Outdoor toddler games and preschooler activities don’t have to cost a lot; in fact, many of them can be created at no cost at all! This long list of giggle-worthy examples will keep tots entertained while they enjoy the fresh air, and many of them will get them active, too. From dinosaur digs to mud brick building, and lots of chalk painting suggestions, this list will keep even the most restless toddler engaged and excited for hours.
The I-Need-A-Game Outdoor Game
This outdoor toddler game is incredibly simple and inexpensive – you could get everything you need for just a few dollars. With one or two beach balls and some pool noodles, your toddlers will have hours of fresh air fun as they try to maneuver the balls with their soft, bendy ‘bats’.
Backyard Dinosaur Dig
Your little one could become the next big name in archaeology or paleontology when you set up this awesome dinosaur dig. Hide some Dollar Store ‘dinosaur bones’ and other interesting bits around the garden (burying them is fun), then set kids to work with a hard hat and child-safe tools.
Dyed Sea Shells
Add some color to their sensory bin by dyeing a heap of seashells in beautiful shades. The fun starts with collecting the shells (because who doesn’t love the beach?), and then soaking them in gel food coloring solution. Little ones will be enchanted as the shells change color before their eyes.
Perfect for keeping kids cool on a hot summer’s day, this game of Ice Bowling will be a huge hit. Fill 10 plastic bottles with food-dyed water and stand them up in a triangular formation, then create a bowling ball from ice using a balloon and more coloring.
Press Here Movement Game
Inspired by the book ‘Press Here’ by Herve Tullet, this game is a great outdoor toddler activity that will keep them moving. Using colored circles which have been laminated for strength, this game involves tots carrying out instructions – such as ‘jump to a red circle’ – as they move from color to color.
Outdoor Math Game
Have them practice color sorting and math skills with this sweet and energetic outdoor game. The aim of the game is for toddlers to pick up colored pom poms using plastic tweezers, run to the other end of the garden, and drop them in the corresponding section of a divided box.
Engineering with Mud Bricks
Kids love to get dirty, which is why this activity will be such a hit. A great lesson in STEM principles, this activity involves making bricks from mud using ice cube trays, drying them out in the sunshine, and then using them to build walls or other creations.
Find and Count Bug Hunt
While insects might not be your cup of tea, toddlers find them endlessly fascinating, so use that curiosity to great advantage with this outdoor activity. Create a checklist of common creepy crawlers, and then let the kids hunt them down and observe them, before ticking them off on their list.
Sand Box Science Table
If you have a sand or water table, you can set up this awesome Science Table for the kids to enjoy. Using just baking soda, vinegar, water, and food dye, kids can squirt their colored vinegar/water mix into the container of baking soda and watch as it fizzes and swirls.
Squirt Gun Painting
Water pistols and blasters can be repurposed for an altogether more creative activity when you add paint into the mix! Simply set up an easel with large sheets of paper, fill the weapons (squeezy bottles work, too) with watercolors, and let them fire away, creating abstract artwork that’s loads of fun.
Pool Noodle Backyard Obstacle Course
If you have a supply of pool noodles and small balls, you can create this fab obstacle course. Using whatever objects you have, such as domes, cones, or even tin cans, you can set up a course that the kids have to navigate by hitting the ball with the bendy pool noodle.
Colors and Shapes Sidewalk Chalk Game
This simple outdoor toddler game takes just minutes to set up, and will keep tots active and engaged for ages. Draw a starting and finishing line, and in-between draw colored shapes with the chalks; the toddler’s job is to jump across the grid following the instructions you give them.
Outdoor Toddler Ice Boat Racing
Keep them cool even on a hot summer’s day by racing some ice boats with them. Easy to make, ice boats are made using water and sticks. Once frozen, attach kid-decorated flags to the top, and help them set sail on a sloping pool noodle ramp.
Shadow Sidewalk Chalk Art
This STEAM project offers endless opportunities while the sun is shining, and is so much fun to do. Kids will be enthralled to experiment with placement to create shadows, and once they’ve drawn around each other’s’ shapes, they can color them in using chalk paint on a sidewalk or driveway.
Giant Window Paint Activity
Possibly one of the easiest to set up, all you need for this absorbing activity is a dry erase marker and washable tempera paints. With the marker, draw the outlines of all kinds of pictures on the inside of a window, and invite the kids to color in from the outside.
Marble Run Water Slide
Pool noodles can be used for all kinds of things, as this amazing marble waterslide shows. By cutting the noodle down the middle, you will have two tracks that can be joined with toothpicks. Once balanced on a box or chair, they’re the perfect setting for racing marbles into the waiting water below.
