If you’re looking for fun things to do to entertain and educate your toddler then look no further than you very own back garden. There’s a whole host of garden activities which are suitable for young children and can help them to learn, develop and grow.
What I love about getting out in the garden is the ability to share the experience of new tastes, smells and textures. The majority of garden activities are free, and require little to no pre-purchasing of items or planning. It’s simply all on impulse.
I’ve put together our 8 favourite outdoor garden activities for toddlers but I’d love to know if we’ve missed off your favourite – let me know down in the comments below.
1. Make a butterfly garden
Few things are capable of uniting both parents and toddlers in joy, but butterflies definitely fall into this category. For the best chance of attracting butterflies to your garden, plant butterfly-friendly flora, such as the Buddleia and Red Valerian.
With your toddler, place small bowls or plates containing sponges soaked in sugared water around the base of the plants to provide a tasty treat that will keep the fluttering creatures coming back to your garden for more, giving you and your toddler hours of visual pleasure.
2. Rock painting
To the young mind, everything has the potential for play. Take rocks for example; for the most part, they are mundane lumps of grey, the sole purpose of which appears to be to breaking lawnmowers.
However, to the inquisitive mind, a rock is their favourite cartoon character, a message for a loved one to find on future visits, or simply a friendly-faced creature waiting to be loved.
Make sure you use acrylic paint, otherwise after the first downpour of rain the rocks will be back to their old dull colouring! With that, all that’s required is the imagination of a curious child.
3. Make a ‘stepping-item’ path
One of the best (and arguably, worst) things about gardens is their ability to fill up with random objects, such as pebbles, ornaments, and odd bits of wood. These items need not be detritus!
You and your toddler can have hours of fun rearranging garden miscellanea into fun, wacky, and even impossible routes around the garden. Just place the items out in a track for them to follow, or why not have them place them down themselves.
The exhilaration of leaping around the garden while overcoming puzzles makes for a great game. Just make sure the items are sturdy and aren’t going to tip.
4. Make an area their own
Combine enjoyment with responsibility by creating a small area for your toddler to fill with colourful plants. Dig out a square of the garden, fill it with compost, and build a tiny fence around the edges. If you are able, take your toddler to a local garden centre and pick out the most interesting flowers that grab their attention.
If you aren’t able to get to a garden centre, then internet shopping is your friend. Let your toddler plant all of the flowers and provide help with tools as needed. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to let them get things wrong; it’s their area after all, for them to both enjoy and learn in.
5. Make Egg Heads
Make a whole host of friends out of the humble eggshell. Slice the top of your eggs off as cleanly as possible and have your toddler decorate the outside of the remaining eggshell with the wackiest faces they can think of; feel free to stick on glitter, googly-eyes, or anything else you can find that will stay on with a dab of glue.
Once dry, have your toddler fill the shells with potting soil, sprinkle garden cress seeds onto the surface, and top it all off with a thin layer of potting soil. Place the eggshells somewhere with plenty of sunlight, keep them watered, and watch them grow within days!
Once you’ve finished playing, you can even remove the remaining shell and plant the contents in your garden.
6. Make a building block mini flower bed
Children’s building blocks are not just for unwittingly standing on. Take as many as you can carry outside and have a fun game building whatever takes your toddler’s fancy.
Instead of packing them away at the end, build them up into four walls, have your toddler fill the hollow with compost or soil, and place several bricks upside-down in the newly created flower bed. Plant as many colourful flowers as you can into the upside-down blocks, and have your toddler arrange them into whatever shape takes their fancy.
The best thing is, you and your toddler can re-arrange the shapes whenever you like, to make sure the area is never dull.
7. Have a garden dinner play party
A simple yet timeless game involving every kitchen play item you own. Have your toddler rustle up some tasty grub out of mud, stones, toy food, or whatever delights they can find in the garden or toy box.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of ‘filling’ your stomach with the messiest contents of a flower bed, other than the enjoyment of your toddler when seeing you ‘eating’ their wares. The best thing about a dinner play party is that you can combine it with an actual dinner party; fun, food and sun all in one go.
8. Water gun shooting alley
Perfect for those long hot summer days when the heat seems inescapable. Fill up a water gun, or more than one if you want a bit of competition, and place empty plant pots around the garden.
Either take it in turns to hit each pot, or spend the whole time running around the garden soaking everything in sight. When everyone is tired out, use the water guns to water the flowers and plants.