After being cooped up inside for what seemed like forever, it’s time for some well-deserved fun in the sun!
It is a well-known fact that the human body (and mind) needs sunlight to function properly. Kids, in particular, should be exposed to daylight as much as possible in order to thrive and develop harmoniously. Having said this, of course, make sure you apply high SPF protection sun cream on your child when playing under the direct sun.
We’ve missed summer, haven’t we? Well, now that it’s finally here it’s time for some sunny days activities. My toddler loves the great outdoors so as soon as the weather allows it, I try to focus our activities towards discovering the beauty of nature.
In addition to that, I also keep in mind what skills my toddler will refine with each activity. So, besides having a blast, discovering the outside world, my little explorer will also develop specific vital abilities. I guess that’s just the educator in me surfacing.
Without further ado, here is a list of 16 fun in the sun activities for preschoolers that are super easy to set up and won’t break the bank either.
1. Camp outside
If you have a patch of garden or even a small terrace then camping outside is a must-do activity. Children will enjoy playing in the middle of nature inside their very own tent. You can get creative and build your own tent, or simply buy one. We purchased our tent from a sports shop, and it cost a little under 20 euros. It is sturdy and big enough for two people to sleep comfortably in it. Right now, it is full of toys.
Camping outside would be an excellent opportunity to observe nature up close. If you choose to spend the night in the tent, your kids’ excitement levels will hit the sky. They will enjoy nature’s great, soothing sounds and fresh evening air. Children with naturalistic intelligence, in particular, will enjoy this activity.
- camping outside will stimulate all senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch.
- encourage flexibility and confidence: camping in a tent provides a different experience to the comfy, familiar bed.
- nurture the sense of curiosity: nature is full of wonders that the little ones will discover
2. Explore the great outdoors with a flashlight
This is perhaps an activity that should fall under the category of ‘fun under the moon’ instead of ‘fun in the sun’. But knowing how much fun my toddler had with it, I thought I should share it with you anyway.
For this activity to work, you should wait for darkness. Then, take out your flashlights, go to the garden and explore everything you can. I promise you that your child will be giddy with excitement and amazed by all the night activity that nature has to offer.
- all senses will be stimulated: hearing all the night sounds, seeing all the night animals and insects, smelling the cool evening air, touching the grass, the leaves and everything else that nature has to offer.
- builds confidence: exploring an unfamiliar setting, outside the safety of home, will build your toddler’s confidence.
- creates a sense of wonder and curiosity: nature is incredible and full of secrets waiting to be discovered by little explorers.
3. Super soaker fight
Now that we’ve explored nature under the moonlight, it’s time to return to the sun activities for preschoolers.
Kids love water, and few activities will make them giggle more than a super soaker fight. It’s the perfect fun in the sun activity for the whole family. The larger the family, the better. You can indiscriminately soak each other up or make teams and let the battle begin.
You can find super soakers in any supermarket or shops like Dollar Tree. But if you can’t find one, no worries. Take some 2-litre plastic bottles, pierce the top and voila! Your very own DIY super soakers.
- instant cooling down: when the scorching sun is relentless, the cooling water will be a blessing.
- practice gross motor skills: super soaker fight involves a lot of running, jumping and basically, using the entire body.
- improve reaction speed: in order to get everyone soaked and avoid being drenched, kids need to react quickly.
Related: Quiet Games: Easy Set-Up for Indoor Time
4. Water Balloon Fight
Since we are at the topic of “fighting”, this fun in the sun list wouldn’t be complete without a good old fashioned water balloon fight.
All you need is a bunch of balloons that you will fill up with water. The goal of the game is to hit your opponent with the watery balloon. If you want to take it up a notch, each team can have its own fort that the other team will try to conquer.
- practice gross motor skills: all that jumping, running and dodging will give your child a good workout.
- practice hand-eye coordination: being able to grab that balloon and then throwing it involves a lot of hand-eye coordination.
- visual perception and control: throwing is quite a complex action. Trying to hit a target (a moving one in this case) involves approximating the distance and the amount of force and control needed.
- getting cool and having a blast
5. Nature Scavenger Hunt- learn about nature
If you have stuck around and read some of our posts, you may have noticed that Treasure/Scavenger Hunts have come up in quite a few of them. The reason for that is I LOVE this game, and kids get so excited when playing it.
