5 Toddler Activities: Outdoor

Mae loves being outside. No matter what the weather, I think she would stay outside all day if I would let her. While Mae loves being outside even in the cold, I am loving this beautiful warm weather for being outside.

Depending on the activity, sometimes I will be right beside Mae, and other times I’m able to sit on our porch steps or in a chair and read a book or write in my journal. Mae prefers when my attention is totally on her, but she is still content to have me nearby as she plays.

As with the previous list of toddler activity ideas, I’m sure this list barely scratches the surface of activities to do outside, but these are some things Mae and I have enjoyed lately.

1. Chalk

Mae loves to color, and coloring outside is even better! I bought a small pack of chalk for less than a dollar at Walmart and it has been great. We only have a small space where Mae can use the chalk, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Whenever we go to my parent’s house they have several large spaces for chalk and she loves it there!

Mae is starting to learn colors and shapes, so drawing with chalk outside is also a great time to practice these skills.

2. Playing with Water

Any kind of water! Mae loves using her watering can to water all the plants and flowers in our garden. She loves playing with the hose turned on a tiny trickle. She loves it when I fill a bucket with water and she gets to use all her toys to fill and dump and splash around with the water.

Mae especially loves getting in the pool, but that only happens at Mimi’s house right now. She also gets popsicles at Mimi’s house, which makes playing in water even better!

3. Helping in the Garden

During the spring and summertime the garden is such a fun activity. I need to be out in the garden to weed and water and such daily, so it is nice that Mae loves to help.

Mae has her own little spade, watering can, and rubber boots, so she really feels like she is helping. She will often ask me if we need to water the garden, pull weeds, or plant seeds. I think she is disappointed that we no longer need to be planting seeds.

4. Exploring

We have a fairly large yard and Mae loves to walk all around and explore. I follow behind or beside her, going at her own pace. Sometimes she asks to hold my hand, but most of the time she enjoys the freedom of wandering the whole yard!

As we explored recently we found wild blackberries. Now Mae loves to walk down and pick them.

5. Blowing Bubbles

I don’t know if Mae likes the bubbles or just putting the lid on and off her container better, but she loves playing with bubbles! We started out with a bottle from the store, but after Mae dumped most of it out I made some out of water and dish soap. They don’t work as well, but Mae doesn’t seem to mind because she does more playing and dumping than blowing the bubbles.

Being Outside

There are so many benefits to being outside, both for children and adults. From physical to mental, the list of positive outcomes from being outside goes on and on.

There are the physical benefits of breathing fresh air and moving and getting one’s blood flowing.

There are studies showing that outdoor play benefits academic learning.

There are multiple studies demonstrating how being outside makes people happier.

I believe God has given us a desire to be outside in His created world, and learning more about Him is the greatest benefit of all.

What are your favorite outdoor activities for toddlers, or for yourself?

5 Toddler Activities

Toddlers are so fun! I love how Mae finds delight in the simplest things sometimes, and I love finding activities for her that are fun, educational, and keep her occupied for a long time so I am able to have a bit of uninterrupted time to clean the house, cook supper, or whatever else is on my to-do list at the moment.

My goal with activities for Mae are for them to be safe, entertaining, and educational, or somewhat educational…I mainly do not want her staring at a screen all the time. I am sure there will be times when we need to implement screen time, but I would love to avoid it as much as I can.
Last week I shared our morning routine, and these types of activities are usually what we’ll do next. I’ll either play alongside Mae or do some work nearby (she likes me to be near her all the time, and if I’m not close enough she’ll pat the space next to her and say, “floor! Floor!”)

Here are five ideas of easy toddler activities to fill your day.

Dried Beans

All you need is a big towel or blanket, a bowl of dried beans, and an assortment of containers and utensils. I use a towel or blanket to make clean-up easier, so when we are done playing I can gather up the beans and pour them back into the bowl. Your toddler can use a spoon to scoop beans into a bowl, or cups to scoop and pour with. Mae also enjoys stirring the big bowl of beans and feeling them in her hands.

I try not to get out this activity every day so she doesn’t get burnt out, but so far this could keep her occupied for hours, I believe! I always put them up when she starts making a huge mess or tries to eat the beans, but she is never ready to put them away.

Washing Dishes

This is Mae’s favorite activity right now! I fill up the sink partly with water and give her various dishes and spoons to wash. She loves it when I leave a tiny trickle of water and she will fill up a spoon to pour into a cup, or filling up a bowl to pour into another one.

We have a learning tower that my father-in-law made for us and it is perfect for this activity! I just pull it up to the sink and Mae is at the perfect height. I lay a towel down under the learning tower to catch water spills, and it is always soaked.

This is a messy activity, but it is only water so it’s easy to clean up. Mae always needs a change of clothes afterwards because she is soaked, but again, she is never ready to stop.

Coloring and Stickers

I have to be slightly more hands-on with this one at the moment, but it is still a great activity for Mae while I am working at the counter and she can be in her learning tower, whether I’m preparing food, doing computer work, or writing/journaling/planning.

All you need is a notebook, crayons, and stickers. I have a cheap spiral-bound notebook for Mae, as I have found it stays in place better than loose paper, and it has several sheets of paper for many days.

Stickers require a little help from Mama when they don’t come easily off the page, but Mae is getting to where she is able to take them off herself sometimes. She loves to stick them on the paper and on herself, then take them off and stick them again. Whenever we are done with this activity there are stickers all over the paper, as well as Mae, the counter, and her learning tower!

I have recently discovered that puffy stickers are perfect for Mae. She can take them off the paper by herself, and when she does stick them on things other than paper, they are very easy to remove.

Bonus Tip: these works of art are great for making cards for others! Cut a shape out of the middle of your child’s scribbles (like a heart) and glue it to a card and write a note. It is a fun and meaningful way to save and share your child’s artwork!

Baby Doll Bed

I got this idea from a book Mama recently lent me called The Busy Book for Toddlers. It has 365 ideas for toddler activities and I have only barely, barely scratched the surface of these ideas!

To make a baby doll bed all you need is a cardboard box or basket, a couple small blankets, and a baby doll. I had a plastic basket that wasn’t being used and I folded a small quilt in the bottom. For her baby’s cover I just gave Mae a cloth napkin and it was the perfect size.

Mae loved this bed even more than I expected. It entertained her for a good stretch of time, as she took the baby in and out, covered her up, sang to her, and read books to her. Sam said he watched her face as I got the bed ready and she was so filled with excitement.

This is a very simple activity with easy preparation and clean up, but with hours of fun.

Play Food

We gave Mae a play kitchen for Christmas (best yard sale find ever!) but you do not have to have a play kitchen or play food to have fun. Right now Mae doesn’t care much for the pretend food, but the dishes are the best. She loves to stir “oatmeal” in bowls and pour cups of “coffee.”

She will cook in her little kitchen and bring me cups and bowls filled with goodies (coffee and oatmeal are her favorite). She asks her baby dolls what they want, then quickly fix them whatever food or drink they need.

If you don’t have a play kitchen, your toddler can still make pretend food in whatever dishes and utensils you have for them to play. I modeled “making” some food to Mae the first time, and she has taken off since then!

I started making a list of activities Mae and I like to do, and several of them were outdoor activities. So I will write a part two of this list with outdoor activities soon!

What ideas do you have to add to the list?