Tiring out toddlers can be a challenge, so we have put together 10 fun outdoor activities for toddlers for you to try. They are all low cost and lots of fun!
When the weather is nice, you’d think it would be easy to get your toddlers to go outside to play. But actually, toddlers can be surprisingly reluctant to run out the door for playtime. It hasn’t always been like this. Many kids in the upcoming generation are replacing outdoor play with indoor activities such as iPads and tv and it’s starting from as young as toddlers.
Children really do benefit from outdoor play. Plenty of studies have shown that kids who spend more time outside are happier and more relaxed. Time outdoors improves short term memory, concentration, and cognitive skills.
There are hundreds of outdoor activities for toddlers to take part in. The more they do the more they will reap the physical and emotional benefits of outdoor play. It’s also a great way to spend quality time together and be fully engaged with your toddler. We have chosen 10 of our favourite outdoor activities for toddlers to get you started!
1. Make Story Stones
Head to the park or the beach, wherever is local to you, and collect some stones. Let toddlers choose stones they are drawn to and find interesting. What do their shapes remind you/them of? You’re sure to spark a story.
Next, decide what characters you would like in your story. Will it be Princes and Princesses? Bugs and insects? Anything will work but it should be something your toddler is excited about. If you need inspiration, use a story from your child’s favourite book such as The Tiger Who Came To Tea or The Gruffalo, these work really well. There should be a mixture of objects, places, and characters for the stones to work. Draw out the outline of each picture onto the pebbles using a black Sharpie.
Then you can use a fine brush to fill in the pictures using acrylic paint and leave them to dry, or just colour them in with more coloured sharpies. You can add a coat of varnish to give the pebbles a nice shiny finish.
You could even buy a plain canvas bag or pouch decorate it and call it the story stones bag, use a pencil to write onto the fabric then go over with Sharpie. Decorate it however you wish!
2. Go on a Bug Hunt
If your child loves all things creepy-crawly (or even if they are a little fearful of bugs) take them on a bug hunt. It will increase their confidence in holding and touching bugs. You can do this in any green space local to you or as far as the back garden.
Give your toddlers a container and let them explore! You can buy these reasonably priced online or at any discount store or just take a jar you have at home. Teach toddlers to be careful and gentle with our bug friends and go one step further and learn about the bugs you catch.
We have created our own Bug Bingo card you can print out and take with you on your bug hunt! Download it here.
3. Make a Boat
There are tonnes of ways you can make boats online, a quick google search and you’re sure to find one suitable for you. We simply used string to bind twigs together into a flat base. We then used one stick in the middle for a mast which we again secured with string.
Finally, we attached our own decorated paper sails! Literally, just folded paper into a triangle and glued it. So easy and lot’s of fun. We took our personalised boats to a local boating lake for a race but a stream or even a tub/paddling pool of water in the back garden would work just as well.
We often forget to just lookup. Make a cosy set up with blankets, binoculars, or a telescope and enjoy the sky. There are some great apps available (we recommend Sky Map) or books to help you recognise different stars and talk to children about what they can spot.
Make sure you give your eyes time to adjust, as it can take about 20 minutes before you can fully see stars in the dark. We love this activity, it costs nothing and is a really beneficial way to spend time with children, as well as educating them without really even thinking about it.
5. Have a Campfire
Follow good fire safety habits and of course supervise all campfire activities especially with toddlers. But this is a great way to create lasting memories with your family and enjoy the outdoors.
It’s one of our favourite ways to round up a day being outdoors, sitting around a campfire enjoying tasty campfire cooked food or toasting marshmallows and telling stories. It’s also great for toddlers to be around a campfire because they really can learn a lot from such a young age. Initially just how to be around the fire and have a campfire safely. Then all the science behind fire, and also how to cook on it.
Learn more about bushcraft for kids here.
6. Plant a Mini Garden
There is nothing better to see than a toddler enjoying a sense of accomplishment.
Pick and plant whatever they are drawn to. Allow them to use their senses and explore colours, smells and textures. If they are in charge of it, then they will have to go outside to water, weed and watch over it so you’re also giving them a real sense of independence. Got a fussy eater? You might find your toddler will eat fruit or vegetables they have grown themselves. It’s definitely worth a try. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a garden. Bring the outdoors indoors, window pots work just as well.
7. Make an Obstacle Course
Get toddlers involved in transforming your back garden or local green space into an obstacle course. You could use anything! Bean Bags, cones, boxes or crates, sticks, a hula hoop, whatever item you can find to create fun obstacles.
Get those toddlers moving, from an obstacle course toddlers will develop and enhance strength and balance. The strength and balance skills developed on an obstacle course can transfer effectively to other sports like football or gymnastics.
8. Photograph Nature
One of my toddler’s favourite things to do is take photos. There are some fantastic toddler cameras out there, but we all have a camera on our phones these days. Let them borrow your phone camera and see how many different types of wildlife they can find and photograph, or just anything they find interesting such as the way sunlight filters through trees.
Why not take it a step further and print the photos and get creative with them. You could put them into scrapbooks together, draw or paint copies, or make them into cards and send them to friends and family.
9. Clean up Litter
Did you know that every year 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our planet’s beautiful blue oceans? And that’s seriously bad news for our friends beneath the waves…
Toddlers can be surprisingly passionate about caring for mother nature and again they will be proud of their achievements. Make it a game, for example, make it their mission to save the planet! A great place to clean up litter is along the coastline. Let them know they are making a big difference, and get them caring about protecting nature at an early age.
Be careful with toddlers picking up litter, supervise them at all times, use a litter grabber, and wear gloves.
10. Or, Just Do Your Normal Everyday Activities Outside!
Do homework, eat a meal, make craft projects, read a book, or play games all outside! Even if you don’t have a garden find a local green space and throw down a blanket!