Since Scavenger Hunt has been part of our indoor games all winter, now it’s time to integrate this awesome game into our sunny days activities.
Nature offers so many things to be discovered; all you have to do is grab our Nature Scavenger Hunt printable, go out and let the fun begin.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for the little ones to learn about their natural surroundings while having fun in the sun. Each section in the Nature Scavenger Hunt has a short snippet of information about the “treasure” that the little explorers have to find.
- improves observation skill: it is one of the fundamental skills for getting and processing information and making sense of the world.
- refines discrimination skill: this is another essential skill for preschoolers. It helps them determine differences and similarities between objects.
- builds problem-solving skills: finding solutions to everyday problems is a vital skill for adults. Encourage kids to look for logical solutions, make choices and learn from them.
- cooperation skill: if there are more players, this will encourage teamwork and the value of cooperation in order to reach a common goal.
*Even though Scavenger Hunts are so popular, creating and setting one up can be quite time-consuming. We’ve got you covered! Download this awesome educational Nature Scavenger Hunt, print and have fun.
One of the sunny days activities that I love involving my son in is gardening. All toddlers love dirt. It’s a fact. The messier, the better. So, why not combine getting messy with constructive activity. You get gardening.
It is an excellent way of keeping your preschooler busy while beautifying your garden. Not to mention that it is an activity that has so many benefits for kids.
- sensory development: being a very hands-on activity, kids will get to feel the texture of the soil, make full use of their tactile sense, they will get to smell the plants and see all the beautiful colours.
- teaches responsibility: taking care of a living thing is not easy. Kids will learn that taking care of the plants will make them grow and thrive while neglect will lead to the plants withering and dying.
- teaches patience: plants don’t grow overnight. The little gardeners will have to wait for a few days to see the fruits of their labour.
- encourages a healthy diet: fussy eaters will be more tempted to eat veggies and fruit that they’ve grown and food will be more appetizing if seasoned with herbs from their own garden.
- get a sense of achievement: seeing the plant grow and develop will offer an incredible feeling of accomplishment and pride for the kids.
7. The little Paleontologist
Since you did some gardening and you have some dirt lying around why don’t you put it to good use? Let your kids become famous palaeontologists and discover the most fabulous treasures!
If you are lucky to have a garden, choose a patch of land where you will bury some of your kid’s toys. If your child is like my toddler, absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs, then bury some of the dinosaurs, but it can be played with any toys. No garden? No problem. You can put some dirt in a big crate and still have a blast. The kids will have to dig up all the carefully hidden toys.
This is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about palaeontology and what a palaeontologist does. You can show them this video before heading out to discover the buried surprises.
- refines the fine motor skill: kids will have to exercise all those small muscles in their wrists, hands and fingers to be able to dig up all the toys.
- educational value: kids will learn about what a palaeontologist does.
- uses imagination by doing role-play: creating a whole story around those buries toys will develop their imagination by allowing them to become palaeontologists.
- promotes social skills and teamwork: kids can work together to find the buried toys which will teach them the value of cooperation, at the same time developing their social skill.
8. Sidewalk art with chalk
One of the best and easiest sun activities for preschoolers is drawing with chalk. Just get some chalk, find a nice, quiet sidewalk and simply watch how amazingly creative your little ones can be. This activity will probably never get old and has so many advantages.
- refines the fine motor skill: to hold and manipulate the chalk children will need to make full use of their hands, fingers and wrists. Developing strong fine motor skills is vital for when they go to school and are required to start writing.
- improves hand-eye coordination: this is another vital skill that preschoolers need to develop. Hand-eye coordination is a complex skill that involves the ability to harmoniously use the hands and the eyes at the same time. It takes a lot of practice for our hands to act based on the information that our eyes get.
- encourages creativity: like any form of drawing, chalk drawing will tap into the creative side of kids. Experimenting with colours, lines and shapes to bring to life their little sidewalk masterpieces, will develop their creativity and imagination.
- improves concentration: chalk drawing will encourage kids to focus on details and concentrate on achieving their desired results. Building up the ability to concentrate will come in very handy in their academic life.
9. Create nature art
Nothing sparks the imagination and practices creativity better than a little nature art. The beauty of this fun in the sun activity is that mother nature herself provides all the materials needed. All you have to do is go for a walk and collect them. Twigs, leaves, pebbles, flowers, shells can all come together to make the most beautiful picture.
