Outdoor activities for toddlers are the perfect way to engage your child's senses, build their fine and gross motor skills, spark creativity, and bolster their ability to self-regulate. Playing outside is also one of the best way to wear your kids out so that you can get some much-needed TLC later in the day!
Check out these 45 fun outdoor activities for toddlers will expand their mind, encourage their imaginations, and keep them active.
Creative Outdoor Crafts & Activities for Toddlers
Get those creative juices flowing with simple art-inspired activities that toddlers can enjoy. These outdoor activities will enhance fine motor skills, foster inventive thinking, and leave the yard looking more beautiful than ever!
Paint the Sidewalk
Whip up a batch of chalk paint and hand your kids a paintbrush. Watch as they transform your driveway into something colorful and creative. Chalk paint is easy to make and simple for toddler-aged children to apply to large surfaces using big paintbrushes.
Shower Curtain Painting
Hang a clear shower curtain liner up in the backyard. String it between two trees or attach it to a flat surface like your fence. Then, let your tots paint the curtain using your preferred brand of toddler paint and an array of sponges, paintbrushes, and other tools that can be used to apply this colorant to a surface. You can even pour paint into squirt guns and let them create splatter-themed masterpieces.
Make this activity last more than one session by using washable paint that can be sprayed off the liner at the end of the day! Then, store the curtain for another day of use.
Make a Sidewalk Chalk Maze
Use chalk to make a maze in your driveway or on the sidewalk! You can make a giant maze for children to navigate using tricycles, or you can make a small maze where they can roll toy cars and trucks through. Parents can make both types of mazes to develop gross and fine motor skills.
'Paint' the Garage
Grab a bucket of water and a few paintbrushes and paint the garage using water. The water will quickly dry in warmer weather, and kids can continuously paint their surface with their pretend paint.
Construct a Sensory Bin
Sensory bins can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors, but they are best played with outside when you're filling them with messier materials. Your kids can enjoy both wet and dry materials in these containers. This is a great way to engage their senses and further build their fine and gross motor skills.
Sensory bins also have a fantastic calming effect! Just make sure to supervise your kids so that they can stay safe during this beneficial type of play.
Bubbles are so much fun for kids of all ages. Your toddler might be too young to make a homemade bubble mixture or blow the actual bubbles themselves, but they can certainly chase the bubbles as you blow them all over the yard! Blow bubbles of all shapes and sizes and watch your toddlers burst with joy and excitement as they hunt them down and pop them as they float overhead.
Introduce your child to color mixing by snagging some food coloring, clear plastic bowls or cups, plastic squeeze bottles, and water! Simply make several batches of different colors of water in your squeeze tubes. Then, have your kids combine different colors in the clear bowls or cups. This is a fantastic way to teach your kids about colors while letting them get creative at the same time!
Paint Pretty Rocks
Rock painting is a timeless activity that older toddlers can do. Be sure to choose smooth, middle to large sized rocks to give kids enough surface area to work on. Use chalk paint or washable paint to cover the rocks. When kids are done, parents can use epoxy to seal the color in (without a sealer, the rain will remove the paint over time). Display the rocks in your garden when they are dry!
Make a Toilet Paper Bird Feeder
Birdwatching is a fun family activity, and there is no better way to draw birds into your natural space than with a good bird feeder. Kids can craft a simple bird feeder by spreading peanut butter onto a toilet paper roll and then rolling it in birdseed. Set it in the yard and wait for your feathered friends to come visit you.
Craft Nature Sensory Jars
Sensory jars can be both entertaining and calming for young kids. Elevate this experience by having your toddlers hunt for the items that will fill these I Spy containers! Pebbles, leaves, rocks and stones, acorns, pinecones, and feathers are all a fantastic choice.
Once they have gathered their items, make a list of the items they collected and assemble your sensory jars! Then, pull them out on random days and have your kids try to spy all the items on the list!
Outdoor Activities for Toddlers That Develop Gross Motor Skills
Run, jump, crawl, and play. Toddlers need to move! The great outdoors is the perfect place to let them roam about freely, learning to work those little arms and legs. Use your time outside to work on gross motor skills through fun and developmentally appropriate activities.
Wash the Family Car
On a sunny afternoon, fill sudsy buckets up and wash the family car. Let your tots dip large sponges into the buckets and clean the sides of the vehicle. Get the hose out and instruct them to rinse off the tires of the car.
Make an Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses are a lot of fun for people of all ages, toddlers included. You can make an obstacle course that is developmentally appropriate for your toddler-aged child. Include aspects like crawling through large spaces, throwing balls, hopping in and out of hula hoops, and sliding down a slide.
Ride a Balance Bike
Balance bikes help toddlers develop a sense of their physical space, so when it comes time to take on a two-wheeler, they are more than ready for the challenge. Encourage toddlers to bike around the block while on a family bike ride.
You cal also use this time to talk about street safety and develop vocabulary by pointing out different objects you see along the way.
