9 Totally Fun Outside Activities For Toddlers That Need Very Little Preparation

It’s easy to do outside activities for toddlers that don’t need a lot of preparation.


Because this is an age of exploration. There are still many things that your toddler is fascinated with that very little effort is needed to keep them happy outside.

Here are 9 outdoor activities for toddlers that can easily give joy and contentment to your 18 – 36-month-old. I have chosen these activities because they help with developmental skills expected of this age.

If you’re looking for fun water toys for toddlers to play with, click here for our list of indoor and outdoor toys!

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Any Type Of Outdoor Water Activities

I have yet to meet a 2-year old who hates playing with water. Give a toddler a few containers and a jug of water and he can play with it for a long time. Now, there are many variations to this water activity that you can do:

  • Have a Car Wash, Dinosaur Wash, Doll Wash etc.
    You get the drift! Tell your toddler it’s time to give his toys a bath and he’ll be more than happy to do it. Teach him what to do first. Once he knows how to play this way, he will pretty much do it all by himself. This is a good time for you to sit in your comfy chair and watch him play. Remember that toddlers should have at least an hour of play all by themselves every day. Toddler car wash (you can also use shaving cream if you have it :
    Here's another outside activity for 18 month old toddler -- a toy car wash.
    Photo Courtesy 1: Happy Hooligans  | 2: Educated Common Sense Parenting
  • Move Water From One Container To another
    Get any safe container you have in the kitchen from plastic cups, pots to empty yogurt containers.  Add a plastic jug and a basin of water and you’re sorted. Funnels are great for this too.
  • Make Giant Bubbles
    Most toddlers love bubbles which make this a go-to activity for many parents. At the bare minimum, you can use bubbles that you can easily get from the dollar store. If you have a bit more time to prepare though, you might want to make your own bubble mixture which you can then use for making one of those big bubbles.Bubble Recipe:
      – 1 cup dishwashing liquid (put more if it’s still not as bubbly as you’d like)
    – 8 cups water
    – 1 tbsp glycerinHere are 2 tutorials on how to make a bubble wand
  • Let them Splash and play with Water Tables
  • This is handy to have when you have a toddler. You can get a good water table for about $30 in Amazon. However, if you don’t have one, you can easily diy it using a big basin. Add some toys that your child likes and that’s all there is to it, really.
  • Have a Water Balloon Fight
    They’re always good fun, especially during the summer. You’ll need to watch vigilantly though to make sure that she doesn’t put it in her mouth. If filling the water balloon is too tiring, then the product below might just be of some interest to you.
  • Washing The Car

    Hit 2 birds with one stone. Give your toddler a bucket and a sponge and tell him to help you wash the car. She’s going to love this a lot.

    It’s going to be a little bit messy and it will probably take you a longer time to finish cleaning the car. But at the end of it, you will have washed your car and you will have a very happy child. My son loved this so much when he was little that even until now, he still wants to clean the car with me.

  • Jumping On Muddy Puddles

    Most toddlers love jumping on muddy puddles (and if you let loose a little bit, you’ll be surprised to find out that you “still” love it too.)

    If the kids are having cabin fever because of the rain, get them to put their boots on and jump on all the muddy puddles outside.

    Where I live, it doesn’t always rain, so we recreate the muddy-puddle experience.

    All you need are buckets of water or a water hose. Pour some water in the ground and jump away.

Related: Ideas and tips For parenting a toddler

Build A Sand Pit Or Mud Kitchen For Fun Outside Activities For Toddlers

This is very fun for 2 -3 year olds. But not always for the parents who hate messy play. Messy play has a lot of benefits for your toddler’s development. So if you can put aside your concerns while your child is growing up, I highly encourage it.

  • Have a  sandpit:
    You don’t need an expensive one. Like the one above, you can simply use a big basin with sand. When my child was little, I couldn’t find sand for playing in our little village, so instead of sand, I used corn mill flour. It wasn’t that great for making sand castles but my son still had fun with it. You can also use beans or colored macaroni if you have them.
  • Have a Mud Kitchen:
    The freedom of playing with oozy squidgy mud gives many toddlers pure joy. Have a little table ready with some kitchen utensils, water, and mud and they can play with it for hours.
  • Make mud paint: Did you know there’s such a thing as mud paint? Get the recipe at
    Did you know that there's a thing as mud paint? Little Me would have been so excited.

    Photo: LearnPlayImagine

Drawing or Painting Activities:

Coloring and painting doesn’t have to be just an indoor activity for toddlers.

Take art outside. Gather some drawing and painting materials and get your 18-month-old to get in touch with her creative side outside.

Here are some ideas to make this different from the usual indoor art activities.

  • Squirt Painting:
    Get a plastic bottle, fill it with water and paint and squirt away. Have a big piece of thick paper posted on a wall or laid flat on the ground. If you don’t have liquid paint, then water works just as well.Mr Otter Art Studio has a lot of great ideas of how to take art activities outside. Here are some of the videos
  • Paint Using brushes from nature like twigs, pine cones, rocks or leaves.
    Take art outside. Make your own Nature paintbrushes. A great toddler activity for the outdoors.
    PhotoCourtesy:  Messy Little Monster

Balance Practice For 18 – 36 month old Toddlers

Balance and coordination are important toddler milestones. And what better way to practice it than outdoors in the garden.

  • Build An Obstacle Course:
    Here’s one that’s always popular among toddlers, especially when parents join in the fun too. Here are some ideas for an outdoor obstacle course


    • Place outdoor pillows about a foot away from each other. Pretend they’re little islands and that there are crocodiles around. Your toddler has to jump from one pillow to the next to not get bitten (or eaten?) by a crocodile.
    • Have a pool noodle on the ground and pretend it’s a balance beam.
  • Check out the video below for some toddler obstacle course ideas. Very easy to put together.

Learning Games

You can take learning outdoors too with some learning games that you can easily make.

  • Draw different shapes on the ground. Call out the shape and get your child to jump towards that shape. You can also do this with colors.

Toys For Spatial Awareness And Coordination

Spatial awareness is another important developmental skill and one that you can so easily help your 18-36-month-old toddler with. There are a lot of activities and toys that should help with developing this

  • Push and Pull toys
    like wagons, doll pushers, lawn mowers, and other riding toys.
  • DIY Push and Pull Toys
    If you don’t have any of the toys above, you can easily make them. Here are some things you can make: you can fill a box with pillows or blankets and get your child to push it around. Or you can get a big blanket. Put some of your toddler’s toys on top of it and tell her to take/pull her toys from one place to another area in the garden.

Outdoor Toddler Games

There are a lot of games that toddlers could easily get into. Start it and you can be sure that you’ll hear peals of laughter in the backyard.

  • Hide and Seek
  • What’s the time Mr. Wolf?
  • Play Pretend house: Get the tent out. Blow up the paddling pool and pretend it’s a bedroom. Have a study corner. Have a picnic. Take indoor toys outside. Read a book under a tree.
  • Get some scarves out and get dancing.

Play With Balls

Ball rolling, ball tossing, ball between the legs, plastic bottle bowling — these are all fun outside activities for 2-year-olds. And the plus side to it is that they get to develop their gross motor skills too.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

This needs a little bit of preparation (printing the guide), but you don’t have to if you don’t have the time.

Have a list ready of things a toddler can easily find like a leaf, flower, white rock, twig, etc. and get him to do a scavenger hunt. You can even hide a little toy somewhere if you want.

Here are some free printables:

Get your 36 month old out of the house with these super fun activities they can easily do in the garden. No preparation needed!
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