Toddler Activities: Indoor & Outdoor Games

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activities to improve toddler development

Playing with your toddler is never just a simple game. They can’t wait to learn something new and discover new possibilities. Whatever the child does, it is one more opportunity to learn something extraordinary and exciting. Every activity leads to a new ability; every move improves their capabilities. Encourage your kid to learn through a game because they like learning on that way.

Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

1 – Be the part of nature

Be the part of nature

The little Zoologist – Be enthusiastic and spend time outside (if you can go to the forest) and explore new ‘undiscovered’ creatures of Mother Earth. Look for frogs, woodlice, snails, bugs, earthworms, and other little animals under stones. Find colorful caterpillars and greenflies on leaves. Spend time watching birds in the nearby trees or ants on the ground. Finish the exciting day with beautiful butterflies and ladybirds. Take advantage of a day in nature and teach your child how to be kind to the animals, especially fragile ones.

Sow seeds – Spring is the right time for this activity. Ask your toddler to help you with the gardening work. Take hand gloves, shovels, and water sprinkler, and buy some seeds. Make holes in the backyard using a shovel and let your kid put the seeds in it. After that, cover the holes with soil. You can plant a lot of different seeds, and spend weeks watering them and enjoy together watching plants grow. Plus, you will help your toddler develop some motor and sensory skills.

2 – Funny activities for toddlers

Fly a Kite – Given that the true kites are too heavy for a toddler, make one using a big helium balloon. Tie a balloon to the kid’s wrist and give her hours of excellent fun. Your child will tirelessly run for a kite and spend an unforgettable day. You can make all play more fun and interesting, especially for older toddlers. Just buy her felt pen and let her decorate the balloon. Plus, she can make crepe paper tail for the ‘kite’ and to get a ‘real’ one.

kids fly the kites

Balloon Target – Maybe this simple game looks like your complete nightmare, but it’s really not a case. It is not as messy as it sounds. Buy your kid sidewalk chalk and a lot of water balloons. Your part of the job is to draw targets with the chalk straight onto the sidewalk and to fill up all the balloons with water. After that, encourage your kid to hit the targets with the balloons. For older toddlers, you can add educational part and write numbers on the sidewalk. Kid’s assignment is to hit the region with a number you ask.

Balancing on a ‘skateboard’ – Try to draw a skateboard on the ground and pretend that it’s the real one. Kid needs to stay on a ‘skateboard’ and to show her sense of balance. It is apparently a challenging game. Ask her to stand on a ‘skateboard’ in different poses, stand on one leg as long as possible, sit on a ‘skateboard’ and use feet to move back and forward, and so on.

Use cans to make toy phones – Everything you need is two washed cans and a piece of strong, 20-30 meters long string or thread. Make a hole in the can’s bottom using a nail and a hammer. Pull the string (thread) through the hole and tie a knot. It should be big enough so that the thread can’t be pulled out. Make the same thing with the other can. Give to your child one ‘can phone’, and another is for you. Stretch the string taking steps back. Use cans as real phones and talk with your little one.

3 – Sports activities for toddlers

Walking the tightrope – It is an excellent activity for toddlers in order to improve their balance, coordination, and tuning motor skills. You just need a long thick piece of string or a jump rope. Put it down and let your kid walk along it. Make the game more challenging and put the string between the grass and the flagstones or on the edge of the sandbox. Your child will learn to keep the balance, but she won’t be hurt if she falls. Include princess’ dress for a girl or Robin Hood’s costume for the boy and make this game nicer for older toddlers. Everything depends on your imagination.

[Related: Best Punching Bags for Kids]

Musical chairs – Simple and effective game for developing listening-movement coordination and motor skills. You need a bunch of kids and toddler chairs, but one chair lesser than the total number of kids. Organize this popular play in your backyard. You could go to the park too, but it can be impractical carrying chairs there. Play some cheerful music for children and let toddlers walk around the chairs. When the music stops, kids need to sit in the closest chair. The child who is left without a chair is eliminated in the first cycle. Remove one chair and continue the game. The winner is the kid who sits on the last remaining chair.

Hide and seek in the garden – This is the perfect game for a park or a really big backyard. Help your kid develop social and basic cognitive skills during the game which will be interesting for both of you. Include your partner and other kids in the game. Be the seeker and they can be a team that hides. Encourage your kid to find the best hiding spots (bushes, behind trees or a house) while counting. Ask her to call you but pretend that you can’t figure out where she is. Enjoyable indeed!

Riding a tricycle – You know that kids adore tricycles. Maybe you believe that these three-wheeled toys are foolish and unnecessary but, while your toddler has fun, she strengthens her leg muscles and learns to solve problems and make some decisions. Buy your kid a tricycle but don’t forget a bicycling helmet. It will protect your kid’s head and should be appropriate to her age. Use cardboard pieces and chalk markings to make a mini drive-path. Let the kid ride the tricycle from the start to finish line.

