Friday, July 6, 2018

Must Do Summer Toddler Activities!

It's summer! My favorite time of the year!  Summer with a toddler involves a whole lot of outdoor play, messiness, and water activities.  I wanted to make a list of activities that required little set-up, with the end goal of having play last more than two minutes.  Sometimes you can spend so much time prepping an activity, and your kid hates it.  Been there, done that. So before writing this post, I tried them all and I'm only sharing the ones that were successful!  Marlowe is currently 23 months, and I'd say these activities can be attempted with a toddler from 18 months old all the way to a 4 year old!  The older the child, the longer they play.  Have fun!

1.  Water Bead Sensory Bin
Water beads are this amazing little invention of colorful beads that expand when wet. Pour some beads into a tub or water table (I'm dying to get THIS water table) with some water, scoopers, and some cups or buckets and your toddler will be a happy camper.  They have a gelatin like feeling that is helpful for sensory play.  It comes in a tiny container and you'd be surprised at how far they go.  Marlowe will play with these for awhile outside, and when she spills and gets them on the concrete they will shrivel up by the next day and I can hose the patio down easily!

2.  Wash the Car
Do you have one of those Little Tikes cars?  Or a bike? Or even the family car!  This activity is pretty versatile.  I just gave Marlowe a bucket of water, soap and a rag and let her have the hose.  I was actually surprised at how much Marlowe enjoyed doing this!  It also lasted way longer than I thought it would.  I'm planning on washing our family car next with her!

3.  Pouring Station
This was the easiest activity ever.  Also I'd say it held her attention span the longest!  I just took my big plastic tub, put all the measuring cups, bowls, scoopers I could find in it.  Then I filled all the cups with water, and left a couple bowls empty.  Finally, I squeezed some food coloring of different colors in the different cups and voila!  She sat outside and poured and scooped away.  I ate a popsicle and she didn't even notice.  At the end we had a big tub of brown water but she didn't mind, I just dumped it and filled the cups again!

4.  Moon Sand
This one is MESSY.  But oh so fun.  Again, you need your big plastic tub.  Fill the tub with 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil.  Mix it together!  (You can double the recipe if your kid loves it!)  It's very moldable, like damp beach sand.  I put her beach toys and buckets in there and we made sand castles together (or should I say flour castles?).  You can make it a learning experience by throwing in some dollar store seashells and talking about what shells are!  Or even little play crabs/fish!  Keep this outside, and put your kid in a bathing suit or clothes you don't care about because the oil can get on them.  Some toddler's won't like this activity because of sensory issues and not wanting things on their hands.  Give it time, and keep encouraging if this is the case!  The kids that don't want to touch are the kids that need it most!  When you're done, pour all the moon sand into an air tight ziplock bag and pull it out again another time!

5.  Pool Noodle Bath
Go get a couple dollar store pool noodles.  Take your kitchen knife and cut it up!  Throw all the pieces in the bath with a big bowl.  Done!  We do pool noodle baths OFTEN and Marlowe always comes up with new things to do with them!

6.  Make Your Own Play-Doh
This is like the ultimate elementary school teacher recipe, but also so great for toddlers!  Store bought play-doh dries up quickly and smells gross.  Make your own play-doh is very moldable and you can add whatever scent you want to it (essential oils, lemon extract, peppermint extract etc.).  Store it in an airtight zip-lock bag for a good month!  All you need to do is boil 1 cup of water, 1 tbs oil, 1/2 cup of salt, whatever scent you choose, and a few drops of gel food coloring.  Mix that well and take off the heat.  Then add 1 tbs cream of tartar (you can find this in the spices section at the store!), and 1 cup of flour.  Knead it all together with your hands on some wax paper (which feels amazing on your hands)!  I have a box of "play-doh toys" for her but it basically includes cookie cutters, a rolling pin, and some play-doh ice cream cones she loves.

7.  Paint on Butcher Paper
This activity was a TON of fun.  I bought a 4 dollar roll of butcher paper from Home Depot in the paint section.  Taped a huge piece on the side of my house (I had to use a lot of tape to make it time I'll tape it to my glass sliding doors) and gave her some big paint brushes with some neon washable paint.  She thought I was the coolest mom ever.  Painting for toddlers becomes so much more fun when the painting surface is vertical instead of flat on a table.

8.  Paint with Q-tips
I didn't expect this one to be a hit and it was actually a spur of the moment activity because she saw the paint in her closet and was yelling "paint!". I couldn't say no.  So I took her paint outside, threw in some Q-tips (I thought about cotton balls too!) and it was a winner!  Super simple and practices fine motor skills!

9.  Watermelon Sponge Painting
This is the only thing on this list that needs to be super guided.  But the end result is adorable and one of those things you put on the fridge!  First, cut a dollar store sponge into a triangle, dip into some pink paint and stamp onto paper.  Then take your toddler's finger and dip it into the green paint and paint on the green watermelon skin to each pink triangle.  Then talk about how watermelon's have seeds and either use a black marker or black paint and add the seeds!  Afterwards I just let her finger paint with the pink and green paint or play with stamping the sponge.

10.  Ice Cream Date
When all else fails, take your toddler to get some ice-cream.  Just because you can!  Marlowe and I have been having weekly ice cream dates where we sit together outside so she can spill all she wants.  We have quality mommy and Marlowe time and it makes her so happy.  She talks my ear off in her toddler language and I let her sit on the diaper bag as a booster seat in a big girl chair.  You can make it healthy by getting frozen yogurt, or something like Nektar or Pressed Juicery ice cream (both non-dairy, sugar-free, amazing faux ice cream!)

Let me know if you try these with your toddler!  Hope they love them as much as Marlowe does!
Some more pictures below:)



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