Parenting a toddler is an adventure on its own. From feeding and bathing to keeping them engaged, it can be a rollercoaster! We want to add to the fun. so in this article, we’ve outlined our top 20 enjoyable and easy outdoor games for toddlers.
Perfect for just about any event, from a birthday party to everyday play, these activities will help your children get some fresh air, develop physical and social skills. Of course, the most important part is that the little ones will absolutely love them!
Toddler-Time with an Adventure Book
A simple way to get your kids loving books is to sprinkle some adventure on top. There’s no better way to do this than with Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. This treasure-trove has more than 50 interactive scratch-off adventures that promise an epic time, every time. With sections like “Discover,” “Create,” “Get Silly,” and “Explore,” you and your kids of all ages can enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities built for the entire family. There’s something exciting on every page!
1. Grape on a Spoon
This hilarious game is one of our favorite backyard games, but it can be played just about anywhere. All you need to play are grapes and some lightweight plastic, bamboo, or wooden spoons.
Place a spoon in the child’s mouth and place a grape on the spoon. The objective of the game is to walk from one side of your backyard to the other without dropping the grape. If the kiddos find holding spoons in their mouths too difficult, they can simply hold them in their hands.
This game helps improve their strength, balance, and motor skills. To increase the difficulty, you could set up a small obstacle course for players to walk through. To engage the kids in some friendly competition, challenge the children to a relay race.
2. Hula Hooping
If you’re looking for a retro way to spend your weekend with your toddler, look no further than hula hooping. This is one of those timeless activities for kids to bond and burn some calories while you have an opportunity to take cute home videos!
Your little ones will love shaking their hips and wiggling as they try to balance the hoop. You’ll also be able to show them how it’s done and get a workout without leaving your backyard. Dig into your garage and find your old hula hoop to spend some quality family time this summer!
3. Bubble Games
What makes the best outdoor games even better? Bubbles! It’s easy to mix the soap bubble liquid—you just need soap and water. Mix four parts of water with one part liquid dish soap, body wash, or shampoo. Mix and match until you find the perfect combination that works for you.
To make the bubbles stronger and more colorful, add a few drops of liquid food coloring, glitter, or even some sugar to make the bubbles thicker. For extra special bubbles, make a wand with some wire or purchase a wand. They often sell them at dollar stores!
When you’re all set, blow some bubbles. Show the kids how to make huge bubbles, combine smaller and larger sizes, or even blow bubbles in bubbles. Your kids will love running around the backyard to pop them!
4. Tug of War
Tug of war is a fun outdoor game that your kids will love. If your toddler doesn’t have siblings, invite the neighbors for some group games! Just be sure the sides are even. Split the kids into two groups, keeping in mind the age of the children. If you want to play this with the entire family, make sure you remind the older kids to take it easy with the toddlers and younger children. The gentler, the better.
Have each side take hold of a rope. (Even a long jump rope can be used.) On the word “go,” they must pull on the rope as hard as they can until one team is completely pulled to the other side.
Another way to play is to fasten a bean bag to the middle of the rope and use something, like a cone or a frisbee, to mark the middle of the ground between the teams. Then, using two different colors for easy visibility, mark the rope at an equal distance on each side from the center. Rather than have a team dragged all the way to the other side, a winner can be declared when the other team’s mark crosses the center or the playing field.
Over time, this game can improve kids’ strength and confidence, and it can also help them learn how to deal with wins and losses.
5. Rope Pulling
If tug-of-war proves to be too extreme of a game for your toddlers, we recommend rope pulling. This is a simple game that will keep your children occupied all evening. Take some rope or string, and tie one end of it to your child’s favorite toy. This can be just about anything, but it must have wheels.
Give the other end of the rope to your child and ask them to pull away. This game is best played with groups of children. You can ask the kids to race to the finish line to find out who the fastest rope puller is. This will develop their gross and fine motor skills. They’ll also love taking part in healthy competitions!
6. Rock Painting
Rock painting is a great way to keep your child engaged while outdoors. This will help your child connect with nature and embrace their love for colors. To get started, go rock hunting with your toddler and find interesting and peculiar stones and pebbles. This is a great hiking activity in itself.
When you’re back home, use some acrylic colors and paint the rocks together. If your child cannot hold a brush properly just yet, she can finger-paint the rock. Otherwise, sit with your children and paint the rocks in bright colors. Once you’re done, you can use these adorable creations as paperweights, or gift them to the grandparents!
7. Red Light, Green Light
Red Light, Green Light is an easy game for young children to learn and a perfect activity to help them develop fine motor skills. As long as kids are steady on their feet, they can play! Everyone lines up at a designated starting line with a finish line in sight. You can use anything—even sticks or pool noodles—to mark the beginning and endpoints.
