When the days turn hot and long and the nights are shorter, what Summer activities can you do with your toddler or preschooler? With older, school-aged kids sometimes we are just happy to have them home more, or take the opportunity to go on a vacation. What items should be on your summer bucket list with your toddlers and preschoolers?
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1. Get a Kiddie Pool
Even if you have a full sized pool, small kiddie pools are a ton of fun for toddlers and preschoolers. There’s no need for floaties or other precautions. Toddlers, preschoolers, and other non-swimmers feel more comfortable, have more independence, and need less assistance.
Add a toddler slide like this one and you’ve got entertainment for hours!
Once they’re bored of just water, try adding bubbles. Or maybe fill it with balls instead.
2. Play in the sprinklers
Remember doing this when you were a kid? Toddlers and Preschoolers love this especially and get fits of giggles running away from the spray. But I bet your older kids will join in too!
3. Visit a local splash pad
Nearly every city has a splash pad or fountain for kids to play in that opens in the summer. Just like the sprinkler and kiddie pool, toddlers and preschoolers will giggle at the spraying water and have more independence than at a big public pool.
Make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting wet in too! You’ll probably have to go in after them to convince them to come home for dinner.
4. Squirt water guns
Fill some small water guns and teach your littles to squirt the water gun. If you only have one kid, you’ll definitely have to get involved. Even if you have more than one, how could you not join in?
Bored of that already? Try filling the squirt guns with watered down paint and squirt them at canvases.
I recently did a post on 17 Painting Ideas for Kids. Add each one to your Summer Bucket List!
6. Visit the museum
Our local science museum is one of Roo’s favorite places to visit. They have a children’s museum full of toys and games to stimulate the imagination of toddlers and preschoolers. But the rest of the museum is fun too, let them explore!
7. Local library story time
Maybe you already attend your local library’s story time. But this is always fun in the summers. It’s interactive, it’s in the air conditioning, and it’s educational. Check out when your local library has it’s story time!
8. Visit the mall play area
When rushing around to do our shopping, sometimes we forget that the mall usually has a play area. Roo loves to visit here on too hot or raining days. She can climb, run, jump, and usually there are other kids to interact with too.
9. Blow bubbles
On a still summer morning is the best time to blow bubbles and let the toddlers chase after them. Preschoolers might like to blow them too. They have fancy wands, giant tubes, scented, colored, so many kinds to choose from. Lungs too tired to blow? How about a bubble machine to blow the bubbles for you.
Of course crafting is on this list. Here’s a list of Roo’s favorites. And another list of crafts and it’s benefits for kids and adults. So pick up a craft too and have a crafting day together! Here’s some tips on how to craft side by side!
11. Have a tea party
Not just for princesses, tea parties can be fun for everyone. Use a plastic play set or the real porceline kind and fill with your favorite tea. Summertime is a great time for iced sweet tea!
Lay out a blanket inside or outside and let the kids pour and drink. Maybe even have tiny sandwiches and cookies.
12. Toss water balloons back and forth
Roo and I tried a water balloon fight. Of course throwing a water balloon at a toddler with enough force to break it inevitably ends in a very upset toddler. So it ended up us tossing a single balloon back and forth until it dropped and broke at our feet.
If you’d like to see the short video, click the link here!
13. Build a pillow fort
Take all the cushions off the sofa, throw the bedroom pillows on the ground, spread out a few big blankets… Older kids can create a fort on their own, but toddlers and preschoolers will need an adult to help set this summer bucket list item up.
Once it’s up, snuggle, watch a movie, or bring in some favorite toys and play pretend.
Here are some other indoor activities to try when it’s just too hot or wet to go outside.
14. Make no-bake treats
Summer is too hot to fire up the oven most days. But you can still make sweet treats with the kids! Pinterest is full of ideas for no-bake treats.
15. Play with chalk
Our sidewalk is filled with color on almost any given day in the Summer. It makes for some colorful pictures and some nice quiet time. There’s also some fun games to play with sidewalk chalk beyond just hopscotch. Check out some chalk games here!
16. Ice sensory play
Add some ice cubes to your water sensory bin. Or freeze some small toys in ice cubes and set the kids to work to break them out. Have the kids draw pictures on the sidewalk with the ice cubes. It’s a very open ended way to cool off this Summer.
17. Sand sensory play
Sand is always a fun sensory experience for kids. If you can’t make it to the beach with your toddler or preschooler this summer, why not make a sand sensory bin along with the water sensory bin and bring the beach to you? Kinetic sand is one of our favorites, but play sand from the home improvement store is great too if you have a big enough space.
18. Water sensory play
Water doesn’t just have to be for swimming in this Summer. Add a water sensory bin to your summer bucket list. A pouring station is fun for toddlers and preschoolers, or maybe even build a water sensory wall like this one!
We used water beads for some sensory play and Roo had a blast. You can even freeze them to add to your sensory bin.
19. Chase fireflies
One of my favorite childhood memories is chasing and catching fireflies with my cousins. Grab a couple of mason jars and wait until dark. The little ones eyes will light up with wonder when they see the twinkling lights floating in the sky like fairies. If you an catch a few to show them, make sure to let them go before bedtime.
20. Have a picnic
Make some sandwiches, pasta salad, add some chips and fruit and toss it all in a basket or cooler. You can take it to the beach, the park, the backyard or even your living room floor. There’s something about the novelty of eating on the ground and outdoors that makes even the pickiest eaters willing to try new things.
21. Eat watermelon
While you’re on that picnic, pack some watermelon! No Summer bucket list would be complete without watermelon. Make sure to bring wipes to clean up those dripping smiling faces.
22. Visit relatives
This year, Roo and I will be traveling to Grandma’s house to see cousins and other relatives. While traveling with a toddler or preschooler can be stressful, once at a relative’s house it’s time to relax a little. Especially if there are other littles in the family for your kiddo to play with!
I love these trays for road trips, I plan to get one for each of Roo’s cousins next time we visit!
23. Clean out closets
This doesn’t sound like fun at all. To kids or moms. But Summer is the perfect time to bring everything out of the closet and donate clothes your toddler or preschooler has grown out of. Why is this on a bucket list for them? They’ll love playing in the empty closet space while you go through their things.
24. Clean out toy box
I know. I know. More cleaning. But this one gives you and opportunity to clear out toys the kids don’t play with or have outgrown. The toddlers and preschoolers will think it’s a second Christmas to see all their toy out where they can see them.
When I made Roo’s Stuffed Animal Storage Zoo I set out every stuffie and told her to give them all some love. She obliged willingly. I also got an idea of which stuffies were favorites and which she might be willing to part with.
25. Go out for ice cream
After all that cleaning, you both deserve a treat! Go out to your favorite ice cream parlor and share a waffle cone.
Those are my favorite Summer Bucket List items for Preschoolers and Toddlers!
Want even more ideas?
Check out these links
Thoughtful Parent has some tips for some classic summer fun.
Anti-boredom tool kits from Raising World Kids sound like a great idea for older kids!
Parenting In Real Life has some fun and creative ways to keep the kids cool and entertained.
More preschooler friendly crafts from Dad Life Lessons.
Happy Science Mom has a few guidelines for ensuring your kids have a healthy Summer.