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14 Toddler Activities for Indoor and Outdoor Time


 Unlock a treasure trove of engaging and educational toddler activities to foster growth, creativity, and delightful moments for your little one.

Toddlerhood is a time of wonder and exploration that passes in the blink of an eye. At this age, growth comes quickly, and with it comes the need for activities that both keep them entertained and support their overall development.

That's where this guide comes in. We've curated a comprehensive collection of indoor and outdoor activities that are developmentally appropriate (and super fun) for any toddler.

Before we dive in, let's take a closer look at why purposeful play is so important for toddlers and how you can choose the best activities for your child’s unique needs and interests.

Introduction to Toddler Activities

When planning activities for your toddler, it's important to consider their developmental stage. The ages of 2 and 3—while only one year apart—bring with them big differences in ability, interest, and attention span. That’s in addition to your child’s unique and individual needs. 

By 2 and a half years old, most little kids should be able to do things like:

  • Show basic problem-solving skills, like standing on a small stool to reach something.
  • Follow basic, two-step instructions, like “Pick up the toy and bring it here.”
  • Learn basic routines, like knowing when it’s time to clean up toys or get ready for their bedtime routine.

These milestones can help you gauge your toddler’s developmental stage. That, in turn, can help you decide which of the following activities are most appropriate for them.

Benefits of Engaging Toddler Activities

Purposeful play offers numerous benefits for toddlers' growth and development. From hide-and-seek to storytime before bed, let's explore how engaging activities support three key areas: motor skills, social interaction, and creativity.

  • Developing gross and fine motor skills – As they engage in physical play, toddlers develop strength, balance, and body awareness. Activities like stacking blocks or playdough play dates further help refine hand-eye coordination and dexterity. 
  • Improving communication – Another key developmental milestone is the ability to play with others—or at least alongside them. Activities like dress-up, Simon Says, or picnic dates help build social skills with their peers and siblings. Cooperative play isn’t just about playing nice, it’s a pillar for learning how to build teamwork and collaboration among young kids.
  • Boosting creativity – Whether its pillow-fort parties or sand castle surprises, engaging your little one with open-ended playtime lets little brains flex big imaginations. Besides laying the foundation for developing valuable problem-solving skills, such creative activities are also shown to help toddlers with naming and understanding those tricky, hard-to-explain emotions like sadness and anger.

By providing a nurturing and stimulating environment, you'll help your little one thrive during these crucial early years.

Choosing Age-Appropriate Toddler Activities

In addition to development milestones, it’s also important to keep in mind your toddler’s age and physical growth. This contributes to a safe play environment where you and your child can focus on what matters: having fun and growing closer together.

Let’s explore a few activities specifically meant for older (3+ years old) toddlers:

Sensory Play for Young Toddlers

During the earlier developmental stages, getting hands-on experience through a sensory activity is often better at keeping a busy toddler engaged. Consider kids activities like: 

  • Sandbox shenanigans – Let your toddler experience gritty grains of sand and the sun’s warmth.
  • Makeshift music – Turn a spoon and lid into a drum set or a can of dried beans into a pair of maracas.
  • Pool playtime – Let your toddler splash and swim to their heart’s delight in a small, supervised kiddy pool.

Activities like these help your child develop a keener feel for their five senses—building new connections in their brain through exciting sounds, sights, and sensations that set the stage for more complex thinking abilities.

Educational Games for Older Toddlers

While most toddlers will always be up for a round of pool playtime, older toddlers can benefit from a little more mental stimulation. Try out some games such as: 

  • Puzzle play – Age-appropriate puzzles can engage your toddler’s brain with their colorful simplicity.
  • Guess the sound – What does the fox say? Teach your toddler animal sounds by playing fun clips and videos.
  • Sink or float – A fun activity that allows little kids to learn a little science is seeing which toys sink in water and which ones don’t. 

By engaging in these activities, you help your child prepare for future learning experiences and foster a love for exploration and discovery.

Indoor and Outdoor Toddler Activities

Nowadays, kids (yes, even toddlers!) tend to spend more time on their smartphones than in the sunshine. But to grow up big and strong, a good balance of movement and outdoor activity is recommended. 