- practices both the fine and gross motor skill: first, when they gather all the materials, kids will use their whole body to do so (jumping, walking, climbing etc.) thus improving their gross motor skill. The fine motor skill will come in handy when they manipulate the materials found.
- develops creativity: like any form of art, being able to translate your vision on a piece of paper requires, among other things, creativity. Just sit back and allow your kids’ creative side to take over.
- develops confidence and perseverance: finishing a project will give the child a sense of achievement, thus building up his confidence. At the same time, s/he will learn that in order to reach that goal perseverance and patience is needed.
- perfect for kids with visual-spatial intelligence: creating art, in general, will practice the ability to process the visual information that the world around them provides.
10. Organize an outdoor treasure hunt
If you’re wondering what the difference between a Scavenger Hunt and a Treasure Hunt is, well, a Scavenger Hunt generally contains a list of things that must be found and ticked off, while a Treasure Hunt involves clues that lead to a bigger reward.
And since all winter you have played indoor Treasure hunts, it’s time to get out for some fun in the sun and organize an outdoor Treasure Hunt. It is immensely entertaining for the kids, and it also has many developmental benefits.
- improves problem-solving skill and logic: solving all those clues will give your little one a good brain workout.
- practices gross motor skill: a good treasure hunt will encourage your little one to move a lot, thus improving the gross motor skill.
- shows the value of teamwork: if there are more players, they will have to work together to get to the treasure. This will teach kids the benefits of collaboration.
- builds confidence and independence: every time they solve a clue, kids will get a fantastic feeling of achievement, which in turn will help grow their self-esteem. They will have to go out there and explore nature to find the hidden treasures which will build their independence.
11. Soap bubble contest (with a straw)
I used to do this one when I was young and didn’t have all the fancy bubble gadgets that we have today. I made my own soap bubble mixture and used a straw to blow the bubbles.
My favourite thing was to blow one big bubble on a surface and then, carefully, blow another one inside of the first bubble. Then I would make another smaller bubble inside the first two and so on. It was fun to see how many bubbles I could make this way.
Since you don’t want your toddlers to make a mess inside, it’s the perfect opportunity to send them out for some fun in the sun.
- refines the fine motor skill: to be able to handle the straw with precision and control, the toddler will make full use of the fine movements of fingers, hands and wrists.
- teaches to manage frustration and self-control: those bubbles have a nasty habit of bursting, don’t they? This will teach kids to remain calm and try again.
- teaches perseverance: when those bubbles burst, try and try again until you make it!
12. Go on a hike (don’t forget your binoculars)
One of the best sunny days activities that will bring kids closer to nature is going on a hike. It’s a wonderful way of exploring and discovering the beauty of mother nature.
Last time we went on a short hike in the forest we made our own binoculars, just for fun. We took two toilet roll tubes, painted and decorated them, then stuck them together.
As we walked on the trail, we imagined that we were famous explorers discovering new land. I can’t tell you how much fun we had, plus my toddler learned many things.
- sensory development: kids will make full use of all their senses on a hike in nature. They will hear the rustling of the leaves, birds, insects, see all the beautiful natural colours, the way light hits the trees and the ground, the shapes, they will smell the flowers and be able to feel all the different textures.
- develop gross motor skill: there is total freedom of movement for kids on a hike to run, jump, skip and climb. Thus they will use their whole body and get a good workout.
- it’s educational: a walk is a perfect opportunity to learn more about nature and very important, how to respect it and preserve it.
13. Start a collection of beautiful stones
This fun in the sun activity won’t cost you a penny, and you can find the materials (stones) everywhere. Just take a walk and keep your eyes open for beautiful, different stones. Soon your little one will end up with a mini-collection of funny-looking stones.
- develops the observation skill: your child will become better at processing significant amounts of visual information as s/he grows up and gets more chances to practise this skill. Being able to spot the different stones and only pick the special ones will develop the observation skill.
- develops the discrimination skill: the discrimination skill will allow your toddler to see how the stones are different from each other and choose the ones that are different.
- a sense of pride and achievement: seeing all the beautiful stones that they’ve collected themselves will make kids proud of their achievement.
