The days are getting shorter, the air’s getting cooler, and back-to-school season is upon us. Summer is coming to an end (boo). But not to worry! Before the leaves start turning and it’s suddenly sweater weather, you still have time to get in some last-minute summer activities with your toddler. Check out some of our fave tot-time ideas that will get you bonding with your BTF (that is, best toddler friend).

1. Raid the veggie garden. You spent the summer with your little helper digging, sowing, and watering. Now that the fruits (err, vegetables) of your labor have grown to ginormous sizes, it’s time for the pre-fall harvest. Grab a basket, head outside, and help your tot to gather whatever is growing in your summer garden. Take the healthy treats inside and make a fresh salad (or maybe some B+C-approved squachos?) together.

2. Raid the veggie aisle at the grocery store. Okay, so you don’t really want to “raid” the vegetable aisle at the market, but we recognize that growing a summer garden isn’t something every mama does. Seriously, between the pool, the playground, and the tot camps, you barely have enough time to blink. Don’t stress if farming wasn’t on your summer agenda; you can still teach your toddler a mini lesson about the growing season. Visit the grocery store and talk about where some of your favorite summer veggies come from. Take your favorites home, and make those seasonal treats all the farmer mamas are whipping up.

3. Paint a picture outside. Pretty soon it will be all indoor play. That means covering the kitchen table with 32 layers of newspaper so your toddler’s finger paints don’t soak through. With a few warm weeks left, head outdoors and let your little artist throw down with an abstract paint storm a la Jackson Pollock in the yard. When she’s done, spray down the leftover paint-y mess with the hose. That’s it!

4. Pack a picnic dinner. Even though daylight hours are diminishing by the day, you still have several weeks of pre-bedtime sun. Instead of packing a picnic lunch for the park (you can do that in the fall), have a family dinner there. If you don’t have to get up early for work the next day, stay until the sun sets and see if you can catch a late-season firefly show.

5. DIY some backyard toys. Your toddler is probably kind of tired of playing with the same old toys day after summer day. Instead of buying a whole new batch of playthings she’ll be too old to enjoy next summer, DIY a few “newish” ones. Cut apart those old pool noodles and turn them into a ring toss game, fill old socks with rice to make beans bags, or get crafty and come up with your own creative ideas.

6. Go for a mini swim. Labor Day typically marks the end of swimming season for most neighborhood pools. But that doesn’t mean the mercury has dipped into fall jacket-wearing weather just yet. Enjoy the post-Labor Day, pre-fall heat with an afternoon paddle in your very own wading pool.

7. Draw with chalk. Oh, how the autumn leaves will fall. In a few weeks or months, this will change the landscape and make it all but impossible for your tot to graffiti the sidewalk with her own brand of chalk art. Get busy with the sidewalk art right now, and give your toddler a rainbow of chalk to create with. As she scribbles the day away, she’ll also build fine motor skills. Bonus!

8. Make s’mores. There’s no rule that says you can only make those marshmallow and chocolate stackers in the summertime months, but somehow they just seem to taste better then. Before pumpkin-spice-everything season strikes, get those marshmallows toasting and sandwich up a sweet s’more with your kiddo. Up the end-of-summer fun factor and get creative with the little stacks. Add in ice cream or sprinkles, or put a few pieces of thinly sliced bananas under the melty chocolate.

9. Take movie night outdoors. Turn your backyard or deck into a movie theater al fresco, projecting your kid’s favorite flick onto a sheet. It’s seriously simple to do this — all you need is a handy little smartphone projector and a download. Throw a blanket down, build a buffet of snacks (ice cream sundae bars are always welcome), and watch a family film under the stars.

What’s your favorite summer activity? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)