Summer is here and lots of long lazy days yawn ahead in front of us. On the one hand it’s so great to be free to relax without the stress of the everyday routine.
But on the other hand, without the structure of nursery and toddler groups, it can also make us wonder how on earth we are going to fill the days to keep young kids entertained.
We’ve put together 40 fabulous summer activities for toddlers that are low cost and low prep, so that the days fly by and you can have fun together.
Hula hoop obstacle course
Place hula hoops in a row along the garden and challenge your toddler to jump from one hoop to the next.
If they are getting too good at it then challenge them by asking them to hop or jump backwards.
Little fence painters
If you want less mess but just as much fun, simply give your toddler a bucket of water and a large brush or roller and let them ‘paint’ the garden fence.
Dig up some soil and pop it in a washing up bowl. Then give your toddler a selection of old pots, pans, bowls, plates, cups, spoons and jugs of water and let them loose making some marvelous mud pies.
You could even add give them some paper bun case liners and a selection of leaves, flowers, pebbles, stones and sticks as toppings for their muddy creations.
Fill a washing up bowl with warm water, add bubbles and then get dolls out for a garden bathtime. Give them a kitchen brush to help them scrub them down.
Your toddler will also enjoy washing toys cars, plastic animals…or anything at all!
Water hose paintings
Let the kids loose with the hose and show them how to make shapes and patterns on a fence or wall.
Place flowers in an ice cube tray and fill it with water. Put in the freezer until they make little frozen flower cubes. Your little one can then play around with them and slide them around until they melt and the flower reemerges.
For larger ‘excavations’, you can pop small toys in an ice cube tray or in a muffin tray. Fill the inserts with water and then freeze.
When they’re ready pop the ice cubes or frozen toys onto a tray. Give your child spoons and jugs or warm water to let them dig and melt away the ice to find their treasures.
Make tennis rackets by sticking a lolly stick securely onto the back of a paper plate.
Use several strips of sellotape to make sure it’s attached.
Then blow up a balloon and enjoy a game of balloon tennis with your little ones.
Circle stamping with paper tubes
This is such an easy but fun outdoor printing activity.
Lay out a large sheeting of painting paper.
Pour paint onto paper plates and give your toddler a toilet roll tube.
Let them dip their tubes into the paint and press it down on the paper to print lots and lots of circles.
Instant ice paints
This one is so much fun to do on a sunny day.
Mix paint with water, add a lolly stick and freeze in an ice cube tray to make these incredible ice paints.
They melt as your toddler paints with them and they can make play around with patterns and blend the colours.
Leaf and petal nature kebabs
Give your child a kebab stick. Make sure the end is not too sharp (if it is you can sand it down a little or cut it to make it safer.).
Then set them the task of finding leaves and petals to poke on the sticks to make a nature kebab.
Give them pots, pans and some cooking spoons to make their very own DIY drumset. They can clang and bang about as long as they like.
Give them some jugs of water to let them pour some into each pan and then from one pan to the other.
They might hit the sides to see what sounds the pans make with and without water. Or they might want to just drop some pebbles and leaves in.
Whichever way they choose to explore them, pots and pans have been seriously underrated as toys!
Chalk pavement painting
Arm your toddler with some chalks. Big chunky ones are good but any chalks will do.
Then let them draw and decorate the driveway or pavement.
Toy car painting
Protect the grass with a shower curtain. On top of the protection lay out a large sheet of white paper.
Pour blobs of paint on the paper at random intervals and then let your toddler have fun driving toys cars, lorries and diggers through the paint.
As they drive off they’ll leave tyre tracks along the paper in different colours.
They can play around with them to make patterns.
Water pistol paintings
Fill water pistols with water and let your toddler spray them to make patterns on the fence or wall.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could even fill water pistols with watered down paint and let the kids spray it onto a large sheet of paper. They could make their very own Jackson Pollock style masterpiece!
Let your toddler peer under pebbles and plant pots, dig in the soil and look in hedgerows to see how many minibeasts they can find.
You could take photos of any bugs that they find and stick them in a scrapbook later.
Nature sticky bracelets
Pop some masking tape or thick duck tape round your toddler’s wrist, with the sticky side facing outwards.
On a walk in the park (or even just in the garden) ask them to find leaves, seeds and flowers to stick to their bracelets.
Soon they’ll become fabulous nature cuffs.
Pick some leaves and twigs and secure them to the end of sticks with an elastic band. Then set your toddler up painting outdoors with their nature’s paintbrushes.
Give your toddler a basket and pick lots of flowers and petals. Then fill a bowl or tray with water. Ask your toddler to pop their flowers or petals in, one at a time to see if they will sink or float.