Frozen Ice Paints
Make some ‘crayons’ with a difference by following the very simple steps in this fun blog. Freezing powder paint and water in muffin tins will give them slippery, cold blocks of colors to work with, which makes a great activity for the garden on a warm summer’s day.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Rhyming Activity
Readers of ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus’ will particularly enjoy this game, although anyone can play. Based on the fun story, players must find words that rhyme with one the adult calls out. If they do, they get to move forwards, and the first one to reach the ‘bus’, wins.
Water Balloon Launcher
Turn a 3 man balloon launcher into a one person one by following this awesome tutorial. Your kids will be the envy of the street when they start firing water balloons for what seems like miles. It does require some woodworking skills, but the results will be well worth it.
Toddler Water Balloon Painting
This activity entails water balloons and paint – the perfect recipe for summer fun. Using a plastic paddling pool lined with paper, kids can place tempera paint-dipped water balloons on the bottom, and then lift and tilt the pool to create swirling, curling works of art. Clean up is super easy, too.
Seashell Self-Portrait Art Project
Spending a day at the beach collecting shells and other ocean debris is fun in itself, but this project means the fun can go on for ages afterwards, too. Using Model Magic as the base, have the kids create self-portraits using the shells, driftwood, and seaweed as eyes, noses, and hair.
Even little ones can play tennis thanks to this fun balloon tennis idea. Traditional rackets can be heavy and cumbersome, but this post shows you how to create lightweight versions using paper plates, with inflated balloons as the toddler-friendly balls. Add creativity into the mix by having them decorate the rackets themselves.
Water Balloon Baseball
Baseball can be hard to play if you have limited space in the yard, but this is a fabulous alternative. Using easy to handle wiffle bats instead of heavy baseball ones, the kids can have batting practice with water balloons, which will burst on impact and soak them while cooling them down.
Bubbles are always a hit with little ones, but it can get expensive buying store-bought bottles which last no time at all. Make your own with this amazingly easy 3-ingredient recipe. Perfect for small and giant bubbles alike, this recipe also comes with instructions on how to build giant bubble wands, too.
Mini Water Blobs
These water blobs are so much fun to use, and will make awesome gifts for kids in the summer months. Really simple to make, you can create any size you like, from big enough to lie on, to small enough for a high chair table – you can even add fish and/or glitter.
Turn toddlers into street artists with this fun and really easy craft idea. Using Dollar Store spray bottles and different colors of washable tempera paint, they can set to work laying down their ‘tags’ and making abstract art by spraying the paint at large sheets of taped-up paper.
Pinwheels are enchanting to little ones, and this tutorial will show you how to create your own using cardstock, milkshake straws, and the free printable template. You can decorate the cardstock in whatever pattern or color you like, then assemble so tots can watch them spinning in the breeze.
Paint-loving little ones will really enjoy this cooling outdoor toddler activity, which is messy, fun, and perfect for a warm summer’s day. Make a variety of ice shapes by freezing water in various containers, then let the kids loose with paints and brushes to make dripping, swirling patterns.
This venture provides so many layers of fun that it will become a firm favorite for fine weather days. Using a straw, toddlers can create big, beautiful foamy bubbles by blowing into the mixture, then add food coloring to create swirls, before laying paper on top to capture the colorful bubbles.
DIY Outdoor Obstacle Course
You can use the whole of the garden to create this fun obstacle course, or make it smaller for younger kids who tire more easily. Using hoops, pool noodles, buckets and water balloons or balls, follow the ideas in this post, or use it as inspiration to create your own.
Paper Helicopter Pinwheel
Toddlers will enjoy decorating the paper to use for these pinwheel helicopters, and then helping as you put them together. Using the free printable template included, these helicopters are easy to make and, once they’re attached to a cork, can be dropped which makes them spin on their journey towards the ground.
Pedal to the Number Activity
If your child likes hopscotch but prefers to ride their bike, why not incorporate the two with this simple outdoor activity? Draw number-filled squares randomly around the driveway, and then call them out so your child has to ride to each one in turn. You could also use colors or shapes, too.
Watermelon Science Activity
Volcano experiments are always fun, but you can add a summer slant to it by using a scooped-out watermelon instead of a bowl or bottle. Ideal for making outdoors, all you need is a watermelon ‘shell’, baking powder, vinegar, and some food coloring in the color of your choice.
Color Golf Toddler Game
Teach tots how to match colors with this simple game of garden golf. Decorate paper plates with colored dots (you can use stickers or markers for this), and then secure them to the grass with golf tees. Your toddler’s job is to hit the correspondingly-colored balls onto their matching plates.
Recycled Mailer Kyte
Kite flying is one of the pleasures of childhood, but it’s even more fun if you use homemade kites! This project will show you how to create your very own kite using special Tyvek paper – the kids can help to decorate it – and the free printable template included in this blog.
