UNC Health Talk

10 Springtime Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

032514_toddleractivity_biopicKaylee Schatz-Berg is a blogger in Raleigh. When Kaylee is not blogging, she is finding healthy recipes for her family and enjoying warm days when she can play with her toddler, Asher, outside. She is the force behind Her Heel Flops, a blog exploring travel,food, fashion, entertaining at home, and of course, mommyhood. Follow her on Twitter: @kayleeraleigh

Finding outdoor activities for toddlers in Raleigh can sometimes present a challenge. How can you keep curious little minds occupied in a safe environment while on a budget? As a mom here in the Triangle, I have found many answers to this question. Instead of leaving home, I created a list of affordable and fun things to do with young children right in your own backyard:

  1. Kaylee and her son Asher paint with elements they collected in the yard
    Kaylee and her son Asher paint with elements they collected in the yard

    Paint With Plants: Use finger paint and ‘paint’ with natural things you find. Instead of brushes, grass is fun to make whisker marks, and leaves make great stamps.

  2. Magazine Collages: Roll out a blanket in the shade and offer kids scissors, magazines, and you can even try creating a homemade paste of flour, water, and salt. Cutting and mixing is good for motor skill development. Try a collage based on colors, animals, or places. Whatever makes your child smile!
  3. Dry Pasta, Corn or Rice: As with any toddler activity-make sure these little pieces don’t find their way to kiddies’ mouths! Roll truck toys out in the yard and let your toddler start loading the ‘pasta freight.’
  4. Stickers!: Stickers are always fun and a great way to teach hand-eye coordination. Draw different shapes or subjects (circle, house, or car) on white paper and then ‘color’ or fill in with a stickers.
  5. Kaylee and Son hold a plantling.
    Kaylee and Son hold a plantling.

    Gardening: Your little one can put on some gloves and help with the potting soil. My son’s favorite garden activity is watering. We usually keep a chart of when we’ve watered or ‘fed’ each plant.

  6. Tower Time: Make castles and towers by stacking plastic cups and bowls. (This would be a great pre-water table activity!)
  7. Water Table: Gather sponges and plastic buckets, bowls, and cups. Use a garden hose to fill up the buckets, or simply fill everything up indoors first. Make sure kids are wearing clothes or smocks that you don’t mind getting dirty. There are organic food coloring recipes that use common household spices and vegetables (like carrots). Although they are non-toxic, these recipes can’t promise they won’t stain clothes. Add colors to each bowl and mix and match. This is a great way to reinforce colors with your little ones.
  8. Balloon Badminton: Just because there is a helium shortage doesn’t mean your kids need to miss out on balloons! Fill up a balloon with air and tap it back and forth with your toddler to try and keep it from touching the ground.
  9. Little girl on a scavenge-hunt
    Scavenge hunts in the yard are fun! Leave clues for your child for an extra challenge and fun!

    Scavenger Hunt: Hide a new toy in the yard and leave clues for your toddler to find it. To get even more activity out of this one-draw the clues earlier and have your little one color them in. Draw a picture of the mailbox, hide a drawing of a tree there, hide a drawing of a swing, and so on and until your child finds the hidden prize.

  10. Glitter Jar: Have old jars from honey or pasta sauce? Line them with glue (or the homemade paste recipe above) and fill them with sequins, glitter, beads, and have your toddler shake it up. Dump the excess back into your craft collection and now your toddler has a new piece of art!

Several of these toddler activities above work well indoors too. Yes, spring gives us warm days, but it also brings us spring showers. Pick and choose as the weather suits you. It’s much nicer to make a mess outside and not worry about getting glue or paint on furniture and glitter stuck in the carpet!