You could then hand them a pipette to drop water on the floating flowers to see if they will sink with water on them.
They will have great fun playing with their flower ‘soup’ afterwards.
Watery ball pool
Make the paddling pool more fun by adding loads and loads of plastic balls.
Sponge water bombs
So easy to make. Just cut sponges into strips and tie them together in the middle with string in order to make fun water soakers, perfect for little hands.
Make an outdoor den
In the garden, place a sheet or blanket over chairs or over a clothes horse in order to make an outdoor den.
Pop cushions, books and toys inside to make it a cosy hideaway.
Give your toddler some black card and some sunscreen and let them make patterns with the sunscreen on the paper.
They could use their hands, fingers or even their toes. Once they’ve finished leave the paintings in the sun to dry and watch how the cream fades and leaves patterns.
Fly squat bubble wands
For some brilliant bubble fun buy some fly squatters and dip them in bubble mix.
Let your toddler wave them about the garden to make loads of bubbles.
If you’ve never used water beads before why not give them a go! They’re so much fun for little ones. Pour a large cup of water beads into a bowl and then add water.
Wait for the magic to happen…Before long you’ll notice the balls growing as they swell with water. You end up with a bowl of soft, slippery beads, that feel wonderful to scoop up and play with.
Pick your own berries
Take your toddler to a pick-your-own farm to gather a heap of juicy strawberries or raspberries.
Summer snacks taste all the better when you’ve picked them yourself! Your little one will probably have fun and also get to see where these fruits come from.
Toy treasure hunt
Toddlers love a treasure hunt.
Simply hide a number of plastic toys all over the garden and give your toddler a basket.
Set them off to find as many toys as they can.
Gloop sensory tray
Mix some cornflour with water to make gloop. Add one cup of water to two cups of cornflour.
Pop in some small plastic toys and let your toddler play about digging for toys in their gloopy sensory bin.
Shaving foam sensory tray
Squirt loads of shaving foam into a tray and pop in some toys.
Your toddler will have great fun squishing through this sensory bin, finding their toys.
Buy some cheap soaps and make them into boats. Take a cocktail stick and glue a triangle of card onto it. If the tip of the stick is sharp you may also want to add a ball of putty onto the end for safety.
Float the little soap boats in the paddling pool or a large dish or water.
Watering the flowers
Give your toddler a mini watering can or a hosepipe and they will happily spend ages watering all the flowers in the garden.
They’ll love doing it and it saves you a job too!
Ask your toddler to gather leaves, seeds, petals and grass. Then give them a pestle and mortar to mix up and grind their leaves and petals in.
Give them a jug of water a little jars so that they can make petal perfume or potions with them.
Twirly, swirly ribbon sticks
Head on a walk to find some sticks. Then cut lengths of ribbon and colourful string and tie them onto the ends of the sticks to make twirly wands.
Drawing with sticks
Find sticks and draw shapes and patterns in the ground.
You can do this on a walk on a muddy path or just flatten some soil in the garden to make your drawing board.
Rolly polly down a slope
Walk to find a gentle slope and have loads of fun rolly-pollying down it.
Leaf and bark rubbing
Grab sheets of paper and chunky crayons and show your toddler how to make bark rubbings by placing their paper on tree trunks and rubbing a crayon all over the surface.
You can make leaf rubbings too by popping the leaves on the path, covering them with paper and rubbing the crayon on them.
Have a teddy bear’s picnic
Go to town with your prettiest picnic rug, flowers in a jar, loads of scrummy treats and, of course, the guests of honour – your toddler’s teddy bears.
Seaside pirate treasures
Give your toddler a ‘treasure box’. This can be something as simple as an old tissue box or a nicer card box from some packaging.
Decorate it to make it look like a pirate’s treasure chest, with stickers and paints, and head to the seaside to see how many treasures they can find.
Shells, pebbles, feathers, sticks, crab shells….
Set an easel outdoors and let your little one paint lots of pictures in the sunshine.
Just moving the venue from indoors to out makes this activity a novelty and so much more fun.
Fill a paddling pool or large tub with water and add a selection of pouring jugs, ladles and funnels. Add some food colouring to make it extra fun.
And watch your toddler having hours of fun, pouring water through funnels and into and out of jugs.
Cardboard box creations
It really is amazing how much toddlers and young children can do with a simple cardboard box.
If it’s big enough for them to get in it could be a train, car or plane.
If it’s smaller you could cut out a flap to make it a garage for all their car toys.
Use scissors and a pen to make their cardboard boxes into whatever their imagination comes up with!
There are so many great summer activities for toddlers that you can enjoy right alongside them. Take your pick and have fun!