Step away from the iPad. Seriously. Your toddler is having a very public tantrum because you just took it away, and though it’s totally tempting to give it back to her, she really, really doesn’t need it. At least not with these completely creative, super fun activities that encourage her to experience the great outdoors (sans touchscreens). Oh, and they’re not just for kids. You’ll get a kick out of these kid-friendly ideas too.
1. Look up at the starry night sky. The sun has set and your toddler — well, she’s 100 percent not ready for bedtime. If only there were magical twinkle lights that were brightening the night sky. If only these little lights were scattered in seemingly non-random patterns that looked just like connect-the-dots drawings. If only you could just go outside, look up, and see them for free. Oh, wait — you can. Head outside onto the balcony, deck, apartment building rooftop, backyard, or park, and marvel at the starry sky. Tell stories about the constellations or just sit and stare at the stars together.
2. Make the perfect picnic. Okay, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Pack a basket with a blanket and tons of tasty treats. Keep in mind, picnics aren’t always lunch affairs. Get creative and pack a breakfast or brunch picnic, or make one that just includes your fave desserts.
3. Get artsy. Finger painting is a mess — and that’s putting it mildly. Toss a sheet down on the grass outside, bring out the paints, and let your little artist get wild with creativity. When your tot is done, turn the sprinkler on and get clean the fun way.
4. Build a beach. Hey, we can’t all go to somewhere tropical on vacay — especially with a toddler in tow. But you can create your own staycation seascape right in your backyard. Tarp off a non-grassy area (you don’t want to destroy your lawn), then blow up an inflatable baby pool and fill it with play sand, smooth shells, and beach toys. Set out towels next to your DIY beach, and enjoy a day of beach play. If you’re super-duper daring — and prepared to clean sand from your floorboards for the next six months or so — you can even try this indoors.
5. Touch the sun. Um, not for real. Instead, make a totally touchable, sensory sun that’s toddler-friendly. Mix yellow tempera into shaving cream and spread out a sunshine circle on cardboard or poster board paper. If your tot doesn’t love playing with shaving cream, use gold glitter and glue to craft a sparkly sun instead.
6. Cool off with DIY ice pops. It’s hot. So hot that your toddler is at a 10 on the whiny scale because she can’t take the heat anymore. Hmm. Cool off with your own ice pop treat. Use ice cube trays to make your child’s favorite flavor of popsicles. DIY fruit juice pops or freeze soft, mushy fruits into rainbow-hued summertime treats. Push a popsicle stick through the cubes as they freeze so that your tot has a handle.
7. Make a messy masterpiece. Popsicles don’t have a monopoly on all things frozen. Freeze tempera paint that’s mixed with water, glitter, and watercolors or food coloring (also with water). Pop those cubes out onto plain white paper and push them around. They’ll melt into a messy masterpiece!
8. Book it. Summer isn’t all sunshine and 80-degree days. There are chilly, rainy, gray, blah summer days too. They kind of suck, but they’re also kind of made for snuggling up with your toddler and a good book — a children’s book, that is. Charlotte’s Web, Winnie-the-Pooh, or any other classic tale is always a good pick for a rainy summer day.
9. Take a nature walk. When the sun is shining, it’s time to head outdoors. Go for a walk, hand-in-hand with your little one. Bring along a baggie and collect natural items. This doesn’t mean you snatch the flora and fauna from the area. Pick up fallen leaves, teeny-tiny twigs, or even a few handfuls of dirt!
10. Grow a garden. Your toddler isn’t exactly on a landscape architect level of sophistication yet, but she can help you out in the garden. Dig in the soil, plant a few seeds, water what’s growing, and spend time every day in your garden. You can even grow a few veggies to turn into an end-of-summer dinner.
What’s your favorite family summertime activity? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)