Join me on my quest to keep a toddler entertained in my garden and home, with nature as our inspiration, and with fun (and a bit of learning!) as our goal. My 2 and ½ year old will test out these simple and easy-to-do-at-home activities; we’ll let you know the results, and would love to hear how you get on, too. I’ll offer some Outdoor Learning Top Tips on how to adapt the activities for older children, and suggest what skills each activity helps you and your child explore. All the activities are simple, use mostly things you will find in and around your home, and will be free, and will hopefully help to keep you both entertained (and sane!) a they have done for me. Enjoy!
Get physical with a garden (or house!) obstacle course that will entertain your toddler, and get them doing a great range of movements. Great as a fun lockdown workout.
Gross Motor Skills
Movement and Exercise
What you’ll need:
- A space – a garden is great, but this can also work through the house, or on your daily exercise route (see below).
- Any items you can safely make into ‘equipment’ – we used split logs to jump over, a rope to run zig-zags along, a slide to crawl under, and balls and a bucket for throwing.
This activity is a great way to burn off some energy, and would be brilliant for siblings to do together, or for parents and toddler to challenge eachother on.
Get your toddler doing as big a range of movements as possible – jumping, skipping, hopping, rolling, crawling, side-steps – the list goes on, and they’re all brilliant for your toddler’s development.
Top tips (and what we learnt along the way):
- Run through the obstacle course yourself a couple of times, describing what you are doing as you go. Can your toddler follow you?
- If there is something in particular that really engages your toddler (water, throwing, etc), try to include this along the way.
- If you don’t have a suitable garden, you can make mini obstacle courses indoors – jumping from one surface to another, perhaps using cushions or clothing to mark targets. Have things to crawl under and over, and maybe a container to throw things into. A narrow strip of something (clothing, toilet roll!?) makes a great balance beam!
- If you are able to do this on an exercise route, consider using different ranges of movement more than actual obstacles – e.g. side stepping, crawling, pony prancing, forward rolls.
Oscar loved doing the obstacle course alongside us. Once we showed him what to do a couple of times, he then took great delight in ‘leading the way’ for us. This could work briliiantly if your toddler has older siblings. Even once we’d all done the course together a few times, Oscar kept going back to it later in the day – definitely a win!
For older ones –
- Quite simply, make it more challenging!
- Try doing ‘add-a-move’ as part of the course – each time someone completes the obstacle course, they ‘add a move’ at the end. This could be anything from a star jump to a custom dance move – everyone else needs to remember them, and do them all before adding their move to the sequence.
Thank you the National Lottery Heritage Fund for support with this content.