8 Games to Play with A Toddler in the Garden

Garden games with toddlers are great!

When you have a garden and an energetic, fun-loving toddler, getting out in the garden together and having a blast among the buds is as good as a rest!

Kids need time outdoors to get the health benefits of sunshine and fresh air, but also to satisfy their curiosities and expend energy. For a change of pace, try using the garden as a spot to entertain and play with the little one. 

In this quick article, you’ll find eight different fun activities to do with your toddler. Plus, you’ll find that some of them are great for keeping the child interested and engaged, which helps build their attention spans.

Mentally Stimulating Play

Keeping in mind the knowledge and skills important to developing toddlers’ mental and cerebral strength, incorporating that information in a playful atmosphere is both fun and educational. Here are some ways to do just that!

  • FINDING COLORS. Depending on the level of knowledge you little one has, either show them colors in a book or tell them colors. For each color, have the child go into the garden and point to as many flowers and foliage as they can that match each color. The more they match correctly, the more points they earn. While they search, chat about other things involving the color they just matched, like tell them something else that is always that color. 
  • ORDERING SIZES. Much like Finiding Colors, send your toddler in to find the tallest bloom or plant in the garden and the shortest. Once they get it right, tell them what they identified. For bonus points, have them look for something that’s smaller than the tallest but bigger than the shortest. Help them put the three into proper order in their mind by asking the little one to tell you the tallest first, then the middle and the shortest last in that order. 
  • SENSORY GUESSING. For this one, gather about five things from the garden… a leaf, some dirt, a branch, a stem, whatever. Don’t show what you’ve collected to the child. Then, have you toddler closer her eyes while you place one of the items in her hand to feel and weigh. If the child guesses what it is, that’s a point! If not, you get it… 

TIP:  Try a rewards system.

Give the toddler incentive to concentrate and try hard in all of the above games with some sort of prize schedule. For example, get X number of points in all three games and win and ice cream treat. Or get X number of points in all three games two days in a row and go to bed 20 minutes later than his usual bedtime. 

Super Fun Play

Fun play can be you or older kids entertaining the toddler or physical games. Let’s look at both possibilities… 

Entertain

  • TOUR OF BUGS. Yup! This may seem gross to you, but little kids love bugs and squirmy things. Have your little buddy follow you through as you dig up small spots around the garden sure to reveal worms, ants, spiders, and other crawling creatures. As you find them, tell them what each is, and maybe sing a silly song about it. Then, of course, put the living exhibits safely back into or on the ground.
  • SELECT AND SING. This can be interactive or just a little show for the toddler. Close your eyes and randomly touch any part of the garden. Open your eyes to see what you’ve landed on. Say it’s a rose. On the spot, make up the silliest song you can that uses the word “rose” to make your child laugh. If the toddler’s up for it, get them to make up their own silly song with the word “rose.” Repeat. 

 

Physical games

  • Water Balloon Game. All you need are small water balloons and a couple of plastic spoons (the size for salad servicing). It’s a race! Each of you carries a water ballon in the spoon and takes it around the garden as many times as you decide upon before the race begins. The goal? DON’T DROP THE WATER BALLOON. So, if you decide on three laps, whoever gets around three times without dropping wins. If someone drops the balloon before the three laps, the other automatically wins!
  • Classic Hide and Seek! This is particularly fun when the garden has some high-growth spots, nearby trees or dense shrubbery around. Of course, it’s the toddler that does the hiding. Us giant adults will have a hard time curling into a small spaces. To add some more excitement, tell the little one that if it takes you more than 20 seconds to find him, he gets a little prize for such a great hiding place! 
  • Simon Says. Take this classic to the garden by focusing the orders on activities related to the garden. So, try orders like, “Simon says, run to the tulip section and jump up and down three times” or “Simon says, run around the garden two times then yell ‘Did it!'” 

So, there you have it! Eight different activities for outdoor play in a garden. But what if you don’t have a garden? Worry not…

Game Ideas for a Lawn Rather Than a Garden. 

For toddler fun in the backyard or any grassy area, try these and make time fly:

  1. Bean Bag Toss. Take five white paper plates and put a large number on each one:  10, 20, 30, 40, 50. Spread them out in a straight line with the numbers set vertically, so the 10 is closest to the player and the 50 is furthest away. Set them about one foot apart. The object is to throw a bean bag as far as the child can and get it to land on, or at least touch, one of the plates. If they do, they get the number of points shown. Each player should get at least three tosses. 
  2. Obstacle Course. Whether it’s just one toddler or ten, an obstacle course is always a winner when it comes to fun and silliness. Set up a course with at least five obstacles. For a single player, the child races against a clock to beat a fast time set by you or his or her last best time. Otherwise, the children are in a race against each other. Some obstacles can involve crawling under things, tossing things onto targets, jumping over things, or weaving in and out of things, etc. Be creative!

TIP:  Toddlers should spend a lot of time outdoors for several reasons.  

Sunshine for Vitamin D which plays a crucial role in overall physical and emotional health;

Exercise to develop strength and good motor skills, especially when kids are on screens so often these days;

Appreciation of nature and the world around them, so they can explore things that they don’t necessarily get to find indoors;

Taking risks to prevent the child from fearing things outside the home or classroom. Sure, we don’t want them to be unsafe, but we also don’t want them to be terrified if they come across a chipmunk, thorn bush, muddy puddle or dead tree. Helping toddlers to safely navigate the outdoors will develop a sense of safety for them as they grow older.  

Have fun!!

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