Challenge Your Tot to a Game of Balloon Volleyball
For this outdoor activity for toddlers, you don't even need a net! All you need are a few balloons. The premise is to keep them floating in the air - if they hit the ground, the game is over! This is a great way to help them improve their hand-eye coordination and boost their gross motor skills.
Play With Different-Sized Sports Balls
Toddlers sure do love to throw, kick, and roll balls of all sizes around the yard. This means you have a great opportunity to put all of your random sporting equipment to good use!
Grab balls of various shapes and sizes that you have lying around the house and explore their uses. Bounce a large bouncy ball on a hard surface, kick a soccer ball back and forth, and throw a small ball across the yard.
Do Some Reading Under a Shady Tree
Not all outdoor activities have to be go, go, go. Set a blanket out underneath a shady tree and bring out a few of your child's favorite picture books. Read under the branches, make text-to-world connections, and relax in nature.
Play Color Hop
Toddlers love to learn their colors, and there's no reason you can't take this teaching opportunity outside. Using chalk, create large circles on the driveway, all in various colors. Instruct kids to hop into the blue circle or the red one. You can extend this activity by asking your tots to find different items in the yard that match these various colors.
Nature-Based Activities for Toddlers
Young minds expand when exposed to nature. There are so many unique and interesting outdoor activities for toddlers that can allow them to explore natural world.
Have a Little Picnic
Pack up your kid's favorite finger foods and spend lunchtime having a picnic in the grass. They will get a kick out of eating alfresco, far from the dining room table.
Go on a Nature Walk
Nature walks can be done in any season. Check out the foliage, look for woodland creatures, and collect cool sticks, rocks, and leaves while walking through nature.
Plant Little Seeds and Watch Them Grow
Gardening is a great family activity, and even young toddlers can help. Let them practice digging small holes in the dirt and then help them drop a few seeds into the soil and water them. Children can eagerly look forward to checking on their plants' progress every few days.
Go on a Developmentally Appropriate Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts can keep kids busy for hours. Some scavenger hunts can be quite complex and lengthy, but you can create simple ones for your toddler by starting with what they readily know.
Think of outside objects they could easily identify, like leaves, rocks, acorns, and trees. Additionally, look for items like birds, sand, cars, flowers, and squirrels. This is a fantastic way to enhance vocabulary in young children. You can use a blank scavenger hunt printable to customize your fun!
Hunt for Bugs
Bugs are fun little creatures to observe outside. Go on a bug hunt with your toddler and collect little critters in a bug house to watch them crawl around. Remember to let the bugs go free at the end of the activity, so kids learn to respect nature and all creatures.
Nature Stamp Painting
Your child can literally paint and create with anything, including elements of nature. Try some nature stamp painting on a lovely autumn day. Use leaves, sticks, acorns, and rocks as stamps. Have your child dip the objects into paint and roll or stamp them onto paper.
Make Nature Fossils in Playdough
Make a batch of homemade playdough and take it outside. Then, press all sorts of items found in nature into the playdough. This will create interesting shapes and impressions in the dough. Parents can also use baking clay for this activity and once your child's masterpiece is done, you can display their creations in your garden or on your front stoop!
Make a Wildflower Bouquet
Head to a field and pick pretty wildflowers. Show your toddler how to snap the flowers at the stem. Bring the bunch home and display them in your house, or give them to a neighbor or friend.
Do Tree Rubbings
Attach large white sheet of paper to a tree trunk. Using large toddler crayons (with labels removed), help your toddler rub the side of the crayon on the paper. What do they see? The patterns in the bark should appear before their very eyes!
Make Sticky Art
Take a roll of contact paper outside and use tape to fasten it to a flat wall space, sticky side out. Kids can then adhere all sorts of outdoor objects to the paper. These can include small twigs, leaves, pebbles, and feathers. This activity is a unique tactile experience for toddlers.
Imaginative Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
The imagination is a powerful thing for all types of play, and young children need to use theirs often. Go outside and encourage your toddler to play make believe while exploring the beauty and wonder of nature!
Make a Mud Kitchen
Just by using pots, pans, large spoons and ladles, and a tub of soapy water, kids can create mud pies in an outdoor kitchen. Help them make their pies and then wash their items off in the makeshift sink.
Dance in Open Spaces
Sometimes you just need to dance life's stresses away! Head to a forest area, an open field or your backyard. Make sure you have plenty of flat, open space to move freely. Play some tunes on your phone and dance in the sunlight.
Go Pretend Fishing
This is an easy indoor craft that can be brought outdoors at any time! Parents just need markers, paper, toddler scissors, a long stick, string, magnets and glue! The intent is to cut out fish, color them, and then attach magnets to them. Next, create a fishing pole using the stick, string, and the opposite end of the magnet!
Finally, grab a bucket or tub and head outdoors, disperse your fish, and see who can "reel in" the biggest catch!
