Arts, Crafts and Exploring Outdoors with Your Little One

by Stephanie Goins on July 07, 2011

TAKE IT OUTDOORS: This summer we aren’t just about wall stencils, wall decals and kids canvas wall art. Oh no, sir. We are having lots of fun with arts and crafts and exploration. Today, as part of our summer toddler activity series, we encourage you to get out of the house with your little one. We hope you enjoy this little collection of outdoor ideas.

Outdoor Fun With KidsGet Out and Explore
Just simply get out and explore. Look for objects you’ve never seen before. Talk about what has changed, smells, sounds, etc. Take your shoes off and squish your toes in the grass, mud, and sand. You can even have a special exploring hat and exploring bag for treasure collection.

Water Balloon Splat
Let's face it... kids love to watch things break and explode. Fill up some water balloons and then take them outdoors and splat them all over the place. Another interesting thing to do is break them with a pin. Your child holds the balloon, you stick it with a pin, and the water comes crashing down in a big ball (it's more fun than it sounds).

Stone Soup
Bring a big pot and wooden spoon outside. Collect rocks, leaves, twigs, bugs, or bits of whatever you find to make your "stone soup." (Be careful that your child does not put anything in his mouth.)

Painted Sand Sculptures
This activity puts a fun spin on making sand castles. When you go to the beach, put liquid watercolor in spray bottles. (These are watercolors that come as liquids and can be found at the craft store or online.) After you make a sand castle or mermaid or whatever sand sculpture, simply spray-paint them. Just regular old watercolor in a spray bottle – sand paint! You can also color the sand ahead of time and use the colored sand to mold.

Sand Rainbow in a Jar
Gather up some sand from your sand box or during a trip to the beach. Fill plastic cups halfway with sand and then add several drops of food coloring to each (one color  per cup). She can help with the food coloring drops and the mixing of the sand. Then give her a spoon and watch her layer the colored sand in her own unique pattern into a wide-mouth jar or plastic bottle. And unless you simply embrace the mess or have an extremely neat child, this activity is best done 100% outside. (Make sure to have a jar for you. I found this to be a peaceful activity for me. I was still working on my sand rainbow long after my kids had finished!)

Nature Prints
Bring some paint to the park and pick up leaves, acorns, pinecones, etc. Paint them. Print with them. What makes the best print? Then hang them up in your child’s room as wall art.

Dig for Treasure
Buy some metal confetti from the dollar store and hide a handful in the sandbox. Then give your kids a sieve and let them dig for treasure! You can also use the smooth, colorful stones they sell to use in the bottom of vases. Or, better yet, let them dig for real treasure.... pennies!

Outside Painting
Set up an easel outside for your child and have her paint what she sees (or anything else that might come to mind). If you like, add glitter, glue, or anything crafty (buttons, paper, ribbon). When complete, hang this unique and colorful wall décor up for all to see.

Outside Train Tracks
If you have a set of train tracks, encourage your child to set them up outside in different areas of the yard. An incline can be an especially exciting place for a train to roll along. Under a bush or tree can be intriguing as well. Bring out some of his little people or toy animals and give them a ride on the train.

Nature Walks
Go for a walk with your child and pick up interesting things you see along the way. Then at home, do something creative with them. Paint them. Display them as a kids wall mural. Collect them in a pile. Maybe just hold them and hold them and hold them....

Fall Mask / Fall Play
This is a nice activity for the fall. Walk around the neighborhood with a bag and collect leaves. Encourage your child to find a wide variety of shapes and colors. Cut out eye holes in a paper plate and then glue on the leaves. Attach a popsicle stick to the bottom of the paper plate for a handle. Finally, put on a fall play. Decorate the "stage" with extra leaves, acorns, pine cones, etc. from the walk.