Remember being bored as a kid? I don’t even have TIME to be bored now, what with blog friends, Facebook, and Pinterest, I find at least a dozen new things I’d love to try. Kids get bored easily it seems. And moms have a busy time keeping them occupied, especially in summer when days are LOOONG and HOT. So I’m compiling a list of activities for toddlers specifically, since I have one. I’m publishing it in sections so it won’t seem overwhelming!

NONE of these ideas will involve technology (to my knowledge, unless it’s an appliance for building or cooking something). Which, toddlers shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery anyway. I’m also trying to keep activities as “free and natural” as possible, so most use common household objects/materials. Some take a bit more preparation.

Here’s the first list. I call this the Water Edition, because it’s all water-based activities.

Note: Activities may not be appropriate for all ages, but I am aiming at somewhere between 1-3 years! Also, please supervise children at all times, especially with water play.

  1. Jump in puddles. Never underestimate the thrill of letting your kids go outdoors when it’s raining. This is precisely when they want to “Go ‘side!” as my boy says. I kept telling him “It’s raining!” but he insisted: “SEE it!” (I want to see it!). So I thought – why not! We spent about 10-15 minutes outside, walking through the rain, running his cars through puddles. Stomping in the puddles. Getting soaked. He had a blast. Surprisingly, so did I!
  2. Paint with water. Give your child kiddy paintbrushes and a jar of water. Let them paint on your driveway, sidewalk, fence, the side of the house. The water won’t hurt anything, and they’ll stay clean!
  3. Water plants. Teach your baby about gardening by letting them water plants either with the hose turned low, or with a small bucket or watering can. Unless you’re like our son who likes to water the cement. You’ll create a great “chore buddy” for coming years, teaching your toddler how to water the garden!
  4. Create a water table. We have a delightful water table toy. But to make one on the cheap, bring a large tupperware or rubbermaid tote, or your baby bathtub outside and fill with water. Experiment with various objects to see which float. And which don’t!
  5. Make Music. Fill a couple water bottles with various levels of water. Show your toddler how to blow across the top to make different notes.
  6. Sprinkler! I’ve learned that unless you have a water table or teeny tiny pool, filling and refilling a big pool for toddlers is just hard work. And impractical. They are in and out constantly. So make use of a sprinkler. Not only will your toddler have fun, but you’ll also water your lawn!
  7. Icebreaker. Don’t you know toddlers LOVE to bang on things? Freeze water in a bundt pan or other container. You can add food coloring, or put in some small plastic toys. Then, run container under hot water to loosen block of ice. Show toddler how to bang away to unearth hidden objects! They’ll have a blast. Clean up will be a breeze! (Just be careful where you do this if you’ve added food coloring!)
  8. Bubbles! Get baby bubble bath and use it in your kiddie pool or water table to create piles of bubbles for kids to play with outside. They’ll love batting around mounds of foam, and spreading it all over the yard and driveway.
  9. Little Squirt. Use generic ketchup and mustard bottles from the dollar store. Fill with water and let your toddler squirt away! This will probably be easier (and more fun) than a squirt gun at this age.
  10. Water Balloons. Fill up balloons part way with water so they are not likely to burst easily. Toddlers will have fun squishing the water inside like a baby stress ball! Throwing will be fun too, as they watch the balloon flip and flop all over. And if the balloon happens to burst, even more fun, but not a huge soaker like if you’d filled it up entirely. (Note: PLEASE be aware that a broken water balloon leaves small pieces around that could be choking hazards, so I recommend this for older toddlers and that you be sure to pick up the pieces immediately.).

Do you have any other water activities to add to the list?

Have you checked out the rest of my 101 Toddler Activities?

Leave a Comment

  • Jeff Young September 27, 2012, 1:11 pm

    We made sponge-balls as found on various sites by cutting sponges into strips and tying them together tightly. Then they can be used to transfer water here to there. Great fun with a small group of kids by having one dunk it and toss it to the next (pass it with the tiny ones) and try to fill up a container across the yard. Can involve running back and forth with small kids.
    they also enjoyed tossing the wet balls into a storage bin.

  • T Rex Mom June 24, 2011, 11:13 pm

    All great activity suggestions. I just purchase a new storage container for a new water table for the kids – the last one worked great for two years and then fell apart after months in the sun. I like the big yet shallow ones. And I do raise if off the ground so they are not tempted to get in. We have a kiddie pool for that.

  • Crunchy Beach Mama June 24, 2011, 9:57 am

    So funny I’m reading t his – no technology toys – as P sits here and pretends to play on his brother’s Nintendo DS. He loves the lights and buttons.

    Ok, back to water. These ideas are great especially since we don’t have a neighborhood pool to go to or a yard to fit even a baby pool or sprinkler. Thanks for the ideas!!

    btw, you are nice mama. No puddles if I can help it. ha! :)

  • Carolyn Williams June 24, 2011, 12:52 am

    Don’t forget that it is never too early to start swim classes and teach water safety… Most YMCA’s (those with pools) offer a waterbabies class for ages 6 months and up… It is a class you take with your child. If you plan on being around water a lot with your child it is a great way to safely introduce them to a pool, learn valuable techniques and have lots of fun!

    • Julie K June 24, 2011, 1:23 am

      Yes! We actually just finished up a course through our town’s park & rec. I loved it and so did baby. We’ll probably sign him up again in the fall for another round! Such a good idea for babies and parents.

  • Lindsay O. June 24, 2011, 12:21 am

    What great ideas!!! We “paint” our back fence with water all the time and my kids LOVE it! Of course having a small container garden on my back porch, my toddlers get to water our plants every morning and they LOVE seeing how they grow and are soooo excited that we have little tomatoes growing! We haven’t tried water balloons yet, because I am afraid of them putting them in their mouth and choking. Maybe if I had another pair of arms to pick them up after they pop?

    Another thing we like to do with ice is to mix food coloring or kool aid with the water before freezing them in the cube trays and then we “paint” with them! I can’t wait to read your future posts in this series! What a great idea :)

  • Catherine June 23, 2011, 9:08 pm

    ITA with the playing in the rain! We have had a WET beginning of summer, and it seems all I’m telling our 2.5 yo is that we can’t go outside, cuz it’s raining. One day there was a break in the downpour while his baby brother was napping, and I thought, “why not?” We took his sidewalk chalk outside onto the driveway and colored away, noting the differences in color between where it was wet and dry. Asher also discovered that if he found a small patch of water and scribbled back and forth in it with chalk, that it made “paint” he could make handprints with!

    Needless to say, it was one of my favorite summer memories to date, and now whenever it starts raining, rather than telling me we can’t play outside due to rain he now looks at me and says, “run in the rain, mama?!”

  • April June 23, 2011, 5:07 pm

    My daughter loves anything to do with water! Probably because we live in Florida, where it’s always HOT!