The Top 4 Outdoor (and Indoor!) Night Activities for Kids That Won’t Break the Bank

January 24, 2022

family enjoying some outdoor night activities for kids by a campfire roasting marshmallows

Blog written by Wise Owl Outfitters.

Entertaining kids can be tough - especially when we’re competing with the majesty of the internet. But if you’re like me and are getting tired of watching your young kids watch YouTube videos of people watching other people watch things, this article may be for you. 

It can be difficult to get our kiddos to do anything but use technology at night - and honestly, who can blame them? There’s nothing to do after dark for a 12 and under kid…or is there? 

That’s right, there are in fact plenty of things to do at night with your kids that can distract them (and you) from the soul sucking touchscreens (and I say that as someone who is truly addicted to said soul sucking touchscreens). 

We’re going to go over all of the night activities for kids that won’t destroy your wallet - indoor and outdoor. From indoor hammocks to makeshift forts to backyard smores, we’ve got all of the cost-effective methods to keep your kids distracted from tech for a minute. 

Let’s get brainstorming! 

Why Play Outside at Night? Is it Safe?

Alright, it’s best to get this out of the way now - the answer is that it depends on where you live. I can’t make any blanket statements that everyone is safe at night, because that would be a little bit ridiculous. The plain and simple truth is that not everywhere is safe at night. 

Moreover, this also depends on whether or not you have a yard. Those of us who live in the suburbs or countryside may have no problem finding fun things to do at night with your kids! However, if you live in a very urban or busy area like me, you know as well as I do that having your kids romp around after dark is not the safest option - not to mention the fact that there really isn’t any room to do anything. 

With all of that in mind, I’ve compiled a list that can cater to everyone’s needs - the top 4 night activities for kids to do outdoors, as well as the top 4 indoor activities that anyone can do without needing a lot of space (or cash, for that matter). 

Here we go! 

kids roasting marshmallows as outdoor night activities for kids

The Top 4 Outdoor Night Activities for Kids

1. Flashlight Hide & Seek

Those looking for things to do at night that will run off some of your child’s energy, this is for you. All you need is a yard, some flashlights, and outdoor shoes. Make sure your yard doesn’t have any obstacles or sharp objects lying around to get started. 

How to play: Make sure you have at least 3 people. Choose 1 person to be “it”, hand them a flashlight, and tell them to close their eyes and count to 50-100. Everyone else hides. Once the “it” person has finished counting, they must walk around with the flashlight looking for the other people. Once they’ve found someone, they call their name out and have them join the search party. When everyone’s been found, choose a new person to be “it”! 

2. Shadow Play

Time to take it back to the classics! This is one of those night activities for kids that has been around for centuries, but it doesn’t make it less fun. All you need is a fence, sheet or any large flat surface to project light onto, a large flashlight, and your hands. 

How to play: This is best for kids under 10, but it can really be fun for anyone! All you have to do is set up your projection surface, shine a light, and make shadow puppets with your hands. If you don’t know how to do that, no worries - another option is to grab some toys or stuffed animals that cast a distinctive shadow and let your imagination run wild. 

3. Backyard Camping (With Smores!)

Got a tent and a place to build a fire? Why not utilize ‘em? Camping in your backyard is one of the most entertaining things to do at night - it’s all the fun of camping, without having to drive. Plus, if it gets too cold, you can always just walk back inside! If you have a fire pit, bring some s’mores material. There isn’t a kid alive that doesn’t like s’mores, right?  

What you’ll need: A tent, tent supplies (tarps, setup kits, pillows, etc. If you don’t have these, Wise Owl has a great selection right here), and s’mores stuff. As a bonus activity, you can have your kid look around the yard for sticks you can use to roast marshmallows with! 

4. Hammock Under the Stars

Teaching kids about the beauty of space isn’t always easy, because kids are hands-on learners and space is pretty far away. However, looking at the stars is a great night activity for kids to be introduced to basic astronomy, and what better way to do that than by laying in a comfy, cozy hammock? 

What you’ll need: Some trees and a hammock (Don’t have one? We have lots for adults and kids alike!). Pick a clear night, set up your hammock (we’ve got hammock setup supplies too!), and look at the stars! Have your kids try to find or make shapes and patterns for optimal entertainment.

kids enjoying a blanket fort indoor night activities for kids

The Top 4 Indoor Night Activities for Kids

No yard? No problem. Here are some cheap, easy, and (most importantly) super fun things to do at night to keep your kids entertained and away from a screen for a little while: 

1. Balloon Hockey

Even if sports aren’t really your kids’ thing, they will most certainly have fun with this. Split your family into teams and see who can make the most balloon goals by trying to get a balloon into the basket. 

How to play: All you need are some balloons, a couple hockey sticks (or makeshift ones), and 2 laundry baskets. Make some space in a room, set up the baskets facing sideways, and have your kids run around to see who can make the most goals by hitting the balloon into the basket. If it pops, blow up another! 

2. Build a Fort

Forts are easy, fun, and time consuming. This is one of those night activities for kids that you can do with your kid, or you can have your kid do on their own! Grab some pillows, blankets, pillows, and/or any tarps you have laying around. 

How to play: A fort is what you make of it, so that’s really up to you. My go-to is to incorporate chairs, sofas, and whatever other large furniture I have to act as walls! 

3. DIY Laser Maze

Got a hallway? If so, this is a great way to entertain some young, energetic kiddos, and make them feel like they’re in a spy movie. 

What you’ll need: Party streamers, tape, and a hallway. Set up the streamers to create uneven, different length measurements and have your kids try to get through without breaking the streamers. One of the easiest, yet most time consuming things to do at night

4. Hot Lava

We all know this one! Hot lava is a night activity for kids that has been around for generations.

How to play: The floor is lava! Set up a (safe) obstacle course made of pillows, blankets, and furniture. Have you kids run around the course, making sure that they don’t touch the ground. If they touch it, they’re out! 

Final Thoughts

Entertaining kids can be difficult - but we hope this blog has made it a little less difficult. If you’re looking for other outdoor tips, camping tricks, and overall new ways to keep your kids happy and healthy, why not check out our website

Have fun! 

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor

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