Now that Taylor’s running around and into everything, there’s no better place for her than in the garden. She absolutely loves being outside and would spend all day, every day out there. I also find it much more fun (and let’s face it, less messy!) than being stuck indoors, so I’ve been really trying to make the most of any fair weather days we have. There are heaps of amazing ideas on Pinterest for garden activities for toddlers and if you have a little more time, there are some great DIY creations meaning that you really don’t have to spend a penny.
Here are some of the activities which I hope to put into action over this summer…
Garden activities for toddlers
1. Create a vegetable patch
We recently created a mini vegetable patch in a corner of our garden where we’ve so far planted 16 tomato plants. Whilst I was digging and turning the soil, I gave Taylor the task of picking out the stones. She seems to love it when she thinks she’s helping out and it honestly kept her entertained for ages! Once the tomato plants were planted, I bought her a mini watering can and we (when I remember to) go out every day and water them together. She gets so excited about it and once her can’s empty she always demands ‘more!’ so I have to keep on filling it up. I love this little gardening kit for kids from notonthehighstreet, which will be perfect when she’s a little older.
I have to admit that I feel a bit uneasy about messy play indoors. I can’t help it – I start to panic when food/paint/gunk starts flying around my house and all I can think about is cleaning up…So moving the messy play outdoors is a winner for me! At 17 months I’m not sure Taylor will fully understand the concept of making actual cakes or pies, but she will definitely understand that she’s getting totally messy and love squeezing mud in between her fingers. She also seems to love playing with my kitchen utensils, so at least we will be able to put them to good use! There are also some amazing ideas online for creating your own mud kitchen, which would be such a fun thing for slightly older children to have.
3. Construct a den
Toddlers absolutely love to hide – whether it’s behind the curtains, under the duvet or under the dining table, there’s something about them having their own little space that makes them all giddy. I love all of the cool tipis that you can get for kids, but if you just want something temporary you can easily construct a little den in your garden using bed sheets pinned to a tree or fence. If you don’t have trees, I’m sure you could pick up a few bamboo sticks from your local garden centre and make something with those – the great thing about toddlers is that they’re all about substance over style!
4. Host a teddy bear’s picnic
Taylor recently stayed with my parents for the weekend and Nanna had come up with an inspired way of keeping her entertained with all of my old teddies from the loft. When we next visited I was able to witness the grand event of a teddy bear’s picnic – teacups, biscuits and all! Taylor couldn’t wait to show me. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I love this idea for the garden and the next time we have some warm weather, I’ll be asking some of Taylor’s teddies to join us on the picnic blanket for lunch.
5. Make a sandpit
You can buy purpose-built sandpits but I’m hoping to make one myself this summer. How cool is this idea below? (Pinterest of course!) Apparently it’s an Aldi raised garden bed with an Ikea under the bed tub. I shop in Aldi a lot and have never seen these, but I’m planning to pick one up from a local garden centre…or I may even just get the Ikea tub and decorate the outside with some wooden border roll. Watch this space!
6. Get out the paddling pool
Last year was so crap weather wise that we never actually got ours out – so I’m not even sure if it’s still fit for purpose, or been nibbled by mice in the loft. Fingers crossed it’s still in working order as I have big plans for it this year with all of that glorious sunshine we are of course going to get… *she says whilst looking at the rain outside.*
7. PAINT WITH WATER
I’m not mean honestly, I do have actual real paints too. But as I found out last week, trying to paint a picture on a windy day in the garden is not the best idea. I soon abandoned the paint and brought out a bowl of water instead for Taylor to dip her paintbrush in and paint the patio. Much more fun apparently. If you’re looking for simple garden activities for toddlers, this is definitely up there!
8. Create your own pouring station
I definitely need to invest in a couple more of the under the bed storage tubs – apparently they have a multitude of uses! I love this idea from busytoddler.com for a pouring station, simply using a few containers and jugs and adding food colouring to the water. I can really see how this would keep a toddler entertained for ages. And so cheap and easy to make too.
9. Blow giant bubbles
A really easy one simply requiring a quick trip to Toys R Us (Or a look on Amazon if you’re more organised!) We visited Stratford-upon-Avon recently and there was a man blowing these giant bubbles in the park. Taylor was fascinated and I’ve been meaning to get one ever since. A quick Google search tells me that you can pick one up for less that £5 – it’s on my list!
10. Paint stones
If you do want to get out the actual paint, painting pebbles would be a great alternative to paper (particularly on a windy day…) You could paint them different colours to practice colour matching with your toddler, or if your kids are a little older you could paint on different garden vegetables for a mud kitchen. Alphabet letters, words, numbers…the list is endless really!
Do you have any other ideas for great garden activities for toddlers? What are your plans for the garden this summer?