25+ Fun Loving Outdoor Activities And Games For Toddlers

✔ Research-backed

It is not advisable to confine your little one to the four walls of your home. Outdoor activities for toddlers are known to keep them physically active while boosting their walking skills and exploring their curiosity. They are also known to develop their physical, cognitive, and socialization skills (1). Here are some interesting outdoor activities that we recommend for your little ones to keep themselves active and happy. Read on to check them out.

In This Article

25+ Outdoor Activities And Games For Toddlers

These activities will keep the little one busy and also help in their physical, cognitive, and social development.

1. Playing hopscotch

Hopscotch outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Colored chalk

How to: Draw a hopscotch grid on solid ground using chalk. Number each grid according to its position or add any random number. The toddler can jump to a grid of his choice, but to make this a learning activity, instruct your child to jump on a particular number. Once the toddler remembers the numbers, you can put some bigger numbers to expand his knowledge. A fun outdoor activity, this will physically and mentally engage your child and expose them to plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

Skills developed: Physical strength, cognitive retention, and basic mathematical knowledge

2. Fastest Rope Pullers

Fastest rope pullers and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A long, soft rope
  • A tricycle or small toy car

How to: This outdoor toddler activity is best played with a group of children. Divide the group into two teams with an equal number of toddlers. Tie one end of the rope to the tricycle and hand the other end to the team of toddlers. Mark a point on the ground till which they need to pull. Ask the toddlers to tug the tricycle towards them as fast as they can. Repeat the activity with another team. The team that takes the shortest time to pull the tricycle, wins.

Skills developed: Gross motor skills, muscle dexterity, team-building skills

3. Tug of war

Tug of war

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A long, sturdy rope

How to: This outdoor activity needs a team of players. The length of the rope depends on the number of participants and the space available. Make a knot at the center and ends of the rope for division and pulling. Players should be positioned behind a line (or the middle knot), ensuring fairness and safety. On a signal, they should start pulling the rope in their respective directions. The team that successfully pulls the other team beyond the mid-line, is the winner.

Skills developed: Gross motor skills, muscle strength, proximal stability

4. Garden hide and seek

Garden hide and seek outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Your partner and the toddler

How to: Find a nice place, such as a park, to play the game. Let your partner and toddler be the team that hides, and you be the seeker. Your partner should encourage the toddler to find hiding spots such as behind trees, bushes, thickets, etc. You could make the activity more enjoyable by asking the toddler to call you while you pretend that you can’t find him. Engaging in this activity is not only fun but also a great way to hone your child’s exploration skills.

Skills developed: Social skills, basic cognitive skills

protip_icon Point to consider
Another fun activity you could try with your little one, is to build a birdhouse using popsicle sticks. Hang it in your garden and let your child watch birds visiting everyday.

5. The sliding ball

The sliding ball and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A plastic ball
  • A slide

How to: This group activity should be played in a park, which has a slide. With two toddlers in a team, the activity is played by passing the ball down the slide. The toddlers stand near the bottom of the slide. Roll a ball, and a toddler collects that ball, passes it to his team member, who walks down and hands it over to you. He then takes his place at the bottom of the slide, collects the rolled ball, gives it to his teammate, who gives it to you.

Skills developed: Social and team-building skills

6. Tic tac toe

Tic tac toe

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A large outdoor surface
  • Chalks or tape
  • Cardboard pieces in X and O shapes
  • At least 2 players

How to: Divide the players equally into two teams. Use chalk or tape to make a square grid of two horizontal and two vertical lines intersecting each other forming nine equal squares. Decide which team will choose X and O. Players will take turns to place an X or O in an empty square within the grid. This game aims to get three of your rows marked horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The team that gets three marks in a row wins the game.

Skills developed: Problem-solving

7. Spray painting

Spray painting and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Chart paper
  • Large paint brushes
  • A few small old buckets

How to: Spread chart papers on the ground. Put some non-toxic paints in a bucket, add some water, and mix well. Ask your toddler to dip the brush in the watery paint and whip so that it launches a fine spray of color on the paper. Repeat the same with other colors. Do not do this indoors as the walls would get dirty! That’s why we have it outdoors.

