One of the most vital aspects of toddler development come through the outdoor play time they have and the equipment parents provide for them. Whether it is a purchase for the backyard or a regular trip to the park a toddler will benefit from the opportunity to get outdoors and have fun.

The toys and equipment are often beneficial for major muscle groups with running and climbing but there is also the chance for them to get some sensory play with the messier things like water, sand, and dirt. Outdoors is also the perfect place for the messier crafts like gluing and painting if the weather is right.

Great Things Kids Can Play With Outside

Outdoor play needn’t be just about expensive play equipment. There are many cheap and even free ways to get the most out of your toddlers outdoor time.

  • Paddling pools – great on the ground for paddling or even on a table for hand play. Add some cups and buckets for pouring and floating fun.
  • Bubbles – All kids love bubble. You can have fun blowing them or invest in a bubble machine. These help to give toddlers spatial awareness as they try and catch the bubbles.
  • Ride On Toys – outdoors kids can have a lot of fun on ride on toys. They might be learning to pedal, scooter, or just pushing with their legs.
  • Balls, skipping ropes, bowling – these types of games help with hand-eye coordination as well as playing with others included in a game.
  • Natural Props – give children the chance to play with leaves, logs, rocks, sticks and other things in the natural environment. It is a great way to learn about the world around them.
  • Being loud – not only do kids get a chance to run and jump outside they get a chance to shout and make a higher level of noise than indoors.

Balance Boisterous Outdoor Play With Some Quiet Time

Playing outdoors will certainly wear your child out and make them tired. This is a good thing in many ways but do be aware that the smaller the child the faster they will get tired and it can take very little play at first.

Also for older preschoolers too much excited play can over-stimulate and cause problems with behavior. So rather than completely free play time, try to structure in some rest and quieter times as well. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Food – a picnic is a lovely way to encourage children to sit and relax while eating and discussing their day.
  • Nature walk – a slow walk to study trees and things around them is a nice way to wind down from active play. It’s also an opportunity to talk with kids about how wonderful nature is around them.
  • Read a story – a book outside is a wonderful way to settle things down a little. Sitting quietly together or in a group situation with a good book to read out loud will be something they will remember. Find a shady spot if the sun is hot.

Important things to remember

Sun Safe

Be sure to slip, slop, slap with shirts, sunscreen, and hats and find ample shade areas. The sun can be fiercest between the hours of 10am and 4pm so in summer think about staying indoors during these times.


Smaller children can dehydrate quickly. Although they may have some other drinks like juice or milk, be sure to give them water. Juices and cordials have a high sugar content and can also dehydrate so use those occasionally and in conjunction with plain water.

Water Safe

If you have any water present or are near water, watch the kids like a hawk. It takes very little water to put them in danger so be vigilant.

Adult Supervision

This point cannot be stressed enough. Supervision is a key factor to a great time being had outside. Things can easily develop into a dangerous situation or children can wander off if you are watching them close enough to be able to grab them when needed. Leaving toddlers with older kids is not adequate supervision. Teenagers may be fine on a one on one situation.

Play With Them

See outdoor play as an opportunity to join in the play with children. Get up and chase, rune and laugh along with them for a while. This will not only give them a wonderful time but will keep you active as well.

Outdoor toys and play equipment will foster a lot of physical and mental development in toddlers. It is a part of the day that is always enjoyable for them. Even if the weather is a little cool or there is a little rain this is great time to get them into the wet weather gear and go find some puddles to jump into.

9 Easy Ways to Set Up Outdoor Play Time For Toddlers