My flexible work schedule provides me with precious stretches of time to play with my toddler during the summer. He’s an active boy and we love to go outside. I find that these toddler activities free up my own creativity. They stretch my mind and make me see the world in a new light.
Toddler Activities for Summertime
In the summer, I prefer activities that get us outside. This makes it easier to avoid screen time. Also, it teaches my son to enjoy the natural world. It definitely makes me see things through new eyes each time we are together.
1. Painting Rocks
This activity can actually fill two time slots. First, you can look for rocks that your toddler would like to paint. Bring a bucket, box or bag. Let them choose the rocks and carry them back.
Often, I make this part of a hike.
Then, I set up the table. My toddler enjoys painting with a brush and dipping the rocks into the paint. So, I use several paper plates with a few squeezes of color on each. It’s a great way to use up old craft paint from other projects.
2. Dig for Treasure
We actually set this up as an activity for my son’s birthday part. It was a hit! Essentially, we filled a small plastic swimming pool with play sand. Then, we hid coins, decorative rocks, and faux gemstones inside.
The kids loved sifting the sand and finding treasures. My son had such a fun time that I also do this in his own little sandbox. It’s easy to place a few objects under the sand for him to find.
3. Pond Scavenger Hunt
We actually joined Melissa to test out the scavenger hunt featured in this video. Parts of it are a little advanced for toddlers. However, my son enjoyed finding the creatures that live in the pond. This activity teaches observational skills and appreciation of nature.
4. Popsicle Stick Puppets
We’ve made these several times between the ages of 1 and 3. When he was younger, my son enjoyed learning to cut with scissors, color the pictures, and use glue. Now that he’s a little older, he engages in imaginative play. He’s even starting to put on little puppet shows.
Personally, I like to use old coloring pages to make these puppets. It’s an easy way to get a second use out of the paper.
5. Shape Hunt
Since my son is learning shapes, he’s started noticing them more. Most parks and playground have a lot of shapes hidden in their structures. I bring a notepad and draw a list of common shapes. Then, I encourage him to find each shape. He gets excited about finding each one.
6. Car Wash
This can be simple or elaborate (see cones above). Sometimes, I find my son gets bored with the usual kiddle pool and hose play. So, I direct him to start a car wash with his toy vehicles. He loves setting them up in a line, scrubbing them, and hosing them down.
As a bonus, you can use this to clean muddy outdoor toys.
7. Golf Ball Scoop
Another way I guide kiddie pool play is with a golf ball scoop. I bought a pack of practice golf balls and placed them in the water. They float but, require some motor skills to catch.
My son uses his net to scoop them out of the water. Now that he’s older, I encourage him to count the balls. If your child can identify numbers or letters, you can also consider writing on them. Then, you can challenge them to scoop them in the correct order.
8. Mosaic Mask
I actually got this idea from a charming Peppa Pig episode. You can cut a paper plate to make the base. Then, encourage your child to cut paper and glue it on the surface. Once they’re done, you simply need to glue a popsicle stick as the handle. Pretty easy.
When my son was younger, he needed more assistance with cutting and gluing. At 3 years old, he can work more independently.
Things to Do With Your Toddler
If you’re trying to limit screen time, or just create quality memories, plan to include a few of these activities in your summer schedule. Personally, I like toddler activities that have a short setup and easy cleanup. This helps me enjoy freeform play instead of worrying about my to-do list.
If you found this post useful, please check out my Pinterest profile. I save toddler activities, creative projects, and inspiration for my daily life.
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