Skills developed: Basic skills in art and painting

8. Escape the water jet

Escaping the water jet outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A water hose

How to: This is a simple outdoor fun game for toddlers and preschoolers, and can be played in the backyard. Attach the hose to the water outlet and ask your toddler to stay within a limited area. Turn on the tap and aim the water towards the little one, who has to escape from the water spray. Your partner can also join to fill this fun family outdoor game with laughter.

Skills developed: Family bonding, overall physical strength

9. Prick the soap bubbles

Pricking the soap bubbles and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A soap bubble maker
  • Your partner

How to: Make some soap water at home or buy a readymade one. Use a bubble-making loop or gun to make plenty of bubbles. Ask your toddler to prick the bubbles and have a competition between him and your partner. Play this game with a group of toddlers where the one who pricks the most bubbles is declared the winner.

Skills developed: Object tracking skills, vision and body movement coordination

10. Mud hand impressions

Mud hand impressions and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Your toddler

How to: You could use any mud, but it is best enjoyed with the fine sand from the beach. On the sand, show the toddler how to make a hand impression. Let the toddler do the same. You could also leave marks on the sand with your feet as you walk away.

Skills developed: Tactile sense development

11. Sandbox play

Sandbox play and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Sandbox
  • Your toddler’s toys

How to: Place a sandbox in your garden or backyard with all the favorite toys of the toddler in it. Let the little one sit in it and play with the toys. Sand is fun to play with because of its free-flowing nature. The toddler can have all types of imaginative play with sand and his toys while you play along.

Sarah Paul, a mother, teacher, and author, shares how she used an idea she found on Pinterest to put a twist on the classic sandbox. She says, “I dusted off one of our clear plastic shallow bins and filled it with big $3 sandbags. My kids played with that sand all summer. In school, I always used the pretty colored sand on a tray to practice sight words… This only has to take a few minutes. I think of a word that stumped Shawn (son) during reading the night before. I write the word, read it, and have Shawn repeat it and trace it with his fingers. Then I mess up the sand and have him write it, saying the word again. It helps to have him say the word and the letters as he traces. Wait a few minutes, let him play, and write that same word again.Do that a few more times and you’ve given your child opportunities to add that word into his memory. He might even associate it with the fun of the sandbox and remember it better (i).”

Skills developed: Imagination and creativity, family bonding

12. Walking race

Walking race outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A baton or a toy

How to: Walking is the most significant milestone in a toddler’s life. Why not stimulate it? Play this outdoor game with a group of toddlers who stand in two rows at a distance from each other. The finish line comes after the second row. When you say “Start”, the first row of toddlers walk with a baton towards the second row of toddlers and hand over the baton. The second row of toddlers walk towards the finish line and the group that reaches the finish line first wins.

Skills developed: Team-building skills, physical strength, gross motor development

protip_icon Be watchful
Irrespective of the game your toddler is playing, make sure you always look out for them to prevent falls and injuries.

13. Stack and balance the rocks:

Stacking and balancing the rocks outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Small rocks

How to: Collect as many rocks you can with your toddler when on a walk outdoors. Bring them to your backyard or take them to a garden and play the stacking game. The toddler is supposed to stack the rocks atop each other without letting them fall. Help the toddler if he is unable to judge which rock goes on top of another. Guide him, but let him place the rocks. Keep stacking till you build a mini rock tower!

Skills developed: Skills of visual judgment, fine motor skills

14. The car race

The car race and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Toy cars
  • Colored chalk

How to: In this DIY outdoor activity for toddlers, you use a chalk to draw track like lines on the ground. Mark a starting point and write “Finish” where the track ends. Place toy cars for each toddler at the beginning of the tracks. When you say “Start”, each toddler pushes the cars. The car rolls across the track, and the one that crosses the finish line first is the winner.

Skills developed: Precision in using muscles, overall fine motor skills

15. Hula hoop challenge

Hula hoop challenge and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Toddler hula hoopAdult hula hoop

How to: Hula hoops are large rings that can be rotated around the waist. You can buy one meant for toddlers and one for yourself to accompany the toddler. Show the toddler how to rotate the hula hoop and once he gets it right, you can set him for a challenge. This activity is best done outdoors as you do not have worry about the hula hoop hitting something or someone.