4 – Enjoy the snow

Feed the birds – Use some small bowls and fill them with seeds, popcorn (without salt), cranberries, and various cereals. It is the great way to feed the little birds during the cold winter and to teach your child to be a responsible human being.

Create an angel – Only lye back on the snow and wave with your arms and legs until you make angels. It will be fun and can help your child with coordination. This game is an excellent example how one simple fun thing can be useful and didactic.

Make a snowman – Every single child adores making a snowman. If there is enough snow in your yard, go out and make a big one. Put a carrot as a nose and paprika as snowman’s mouth. Enjoy your spare time together laughing as much as possible.

Snowball fight – It is an ancient physical game which is modern at any time. Make a lot of snowballs and start the ‘fight’. Let your child hit you. In the same time, you should pretend that she is too fast for you and you can’t hit her back. Fun, fun, fun! Just enjoy.

Snow Graffiti – Give your kid a spray bottle full of tinted water. You can use food coloring for it. Let her make some patterns and decorate the snow in your backyard.

Make snow-molds – Use pans and plastic molds for cakes from the kitchen. Let your kid make diverse shapes or build a crystal castle depending on her age. Well, everyone can create a snow-cake, right?

5 – Make playing on the beach even funnier

Sand shapes – For this activity, you only need beach bucket and a plastic shovel. Well, you need beach too, but any sandbox can be useful. Sit with your child on the sand and start to make different shapes in the sand using the beach bucket as a matrix. Make animals or geometric figures. Teach your kid a difference between them. Ask her to name the shapes. This game is perfect for developing a visual interpretation, and your kid can learn the basic alphabet and various objects making them out of the sand.

Throw the rock – Find a lot of flat boulders. Make a competition hitting them to the water. Throw them away as far as possible or try to throw them on the way to bounce on the water. Count the number of circles on the water that the stone makes when you insert it into the water. Enjoy, but pay attention that there are no people around. You don’t want to hurt someone.

Make a sand castle 

Make a sand castle – Use your hands and make the best sand castle ever! You can also lay down on the sand and let your toddler build a castle on your stomach. There will be a lot of laughing and enjoyment.

Collect shells – Spend a day collecting shells. Use them to make different shapes on the beach. You can also bring the most beautiful ones home and glue them to the wooden box or decorate the image frame. Make your toddler proud that she can make something by her own hands.

[Related: Best Kayaks for Kids]

Indoor Activities for Toddlers

1 – Build your child’s creativity

Make a family Puzzle – Pick out some nice family photograph, cut it into a few pieces, and create a homemade Puzzle. The number of pieces depends on the child’s age. Ask your toddler to put all the pieces together. Make a copy of the photo and let her look at it while stacking parts of the ‘Puzzle’. It can be a guide for her if she is too young.

Make a birthday party for a Teddy bear – Set child’s stuffed animals on a couch or the blanket on the floor. Organize a real birthday party for a favorite Teddy bear with ‘cakes’, ‘juice’, and birthday hats. Let your kid use her imagination and create a story about the party. Encourage her to organize activities for the bear and its guests. Have fun!

Make а band – Let your child be a little drummer. If you play some instrument, you can help her to make a band. If not, use a table as a piano and give her some old pot to hit it with her hands or using wooden sticks or spoons. Avoid this activity if you live in an apartment. Your neighbors will appreciate it.

egg painting

Egg painting – During Easter time, you can boil eggs and give your kid an opportunity to paint them. If your toddler is too young, buy some wooden eggs and prevent having all the eggs broken. Encourage a kid to discover her creative side. Consider making a mosaic of colored paper in the egg’s surface too. Do you know that crafts toddler activities strengthen children’s organizational and problem-solving skills?

2 – Build your child’s senses

A little painter – You need inexpensive paintbrushes and tempera, plus a small bowl of water. Give them to your kid and let her paint. It can be both an indoor and outdoor activity. In the house, you need a paper or some wooden surface. Outdoors, your kid can paint the fence, sidewalk, or outdoor toys. Only make sure that you supervise your kid closely.

Make a story – Before you start to read a new book, you and your kid can look at illustrations in it first. Try to encourage a kid to assume what the book is about. After that, compare her ideas with the real story. It’s a pretty important lesson for your toddler. She will build her creativity, develop vocabulary, and use logic to put actions in the right order.

Learn body parts – Cut photos of different parts of a face and a body. Glue them to cardboard and make cards. Use them one by one and show to your kid. She needs to guess which that part of the face or the body is. Ask her to compare the photo with her own body parts too. In average, the child by age three can name about ten body parts.