14. Paint stones
There’s more to do with stones than just collecting them. You can also paint them. This will undoubtedly be one of the preferred sun activities for preschoolers since it’s something out of the ordinary.
Kids are used to drawing and painting on paper, boards, cardboard, sometimes walls (to the shock and desperation of their parents) and so on. Painting stones will provide a different experience that will be enjoyed for sure.
- develops fine motor skill: painting on such a small surface will put to the test the little artist’s hand and finger control. This can be a great exercise on how to properly hold a paintbrush or a pencil which will come in useful when they start school.
- develops creativity: like any form of drawing and painting, stone painting will tap into the creative side of kids.
- refines hand-eye coordination: the eyes and hand will have to work together for the child to be able to bring the image in his/her head to life.
- improves concentration: making a beautiful drawing takes time and concentration. It will encourage kids to focus on details and achieving their desired goals.
15. Move the water with a sponge
This is a game that I played on a few team-building trips that I’ve been on as an adult, and I have to say that it’s a tone of fun. Kids will have a blast with this one, not to mention that, since it involves water, it’s the perfect fun in the sun activity.
You will need two buckets or bowls and a sponge. Fill one of the buckets with water and let the game begin. The goal is for the child to move the water from one bucket to the other using the sponge.
The game can be played in teams (who moves the water faster) or individually (you can use a timer if you want).
- practices gross motor skill: to carry out the task, the child will have to use his/her whole body.
- nurture the competitive spirit: we live in a highly competitive world, so our kids need to be prepared for that. It’s good for the little ones to have a competitive side, but it’s up to us to teach them how to handle both a win and a defeat.
- strengthens the hand muscles: squeezing that sponge so many times will strengthen the hand muscles which will better prepare them for the academic years ahead. Good hand strength will enable the preschooler to hold a pencil properly and use it for an extended period of time.
16. Playing with ice cubes
A great fun in the sun activity, that also provides instant cool off, is playing with ice cubes. There are many ways in which toddlers and preschoolers can play with ice, just take a peek here for some inspiration.
What I did for my toddler, since he loves dinosaurs, I filled a recipient with water, put some of his toy dinosaurs inside and put it in the freezer overnight. He had a lot of fun trying to get his dinosaurs out.
However, our absolute favourite ice activity is the hatching frozen dinosaur eggs. Give it a try; it’s fun.
- great sensory play: it’s a hands-on activity that will teach kids about the properties of ice
- improves fine motor skill: handling the slippery ice is the perfect opportunity to refine the fine motor skill.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather and encourage your child to have some fun in the sun. All these games are super fun, and they all help your toddler and preschooler improve essential skills.
Don’t forget to get your Nature Scavenger Hunt FREE PRINTABLE.
We share all of our ideas, articles, activities with our children, important information we come across on our Facebook group Learning Activities for Kids. Join us and other like-minded parents and make parenthood easier!
Mom of two wonderful children, dedicated teacher and book lover.
37 thoughts on “Fun in the sun- outdoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers”
oh wow these activities really sounds very interesting and amazing to do..Glad you shared this with us..Thanks for sharing..
These are all such fun ideas! My daughter isn’t a toddler anymore but she still loves gardening and scavenger hunts.
Oh, so many great ideas – my girls have already done most of these this summer! And your scavenger hunt printable is super!
These are some really awesome ideas. I shall love to try hiking with my toddler.
These are all great ideas, but that Ice idea is awesome! I might just have to try it, although it’ll melt super fast here!
ooooh i love the ice cube idea! my daughter is a little older than the age range you mentioned but she might be into that. love these ideas
There are so many things you can enjoy under the sun. With the family or alone. I miss heading to the beach.
Love this. My sister camped with my son in our backyard and they loved it!!
I love your ideas for nature art! My son loves painting rocks that he finds on our walks.
Love these ideas. My son definitely loves digging in the dirt and discovering all sorts of creepy crawlies. I can’t relate to his love but he should do him. Lol. Sidewalk chalk has also been really fun. He decorated his wooden playstructure with a lot of different chalk drawings.
These ideas are absolutely GENIUS!! I’ll have to try a few!
I just got my guys new super soakers and they are loving them! We’ve also been doing “gem” digs!
What a great time for this post! Kids need to get outside as much as possible and these are such fun activities!
These are lovely ideas for things to do with kids outdoors. If it is nice out, I want my kids outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine!