Toddlers are all about having fun, exploring, getting messy, and keeping their (tired) parents on their toes. One of the best ways to help them express their adorable, buzzing energy is through outdoor play!

No matter what type of outdoor space you have, there are plenty of things for your busy bee to do. Here are seven ways to create an awesome playtime area that’ll have them begging to go outside.

Wow them with water

A picture of a Little Tikes water play, a fun toy for outdoor play.

Pour, dump, splash—repeat! A water table is a fan favorite among kids of all ages and stages. Plus, it’ll keep your kiddo cool in the summer heat. Perfect for individual or group play, a water table fits right into your backyard, deck, or patio. Many come with engaging accessories and toys, like the Little Tikes Build & Splash ™ Water Table, which includes colorful blocks, funnels, pipes, boats, and a pitcher. You can also toss in a few non-breakable, waterproof items you have at home for some extra excitement (think spatulas, mixing bowls, and serving spoons!).

Create a sandy oasis

a picture of a turtle sand box from Little Tikes, a fun toy for outdoor play.

Another great way to spark creativity and boost those budding social skills is with a sandbox. Similar to a water table, playing and scooping in a sandbox provides countless opportunities for imaginative play and sensory enjoyment. And who doesn’t love the feeling of sand between their toes? The classic Turtle Sandbox has been a backyard go-to for decades, and it’s no surprise as to why. It’s easy to use, move around, and store.

Bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles

Here’s a universal truth about little kids: they can’t get enough of blowing bubbles or asking you to blow bubbles. From wands to battery-operated machines, blowing bubbles brings endless joy. Creating a mesmerizing summer wonderland that also helps little ones hone their fine motor skills when they blow their own bubbles, or try to pop and chase yours! Pro tip: buy bubble solution in bulk (or make your own) for those inevitable, exuberant spills.

Slide and swing into summer

Toddlers love doing their favorite things over, and over, and over again; it’s their way of figuring out how the world works! This beginner “water” slide will be used on repeat, thanks to the integrated jets that connect to a hose for a refreshing scoot down. Bring it inside during colder weather and continue the excitement (minus the water features!). The Snug ‘N Secure ™ Swing is another great way to give little ones a thrill, while giving parents a break from chasing their tot.

Have a home away from home

A picture of a Little Tikes playhouse, a fun outdoor play essential.

From a restaurant to a castle (and a zillion things in between), a playhouse sets the scene for imaginative role play. Working doors, windows, and shutters make playtime even more realistic. Bring in toys from your child’s play kitchen if you have one, or whip up a pot of “soup” (a.k.a. dirt and sticks from the yard) for playdate guests.

Transform with tape

Have a roll of painter’s tape? Simply tape it to a flat surface—like a driveway for outdoor play or a foam mat to keep the fun inside—to map out roads and pathways for your toddler’s favorite cars, trucks, and stuffed animals to follow. Painters tape also comes in handy for making a hopscotch, obstacle course, and outlining cool shapes for your mini Matisse to fill in with chalk outside! When you peel off the tape, it reveals beautiful mosaic-style art.

Give them a “job”

Speaking of dirt, include your child in some light gardening. Let them use a small shovel, plant seeds, water flowers, and pull out weeds. It may take longer than usual to get the job done, but you’ll appreciate having a gardening buddy. And if they need a respite from the hard work, set them up with a few paint brushes to dip in bowls of water to “paint” the windows or patio for a low-key outdoor activity.

Ready to transform your backyard into a toddler’s paradise? With these seven tricks and a handful of Little Tikes outdoor playsets and water tables, you’ll inspire endless hours of outdoor play.

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