Looking for ways to keep your toddler entertained outdoors?
The garden offers so many options when it comes to no or low prep outdoor activities for toddlers.
It’s for this reason, and the fact the sun is so great for the children’s health, that we spend most of spring and summer in our garden every second we can!
There’s something about spending time in the garden that’s just more exciting for the kids.
They even love to have their meals out there, and I actually find it makes them more open to trying new things when it’s made into a picnic for them. I suppose it makes it feel more like an adventure!
I’m sharing my favourite, simple and low prep activities to do with your toddler outdoors. These are perfect for gardens, but if you don’t have a garden you can still do many of these on a balcony or in a public park.
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Play with the hose
I remember spending hours jumping through the water of our hose and playing water fights with my older brother.
If you have a sprinkler, these are the most fun you can have with the hose as kids can jump through the water.
But even just setting the hose to low and playing with it is just as fun.
Play with a water table
A water table is an essential toddler toy if you have some outdoor space.
There are tons on the market and they vary hugely in what they offer. Some have a sand section as well as a section for water.
Many have pouring stations and intricate toys attached to the table through which to pour the water.
But if you simply buy a tray to fill with water, even this is exciting to kids! Grab some plastic jugs, cups and bowls and let them play at filling and pouring with the water.
Play with sand
This is one of my favourite outdoor toys for the children. I don’t really let them play with it indoors, because it does get messy after a while!
This sand holds together way better than regular sand, so your child can use it to make shapes, mountains and all sorts of creations.
I tend to pour our kinetic sand into a large tuff tray so that the children can sit on the floor and play with the sand inside the tray. Less of the sand gets lost onto the ground this way!
Make a fairy garden
You don’t have to spend a fortune on toys and props to make a fairy home in your garden.
Challenge your children to find some stones, leaves and twigs then get them to create their own fairy garden.
They could create a circle with the stones, use the twigs and leaves to make little flags.
Challenge your children to gather as many stones as they can, making sure they are a good size!
They can then use paint to decorate the stones however they wish! They could paint them to look like ladybirds or other animals, or they could paint them in rainbow colours then arrange them beautifully in the garden.
They could form part of the fairy garden as described above.
The beauty of this activity is your kids can nurture the plants every day.
Pick a pot and some flowers or herbs to grow. You could get your toddler to decorate their own ceramic pot with paint and/or stickers before they plant their seeds.
Grab some colourful chalk and get your toddler to draw on the patio.
They could draw numbers, a rainbow, try writing their name or just scribble.
Draw a road on the pavement
Using some chalk you could outline a road on the patio or pavement outside your home.
Make it big enough for your toddler’s car collection, and now they can drive their toy cars around an imaginary town.
Make an outdoor obstacle course
Grab whatever outdoor toys you have and create an obstacle course.
You could use a slide and playhouse if you have them.
If you don’t have any large outdoor toys, then try using balls and sticks. You could tell your toddler to throw the ball, jump over some sticks then do a lap around the garden.
You can do this even if you don’t have a paddling pool. Get a shallow bowl and fill with water, then tell your toddler to dip their bare feet in and walk across the patio.
They can leave their own trail of footprints. Challenge them to hop along on one foot or skip to make different trails.
Paint with water
Grab some clean paint rollers and brushes, then fill a bowl with water. Let your kids paint the patio or driveway. This works best if you have swept the area first so there’s not to much dirt and debris on the ground.
Have a scavenger hunt
Make a list of things for your toddler to find and challenge them to search in your garden or at the park.
You could write the list out with little illustrations of the items and tick boxes.
Some ideas for the list include:
- A yellow flower.
- A round stone.
- A bee.
- A bird.
- A butterfly.
- Animal tracks.
- A branch.
- A leaf.
If you have a children’s camera it’s a nice idea to get them to take pictures of the things they find.
You could then print the pictures off later and cut them out to make a picture.
Play hide and seek
A classic but one that toddlers will happily play for hours.
It can be difficult pretending you can’t see them when their version of hiding is closing their eyes.
Another classic but my kids love playing this one.
Make it more fun by putting some obstacles in the middle of the garden to run around.
Make a nature collage
Give your toddler a small bucket or bowl. Ask them to collect a few different things they can pick up in the garden such as leaves, blades of grass, and small flowers.
Then get some paper and child-safe glue and get them to make their own picture.
You could do this on blank paper, or try sticking flowers and leaves to a paper doll. This website here has some cheap printables and inspiration for how you could decorate your paper doll.
If you have a tent then set it up in the garden and play camping.
You could create a little pretend fire outside.
If you don’t have a tent then try building a den out of blankets and chairs.
Clean the car
Entertain the children and get your car clean at the same time. Give them the hose or a bucket of water and a sponge then get them to work.
You may need to do most of the hard work yourself of course!
Break the ice
Get a small plastic food pot and fill with water to around three quarters. Next pop some plastic toys and figures into the water and put the whole thing into freezer overnight.
The next day get it out and put it in the garden. Now challenge your child to dig out the toys by breaking the ice.
You may need to get the pot out half an hour or so beforehand to make it a little easier.
Give your child a spoon and fork to help them bash and dig at the ice. This works great to cool them down too.
Have a relay race
This will hopefully get your children worn out for bedtime!