Inside: Discover 10 easy fun and calming outdoor activities for toddlers when they’re tired, stressed, and overwhelmed.
Over the past year and a half, children have been forced to spend more time indoors than ever before, and this has had tremendous effects on their ability to regulate their emotional responses to both their own stress and that of others.
I think I can speak for many parents when I say that our own ability to control personal stress and anxiety has been put to the test, making it more difficult for us to see our children’s struggles.
Toddlers, in particular, can struggle with emotional regulation that can worsen when they don’t have an outlet for their boundless energy.
This often leads to what parents see as negative behavior and can end in frustration for everyone.
One of the absolute best strategies for helping your small child boost their emotional regulation skills is simply taking them out into nature and engaging them in outdoor activities for toddlers.
Often, the simple act of engaging in outside nature play for kids together can do wonders for your toddler’s mental, physical, and emotional health.
I’ve gathered together some of The Best Calming Outdoor Activities for Toddlers to get you started. From there, the possibilities are endless!
Calming Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
According to the National Wildlife Federation, “the average American child spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day.” Many more hours are spent in front of a tablet, handheld gaming device, or television screen. So, what are the calming benefits of outdoor activities for toddlers?
- Outdoor play provides a healthy physical outlet for pent-up energy
- When your child spends time outside, it raises their Vitamin D levels, which has been clinically proven to reduce depression and anxiety
- ADHD symptoms have been shown to improve when children spend time in nature
- Spending time in green spaces instantly begins to reduce stress
- Unstructured outdoor play protects children’s emotional development
10 Calming Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
Go On a Nature Walk
The best part about nature walks is that you can take them virtually anywhere. Use this as an opportunity to incorporate local parks and trails into your outside activities for toddlers, and keep your little one engaged by giving them an “exploration bag” to collect leaves, pretty rocks, and flowers.
Make Rock Pictures
Toddlers love collecting rocks of different shapes and sizes, so use their natural curiosity to help them create pictures of animals, letters, and numbers with their newfound treasures. Your toddler can also sort them by size and shape, and they can be fun to paint as well.
Nature Color Sorting
Spend some time outside with your toddler gathering leaves and flowers and let them sort into different color groups. This is a fun way to create nature collages as well. All you need is glue or mod podge and construction paper.
Create Sidewalk Chalk Art
My toddlers spent many stress-relieving hours outside with a few pieces of sidewalk chalk and a bucket of water (for ‘chalk painting’ as they called it). You can also help your child make beautiful sidewalk chalk mosaics with masking tape and chalk. Check out how by visiting Bilingual Beginnings for step-by-step instructions.
Have a Toy Wash
Toddlers love to help with “grown-up” chores, and involving them in these activities can help them feel valued and appreciated. Grab a few plastic tubs and your child’s most-loved toys, and take them outside for a good scrubbing. Your toddler will enjoy this activity’s repetitive nature, as it helps them to focus in order to accomplish a task.
Make Shadow Art
All you need is paper, a pencil or crayon, toy dinosaurs or other figures, and a sunny day. Show your toddler how they can make shadows of different sizes depending on the time of day and angle they’re drawing from. They’re guaranteed to love it.
Make Rainbow Foam
This easy-to-make DIY Rainbow Foam from the Play Inspired Mum is the perfect outdoor calming activity for toddlers. Involving them in the creation process helps them develop several valuable skills, such as experimental play, creativity, and fine motor skills. The best part is that you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen.
Play in the Sand
Another fun outdoor kid activity is to have your toddler grab their favorite dump trucks, buckets, and shovel and head to the nearest sandbox or beach (if you’re lucky). The texture of the sand offers lots of calming tactile sensory input, and your toddler will love building sandcastles or filling up their trucks for transport.
We made this simple sandbox with rocks, tree stumps, landscape fabric and about 20 bags of sand.
If you live near a lake, pond, or even a stream, help your toddler collect some quality skipping stones and have them give it a go. For the most part, they’ll just throw the rocks into the water, but that in and of itself is a calming activity.
Talk with them about the ripples each stone makes as it plops into the water and see who can throw their rock the farthest.
There is nothing more relaxing than watching bubbles float lazily on the breeze when it comes to calming outdoor activities for toddlers. This calming outdoor activity never grows old, and it requires your toddler to concentrate on using their breath to create their own bubbles which is a great way to incorporate mindfulness activities for kids.
Related resource::: Want to discipline without emotional damage? The Positive Discipline Set is for you.
Using Outdoor Activities for Toddlers to Calm and Regulate emotions and behavior
Using outdoor play for toddlers really is the best and easiest way to improve a child’s behavior and mood.
On the days you think parenting a toddler might make you go insane, just remember that a a little sanity is just one small step (outside) away.
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