Make Nature Soup
Using a large pot and a spoon, make a batch of nature soup. Anything can go into nature soup. Toss in non-poisonous berries, leaves, twigs, rocks, and dirt. Mix it all up, dump it out, and start all over again.
Be sure to monitor young children when they play this game of pretending, mainly because the concept of soup might confuse them, and they may try to take a taste.
Play Pirates, Mermaids, Fairies, and More
Dress up as pirates and make a climbing structure your ship. Put on fairy wings and fashion a little stick fort in the forest. Be mermaids for a day and lounge around in a paddling pool. Encourage dress-up and pretend play in the outdoors to boost imagination.
Make Monster Truck Roadways
If you have a sandbox or a decent-sized patch of dirt, make trails and roadways for toy cars. Zoom them over little hills, along pathways, and around corners.
Go on a Stuffed Animal Parade
Gather up your child's favorite stuffed animals and head out for a stuffed animal parade. Pile your toddler and their toys into a wagon or another push toy and walk around the neighborhood.
Set up a tent in the yard and spend the day pretend camping. Put a sleeping bag, toys, and books in the tent and a small chair outside of the tent. Spend the entire day in and around the tent, mimicking a day of camping in the great outdoors.
Create a Jungle or Zoo in the Sandbox
Using small, plastic toy animals, create a jungle or a zoo in the sandbox or garden area. Have kids be the zookeepers and set animals up in pens or spaces. Talk about the different animals, their names, and other animal-related terminology as you play.
Ice-cavate the Dinosaurs
This exciting outdoor activity for toddlers involves freezing a bunch of their plastic toys in a giant cube of ice and then having them pretend to be an archeologist! Give them tools turkey basters, wooden spoons, and kosher salt to help break apart the ice and find the treasures hidden inside!
Build a Fairy Garden
Let your toddler's imaginations soar by building a fairy garden in your backyard and then watching for these magical creatures! This fun outdoor craft can all be done in a big planter pot. Add soil, flowers, stones, and moss, along with their very own hand crafted fairy house!
Wonderful Water Play Activities for Toddlers
If the weather is agreeable, get outside and let the little ones get wet with some water play activities. There are so many fun, educational, and creative things to do with the world's most wonderful resource!
Water an Alphabet Garden
Using chalk, write out the letters of the alphabet. Fill a watering can with water and call out a letter. Kids then have to pour water on the letter that is called out, erasing it with the water. Be sure to write the letters horizontally and spread apart so only the called-out letter gets erased when it's watered.
If your child only knows a few letters, that's okay. Use what they know and add in a few extra letters each week.
Sail Little Ships
In a large tub or small pool, sail some ships. Use plastic boats from an indoor toy box or make little ships using plastic eggs or other materials that will readily float. Kids will have tons of fun pushing the little boats in the water.
Turn on the Sprinkler
Running through a sprinkler is a classic outdoor activity for toddlers and big kids alike. Turn the water on and run along with your toddler on a warm summer day.
Make a Homemade Water Table
Make a homemade water table using a large plastic bin. Fill it with objects that sink, float, pour, and do other fascinating things that toddlers love to manipulate and experiment with.
Go Puddle Jumping
If it rained the day before, put on boots and a raincoat and grab an umbrella. Head outside to find the biggest puddle and jump right in. Yes, your tot will be soaked, but nothing is more liberating than splashing around in your clothes.
Take an Umbrella Walk
Rainy day? No problem! Get out umbrellas and rain boots and walk through the neighborhood following a storm. Kids adore holding their umbrellas in the air, and it isn't every day that they get used. Anytime a toddler can open up an umbrella feels like a bit of a special occasion.
Playing in the rain is always fun, but it is not always safe. Before heading out to splash and play, make sure that lightning is far away. Here are some meteorologist-backed lightning safety tips to keep your family safe in a thunderstorm.
Floating Number Matching Game
Start helping your toddler learn numbers one through five. Write the numbers on the sidewalk with chalk. In a tub, float foam bath toy numbers that correlate with the numbers you wrote down. Ask them to match the numbers floating in the bucket to the numbers written on the sidewalk. This is a bit of a higher thinking skill, but young children can master it with practice.
Parents can also do this with a few well-recognized letters of the alphabet and with shapes as well.
Benefits of Outdoor Play for Toddlers
Outdoor play for toddlers has ample benefits to their health, growth, and development. Young children who spend time outdoors receive more exercise, which is a boost to their physical well-being and cognitive health. Gross motor skills also develop as children have the space to move about freely in unstructured areas, and opportunities to increase vocabulary are plentiful as children encounter new objects and experiences in the vast outdoor world.
There's additional evidence that preschoolers have fewer behavioral issues when they are connected to the outdoors and nature. Parents will also notice that their social skills will grow when playing outdoors with others. No matter the season, outdoor activities for toddlers are a great way to pass the time, learn, and grow into independent little people!