Make a herbarium – After you come home from a forest with a bunch of different leaves, organize a fun activity for your little one. Discuss leaf’s colors, sizes, and shapes. Help your kid discover differences and similarities between various leaves. Make a herbarium and compare autumn leaves with spring ones. This game will help your kid to compare objects.

3 – Build your child’s language skills

Build your child's language skills

Pick a favorite thing – Ask your toddler to show you her favorite book, stuffed animal, pillow, toy, food, chair, and so on. Make a photo of each item, glue each of them to a piece of cardboard and make a note with child’s name on every page. Make a book of these cards and ‘read’ it together connecting her name with her favorite items. It will help her link the sound of her name and the name of the object with their look.

Sing as much as possible – It is the perfect and easy way for your kid to learn new words. Your kid can sing with you, learn your favorite songs, or share her own best-loved songs with her toys. Use songs to continue your long-lasting family traditions and to build new memories with your kid at the same time.

Name the furniture in the room – Use the time you sit down together and relax, to teach your kid names of each piece of furniture in the room. When you prepare a meal, point to the part of the kitchen furniture and ask your toddler to name it. You can do the same in the bathroom when you bath a child. Every moment is the right time for learning!

4 – Let’s have fun!

Your kid as a master chef – Let your toddler help you in the kitchen and feel like a significant and useful member of the family. Every toddler can put fruit into a bowl, form biscuits, help you taste the dressing, and add ingredients to the dough. Imagine how important your child will feel if you give her simple tasking such as bringing bread to the table, for example.

A little degustator – Try to give your kid a chance to taste different new food. Chop cheese, paprika, pickle, biscuit, apple, olives, and so on into small bites. Offer them one by one to your toddler and ask her what she has already eaten. The task is to recognize as much taste as possible. Well, this is an important game which increases your child’s cognitive development and inspires a kid to try new foods. It is also a good way of feeding picky kids.

Find the family members in the photo – Take a bunch of family photos and teach your child who is who in the family. Draw the family tree and let your kid put every photo in the right place including her own photo and photos of her parents, siblings, and grandparents. Can you imagine how valuable this simple fun game is for your kid?

Greeting cards for different occasions – Teach your toddler to make greeting cards for significant people in her life. Take advantage of the holidays and make cards with your kid using colorful paper, photos from old newspapers, stickers, and glitter. If your kid knows letters, let her write a few words on the card. If the kid is very small, a few hearts and a simple drawing will be OK. Let her stamp the envelope and go together to the post office or find a nearby mailbox. Now, you can impatiently wait for an answer card.

kids wash the cars

Wash the cars – All children adore imitating adults. Imagine how much they like imitating their beloved father! Collect all kid’s cars, spaceships, trucks, and other vehicles, and let her wash them on the way her father washes his car. The time when the child is bathing is perfect for this activity. Your toddler will keep her toys clean while spending a fun and enjoyable time.

Organize indoor camping – Help your child build a tent in the living room. Use chairs, sheets, and blankets for that purpose. Make a basket full of snacks, juice, and books. After ‘camping’, pick up all the waste including paper, cans, and bottles and explain your kid importance of recycling and preservation of the environment.

Movie time!

Sometimes, especially during boring rainy days, you don’t need to learn anything. Just relax, read a book or watch Tom and Jerry cartoons. Or, you can spend a great time watching old Hollywood movies. Find your old DVDs and start your relaxing and casual day.

I am giving here my best choices for you. Try to remember the classics which you watched with our parents and grandparents. Maybe some of these old movies your parents loved when they were kids.

‘Lassie Come Home’ with Elizabeth Taylor

‘The Wizard of Oz’ with Judy Garland

‘Mary Poppins’ with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke

‘The Lion King’ – cartoon

‘The Sound of Music’ with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

‘Beauty and the Beast’ – cartoon

‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ with Robin Williams

‘The Parent Trap’ with Lindsay Lohan

‘101 Dalmatians’ – cartoon

‘A Little Princess’ with Eleanor Bron

‘Oliver Twist’ with Robert Newton

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ with Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O’Hara

‘Singin’ In the Rain’ with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

‘The Thief of Bagdad’ with Conrad Veidt and Sabu

‘Bambi’ – cartoon

‘Beethoven’ – about a cutie St. Bernard dog

‘Anne of Green Gables’ with Megan Follows

‘The Princess Bride’ with Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin

‘Matilda’ with Mara Wilson and Danny DeVito

‘The Jungle Book’ – cartoon

‘It’s a wonderful life’ with James Stewart

‘Aladdin’ – cartoon

You should remember that, for your child, learning through the game is fun. As long as children learn through games, they learn quickly. Most of the problems begin at the moment when learning becomes an obligation. Help your child use playing to learn something new as long as possible.

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