Activities for toddlers in the summer

39 Free Or Inexpensive Activities For Toddlers In The Summer

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Let’s face it! Disneyland is a great place for young kids in the summer months but many simply cannot afford it.

There are, however, tons of free or inexpensive activities for toddlers in the summer that will keep the smile on their faces all summer long.

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And I bet you’ll enjoy most of them too.

Backyard activities for toddlers in the summer

Backyard activities for toddlers in the summer

When you’re too busy to go away from home, the backyard can be as fun a place as any. You just need a little imagination and some time to prepare for the fun toddler activities.

And in addition, these outdoor summer activities can provide a great time not just for little kids but for your whole family.

Obstacle course

The cool thing about making an obstacle course in your backyard is that you can almost always make it with items at hand. What you need to add is something to:

  • Go around
  • Crawl under
  • Jump over
  • Climb
  • Balance over

If you have a slide with a basketball hoop or some extra tires to paint, they would all make a great addition to the obstacle course.

Kiddie pool

Kiddie pools come in all shapes and sizes and can be pretty inexpensive too. They can provide hours of fun while your kid splashes around in it.

Not to mention that you can cool off in it too.

However, remember that you should not leave your kid unattended in the pool even for a minute. You must watch over them at all times.

Water table

A splash table is another great source for water play. And a lot safer than the kiddie pool.

Most water tables include sections for water and sand, and several small toys to interact with them.

They stimulate the toddler’s fine motor skills and sensory perception. And best of all, they provide hours of fun splashing with their toys.

To make it extra special you could use kinetic sand instead of regular, however, this will increase the expense quite a bit.

Water balloons

Free Or Inexpensive Activities For Toddlers In The Summer. Water balloons

Have you participated in a water balloon fight when you were little? It was a blast, right?

However, I’ve noticed that parents today tend to discourage their kids from such games, although I have absolutely no idea why.

But if you still keep the great memories from your childhood, get some water balloons, fill them with warm water, tie them up and teach your toddler how to throw them.

Water guns

If you all need to cool off in the heat but have no space for a pool (or you just want to try something different) you can try introducing your toddler to water guns.

Still, keep in mind that kids under 2 years of age may have difficulty using it properly and get discouraged quickly.

And if you don’t want to get too wet, you can always create some targets to shoot at.

Blow bubbles

Kids love blowing bubbles. My 2-year-old can spend a full half-hour blowing and chasing bubbles.

And if you’re not very enthusiastic about blowing bubbles all day, you may want to consider getting an outdoor bubble machine and buy some time for yourself.

Car wash

It may feel like a duty for you, but for young children taking part in a car wash is really exciting.

They get to help and feel useful and “grown-up”. And they also have fun getting all wet.

Sidewalk chalk

Sidewalk chalk

Drawing with sidewalk chalk used to be one of my favourite activities when I was a kid.

It’s a great way for them to unleash their creativity. And as a bonus, it is easily erasable with the water hose.

Hopscotch board

While you’ve got the chalk out, why don’t you draw a classic hopscotch board on the pavement?

It’s quick, easy, and guarantees to tire your active toddler out.

Plant seeds

Introduce gardening to your little one by showing them how to plant a seed. And let them get their hands dirty.

Not sure what to plant? Check out Rainy Day Mum’s guide on quick-growing plants for kids.

Hang a bird feeder

Hang a bird feeder

You can purchase a ready-made feeder or build one from scratch. There are plenty of quick and easy online tutorials for you to choose from.

If you’re DIY-ing it, let your kid help and paint it using non-toxic paint. Then allow them to add the seeds to the feeder and hang it up.

When the birds find it you can sit close by and watch them together.

Build a fort

Don’t be quick to imagine something big and expensive.

A fort could be build by using 2-3 chairs with a blanket over them or by cutting out a big card box. Either way, your toddler will love it.

You’ll get bonus time if you let them decorate it themselves, e.g. drawing on the card box.

Go camping

Ok, so some of you may be wondering why I’ve put go camping in the backyard activities.

Well, simply because camping with a toddler in the great outdoors could be quite challenging. Especially if you have a kid that likes to go to bed squeaky clean as mine does.

So instead, this summer we’ll build the tent in our backyard, just in case. And if she likes it, we will consider upgrading to a nearby forest next.

