20 amazing things to do outdoors with your toddler

Squish jelly, hose dodgeball, dandelion blowing, pavement colouring and, of course, mud pies. 20 fun-filled ideas for great outdoor moments

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As the weather warms up, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to get out of the house with your toddler and either spend some time in the garden or head to a local park.

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There are lots of fun outdoor activities for toddlers you can do with just a bit of pre-planning and using things you already have in the house.

So take a look at some of our favourite outdoor activities for toddlers – from the classic teddy bears’ picnic to blowing picture bubbles to water balloon fights.

20 amazing things to do outdoors with your toddler…

1. Rub-a-dub

Your toddler loves imitating what you do, so give her a bowl of water with some bubble bath in it and let her wash her doll blanket or toys’ clothes. Provide another bowl for rinsing and then let her ‘hang’ the clothes out to dry by stringing up a low-hanging washing line for her.

2. Make a pot-and-pan sandpit

Get some pots and pans in the garden – or even an old casserole dish if you have one – and fill them up with sand and water. They’re  a lot easier to clean and put away than a big sandpit but just as much fun.

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3. Have a teddy bears’ picnic

Lay everything out as you would for a picnic, but invite all the soft toys to join in. Small plastic cups for your guests and little triangles of bread will complete the feast.

4. Have fun with feet

Broaden your toddler’s sensory knowledge by putting out different bowls. Fill one with jelly, one with wet mud, one with rice, one with sand and one with whatever you can think of. Ask her to close her eyes and dip her feet in, and describe how it feels.

5. Play push and pull

Sit on the grass face-to-face with your toddler with legs spread and your feet touching. Join hands and do a gentle back and forth stretch. You can sing while you do it and finish off with a kiss.

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6. Play squish jelly

Make up a washing-up bowl full of jelly to play with outside, where there won’t be any mess. It’s fun to mould, squish and throw, and if some goes in your little one’s mouth it’s perfectly safe.

7. Cool off with hose dodgeball

Most toddlers enjoy being splashed with a hose. The ‘targets’ have to avoid being splashed, while the person who is ‘it’ tries to ‘catch’ a target by splashing them.

8. Have a water balloon fight

Throw the balloons at your toddlers’ feet rather than their bodies, so they don’t get hurt, and make sure you pick up all the burst bits so your toddler isn’t tempted to eat them later.

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9. Blow bubble pictures

Stir some non-toxic liquid paint into a bottle of bubble mixture and show your toddler how to blow coloured bubbles onto a sheet of paper.

And while we’re on bubbles – do grab some regular soapy ones and have fun fun blowing and catching them.

10. Paint footprints

Lay out several pieces of newspaper and then squeeze a few different colours of non-toxic liquid paint into paper plates.

Let your toddler stand in the paint and then walk over the paper. Remember to keep a bowl of clean water handy for washing feet in between each go.

11. Colour the pavement

This works on quiet pavements, patios and driveway. Use coloured chalk that will wash off, and get creative. Make giant hand and footprints, or draw a traditional hopscotch grid.

12. Blow dandelions

This is such a fine but simple garden activity – grab some dandelions (hopefully you’ll have a few!)  and get your child to blow them everywhere.

This can also be a lifesaver for keeping kids amused when you’re trying to hang up the washing, too.

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13. Make a veggie patch

Give your toddler his own space on your veggie patch and don’t be afraid to let him get dirty – if he wants to make mud pies first, let him! Try planting vegetables that have big seeds, such as butternut squash, as your toddler will find them easier to handle and plant.

Your toddler won’t have the patience to wait for months for plants to sprout, so opt for veggies that will appear quickly, such as red lettuce.

Mix flowers in between the veg, as they’re fast-growing and good for the environment.

Encourage your toddler to look at the wildlife while he’s planting. Share in his excitement of finding bugs in the soil – he’ll find them fascinating even if you’ve seen them all before.

14. Try bucket gardening

While you’re working outside, give your toddler a small bucket or raffia bag and let him help with jobs like picking up cut grass or old leaves. He’ll relish the responsibility.

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15. Bake mud pies

Tip some earth into a bowl (check for stones and insects) and add a little cold water until it’s a good, thick texture (if it’s too wet, it won’t be mouldable). Fill some yogurt pots or flowerpots with the mud and leave to dry.

Then gently tip out and, hey presto, you’ve got baked mud pies.

16. Patio-jumping

In this forerunner to hopscotch, use chalk to draw flowers, stars or whatever you like at short but varying distances apart and see if your toddler can jump from one to the other.

17. Play the aim game

Place a bucket on the ground and get your toddler to take 5 steps back. Then see how many balls she can throw into the bucket. If she gets all of them in she takes another step back.

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18. Play What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

Mr Wolf is ‘it’ while the rest of the children stand at the far end of the garden calling, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” ‘Mr Wolf’, who’s standing with his back to the players, replies with a time, such as “4 o’clock”, for example, and the players take four steps towards him.

The children ask again, and this time Mr Wolf might say, “10 o’clock,” at which point all the players move ten steps closer.

After a few calls, Mr Wolf suddenly answers, “Dinnertime!” and turns around and chases the players. Whoever is caught becomes the wolf the next time round.

The game ends when everyone has been caught and had a chance to play Mr Wolf, or when they’re all exhausted.

19. Water spraying

Save old spray bottles from toiletries, rinse them out well and let your little one use them to water the garden. Do it from different distances to see where the spray goes.

20. Play the hot and cold game

Hide a little prize in the garden and let your toddler go off hunting for it. Use clues like ‘you’re too cold,’ to ‘warmer’ and ‘boiling hot’ when he finds the prize.

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