Whatever time of year, whether it’s throwing it down with rain or glorious warm sunshine, there are always plenty of outdoor activities for toddlers and children to do outside.
Being outside is the perfect place for children to be children with the freedom to shout, jump, run, hop or skip. Children can learn a lot from being outside and it is the perfect place to ask educational questions through child led play. How does ice feel and sound? Can sticks stand up in sand? How do plants grow? How does mud feel? Why do we slide down instead of up? Learning and investigating all of this outside is particularly effective—and certainly more fun!
Here is a collection of some fun things to do with your toddler whilst getting closer to nature, developing their early year’s skills and giving them plenty of opportunities to try new things.
Sandpits are great for encouraging children to use their imaginations and engage in creative play. The twins love to play in the sand, so this year we decided to treat them to a supersized sandpit from Big Game Hunters for them to play in. Big Game Hunters have a variety of different sandpit options on sale, but of course we wanted the biggest, and it hasn’t disappointed us! At 1.8m in diameter, it will easily fit all three children and daddy in happily, as well as 10 bags of sand!
The sand pit comes flat packed but with a full set of instructions – Grandad got the task of putting it together this time. These things never go together quickly but it was easy enough, and before long it was all taking shape well. The wood has been treated to ensure long lasting play and it comes with a PV cover so that the sand doesn’t get wet. We have popped a bucket underneath so that the rain runs off and water doesn’t collect in the middle.
There are seats around the edge for children and adults to sit on if they don’t want to sit directly on the sand. Big Game Hunters have a number of different sand pits and tables on offer. Click HERE to take a look.
Sand play ideas
Collect together a few favourite small objects and bury them in a sandpit. Encourage your toddler to uncover the treasure using different tools such as spoons, spades and a colander for sieving sand.
Draw pictures in the sand with sticks
Make the sand slightly wet to be able to create a picture. This is a fun way to encourage early writing skills.
Build a quarry
Put aside a little area in your sandpit and add some pebbles, shells and rocks. Throw in some cars and trucks and you will be amazed at your child’s imagination.
Sand , water and some ‘real life’ cooking props never fail to keep children interested in outdoor play. Give your child a small jug of water and some cake tins, trays and spoons and leave them to do the baking!
If your pre-schooler is on the active side, climbing and active toys are a great way to help wear them out. Little children need to spend hours every day enjoying gross motor skills activities to get the large muscles in their legs and arms working.
Have you seen this Step 2 rollercoaster. My twins love it and is often a main reason to get them outside playing. Made from durable plastic that weathers well outside (but can be brought in if you want some fun indoor too). It is made up of 3 parts and easily slotted together. The little car is light and can pushed up the ramp by toddlers. Children then climb the steps, step on to the car and push themselves down the ramp. It can be played with either on their own, or with friends – you just might need to teach them to push each other gently!! It provides hours of active outdoor fun developing balance, coordination, and gross motor skills.
Physical play ideas
An easy all-time favourite. Buy some bubbles and young toddlers will enjoy chasing the bubbles down and popping them while older toddlers can blow on the bubbles to see how long they can keep one in the air. Make sure you don’t just stand in one spot but keep moving and your toddler will follow.
Create an obstacle course in the garden
Use whatever you can find around the house and garden to set up an obstacle course. Use boxes, rugs, large toys, chairs, anything you can think of. You can use the chairs to crawl under, cushions to roll on, plant pots to run around, balance bikes to do a lap of the garden on, rugs to jump on. You can make it up as you go along!
Mud kitchens are the perfect accessory to any outdoor play space because they allow children to have some muddy fun without being told to stay clean! The activities offered by a mud kitchen are limited only by the imagination! Kids Mud Kitchens make fabulous kitchens which are delivered to your home and come in many different colours and sizes – the choice is amazing! The mud kitchens are robust, designed for permanent outdoor use, and are the perfect height for small children, you are sure to find them an ideal Christmas gift.
Muddy fun ideas
Bake with mud
Find some old pots, pans and cutlery to cook up some delicious mud cakes using mud, seasoned with flowers, stones, leaves and seeds. If you don’t have any old saucepans, car boot sales are always fab for these.
Make fairy soup
Take your little one on a hunt around the garden to find some leaves, petals, seeds and grass from outside and mix them together into a small bowl of water. Use scissors to cut up the ingredients, crush them using spoons and mixers.
Building with mud bricks
Make your own building bricks using mud. I love this idea. Use three parts dirt to two parts water, set the mixture in an ice-cube tray, leave to dry in the sun, pop out and then build structures in the garden with the bricks.
Go jumping in puddles
There’s no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing. Embrace any wet days by popping on the wellies and going in search of puddles – the twins love this activity. And if there is no rain, they just make puddles with watering cans!
This is one of the simplest water activities for toddlers, but they love it every time. Grab some toys (dirty or not), add some soapy bubbles, and get to washing.
Paint with water
Grab some real house paintbrushes and rollers and go to town painting the sidewalk – they love it and it doesn’t cause any mess!
Bring your favourite books to life outdoors
Go on a Gruffalo hunt – The Gruffalo is one of the twin’s favourite books. We go on Gruffalo hunts whenever we get the opportunity.
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse. And the mouse looked good.
Use the story as inspiration for your own forest adventures. We used this story when we had a photoshoot in the Bluebells to keep the girls focused and entertained!
Another fav is ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. I am sure you know it!
I hide the teddy, set up a small assault course and set off to find the bear saying the rhyme as we go. We pretend to swim, trudge over cushions as we go up and down hills, dive through sheets which are thrown over the washing line. How you get to the teddy bear is your choice but let your imagination go wild with what you need to go through to get there in the end.
Create a magical fairy garden
We love small world play in our house. Fairies, unicorns, and toad stalls. Small world play opens up a world of possibilities – use miniature items to create an inviting scene which your child will love to explore. Your child will love going on miniature adventures.
If you have enjoyed this article, then why not take a look at a few others!
**Some of the items in this article were gifted to us, but all thoughts and ideas are my own.