Skills developed: Muscle dexterity and nimbleness

16. Pass the ball

Passing the ball outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A rubber ball

How to: It is a fun outdoor activity for preschoolers. Toddlers stand in a queue and the first toddler holds the ball. He says “one”, and passes the ball to the next toddler, who says “two” and passes the ball further. When you suddenly say “stop”, the toddler who has the ball gets eliminated. Increase the passing speed to make the game exciting.

Skills developed: Number counting, working in a group

17. Treasure hunt

Treasure hunt outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Toddler’s toys
  • Edible treats

How to: Treasure hunts are best played in teams and can be a fun, adventure activity for preschoolers in child care. Make teams and assign each team a zone in a garden or backyard. Give them a list of items present in each area, which could include toys, treats, etc. You could also bury a few articles (not very deep) to make the activity more interesting. The team which finds all items in the least amount of time is the winner.

Skills developed: Curiosity and teamwork, gross motor skills

18.  Painting stones

Painting stones, outdoor activities and games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Medium-sized stones
  • Non-toxic acrylic paint

How to: Collect medium-sized stones and arrange them in the garden. Ask the toddler to paint the stones with acrylic paints of different colors. He can paint shapes and funny faces on the stones. You can align them to make some lovely stone art.

Skills developed: Creativity and art, the nimbleness of fingers

19. Catching the frisbee

Catching the frisbee and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Frisbee
  • Your partner

How to: This is a classic outdoor game for some family time together. Visit the local park or playground with your toddler. Your partner and the toddler can team up. Throw the frisbee towards the toddler and prompt him to catch it. Your partner can help him do so. The frisbee will make the toddler run and he can catch up on a lot of physical exercises.

Skills developed: Gross and fine motor skills, muscular strength, sense of balance

20. Riding a tricycle

Riding a tricycle and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Toddler’s tricycleChalk Cardboard

How to: There is at least one instance in early parenting when the toddler throws a tantrum for a tricycle. Those three-wheeled toys may seem unnecessary, but actually, help strengthen leg muscles while letting the toddler have fun. Get a tricycle and bicycling helmet appropriate to the toddler’s age. Make a mini drive-way on the lawn using chalk markings and cardboard pieces. The toddler is now all set to ride his tricycle from the start to finish line. Make dead ends on the track so that the toddler has to reroute for a better way.

Skills developed: Cognitive skills, problem-solving and decision making

21. Sand shapes

Sand shapes and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Beach bucket
  • Plastic shovel

How to: Take your toddler to the beach. Using the beach bucket as a mold, make shapes in the sand or simple animal illustrations. Ask the toddler what the shape is called, and when he gets it right, you can etch the name in the sand so that it stays in his memory.

Skills developed: Object-noun association, visual interpretation, basic alphabet learning

22. Alphabet game

Alphabet game and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A group of toddlers

How to: Make the toddlers sit in a circle or a semi-circle. The first in the order says the first letter of the alphabet and the next says the subsequent one till all the letters are said. The game is repeated, but this time each toddler says the first letter of his/her name. You can correct a toddler if he gets the letter wrong. This activity helps remember the alphabet.

Skills developed: Alphabet memory, general cognitive skills

23. Musical chairs

Musical chairs and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Toddler chairs

How to: The musical chairs game never gets old! You could play this in a park or home by putting chairs in a straight line. There should be one chair less than the total number of toddlers. Toddlers walk around the chairs as the music plays and when it stops, they sit on the closest chair. The toddler who does not get a chair is eliminated and one chair is also taken away. In the end, only one chair is left with a couple of contenders, and the winner is the one who sits on the last chair. Since there is music already, you may as well throw a party for the toddlers after the game.

Skills developed: Gross motor skills, listening-movement coordination

24.  Sow some seeds

Sow some seeds outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Some shovels
  • Hand gloves
  • Water sprinkler
  • Shovel

How to: Buy some seeds from a plant nursery. With the help of a shovel, make some holes in the backyard to sow seeds. Put the seeds and cover the holes with soil. Make sure your toddler is wearing gloves. . Plant as many seeds as you like. This is a good outdoor sensory activity for a toddler as he can feel the soil, its unique smell, and experience the joy of planting.

Skills developed: Sensory skills, gross motor skills

25. Sponge bull’s eye

Sponge bull's eye outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Chalk
  • Sponges soaked in water

How to: Draw a bull’s eye diagram (similar to a dartboard game with numbers indicating points) on the ground using colored chalks. The toddler stands at a distance and throws the water-dipped sponge aiming at the center of the bull’s eye. Have another toddler throw the sponge and the one who scores the maximum points is the winner.

