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Summer Fun: Outdoor Activities For Little Ones

Summertime has never felt more vibrant and new! After a year of social distancing, mask-wearing, and being forced away from friends and family, getting back out in the sun with loved ones is just what the doctor ordered. If you’re like me, you may have forgotten all of the fun things you can do with your young family out around town. Here are some ways to spend your summer days this year:

Trip to the Zoo

A trip to the zoo can be overwhelming with toddlers and young kids. To help make the zoo more manageable, read a few picture books about specific animals before you go. Then, when you get to the zoo – try and find those animals! By focusing on just a few animals at a time you can really increase your child’s interest in the zoo and make a more stimulating, shorter visit. This also will allow you to keep the zoo in your back pocket. If last time you went, the focus was on jungle animals, this time the focus could be aquatic animals. Go with intention to avoid meltdowns and exhaustion. It will be more fun for the whole family.

Firehouse Field Trip

If you have a little one obsessed with trucks at home give your local firehouse a call. You’d be surprised how open firefighters are to showing your little one the firetruck, helmets, gear, and fire pole. This is a great low-cost option as well. Typically, your visit will be free but it’s always nice to thank your firefighters with baked goods, art from the kids or another small gesture of gratitude. This is a great way to help show your little one their community and how they can fit into the community as well.

Water Play

Toddlers love to explore and play with water! You don’t need a full water table (although this one from Step2 is a lot of fun and inexpensive) all you need is a big container, some buckets, cups and spoons. Your little one will love moving the water around and playing with it. Add in some plastic toys and you have a whole afternoon of fun – right in your own backyard!

Small Boat Rentals

I live in New York City and one of my all-time favorite warm-weather activities is renting one of the paddle boats in Central Park. There are places all over the country where you can rent small boats like kayaks and bigger boats for the whole family to spend some time out on the water. You can safely take your little one aboard with a life jacket and they’ll love helping you steer the boat, looking for fish, and experiencing a brand new way to travel! It’s a great way to get a taste of the great outdoors without going on a full-on camping excursion.

Nature Walks

Going on nature walks with your little one is a great way to help them see the world and experience the beauty of nature. You can find a nearby trail and head on out! You could also prepare a scavenger hunt ahead of time. It’s so fun to walk through nature with a toddler and see all of the things they notice. Help your child find a bird, a hiking sign, an airplane, a dog, anything you can think of! Bring crayons and sketch the flowers, plants and trees you see around you. You’ll be amazed at how engaged your little one gets when they have a mission. This is also a great place to break out the bikes and scooters and go for a leisurely ride. Pack a lunch and make it a day of hiking, biking and fun!

Follow Their Lead

The best way to spend the summer is to follow your child’s lead for a change! What are their interests? Is their favorite show Paw Patrol? Maybe you could take a trip to an animal shelter to help care for the dogs. Does your child love princess stories? Get dressed up and have a fancy tea party princess picnic outside. It’s amazing what really listening to your little one can open up for you!

Now is the time to get creative and create incredible memories for yourself and your little one! There’s no limit to things you’ll be able to do and explore if you use a little imagination and try to view the world from your child’s perspective.

 

Image credit: Daiga Ellaby Sg on Unsplash

Bradley Matthews

Bradley Matthews is a children’s artist and educator who specializes in early childhood education. After spending three years touring the world as a member of the children’s band, The Ohmies, he began teaching music and yoga classes for kids all over New York City. Follow him on Instagram @mrbradleynyc

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