it’s hot outside, break out the ice! This ice cube painting activity is perfect for a group of kids on a warm summer day.

What you’ll need:

  • 4–6 ice trays
  • Watercolors
  • Bowl
  • Large piece of white fabric

Directions: Fill the water trays with water and stir in the watercolors. Freeze overnight.

The next day, drape the white fabric over an outside table. Move the ice cubes to a large bowl. Seat the kids around the table and encourage them to play with the ice as it melts onto the fabric. When done, hang the fabric up to dry so you can see the kids’ final masterpiece.

It’s extra fun to hang them up on clotheslines and watch them blow in the breeze!

Messy rating: 2, not too messy

Foam Sand

It’s not always easy to get to the beach, so bring it to your yard with this fun foam sand recipe, which can also double as a sensory activity for kids.

What you’ll need:

  • Play sand (3 cups)
  • Plastic container
  • Can of shaving cream
  • Sand toys

Directions: Add the sand to the plastic container. Then add the shaving cream. Let your kids mix it together with their hands until the mixture is no longer foamy. Kids can use sand toys to make different shapes, or they can use their hands!

Pro-tip: Wash your hands outside instead of inside so you don’t clog your home’s drains with sand.

Messy rating: 3, just your average mess

Edible Mud Worms

Yuck, worms! Said almost no kid ever. This messy activity for kids is a much tastier way of exploring the outdoors this summer, and it can also be a fun sensory game.

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta noodles
  • Chocolate pudding
  • A plastic bin

Directions: Make the noodles and pudding. Then place both in the plastic bin outside — without mixing. Now, let your kids mix and dig into the chocolaty “mud” filled with “worms.” These are the kind of worms they can taste test.

Messy rating: 5, maximum mess!

Creamy Slip and Slide

Slip and slides are a summer staple, and they’re usually not too messy — until you throw in some shaving cream.

What you’ll need:

  • Water slide
  • Water
  • Shaving cream

Directions: Set up your water slide in a safe space in your yard, near a water hose. Use the hose to thoroughly wet the slide, and then use the cans of shaving cream to cover the slide, however you desire.

Remember: Use caution! Things may get very slippery.

Messy rating: 5, maximum mess!

Looking for more ideas on fun summer activities for the kids? They’ll love the adventures in our summer camps.