Here are a few indoor and indoor and outdoor activities for toddlers to keep them active and engaged:

  • Rainy day indoor play – Building forts out of blankets and pillows, crafting with recyclable materials, and imaginative play with dolls and action figures is a fun activity that can keep toddlers engaged for hours.
  • Outdoor adventures and exploration – Backyard games invite tiny feet to tread, jump, and run on a path filled with discovery and giggles. Sidewalk chalk, nature walks, and simple hide-and-seek games are some of the best outdoor activities for kids that create a sense of exploration and adventure.

The key is to strike a balance between structured outdoor activities and open-ended, child-led play. By engaging in a variety of play experiences, your child can work on crucial skills, explore their interests, and develop a love for learning. 

DIY Toddler Activities on a Budget

There’s no need for expensive toys or exotic trips to keep your busy toddler engaged. Many everyday items like kitchenware, papers, and keys can be transformed into treasures of their own, sparking joy without the hefty price tag.

Household Items Turned Play Materials

With a little creativity, cardboard boxes become cars, ribbons become scarves, and empty toilet paper rolls become binoculars. Here are a few DIY ideas to make your toys out of household objects:

  • Make your own playdough – With some flour, salt, water, and food coloring, you can craft homemade and kid-friendly playdough, ready for any and all creative projects.
  • Bring stories to life with sock puppets – Make reading more engaging by creating puppets out of socks or paper bags to represent characters in the story.
  • Build a sensory bin – Fill a large container with fun textured items like rice, beans, pasta, or water beads for a full sensory playground experience. This sensory activity is a great idea to help support your child’s fine motor skills and cognitive development.

Even when you’re on a budget, every day is a chance for a new story—written with the simplest of things.

Nature-inspired DIY Activities

Here are some simple, budget-friendly ways to bring the wonders of the natural world into your child's play:

  • Nature walk collection – Go on a walk and collect leaves, rocks, sticks, and flowers—whatever catches your toddler’s eye. Sort them at home or use them for art projects.
  • DIY bird feeders – A simple activity is to make DIY bird feeders. Use recyclables like toilet paper rolls, coat them with peanut butter, and roll them in birdseed. Hang outside the window for easy birdwatching.
  • Water cycle experiment – Fill a sealable plastic bag with a bit of water and some blue food coloring, then tape it to a sunny window to observe the water cycle in action.

Studies show that these and similar activities help your toddler develop a deeper appreciation for the environment—and their place within it.

Encouraging Learning Through Play 

Play is a powerful vehicle for early childhood learning. By integrating educational elements into fun experiences, you can support your toddler's cognitive, language, and social-emotional development.

To make playtime even more exciting and educational, you might try to: 

  • Engage in interactive storytelling – Ask open-ended questions about the characters, plot, and pictures to encourage critical thinking and comprehension. Use different voices, facial expressions, and gestures to bring the characters to life, modeling expressive language and emotional understanding.
  • Choose educational toys – Interactive stories and stuffed animals allow for multiple ways of playing. Other toys like building blocks and construction sets develop spatial reasoning, problem-solving skills, and fine motor skills.

Whatever toys you choose, aim to draw out your child’s natural curiosity through every simple activity. Play off their unique preferences to tailor a learning experience that’s as fun as it is memorable.

Growth Through Play: The Slumberkins Way

Engaging your toddler in purposeful activities lays the foundation for a lifelong love of learning and discovery. By providing a rich array of age-appropriate activities that span indoor and outdoor settings, you create endless opportunities for your little one to grow.

Remember, play is the work of childhood—so have fun exploring and creating together! And if you need a little help bringing learning to life, Slumberkins’ collection of cuddly Snugglers and relatable storybooks are here to help.

By choosing Slumberkins, you're planting the seeds of resilience, empathy, and self-confidence, seeds destined to sprout into lifelong learning and success.


Sources: 


CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Thirty Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-30mo.html


Healthlink BC. Benefits of Physical Activity for Toddlers. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/benefits-physical-activity-toddlers


Creation Station. How do creative activities benefit my child? https://www.thecreationstation.co.uk/inspiration/how-do-creative-activities-benefit-my-child


Healthline. What are the benefits of sensory play? https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/sensory-play#benefits


Forbes. Children Who Play Outdoors Are More Likely To Protect Nature As Adults. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/08/21/children-play-outdoors-more-likely-protect-nature-adults/?sh=43db13566641


First Cry Parenting. Activities For 2 Year Olds. https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/top-25-activities-for-2-year-old-toddler/

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