Spring! It’s here! The time of year that the whole family gets really antsy to get outside more. Finding age appropriate activities for little ones can sometimes be a challenge. So here are 10 fun, inexpensive outdoor activities for toddlers (and older kids, too!) that can be fun for the whole family!
1. Make pine cone bird feeders. This is the kind of fun activity that keeps on giving. Step one: search for pinecones. Step two: spread peanut butter (which is actually safe for birds) all over the pine cone. Probably ought to do this outside, it’s super messy. Step three: roll the peanut buttered pinecone in bird seed, and hang from a string on a tree branch. Do this somewhere that you can see it from inside the house. My kids can’t be quiet enough for a bird to eat from it while we’re outside, but our daughter LOVES to wake up in the morning and watch the birds eating from her artistic little creation!
2. Hunt for rocks, then paint them! Use a non-toxic, washable paint. It keeps them busy for quite some time, and bonus points if you can find a rock shaped like a heart!
3. Plant an herb garden. Last spring, our daughter and I planted an herb garden from seed. She was not even 2 years old yet, and if any seeds actually made it into the dirt, they were instantly washed back out with the amount of water that she poured into them. It sure was fun for her, though! Then I went out and bought some more herbs and planted them while she wasn’t looking..
4. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk. The classics. Plus, how cute is it to watch little kids learn to blow bubbles??
5. Search for bugs. This is something that the neighbor kids love to do, but our daughter, not so much. I’d love to instill in her an open and curious mind for all living things, but I swear that kid was born believing that “all bugs are scary.”
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6. Sit and listen. I’m actually surprised by how quiet little kids can be when they want to be. We talk about different things that make sounds outside, then we sit very still and see what we can hear. It’s a great listening exercise, and it teaches them to take notice of the world around them.
7. Earn money for pulling weeds. Man oh man, labor is cheap when 5 pennies are more exciting than 1 quarter. Sure, she’s actually pulling up the lawn, but you can’t learn about hard work too early, right?
8. Play simple ball games. No athletic ability required, here! Get out and get those gross motor skills moving. If your child is too young to practice throwing, roll the ball back and forth, or bounce it against a wall or fence.
9. Go on a ball hunt. Instead of just waiting for Easter, play games where you hide certain items around the yard, give your kid a bag to collect them in, and let them go! All of the practice will pay off when it’s time to find those Easter eggs next year!
10. Plant a bean plant tee pee. Set yourself up for an awesome end of summer play place! This is SO fun. Create a tee-pee framework with 8-10 dowel rods (or bamboo poles, or lightweight pipes, etc.. Just nothing too heavy that could hurt a kid if it got tipped over). Place each dowel into the ground several inches and tie them together securely at the top with thin rope. This can be as big or as small as you want. Plant crawling bean plant seeds near the base of each dowel, and as they grow, start to train them around the framework by guiding the plants around the sticks. Not only will your kids love to watch the progress of their new fort, by the end of the summer, they’ll be able to sit in there and actually eat their veggies! (Stay tuned for pictures of ours, and more detailed instructions in time to start your own this season!)