Cotton Round Splatter Painting
Splattered paint is a great look for abstract art, and this particular idea is super fun to do. Best done in the garden as it’s wonderfully messy, different colored blobs of paint are placed under cotton rounds, and then smacked with a rubber mallet to create splodges of vibrant color.
Magnetic Fishing Game
Magnetic fishing is a lot of fun, and this DIY version is easy to make at home. Cut several fish shapes from different colored craft foam sheets, and then glue magnet ‘eyes’ on both sides. These fish float in water, making them easy to catch using the homemade magnetic chopstick fishing pole.
Rain Gutter River
Water games are great fun for the summer, and they certainly help to keep kids cool. This Rain Gutter River outdoor toddler game is incredibly easy to set up using two plastic boxes and a length of PVC guttering. Just ensure the bottom box is higher than the top.
Outdoor Name Art Painting Activity
Give kids a painting project to do instead of abstract pictures, and it will keep their attention much longer. Write their names in large letters on craft paper, hang it on a fence or wall outside, and then let them color in the letters using a variety of different paint colors.
Puffy Sidewalk Paint
Add a whole new level to sidewalk chalking with this recipe for homemade puffy paint. Made using flour, water, dish soap, and sidewalk chalks in different colors, this recipe allows kids to paint puffy pictures that really stand out. The dish soap in the paint even makes clean-up a doddle.
Changeable Water Wall
Create a water wall for the kids to enjoy using a sheet of plexiglass, clear tubing, funnels, and suction pads, then set about creating an obstacle course for the water to navigate. The beauty of this project is that the pieces are interchangeable, so a new course can be created every time.
Pool Noodle Pour Station
Water play is an excellent way to make sure the kids don’t overheat when the weather turns warm, and this idea is super simple but lots of fun. Using pool noodles and buckets or bins, you can create a range of ‘pipes’ for water to run down, using funnels placed in the tops.
Little ones will love helping you to create these awesome teleidoscopes, and looking through them will be just as much fun. Using mirrored plastic or reflective paper, you can make one or more of these DIY versions of a classic toy by providing a range of colored surfaces for them to view.
Create a treasure hunt in nature by taking inspiration from this outdoorsy idea, and recreating it in your own back yard. The clues can be written in chalk on the pavement, and can include math, color sorting, and shape and size recognition, as tots find the treasures that nature provides.
This fun outdoor toddler game can be played by older kids too – just move the buckets nearer or further apart depending on skill and ability. The sponge bombs are really easy to make using household sponges and a hair tie, and can be used over and over again.
Ball games are a lot of fun, but smaller kids can get hurt if they’re thrown too enthusiastically. Make the fun safer by making a load of these colorful yarn pom poms. This post comes with a whole host of games and activities kids can use them for, using baskets and Dollar Store cones.
Bubble Painting Process Art Activity
A great outdoor activity for toddlers who love playing with paints, this idea involves bubble solution, washable watercolors, and a whole bunch of straws. Tied together, the straws make an impressive blower which, when dipped in colored solution and blown, create fun bubbly art patterns on paper.
Frozen Paint Art Activity
Create some frozen paint for the kids to use by following the simple steps in this fun tutorial. By freezing popsicle sticks into the iced paint, you create a handy handle for the kids to hold. Then play some music and invite the young artists to match their ‘brushstrokes’ to the tempo.
Foamy Sidewalk Paint
Using a blender is key to creating these wonderful foamy sidewalk paints, because the air creates loads of bubbles. Dish soap, food coloring (or washable paints), and water blend easily together, and can then be poured into squeezy bottles for endless sidewalk arty fun that will literally wash away.
Create a selection of these fabulous chalk ices, and kids can get to work decorating your driveway or sidewalk with wonderfully colorful artwork. The popsicle sticks make great handles when they’re frozen into place, and the designs are easily washed away with rain or a garden hose.
These name keychains will make a great quiet time activity for sitting in the shade, and the finished products make great gifts for kids and adults alike. Perfect for spelling practice and fine motor skills, they could use fun words instead of names, or use colored beads for color sorting activities.
Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses are a lot of fun, but what if you don’t have enough objects to hand? This easy activity uses chalk shapes to create obstacles, such as circles for jumping on, swirls for spinning around on, and rectangles for using as hurdles to jump over and not on.
Giant Outdoor Memory Game
Memory games are not only fun, but they can help to sharpen a child’s observation skills, too. Make a giant version of this classic game using paper plates and Sharpies. Draw pairs of colored shapes on the plates, arrange upside down in a grid, and let the kids attempt to match them up.
DIY Simple Balloon Toss
This DIY simple balloon toss is the perfect outdoor toddler game that can also be enjoyed by older kids, too. Filling balloons with rice provides durable ‘beanbags’, while the targets are drawn in chalk so they’re easy to wash away. Then tie ribbon on as launch string, and let the competition begin.
(You may also like: 92 Top Outdoor Toddler Toys)