Free Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

My daughter Sophia loves the outside, but then, what child doesn't? With her new mobility, she is ready to explore everything outside has to offer, but it's not always convenient to drive to one of our nearby parks.

I've come up with some ways to help Sophia enjoy our time outside in the yard. Maybe these ideas will inspire you the next time your scratching your head and wondering what to do with your toddler on a pretty day!

CREATE A TREASURE JAR | All you need is a glass jar and maybe a little twine if you'd like to create a handle. Simply walk around the yard to find interesting things to put in your "treasure jar." You might be amazing at what you dig up and when get down on your little one's level.

Things you may come across are: shells, clovers, flowers (or colorful weeds), a neat rock, coins, leaves, little sticks, or anything else that may capture your toddler's attention. At the end of your scavenger hunt, you can bring your treasure jar inside for show and tell - taking things out and putting them back in again while studying and discussing each one, or your jar may sit on display for the day.

I love how these little treasure jars look when filled up. The variety of textures and colors, plus the fun memory associated with filling it, just makes me smile!

5, 6, PICK UP STICKS | Toddlers are eager to do what we're doing. One day I wanted to pick up some sticks around the yard. I wheeled our old wheel-barrow around to the front yard and began putting sticks inside. Then I thought, why can't Sophia help me with this? Now, she loves it!

This is a simple activity that we can work on together, and Sophia can feel like she's helping mommy. **As with any pointy object, you'll want to help your little ones to be careful and keep a good eye on them.

WHERE'S THE SHELL? | I found a shell in our backyard. (I'm not sure how it got there, as the beach is about 2 1/2 away.) I thought it might be fun for Sophia to see me "hide" the shell and then try to find it. This is now one of her favorite games!

Each times she finds where mommy has hidden the shell, she gives the shell to mommy to hide again. I try to theatrically and excitedly hide the shell were she can sort of see where I'm headed and where I've placed. I may place it in places that she'll need to reach up to get to it, safely climb up something (such as our deck chairs), open something, or reach below something. This keeps it interesting (and perhaps slightly challenging), especially since she can see me hiding the item.

She can also have a turn hiding the shell for mommy to find. I love her mischievous smile when it's her turn!

CREATE A FLOWER/WEED BOUQUET | Sophia loves to pick flowers. I taught her how to smell them as well, and my goodness, it is the sweetest sight! You get a little vase or jar, add a small amount of water to the bottom, then see what sort of flowers (or flower-like weeds) you can find to create a little bouquet for the dinner table.

VISIT A NEIGHBOR | With a baked good in hand that perhaps your toddler "helped" you with, you can visit a neighbor and perhaps sit a spell. This could be a neighbor with little ones like yours or even the grandmother-like lady who always seems to be home. I'm sure either would love the treat of your company as well as the little something to eat.

If your toddler isn't too shy, you can encourage her to actually hand the baked item to neighbor. I'm sure she'll love the reaction she gets from the grateful neighbor. Who knows, maybe the result could be a regular visit for tea and outdoor playtime in her backyard.

WATER PLANTS | Helping your little one care for plants is a great activity that teaches responsibility. You can use a little cup, or buy a small, inexpensive water pitcher and coach your little one on how to pour the pitcher while holding onto the spout (if it has one).

If you do this everyday, or every other day, I'm sure you'll see an excited little one who loves to do your watering routine. You can keep the watering supplies at her level, if you like, to further encourage independence when you say, "It's time to water the plants. Where is your pitcher?"

The more obvious ideas include....







And for more inspiration, you can view my YouTube video on the subject below:

Wishing you many beautiful moments with your littles!

Much love,



Recent Posts

See All