Outdoor play is so important for children of all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts this week and next week, I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children. I am kicking off with toddler outdoor play ideas. This, in my opinion, was the hardest age group for me with my three children. At this age they are walking, but sometimes still like a push in a buggy, or still need a push in a buggy. I found frustration levels could run high when they couldn’t do something, and getting them all dressed up for a bad weather day outside is a whole other talent (and then in the winter once done, they can hardly move!!). However, it is so good for them (and us) to get out there, so I thought I would suggest a few ideas that you can do with each other once you are outdoors. These toddler outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂 I hope you enjoy trying them.
Toddler Outdoor Play Ideas:
- Mud Kitchens: Any old pots and pans or utensils will do, maybe with a plastic jug thrown in for pouring, and your little toddler will delight in making up the most yummy mud meals you can imagine. This also enables children to get very hands on with earth, dirt, and mud, which reaps a whole heap of other benefits too.
- Bubbles: I purchased a large cheap bottle of bubbles and mine loved chasing them wherever we were, and seeing where they went. I was also a little cunning here. I had a pair of twins that would run off in different directions when we were out. So, when it all got too much for me, or it looked like I was in serious danger of losing one or both, I would use bubbles in open spaces (such as the beach) to help stop this from happening. It was perfect. I was happy that they weren’t escaping, and they were having a blast!!
- Puddle Jumping: Or if your toddler isn’t quite jumping yet, just wading will do. Make sure they are dressed appropriately as there will be a fair few bum splashes at this age too, but it is all fun for them. You can either take a little walk on a day with lots of puddles, or just use any puddles right outside your door.
- Bare feet: If the weather/terrain allows, kick off that footwear, and let your little person enjoy running and playing unencumbered by clompy shoes. They will feel more connected to nature, a little more stable (maybe), and enjoy the sense of freedom that not wearing any shoes brings.
- Bug hunt: Go on a very simple bug hunt. You needn’t go far, just far enough to look under a rock or log. Perhaps take a simple bug pot with a magnifying lid on so they can enjoy examining the mini beasts you find before returning them back to their home. Children are naturally fascinated by nature.
- Pooh Sticks: Have a good old fashioned game of pooh sticks. We still have to stop to play this on every bridge we cross over. Choose your sticks then stand on your bridge, throw them in together, then race to the other side of a bridge to see whose reappears first.
- Go collecting sticks, or stones, or both: They will be intrigued by size and shape, and you could even take some home to do craft or paint on later. Sometimes, if an outing/walk has a purpose, they are more interested in it.
- Outdoor Art: Take a huge old sheet outdoors somewhere, with some washable paints. I put the paints into old Tupperware tubs that small feet and hands can tread in. Strip them off down to whatever you are happy to wash (nappy in my case!!), and let them squish their little toes into the paint, then run all over the sheet (or use their hands). When my little lady was small, we did this often, and one day she ended up painting her whole body!! Not quite what I had in mind!! I always had a washing up bowl of soapy water handy for after!
- Water play: The best toddler outdoor play ideas are when they are kept simple, no need to invest in water tables and spend money. A few jugs, a watering can filled with rain water, and some buckets, and they are good to go. They will be fascinated with pouring from one container to another, or even making splashes. Just make sure they are being watched when water is involved 🙂
- Wash their toys: Give them a bucket and a sponge/cloth and let them wash down their ride-ons, bikes, or trikes. They will enjoy this, and if you are feeling brave, let them “help” you do your car.
- Take the indoors outside: Toddler outdoor play can involve indoor toys outdoors. Any plastic toys will be enjoyed hiding in bushes, climbing up mountains of mud, or large plastic lorries and cars driving through sandpits.
I hope you have found some inspiration from these toddler outdoor play ideas, and will come back to read about the other age groups 🙂 Let me know in the comments below how you have got on, and in the mean time I am off to psych myself up to get my three into their winter weather gear for an afternoon of outdoor play in the Swedish winter!! It usually takes around 20 minutes for this to be achieved, with lots of heated discussions/squabbles!!!