As the weather changes, hopefully you’re finding yourself outside enjoying the weather more and more. The air is crisp and delightful, the colors are vibrant and exciting, and your need for just a light jacket can feel extremely refreshing.
That means it’s time to come up with some exciting new outdoor activities for toddlers to keep your little one busy! Here are some great ideas if you need some inspiration for things to do outside this season.
1. Be one with nature.
Toddlers love being outside, so take them to a place where they can create their own activities. It requires minimal work on your part and they’ll think it’s the best day ever. You can hike a safe trail while they point out interesting things along the way.
If you pay attention to the things that get them the most excited, you can create your own nature walk at home using the components they found interesting, like rocks, bird feeders, and gardens.
2. Crayon rubbings.
Gather up some random nature items like sticks, leaves, flower petals, mulch, and more. Then give your toddler a piece of paper and a crayon to find out what cool patterns they make. It’s a great way to be a friend to the environment because the items you pick can stay outside while the rubbing goes home with you.
3. Story time.
Finding something to do outside doesn’t have to be complicated. Take your indoor activities outside and enjoy the weather doing what you would normally be doing. Read your favorite books, especially those that are about nature.
Sometimes, just being outside can revive a tired spirit and encourage your toddler to be even more attentive to you than they would be inside.
4. Blow bubbles.
Toddlers love bubbles, and it’s a safe and fun activity to do outside, keeping the mess out of your living room. Stock up on all kinds of bubbles, including big bubble wands. You can see how many bubbles you can blow in one dip or see who can make the biggest bubble of all.
5. Do messy arts and crafts.
Outside is the best place to do arts and crafts because you can let the rain wash it away later. Some craft projects can require a lot of time, supplies, and prep work, making them a tad overwhelming. Here are some fun crafts you can do outside that won’t have you stressed:
- Use washable paint to decorate rocks or pinecones.
- Stick flowers and leaves to contact paper for a cool window decoration.
- Use a paint brush and water to discover how nature items like rocks, leaves, and sticks change as they get wet.
6. Spend time together as a family.
Never underestimate a younger child’s ability to participate in the activities of the older children or the family. It doesn’t always have to be all about the toddler. You can just bring them along whenever you go outside to do family activities, and watch as they find ways to participate to their own abilities.
They’ll also learn new things and be open to plenty of new experiences if you involve them in them as much as possible. Even just having a family meal outside can increase your bonding experience together.
7. Go on a scavenger hunt.
Build a scavenger hunt for your child if you want them to have an educational experience or a more structured activity. You can spin this any way you like. No matter what your child is looking for, make sure you take them to a place where they’ll likely find it, whether it’s your backyard, the park, or a nature center. Here are some ideas:
- Go on a bug hunt. You can plant fake bugs if you don’t want them exploring any dangerous real bugs.
- Look for foot prints. Because toddlers are so close to the ground, they are excellent at spotting foot prints. You can even make foot prints in your garden if you don’t see tracks very often.
- Identify plants. Make a list of the flowers and trees you might see in your neighborhood and take a walk. This is a really great way to teach your toddler about colors as well, especially in the fall as the leaves change and in the spring as new flowers bloom.
8. Set up the sprinkler.
If it’s a particularly warm day, set up a sprinkler in the backyard and run through it. If you have kiddie pools, you can set up a water park and they can run and splash all afternoon. Give them bath toys to make it even more fun, and be sure to provide sunscreen, water, and snacks to keep them safe and happy.
9. Play in the sandbox.
If you have a sandbox, there are endless things you can do with it. Aside from simply playing with the sand (which is an awesome sensory experience for toddlers), you can get it wet and build sand castles, bury toys and have an archeological dig site, or pretend like you’re at the beach.
10. Play with sidewalk chalk.
Another fun activity for the outdoors is playing with sidewalk chalk. It’s safe and easy to clean. You can draw letters, numbers, and shapes, or fun doodles. Here are some extra ideas for putting that sidewalk chalk to good use:
- Play hopscotch. If your toddler is stable enough on their feet, you can teach them how to play hopscotch and see how far or fast they can jump. You can even do this with fun animals instead of the traditional squares. Caterpillars make great hopscotch courses.
- Color the patio. Create a design and decorate your front porch or the steps. Visitors will have something lovely to look at as they approach the door.
- Create fun activities for pedestrians. Do you get a lot of walkers in your neighborhood? Write messages on the sidewalk for them as they walk by, or instruct them to do funny things like skip, act like a chicken, or walk backwards. Then watch out the front window as people smile, laugh, and follow your instructions.