Have a bonfire

Having a bonfire is a must when you’re camping. So grab the marshmallows and some sticks and light it on.

Still, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on the kids and don’t let them play near the fire.

Play in the rain

When we were kids we used to love going out to play dodgeball in the rain. And somehow, even the rain felt warm.

So why not let your toddler play in the rain for once. You can even have a dance party.

And once you’re done, go inside, change your clothes and have yourselves a hot chocolate to warm up.

Create your own sprinkler

Create your own sprinkler

Sprinklers can be really fun to run through, however, some of us just don’t have them at home. As it turns out, this is a very easy fix.

All you need is a water hose, a plastic bottle, waterproof tape, and something to drill holes in the bottle with.

It takes only a few minutes to set up so grab the drill and the bathing suit and you’re good to go.

Create your own splash pad

If you don’t want to deal with maintaining a kiddie pool, your best alternative is a splash pad.

And the coolest thing is that you can create one yourself. What you need is a large, clean tarp, a sprinkler (could be the one above) or water hose, and some water toys. That’s it.

Just keep an eye on them because sliding on the pad could be fun but they may hurt themselves if they fall out of the splash area.

Catch butterflies and fireflies

Your toddler will have tons of fun running around and waving the net.

Still, you will have to do all of the catching if you want to show your toddler a firefly or a butterfly up close.

Find shapes in the clouds

Boost your toddler’s imagination by making up different shapes from the clouds. Just grab a blanket and head to the backyard.

What makes it one of my favourite activities for toddlers in the summer is that it’s stimulating for them, while it gives you some time to rest and enjoy the warmth of the day.

Play hide and seek

Play hide and seek

Some games never go out of style. And while I’m sure you know the rules, here are a couple of pieces of advice:

  1. Secure the area you’ll be playing at. The kids may run or hide unattended for a minute and you need to be sure they’ll be safe in the meantime.
  2. Don’t hide too well. Toddlers may get irritated or bored quickly if they are unable to find you. So let them believe they found you on their own and take a minute or two before finding them.

Beach activities for the extra nice weather

Beach activities for the extra nice weather

There is no better place to be on a hot day in the summer than the beach. And luckily, the beach can provide tons of entertainment for the little ones.

Build a sandcastle

No trip to the beach is complete without building a sandcastle.

So grab the sand buckets (you know most of them do serve as castle moulds too, right), sunscreen, and a book and head to the beach.

Fly a kite

The beach is usually a lot windier than the inland.

That’s why it’s the perfect place to fly your toddler’s first kite.

Do a beach scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are fun all year long. To make a summer scavenger hunt list items that your toddler can associate with the season. Here are some ideas:

  • Ice cream
  • 3 types of shells
  • Flip-flops
  • A beach ball
  • Something inflatable
  • A lifesaver
  • Seaweed
  • A boat
  • A sandcastle

Have a fun family photoshoot

Have a fun family photoshoot

Burry dad in the sand, pose with your sandcastle, capture your name on the wet sand. These will all make great photos.

But if you want to get extra creative, Kara from Saving By Design has some great ideas for your next vacation.

Sand art

Collect different shells and stones or different shapes and sizes and use them to “draw” on the wet sand.

Add a learning curve to it by drawing letters and simple numbers or asking them to count the shapes you’ve drawn, i.e. 4 hearts, 5 leaves on the flower, etc.

Indoor activities for the rainy days

Unfortunately, summer is not just sun and nice weather. And if your toddler gets restless when they have to stay at home, check out these rainy-day activities for toddlers in the summer.

Sensory bin

Sensory play is a great exercise for the fine motor skills and the hand-eye coordination of the little ones. Depending on their setting they can stimulate all senses of your toddler: sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste.

What you need is a large container (an under-bed plastic container would do a great job) and different filling depending on what you have at hand or your budget. A tip here, refrain from purchasing sensory bin materials from educational supply stores because they tend to keep the prices quite high.

Some fillers you can use for the bins include:

  • Kinetic sand
  • Water beads
  • Pom-poms
  • Cotton balls
  • Coloured rise (using food colouring)
  • Coloured pasta
  • River or aquarium rocks
  • Shredded paper
  • Plastic pellets
  • Dirt from your garden
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Buttons, etc.

Combine with small items to make the bin thematic. For example gardening tools with the dirt, seashells with the kinetic sand, different small plastic or rubber toys, and anything else that comes to mind.