A caller stands either mid-field or at the finish line with their back to the kids. When the caller yells “green light,” kids can start moving toward the goal. Then, when the person calls “red light” and turns around, everyone must come to a complete stop. If the caller sees any movement, they can call players out. Winners are the players who successfully make it to the finish line!
Hopscotch is one of our favorite picks for outdoor games for toddlers. Use some sidewalk chalk to draw out the grids on the pavement, and show your kids how to play this evergreen game. Number each grid chronologically. To begin with, you can ask your child to hop to the number that you call out. This way, you’ll teach your kids some numbers too.
Hopscotch is a fantastic way to improve your child’s gross motor skills. It improves their sense of balance and motion. If your child has not played the game before, we recommend starting indoors so that they don’t get hurt if they fall. Then, you can move the game outdoors and start hopping your way to some great memories.
9. Flower Painting
Flower painting is one of the most calming outdoor games for toddlers and it’s easy to teach and learn.
During your next walk, pick some wildflowers and leaves from the garden. Then, pour some paint on a tray and dilute it with water. Press the flowers onto the tray of paint and let them absorb all the colors. Stamp the flowers on a piece of paper to transfer the color. Your child can also finger-paint some leaves and stems to add an even cuter touch.
When you’re done, write some thoughtful messages on the cards and gift them to your family. They will love the effort your child has put into it.
If you’d like to dry some of the flowers to have as keepsakes, press them between two sheets of parchment paper and place the sheets under heavy books. Leave the pressed flowers untouched for at least a week. After enough time has passed, you should have some pretty floral mementos of your nature walk!
10. Hide and Seek
You can play hide-and-seek just about anywhere outdoors, be it in a garden, a park, or in your backyard. That’s why this is a classic outdoor game.
Ask your child to hide somewhere while you count to ten. Then, make an exaggerated attempt of looking for them to get some laughs. Once you finally find them, you can switch roles and hide while the toddler finds you.
If you’re playing the game in a public space (like a park), we do not recommend leaving your child unsupervised. Make sure that the child is accompanied by an older sibling or an adult.
11. Simple Water Games
Games played with a simple hose and sprayer or sprinkler are a great way to introduce children to water. All you’ll need for this is a water hose and, optionally, a good old-fashioned sprinkler. Get your kids geared up in swimwear and spray the water from the hose all over them as they run around in your backyard.
If the toddlers are okay with balloons bursting, level up their hose playtime with water balloons. Even wee children get a kick out of throwing water-filled balloons on the ground and seeing them explode. They don’t need actual water balloon “fights” to get them giggling.
These activities will get your toddlers used to playing in the water, allow them to associate it with a good time, and prep them for future water parks. It’s also an easy way to help children expend a lot of their energy. They will be exhausted after their game and ready for a long sleep. This means you’ll get some rest too!
12. Splash Pad or Slip and Slide
Once kids “graduate” from basic outdoor play with the hose and sprinkler, it’s time to introduce a DIY splash pad or slip and slide!
Splash pads are giant play areas with holes for spraying water, as well as room for waterproof toddler toys and playful kids. Commercial versions can cost hundreds of dollars on Amazon or at Walmart and can cost thousands from other vendors. Rest assured, you can create your own splash pad on a budget.
If you want something a bit cheaper and much simpler, start with a DIY slip and slide. You’ll need some tarp, a hose, and some bubble liquid. Lay the tarp flat open in your backyard where there’s a natural incline. then, place a running hose at the top of the tarp and let the water flow. Add some bubble bath liquid to the water to make the slide even more slippery. Then, slide away!
In case your backyard doesn’t have an incline, you can just push your toddler gently from one end of the tarp to the other. Using bubble bath liquid will make them slide across the tarp easily.
Gardening is a wonderful hobby that children can pick up from a very young age. Such outdoor games for toddlers make wonderful playdates too.
If you have a backyard garden, get your kids interested by spending a few minutes every day tending to your plants. Toddlers can help out by pointing to the weeds in your garden. Preschoolers can be taught to pick fruit, veggies, and flowers carefully.
If you don’t’ have a garden in your backyard, you can grow a few potted plants on your balcony or window-sill. Take a few spouting seeds and plant them in a pot of soil. Your child will enjoy watching the plants grow every day. In fact, they might want to grow a part of their own produce (like herbs and veggies!)
This activity has several benefits—it will show your kids where their produce comes from. It will also teach them to respect the earth and be more sustainable.
14. Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
An alphabet scavenger hunt is a fun way to teach your toddler their letters. This is why we love such outdoor games for toddlers. For this, write the letters from A to Z on a sheet of paper, or download some alphabet printables. Then, walk around your neighborhood with them and ask them to find an item that begins with each letter of the alphabet.
Once they find the item, you can help them write it down by teaching them how it is spelled. Not only will this improve their vocabulary, but they’ll have a great time discovering new things about the neighborhood.
15. Sandbox Excavations
If there’s one thing we know about little kids, it’s that they love playing in the sand. In case you don’t have a sandpit yet, making one is easy. Just dump some sand into a tray or an inflatable kiddie pool, and you’re good to go.
Hide some toys in the sand. For a clever twist, make some DIY fossils using this salt dough tutorial and bury them. Your mini archaeologists will love digging through the pit and discovering new things inside. We’ve never known a child who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt!
The best part of going to the beach (besides playing in the water) is building a sandcastle. Next time you go to the beach, take along a bucket and a shovel so your toddler can build some sandy creations.
If you don’t live near the beach, all you need to do is add some water to your sandpit. This makes the sand hold its shape. Your kid will love building structures and sculptures in the sand.
If they don’t get the hang of sandcastles, you can start by building a turtle. Just heap the sand into a dome, and use your fingers to trace the shape of the turtle’s shell. Easy!
17. Slow-walking Race
While making toddlers run outdoors seems like a scary idea, a slow-walking race is a great alternative.
The rules of the race are simple. Ask the participants (children and adults both) to assemble at the start line. When you say ‘Go,’ they must walk as slowly as they can to make their way to the finish line. This doesn’t mean they stand in one position—they must keep moving, but move as slowly as they can. Your child is certain to have a lot of giggles incoming!
18. Hot Potato
Hot potato is a great group game that toddlers can play with their friends. Ask all the children to sit in a circle. Play some music and ask the kids to pass a potato (or a ball) from one person to the other in the circle. When the music stops, the person that holds the ball must leave the circle. The game ends when there’s only one person left in the circle.
19. Musical Chairs
Musical chairs is a much-loved classic that is a great party game for toddlers. To play this, count the number of children at the party. Then, arrange chairs in a circle, and make sure that the number of chairs is the number of children minus one. Then, play some music and ask the children to walk around the chairs.
When the music stops, each child must find a chair to sit on. The kid that doesn’t find a chair must leave the game. For the next round, remove one chair before you continue the game. The game continues till there are only two players and one chair left. The last person that sits on the chair wins the game!
20. Animal Races
Another popular racing game, animal races can help children learn what animals look and sound like. You can play this game with the whole family or a group of kids can play on their own.
Before the race begins, assign an animal to each player. Then, ask the participants to assemble near the starting line.
When you say ‘Go,’ each player must make their way to the finish line by walking across the ground as their animal would. For example, the player who is a frog must hop his way across while making ribbit’ing noises. The child who is a bird must flap her wings and coo-coo as she flies her way to the finish line. You’ll have a mini-zoo in your backyard before you know it!
When playing outdoor games with toddlers:
- Never leave your child unsupervised while outdoors. Make sure they are accompanied by a trusted adult at all times.
- After your child is done playing, wash their hands and legs with soap and water for twenty seconds.
- If your toddler is playing with a group of children, instruct the older kids to be gentle and mindful of the younger ones.
- Keep a first-aid kit handy while heading outdoors.
- If your toddler is playing in the sun, use kid-friendly sunscreen to keep rashes at bay.
- Make sure your child stays hydrated. They might forget to drink water or use the washroom when they get too excited. Schedule regular bathroom breaks for the kids so that they don’t hold it in for too long.
- Don’t forget to have fun—if your toddler doesn’t get some games right, simplify them and focus on having a good time with the family.
For more outdoor activity ideas, check out these family-friendly outdoor activities designed for nice weather and summertime fun!
If adventures are your thing, there’s no better way to find it than with Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. This book has 50+ scratch-off adventures to choose from, that the entire family will enjoy. Our toddler-friendly activities will ensure that they are occupied and excited throughout each event.
We’ve got riddles, puzzles, and outdoor games for toddlers throughout the book, in addition to on-the-go adventures and mailed-in adventure cards. This way, you’ll be able to share the adventure with loved ones around the globe!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many activities and outdoor games for toddlers that will keep them entertained and help them develop important skills! For starters, try hopscotch, red light-green light, and animal races.
Many outdoor games for toddlers can be played for free or at a low cost. Make salt dough “fossils” to be buried and found, play hopscotch with sidewalk chalk, or have animal races across the yard.
Try flower or rock painting or teach your child about the art of gardening. Find details on these activities and more in this guide to outdoor games for toddlers.