As parents, we’re well aware that our little ones need continuous mental stimulation and plenty of opportunities to play, developing their muscles, coordination, and cognitive skills. And any parent will agree, that playtime is a valuable opportunity to expel energy!
Playtime should also be varied to provide a range of stimuli, and this can range from indoor to outdoor playtime. Your backyard is a safe and familiar environment for toddlers to play in, giving them ample opportunities to play and experience the outdoors.
Your garden is also the perfect space for playtime when creches, play parks or playgrounds aren’t available for whatever reason, giving you the chance to still take full advantage of the day and your living space.
Here is some backyard fun for toddlers we can arrange as parents.
Toddlers aren’t too small to enjoy some of the same playground equipment as their older peers, though on a smaller scale of course. Toddler and baby swing sets are fun additions to your garden that can eventually be upgraded and gives your little ones the chance to enjoy swings early on. Swings are a great source of cognitive stimulation for both sight and sound, and gripping the rope and swinging their legs back and forth uses both fine and gross motor skills.
Playing in the dirt and in sandpits is great fun for the little ones! Give them their favourite tools and some plastic tools and watch them have the time of their lives digging, playing, and building sandcastles. Not only does it inspire the imagination, but giving them plenty of opportunities to use their senses and coordinate themselves.
Here’s a tip! If you have any PVC pipe you can cut it and put it in the dirt to make tunnels, perfect for little cars to use as makeshift dens for animal toys.
Kids love scavenger hunts, and by hiding things around your garden or drawing up a list of things they can easily find (think leaves, rocks, flowers), you can teach them to correlate images and words to objects. All while having plenty of fun! You can also hide treats, and incorporate other elements of learning into the game.
Painting is a fun and messy activity, and gives the little ones the chance to be creative! Finger painting is a great activity because it’s easy to paint with your fingers, and allows toddlers to feel the paint and coordinate better! By letting them paint outside you can also avoid making a mess of your home with paints that might be difficult to get out of furniture and fabric.
Like swing sets, toddlers can also enjoy playground equipment sized specifically for them. Toddler jungle gyms are lower to the ground for safety and provide opportunities to climb, balance, swing and slide. This is the sort of equipment they’d find in a creche, and it’s beneficial to have it in your backyard as well for when they can’t access the playgrounds.
Not everyone owns a pool, and that’s okay. A little plastic splash pool is perfect for backyard fun for toddlers on a warm day, letting them splash and throw water around to their heart’s content. Throw some toys into the water and encourage them to ‘fish’ for them, and turn on the sprinklers to let them run through them.
Take note, however, that even if the splash pool is shallow, toddlers and infants shouldn’t be left alone to play unsupervised. Stay with them during any kind of water activity.
Cooking with Mud
Who didn’t make mud pies as a kid? Give your little ones some plastic cooking utensils and head out into the garden to make delicious mud cakes with them. If eating mud is of concern to you (a little mud won’t hurt them, but if you’d rather have peace of mind that’s understandable), you can make your very own edible mud by crushing cookies into a granular powder. Cake and pudding mix also works, and when you combine it all with milk or water you can get a nice clumpy mud for the little ones you play with, without worrying about them eating it. Though perhaps don’t let them eat too much of it!
Drawing with chalk
We know the last thing a parent wants (or perhaps not, we don’t judge) is for their little ones to draw all over their walls. But if your backyard has a wall or patio, there’s no harm in letting them draw in your garden. Give them some chalk and encourage them to draw outside, encouraging their creativity and developing their fine motor skills. You can take pictures of their creations, and some soap and water are more than enough to clean it off should you want to.
These are just a few ideas for how you can keep the little ones entertained in your back garden. And be sure to join in with them for these play sessions, as they’re the perfect activities for bonding, nurturing, and keeping them safe. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for fun backyard playground activities for toddlers and little ones? Let us know in the comments!