11. Set up a toy car wash.
Give your child a bucket filled with water and some tear-free shampoo. Fill it with sponges and line up any toys that need a good cleaning. It gives them something fun and sensory to do while getting their old toys clean.
You can also set them up in the driveway with their riding toys to get bikes, scooters, and other outdoor toys clean. This is a great activity to do after taking your bikes on a particularly messy ride, which is another fun outdoor activity.
12. Plant a garden.
Learning about the water cycle or nutrients in the soil? Plant a garden together. You can plant anything. A vegetable garden is a great lesson on sustainability while flowers are an exercise in patience while waiting for them to grow.
Growing something outside can give your child a sense of accomplishment and fulfill their curiosity about the world around them. You don’t have to be an expert. You can buy small plants that are already started at your local nursery or start from scratch with seeds. They can give you tips on how to get your garden to grow more successfully when it comes to how much water and sunlight your plants need.
13. Make a homemade slip and slide.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a slip and slide. Just use some painter’s plastic and a hose. It helps if you also add some suds to make it more slippery and prevent your child from getting stuck.
Dish soap like Dawn or Palmolive will work great. Make sure you set it up in the grass for a soft surface and clear out any rocks, sticks, or other debris before laying it down to prevent injury.
Give your child plenty of room to get a running start and position it so they don’t end up landing in the trees or a ditch.
14. Play catch and release.
If you live close to a pond, you likely have plenty of frogs or toads nearby. You can catch them, observe them, and then release them. They’re fun to chase, frogs are slippery when wet, and their toes tickle.
Harder to catch, but more beautiful to look at are butterflies, if you can manage to coax them into a jar with holes punched in the top. If you’re outside in the evening during the summer, you can catch fireflies this way, too.
15. Stack and balance rocks.
If you have rocks in the garden or there’s a nature walk nearby, you can spend time stacking and balancing rocks. It will challenge their dexterity and they will quickly learn that large rocks are better on the bottom of the pile.
Challenge them to build structures like pyramids, houses, cars, and more.
16. Find shapes in the clouds.
This is one of the most relaxing activities to do outside without any supplies at all. Lie on your backs in the grass and eat a snack while looking up at the clouds for your favorite shapes. You’ll be surprised at the strength of your child’s imagination.
17. Let your toddler lead the way.
Go on a walk through the neighborhood, but every time you come to a fork in the road, let your toddler choose which way to go. They’ll feel like they’re in charge, which can avoid the dreaded temper tantrum, and you may both learn something about a new neighbor or an interesting street.
You can also make directional flash cards in advance with arrows point left, right, forward, or backward. Then have your child pick one at random whenever you come to an intersection. This adds a bit of mystery to the walk because you never know where the cards will take you.
18. Create an obstacle course.
The great thing about this outdoor activity is that you can make it as easy or as hard as you want it to be for your child. Plus, it gives them the opportunity to get physical. If you have a jungle gym in the backyard or a park nearby, instruct them on how to complete the obstacle course.
For example, go up the stairs, across the monkey bars, through the tunnel, down the slide, and underneath the bridge.
If you don’t have a jungle gym, set up household items in the yard and that can run around, jump over, throw, or kick. For an added challenge, time them and then see if they can beat their own time by going faster.
This activity is not only great for learning to follow a set of simple instructions, but it enhances their gross motor skills, too.
19. Make a parade.
Parades are great ways to show off and celebrate. No matter what your toddler is proud of, have them grab it and prance around the yard or the neighborhood. Show off a new outfit, new shoes, a medal they won, a potty training success, a picture they drew, or anything else they want people to see.
Add music to the event by setting up a bluetooth speaker and playing their favorite songs while they march around.
20. Play hide and seek.
If you have more than one child, this is a great activity to keep the occupied outside for a while. If you only have one child, you can play with them or you can play hide and seek with their favorite toys.
Another way to step up the game is to pick 3-5 of their toys, have them close their eyes, and pick only one to hide. When they open their eyes, they have to figure out which one you took and then go find it. It’s a great memory exercise.
These are just some of the wonderful things you can do outside while enjoying the weather and each other’s company. Any of these activities can be tailored to your child’s age and abilities.
If your child doesn’t like one, you can always try another. Don’t limit yourself to the possibilities. Even these ideas could evolve into something that you and your toddler will enjoy doing together for a long time.