5 outdoor play ideas that are perfect for toddlers (I've tried #5 and my nephew loved it)

These outdoor play ideas for toddlers are not only fun, but will aid their development too

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With the sun shining (for now at least), you might want to spend more time outdoors with your kids. We share some brilliant ideas for outdoor play that will keep your little ones entertained and get them learning at the same time.

You might already have some of the best outdoor toys in your collection, and even a paddling pool at the ready for when temperatures rise. Sunshine and fresh air have well-documented benefits, but being outside can also be a great opportunity for sensory play, which is really valuable for your child's development.

So if you are looking for outdoor activities that are also educational, experts at toy company Lovevery share five great outdoor play ideas that are perfect for pre-school age children.

5 simple outdoor play ideas for toddlers

1. Experiment with ice cubes

Ice is fascinating to toddlers - it's cold, slippery and it changes form right in front of their eyes - all of which not only engages their senses, but can also help them develop their language skills as you talk with them about what they are experiencing. So when you know it's going to be sunny, grab a ice cube tray (if you have some different shaped molds that can be really helpful), and get them in the freezer ready to take out on a warm day.

You can pop them on a tray for your little one to discover, or take out a couple of containers for them to practice moving the ice cubes from one place to another. Ramp up the fun-factor even further but adding drops of food colouring before freezing, to help with sorting skills and colour recognition.

2. Paint with their feet

Tape bits of paper together to form a paper path of sorts (it's a good idea to put a book or some kind of weight on each corner to prevent it blowing away and getting paint anywhere you don't want it) drop some blobs of paint on there and encourage your little one to paint with their feet.

Not only will this help engage their senses in a fun way, but it can also help boost their coordination and creativity.

3. Have a pretend picnic

Playing pretend is a vital type of play for your child's development, and so good weather offers the perfect opportunity for a pretend picnic. Lay out a blanket, gather up any toy food sets you might have, and bring along some stuffed toys to help enjoy the feast. If you don't have anything suitable, this LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Party has 24 per cent off at Amazon right now, making it less than £20.

Your little one will love playing host, and offering foods and drinks to the guests, their imagination running wild.

4. Paint with nature

Head out for a walk with your little one to look for some natural 'paintbrushes' - think leaves, pinecones, sticks etc. Not only are these fun to find and collect, and offer a sensory experience in their own right. Let your little one have a really close look, touch and smell of their finds. They can also be used to create some nature themed art too. Use the materials to paint a picture, or turn them into stamps to create some fun prints.

5. Create an obstacle course

A simple obstacle course is a great way to boost your child's gross motor skills, sequencing and memory. This can involve moving through hoops, throwing bean bags, going through a tunnel. But even if you don't have lots of suitable items for an obstacle course, if you have a patio, you can always use outdoor chalk instead. I did this for my nephew when he was three years old, after seeing a mum share the idea on Instagram, and he loved 'popping the bubbles', 'touching the stars', and 'going around the world'.

For more ideas for entertaining your kids, check out these easy craft ideas and these mindfulness activities for some inspiration. For more sensory play ideas, take a look at our pick of the best sensory toys.

Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor - which means she writes about everything from this year's top toys and the newest toy releases, to discounts on days out and childcare costs. Sarah is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on the right toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.