Enjoying The Sunshine: 10 Best Summer Activities For Toddlers

Two happy children playing football outdoors in school yard in summer

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With the days getting longer and warmer, it’s impossible to forget that summer is almost here!

For kids, this means endless days of fun in the sun and with the right summer activities for toddlers, this can be the best summer yet!

As I like to keep it simple, my favorite summer activities for toddlers are really easy to put together and don’t require a whole lot of planning, either.

After all, we all know it doesn’t take much to keep little ones entertained!

With just a little bit of planning and preparation, you will be able to organize fun summer activities that your kids will remember even when they’re all grown up.

Plus, you will find that much of the activities we loved as kids still make for some great summer fun – I’m certain that you will enjoy them, too! (Just don’t forget the sunscreen and to do your best to protect your little ones from mosquito bites!)

1. Car wash

When I tell my kids to go and pick up the toys lying around on the floor of their bedrooms, I’m always met with complaints and echoes of “Do I really have to?”

But one mention of helping mom wash the car, and they’re all over it like a bad rash! This is why organizing a car wash is one of the best summer activities for toddlers if you ask me.

happy child being a little helper by helping her daddy cleaning up the car in summer

Of course, it’s best to do this in the summertime so the kids can cool off and if they get wet, they won’t catch a cold.

Just make sure that they aren’t wearing their Sunday best, as it could get ruined by the soapy water.

My kids also like to wash their bikes while we’re at it, so this type of water play is something that you can definitely incorporate into your car wash day, too!

2. Science experiments

Science experiments are some of my favorite summer activities for toddlers, as they are old enough to find them engaging and it’s a wonderful learning activity that can spark an interest in science.

You can find loads of fun experiments online but my favorite one to do is the one where you create fireworks in a glass of water!

It’s nowhere near as messy as it sounds, so you can do it indoors on a rainy day, as well.
For this experiment, you will need:

  • 2 glasses (16 ounces will do)
  • vegetable oil
  • food coloring
Science experiment with colors in a jar in kitchen
Image via Kidspot.com

Fill one glass with water almost to the brim (make sure the water is not cold, room temperature will do) and put 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the other one.

Then, take the food coloring and add just 2 drops to the oil. Take a fork and stir the food coloring and the oil until small drops have formed.

Slowly, pour the food coloring oil drops into the glass with the water and observe how the drops “explode” as they begin to float down in the glass!

If you have more than one kid and they seem to be allergic to sharing, you will probably need to do this little experiment twice.

But since you likely have all of these ingredients already, that shouldn’t be too much trouble.

3. Rock art

One of my favorite summer activities for kids is to send them on a scavenger hunt in our backyard for rocks they can draw on – this is especially fun on a hot day when the kids want to run around.

Older tots will be able to do this on their own but 2-year-olds, for example, will probably need a bit of help from mom and dad.

Sea smooth stones, pebbles with human face, stone painting on the beach as background

Once they’ve collected a couple of rocks or pebbles, it’s time to get the crayons out and make some DIY rock art!

Another fun way to color rocks is to use sharpies – just remember not to leave the finished rocks out in the sun afterward.

4. Paint the pavement

A classic fun activity for the summer is to get some sidewalk chalk and let your kids’ imagination run wild outside the house where they can’t “accidentally” paint all over your walls.

This outdoor activity is particularly well-suited for preschoolers as they have the necessary fine motor skills to draw and paint in more detail than younger tots.

You can also spice up this toddler activity by making chalk paint your kids can draw with!

girl drawing a rainbow colored chalk on the asphalt on summer sunny day

The best thing about this kind of paint is that water washes it straight off, which means that your tots can also paint over your garage door, fence, or walls.

To make chalk paint, crush up or grate different colored pieces of chalk, add them to separate Tupperware containers and add water until you get a paint-like consistency.

Then, find a few paint brushes and let your little Picasso paint all day!

5. The classic sprinkler

In a perfect world, every house would have a pool.

Unfortunately, some of us just have to make do with the sprinklers in our back yard but that doesn’t mean we can’t come up with some amazing water play activities!

And let’s be real, as far as summer activities with toddlers go – you just can’t go wrong with a sprinkler.

 Kid in bathing suit playing with sprinkler in garden in summer

One of my favorite sprinkler play ideas is to get my portable speaker out and play music while the kids dance and run around – when I pause the music, they need to freeze and hold still until the music starts again.

Lots of laughter is guaranteed!