Skills developed: Vision-body action coordination, physical strength, and gross motor skills

26. Collecting seashells

Collecting seashells and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • A small plastic container
  • A plastic shovel

How to: Take the preschooler to a beach and choose a nice spot to look for seashells. Dig the sand to show how the toddler can find a seashell. You can dig at different spots and also walk along the beach to look for seashells lying on the beach. A word of caution: Look for seashells without the creature inside it. Also, wash the shells in soapy water to remove sand and germs before storing them. This fun discovery activity is a perfect way to teach toddlers about water creatures and take them a step closer to nature.

Skills developed: Visual interpretation, finger dexterity

27. Nature trail

Nature trail and outdoor games for toddlers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Your toddler and the entire family!

How to: There is nothing more peaceful and refreshing than an early morning walk. Get some good shoes for your little one, pack some snacks and water, and head for the best trail in the park. Show the toddler all the trees, birds, and flowers that he would seldom see in an urban environment. If he is an older toddler you can perhaps explain the importance of protecting the environment. Such conversations are a good way to bond with the toddler and fill the day with positivity, happiness, and beautiful memories.

Outdoor activities can be more fun if the parents are careful. We have a few tips to help your little one have more fun.

5 Tips For Parents Of Toddlers

  1. Let the toddler take the initiative: Do not thrust an outdoor activity on your toddler. Play only when the little one feels like playing. If he is forced into playing will not benefit from the activity and may be traumatized. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you let the toddler guide himself through activities (2).
  1. Play multiple activities in a week: Have an activity schedule where you play several outdoor activities in a week to nurture every skill and milestone of the toddler.
  1. Be interactive: Communication and interaction are essential for your toddler to grow socially. Whenever you play with the toddler, make it a point to have a meaningful conversation. That will improve his communication skills and widen his vocabulary.
  1. Play in groups when possible: When a toddler plays in groups, he gets to exercise several skills such as social, language, and cognitive skills. For that reason, preschoolers are encouraged to have group play at child care centers. When playing outdoors, you can do the same thing. Playing as a family also counts as group play.
  1. Be alert: Toddlers can get super excited and may forget their surroundings. In the process, they may not realize where they are running or walking. Therefore, toddler outdoor games should be played under adult supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long should a toddler play outside?

Toddlers should ideally play outside for one to one and a half hours per day (1).

2. Do toddlers need to go out every day?

Although it may not be compulsory, outdoor play involving activities such as bike riding or playing a sport may be a better form of exercise for children (2).

3. How many hours a day should I play with a toddler?

According to the National Health Service (NHS) UK, toddlers need to be physically active for at least three hours a day (3). Thus you may distribute your playtime with them, keeping this recommendation in mind.

Outdoor play is important for children as it aids in developing social and emotional skills apart from being beneficial for their physical growth. These outdoor games for toddlers are perfect for getting your kid moving while having fun. Be it the classic hopscotch or hide and seek, your child would enjoy playing these games. You may also include some games and activities such as sand art, trails, and treasure hunts to add to the fun and help them connect with nature.

Infographic: Outdoor Activities And Games For Toddlers

Outdoor fun lets children connect with nature and soak in the benefits of vitamin D from the sun. So when the sun is shining bright, let your toddler engage in some exciting games and activities. Explore the infographic below and pick an activity to engage and entertain your child.

outdoor fun ideas for your toddler (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Toddlers benefit from outdoor activities to stay active and curious about the world.
  • Outdoor play promotes physical, social, and cognitive development.
  • Playing with sand and water supports motor skills and boosts immunity.
  • Supervision is necessary to prevent harm and injury during outdoor play.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Caring for Our Children (CFOC); Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection;
  2. 6 reasons children need to play outside;
  3. Physical activity guidelines for children (Under 5 years);
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Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as ‘The Celebrity Shrink,’ is an award-winning neuro-psychiatrist and mental health advocate with over 15 years experience. She is the medical director and psychiatrist-in-chief at Pinnacle Medical Services. She has created the innovative mental health app in Africa, HOW BODI. Dr. Kadiri is a Goldman Sachs Scholar on Entrepreneurial Management of Pan Atlantic...read full bio