Search Pinterest and you will get a million ideas of things to do with toddlers outside. I personally plan on utilizing a lot of them!
But currently.. I have a 3 year old (rising 4 year old), a 2 year old and a 6 month old. I'm grateful that we have a fenced in, generally "safe" yard. The backdoor is right off the kitchen, bathroom and play room. So I have easy access to run in for quick things here or there. But still given my season of motherhood, I want/need fast, easy set up, easy break down activities in the yard or on the deck to promote outside time.
It's been hot out, which can create tired and lazy kids who want to go inside and play. And we play inside too but I never want heat to the the reason we don't enjoy the beautiful summer days outside. Sometimes- most times- you sweat, you wear sunglasses and you drink water.
A successful day in my book includes ending with rosy cheeks, dirt under the nails and exhausted kids.
In the mornings I fill up the baby pool, the water table and some extra activities to make it fun. After these ideas tire, I'll switch it up.
1.The baby pool- It truly is a baby pool. We make it interesting with putting the slide into it, using water guns and adding toys. Even our dog gets in on the action sometimes.
2.The sprinkler- Once everything is filled I put on the sprinkler head so that it is ready!
3.Water Pouring station- I saw this idea on Pinterest (link here) and loved it. SOOO easy. I grabbed random fun things from the kitchen of different shapes and sizes and put them on a tray. This activity occupies Liv (2 yrs) for a while!
4.Car wash- We have a dirt area in our yard that has become completely used for play. We let the kids (and dogs) do what they want. It's shaded which is a plus but also soft dirt and similar to a sandbox. I can bury things in there and get the toys and cars all dirty. Then next to it is a small container with soapy water, tooth brushes and a cut up sponge to help clean off the toys!
5.Snacks/water/wipes/sunscreen- All necessary for outside fuel! I just get this out there all at once. Hungry? Great, grab a snack, Thirsty? There's your water. Messy? Grab a wipe! It just helps to have it all out there. Including swim suits and towels. The set up ahead of time eliminated 10 different transitions and productions throughout the day. Even if we don't end up using something- worth the overhead!
6.Water table- We just got this from my MIL this year and the kids love it. We used it before it got really hot out, and we can use it into the fall as the weather cools off. And in the winter I plan to use it indoors and just put towels around it on the hard floor. I could continue use as a water table, or put other sensory things in there (i.e. water beads, oats, ripped up paper, shaving cream, and if we are lucky- snow!). **Water table shown in first picture with pool and swing.
Other things we've done to add to staying outside:
-Bringing easy to clean toys outside: megablocks, plastic train set, dinosaurs, play food, etc.)
-We are "lucky" that our ice maker is broken and makes huge chunks of ice (like 9x11 sheets with a football sized lump) and so occasionally dump it outside and let the kids use screw drivers/hammers to chip it. **I trust my kids to be safe with these tools and I supervise!
-Bring a box fan outside to create a breeze if there is none- especially in front of the toys.
-Set up some music and play tunes the kids enjoy!
-If moods are falling off I will turn to a nice cold Popsicle to refresh and reset.
Well since this took me all summer to write and post this, looks like these tips and tricks will not be as helpful until next year :-)