The more kids play the better, so this is a really fun game to organize if you’re having a 4th of July party with your neighbors, for example.

Of course, you can never go wrong with the classic slip-and-slide, either!

6. Water balloons

Filling up balloons with water and then having a giant fight with all the neighborhood children was one of my favorite summer things to do as a kid!

Toddlers will definitely need some help tying up the balloons from mom or dad but once that’s out of the way, the water balloon battles can begin.

But it doesn’t have to be all about playful fighting.

Kid holds filled water baloons are ready to be played with in garden

If you have a couple of pool noodles lying around in your garage, you can take them out for a game of baseball – where the ball is a water balloon, of course.

Older kiddos can use a regular or a plastic baseball bat, of course. You can also get crafty and paint the balloons as a fun art activity.

7. DIY Tennis

You might not think that tennis is one of the best summer activities for toddlers because they still struggle with their hand-eye coordination but I have a different kind of tennis in mind – and it includes balloons and paper plates.

The paper plates are the rackets in this scenario and you can encourage your kiddos to paint and decorate them as much as they would like.

Once they’re done, you will need to glue a wooden stick (an ice cream one will do – if it’s too small then add more than one) that will act as a handle.

Close up kid hand color painting on paper plate

The balloons, in this case, just need to be filled with air. Just make sure not to blow them up too much as it’s harder to play with a lighter balloon.

I really love this because it works just as well as an indoor activity on a rainy day and it can be put together really quickly, too.

8. Bubble snakes

Summer is the perfect time to try all those messy crafts and activities that you couldn’t do during the winter, and making a bubble snake is one of them!

The best thing about this activity is that you probably have everything you need to make a bubble snake at home, so you can try this with your little ones on a whim – no planning needed.

For a bubble snake, you will need:

  • a plastic container
  • dish soap
  • plastic water bottle
  • washcloth
  • a hair tie
Snake bubble in the garden
Image via Kixcereal.com

First things first, you will need to mix the dish soap with a little bit of water in the plastic container.

Then, grab a pair of scissors and cut the bottom of the plastic bottle out. Cover the bottom with a washcloth and fix it in place with the hair tie.

Dip the washcloth-covered part of the bottle in the container filled with soap and water.

Finally, unscrew the cap of the bottle and blow air into it – this will create bubbles that will form a snake-like shape that will keep your kiddos entertained for hours!

9. Sensory play

All summer activities for toddler-aged kids that incorporate sensory play should definitely be given a try, as sensory play has an important role in the cognitive development of toddlers, as well as their gross and fine motor skills.

A perfect sensory activity is to get a sandbox (if you don’t have one, you can order it online) and fill it with all sorts of sand toys.

Toddler playing in sandbox with toys outdoors in summer

As sand play can get quite messy, summer is the best time to do it.

My personal favorite sand toy is a sifter, which is a lot of fun for toddlers and they can spend hours playing with it in the sand!

10. Toilet paper roll crafts

Who knew that toilet paper rolls could make for such a cheap and versatile toy?

Whether your kids use them to make towers or turn them into cartoon characters, I guarantee they will enjoy it!

Some of the things we’ve made with toilet paper rolls so far include:

Colorful toilet paper roll crafts on blue background

  • palm trees (help your little ones cut leaf shapes out of paper and let them color it in green or any other color for that matter, and then glue the paper leaves on top of the rolls – you can even add the palm trees to the sandbox);
  • snakes (use string to loosely tie the rolls to one another after you have made small holes on each side of the roll);
  • their favorite cartoon characters.

Any TP roll crafts are going to need parental supervision (and help!) so make sure that you have enough free time to really enjoy it without rushing anywhere.

RELATED: 6 Fun and Easy Paper Crafts For Kids To Keep Them Busy All Day

To wrap up

Keeping little kids entertained is a full-time job on its own, but with the right summer activities for toddlers, you can avoid hearing “Mom, I’m bored!” ten times a day this summer!

As you can see, most of these activities are really easy to put together with just a few items you already have at home and they will keep your kiddos happy and engrossed in play for hours.

Whether it’s washing the family car or having a water balloon fight, summer is the perfect time to get messy and I hope this is the best one so far!

READ NEXT: 7 Best Spring Activities For Kids: Fun Ideas For Springtime Play

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Written by Ivana Davies

Hey there mamas! I'm Ivana, a millenial mom of two wonderful kids. I was a teacher, but now I'm a stay-at-home mom running this blog with the goal of uniting all moms into a supportive community and providing insight into the everyday battle of motherhood.