Homemade pizza

Homemade pizza

Not all activities for toddlers in the summer should include playtime and toys.

For example, name one child that doesn’t love pizza. And if you make a pizza on a rainy day you get a double win: your kid is busy and excited helping you out, and you won’t have to worry about dinner.

And if you’re not sure how you could possibly cook with your kids around, Peggy from Thursday Night Pizza can help you out.

Homemade ice cream

Did you know that you don’t need an ice cream machine to make ice cream? All you need is a zip-top bag, some ice, salt, sugar, heavy cream, and fruits.

And since I’m not much of a cook I’ll leave you this super easy strawberry ice cream recipe from Coco & Dash.

Homemade lemonade

While we’re on the homemade theme, why don’t you make yourself homemade lemonade?

Here’s a quick and easy homemade lemonade recipe from The Belly Rules The Mind. It has only 4 ingredients and tells you how to create the syrup so you have lemonade ready whenever you feel like it.

Summer-themed flashcards

If your toddler is still learning to talk this could be the perfect time to introduce some summer-related words. Here is a short list:

  • Watermelon
  • Lemon
  • Strawberry
  • Sunflower
  • Seagull
  • Boat
  • Beach
  • Sand
  • Seashell
  • Seastar
  • Sunglasses
  • Ice cream

You can create your own flashcards or download the sample I’ve prepared for you for free.

Finger painting

Finger painting

While you can do this outside, it’s also a great activity for the rainy summer days. Let them get messy and be happy about it.

Just keep an eye on them so they don’t lick their fingers.

Science experiments for kids

Perform kids science experiments to boost your little one’s curiosity and make learning a bit more fun.

While you can find plenty of ideas online, here’s the recipe for the one I intend to try soon.

What you need:

  • Plastic bottles (works best with 500ml bottles)
  • Balloons
  • Apple vinegar
  • Some baking soda
  • Food colouring (optional)


  1. Fill each balloon with 1 tbsp. baking soda.
  2. Fill each bottle with about 50 ml of vinegar.
  3. Add colouring corresponding to the balloons to the vinegar. (Optional)
  4. Put the balloon on the top of the bottle without mixing the soda and the vinegar.
  5. When you’re ready, let your kid lift the balloon so that the baking soda falls into the bottle.

The result:

The balloon should inflate while the bottle fills up with colourful foam.

Other fun activities for toddlers in the summer

Create your own summer bucket list

Make the most of the long summer days by creating your summer bucket list and start working on it right away.

Feel free to use the ideas in this post or download my free printable template and list of summer bucket ideas.

Visit a water park

Activities For Toddlers In The Summer. Visit a water park

If you have one nearby, water parks provide entertainment for the whole family, including your toddler.

However, depending on the park, it may come at a price, although most commonly there are happy hours when you can sneak in for half the price.

Go for a nature walk

The summer months are the perfect time to get to know the less urbanized areas around you.

You may think there’s nothing to see there, but everything is probably new for your toddler – the bark of the trees, the wildflowers, the insects, even the dirt.

Watch the sunrise and sunset

Have you explained to your toddler why is it light during the day and dark during the night?

Now may be a good time to do so. Watch the sunrise and the sunset together to make the lesson a memory worth keeping.

This may not be among the most common activities for toddlers in the summer but it’s a great way to combine learning and fun.

Go to the zoo

Free Or Inexpensive Activities For Toddlers In The Summer. Go to the zoo

A zoo is a great place for both fun and learning. See how many of the animals your toddler can name, learn a few new ones and let them hear the sounds they make.

You can also use flashcards to make a sort of scavenger hunt throughout the zoo. Just grab a few cards with animals you know you’ll find at the zoo, head there and look for them together.

Ride a bike

If you want to teach your toddler a new skill, why don’t you consider getting a bike (regular or balance) or a scooter?

Spend some quality time together while you teach them how to drive it and don’t forget to take pictures to capture the moment.

Make a friend

In the summer, the playgrounds, beaches, and parks are full of kids playing around. In other words, making a new friend is easier than ever. All you need to do is head to the local park.

The summer is full of long hot days. Make the most of it by combining fun and learning with these activities for toddlers in the summer.

Will you try some of these activities for toddlers in the summer? Why not try them all, after all, you have a whole summer ahead of you.

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