With 2 months to go until my due date and at least a month and half left of summer heat I am trying to thinking of all the ways my toddler and I can stay COOL! Let’s be honest my favorite way to stay cool these days is sitting on the couch in my air-conditioned home eating ice cream. My toddler however LOVES to be outdoors. All. Day. Long. And I love that he loves to be outside, I want to encourage that as much as possible. He also LOVES water. Pools, puddles, drinking fountains, the bath tub, dumping his sippy cup, he’ll do anything to play with water and get him self soaked. We don’t have a pool and so we’ve had to some up with other creative water play ideas for toddlers that will keep my little man entertained and keep us both cooled off. Here are some of my favorite outdoor water play activities for toddlers!
Beach Sensory Play
This past year we have really missed living 45 minutes from the beach. If you don’t live near the beach, setting up a beach sensory play table is a fun way to bring the beach to you! Fill a kiddie pool, water table or even just a large, shallow bin full of water, sea shells and sand! Little ones will have fun playing with the shells, scooping water, and sifting the sand with a beach sifter. This makes for great sensory play as well as a fun creative use for all those random sea shells you’ve collected from various family vacations through out your life (or am I the only one?). You could also add water beads to make it a water bead sensory bin for some squishy fun!
DIY Bottle Sprinkler
Water sprinklers. When I think back on my childhood, running through my parent’s lawn sprinklers was a huge part of our summer-time entertainment. It wasn’t summer without it! My husband found a super cheap-o sprinkler at Wal-Mart for about $4. It’s pretty useless for watering our lawn but it’s PERFECT for my toddler to play in! If you don’t have a sprinkler already you can make one yourself! Here’s a great tutorial for how to make a DIY water sprinkler with just a garden hose and recycled plastic bottle.
Kids’ Tactile Pouring Station
All you need is a plastic bin and a bunch of plastic cups, pitchers, measuring scoops and you’ve got free outdoor entertainment for your toddler! Little ones are mesmerized by pouring, dumping and scooping. Let them have fun and get as wet as they like playing outside with their pouring station.
Sensory Kids’ Ice Bath
Just this week my toddler discovered the joy of ice! We were finishing dinner and my husband placed a large ice cube on my son’s high chair tray. We got as much entertainment out of it as he did! His face lit up and he was giggling with excitement feeling the cold slippery ice! He has fun pushing it around, trying to lick it, and also watching it slowly melt away into puddles of water. This inspired me to let him explore ice on a larger scale. Make an “Ice Bath” for your toddler to play by filling a bin with ice and give him some tongs, scoops, etc. to use in playing with the slippery ice. This is a fun way to practice fine motor-skills too! You could also dye the water for added sensory fun.
Kiddle Pool Toddler Fishing
If you don’t have a kiddie pool a large Rubbermaid bin could work too. Use a toy net or even kitchen strainer as your “fishing net” and let them have fun catching and releasing fish or other toy water creatures. A kiddie pool fishing could be a fun way to practice colors with your toddler by asking them to “catch the red fish, now catch the blue one” etc. And again, this is another good way to practice those motor skills and hand-eye coordination!
Painting with Water
After watching his dad and grandpa paint our house my toddler now loves to pretend to paint everything. A fun outdoor activity is to give him a bowl of water and some old paint brushes and let him have at it! He can “paint” with water on anything he wants with no harm done while also learning about evaporation 🙂
Kiddie Pool Water and Ball Pit
I haven’t tried this yet but I think this would be so much fun for my little man! Toddlers love balls, splashing around in a pool full of plastic ball-pit balls would be a blast. This also gives me the idea of filling the kiddie pool full of water beads! How fun would that be? Again if you don’t have a kiddie pool a large bin or bucket would work, even if they play outside of it and not IN it.
It really doesn’t take much to have fun with water and cool off on a hot day. Don’t be afraid to get wet and get messy! You can always wash off with the garden hose before you go in or plan bath-time to happen right after playtime. A bucket of water is really all it takes to have some fun (and actually my crazy toddler just LOVES when we spray him down with the garden hose while we water the garden!). Make it easy on yourself by putting little ones in a swim diaper and swimwear before going out to play. Don’t forget the SPF and be sure to drink lots of water as you’re playing to stay hydrated!
Have fun and stay cool!
Karen and her husband of 7 years have one active but very sweet toddler boy and a happy baby girl. She loves being mommy, spending quality time with friends and family, traveling and trying new things.