Summer sensory activities encourage kiddos to get outside and have fun while secretly learning and improving development. This season is made for fun outside and getting dirty – Help your child learn and explore the world with these 5 quick and easy Summer Activities!
With both of my boys, it took about 2 years before they were fun.
That might make me sound like a bad mom, but Ryan was born in late May. His first summer was a colicy mess, and his second he was just one and barely even walking. Owen was much the same with a mid March birthday.
But, by their third summer, they are independent, interested, and always learning.
Summer Sensory for the win!
I want to make sure that I’m constantly encouraging my boys to grow that side of themselves and to keep learning.
The library, museums, and the park are all places that I like to take them to learn, grow, and explore. But it can be a real pain packing everything and everyone up, especially as it gets hot.
5 Summer Sensory Activities for Toddlers
With that in mind, I found 5 ways to help kids learn and grow from your own backyard. Not only are these outdoor sensory activities fun, but your kiddo has lots or opportunity to learn about the world around them and sharpen motor skills.
Summer sensory activity #1: Mini Dirt Box
Does your toddler love playing in dirt as much as mine does?
We have a few bare spots in the yard that Ryan always wants to play in and run his fingers through. But since we live in an area with a lot of animals it makes me uncomfortable to have him playing in questionable dirt.
But this? I’m totally okay with. I filled a 98 cent bin with potting soil, some sticks and rocks and let Ryan have at it! I brought out some of his trucks (the easy to clean cheap-o ones) that he could use as well. Quick, easy, and fun!
Summer sensory activity #2: Ball and Rings
Cut one or two pool noodles into rings and throw into your kiddie pool. Let your kiddo have fun feeling different textures and exploring how different things float (or sink!).
Ryan loved playing with the huge bowl that I carried the cut noodles outside. He was putting them in and out, adding water to see what would make the bowl stay still without floating away.
You can also definitely play some modified versions of these pool games for kids in a baby pool with a toddler!
Summer sensory activity #3: Rainbow Water
Freeze water with food coloring in ice cube trays and add to a kiddie pool. The melting colors and cool feeling will be fun and interesting to your little and the ice cubes will keep them nice and cool on the hottest summer days.
Ryan loved pulling them out of the Ziploc bag I was keeping them in and dropping them into the water himself one by one, rather than me dumping them all in.
Summer sensory activity #4: Paint and Paper
I grabbed a roll of white craft paper from the Dollar Spot at Target and laid some out on our table outside. Add some paint and then let Ryan go wild, smearing it about and learning how different items work with the paint.
We used foam and brush paint brushes and kiddie spoons and forks. If you don’t have a table, head straight to the grass! It’s perfect for outside so you don’t have to worry about cleaning your floor later!
Bonus: use primary colors and show your kiddo how different colors mix to make other colors
Summer sensory activity #5: Shaving Cream Madness
Grab some shaving cream and choose a spot – a tarp would work, or a table, the grass, or even an empty kiddie pool.
I just sprayed it on top of the paper we were using for the paint so it was even less mess. Let your kid play with the foam, feel it, and smush it around and explore.
To make it even more fun and interesting, try adding a drop or two of food coloring! We loved seeing how different colors mixed together to make new colors!
No matter what you do – get them outside!
So feel free to let your kiddos go wild – roll in the grass, rub dirt through their fingers, squish all of the messy things they can get their hands on. They’re only young once, right?
Tell me – what’s your favorite summer sensory activities for toddlers? How do you make fun in your own backyard? Let me know in the comments!
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Angela Roberts says
So many great ideas! We love sensory play and look forward to adding a few of these to our list. Pinning for later, thank you. 🙂
So much fun! Both of my boys would love these activities, pinning for later!
Let me know how they enjoyed them if you do!!
Yes!!! My tomboy will love the dirt activity!! I am pinning and saving to do soon. Great post!
I’m so glad! I was a little hesitant sharing that one because I know giving your kid the go ahead to play with dirt is kind of weird, but he LOVES it! (PS If you get a bin with a lid you can just seal it up and keep it outside worry free ;))
Great ideas! Why do kids have such an affinity for dirt though?!?! :p
I have no idea!! To be honest, it drives me a little crazy, but my husband thinks it’s totally awesome, ha!
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
These are delightful activity ideas! My girls love playing in the dirt… still (they’re 8 and 5).
Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).
Wishing you a lovely day.
Ha, I definitely think it’s a kid thing – I remember playing ‘MudDonald’s’ with my brother as a kid!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
Great ideas! My niece loves water tables with all sorts of cups and boats and stones.
Yes! Ryan has one at my dad’s and he’s so obsessed with it!
How fun! My guy is just turning 1, but I pinned this for next summer!
Ha, I feel you! My guy was born end of may so the first 2 summers were a little less exciting 😉
Sensory boxes are a favorite of mine to create inside my preschool class. I also create them for the grandkids when they come. One of our favorites is freeze little objects in ice cube blocks and give a safe hammer to them to smash through the ice to get the object. They spend quite a bit of time on this. Especially in the hot weather as the ice begins to melt making it easier to get to the trinket.
Oh my goodness, Ryan would LOVE that! Such a great idea, thanks for sharing!
Sarah @ SUGAR MAPLE notes says
Love the outdoor painting idea! And what kids doesn’t love digging around in dirt!? Great ideas.
THe painting is one of my favorites since everytime we do it inside everything from my floor to my dog gets COVERED!
Kristy from Southern In Law says
So much squishy dirty fun! Sensory activities are so fun – especially with 2+ who are just really starting to “get” it.
Yes! I remember even just a few months ago looking at them and being like.. yeah Ryan would never get that at all. But they out of nowhere he’s like a little sponge and learning allllll of the things!
My son is a July baby – so it was a few summers before he was fun, too. I get it!! Playing in the yard is so much easier – and sensory activities are awesome! Have a great summer! #client
On the bright side, I feel like we get to enjoy the holidays with littles sooner this way!!
Elle C. Mayberry says
Excellent tips for engaging growing minds and developing motor skills, Morgan!
Thanks, Elle! Glad you enjoyed!
Such fun ideas. Another one we love is to find rocks, sticks, leaves and acorns and paint them. It’s a fan way to bring art outdoors or the outdoors in.
Great post, thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday! Been thinking about buying some pool noodles just to cut them up for crafting…….thanks for the reminder!
Kendall Patton says
Dirt and water I can do! Painting not so much…at least not yet! I will eventually. Afterall, there’s probably no better way to keep 2 busy boys occupied! 🙂
These are great ideas. I definitely need to try some more messy sensory activities with my 20 month old. It just gets SO HOT outside, so we might need to use the bathtub a bit haha.
I love these, Morgan. My daughter is a huge fan of her little pool, and she looooves pouring water from one cup to another. So in addition to her pool toys, we usually have cups in the pool too. Keeps her occupied for a good chunk of time…and allows for some peace and quiet too! Thanks so much for sharing!
It looks fun. My kids would love these.
Ruthie Gray says
These are GREAT! My daughter has a 2 1/2 year old, she NEEDS this!
Sharing and pinning – thanks for sharing with us at Tuesday Talk!
Very cute ideas! My 2 year old is in quite the painting phase! Thanks for sharing.
I love this! I’m planning on making my kiddo a dirt box as soon as she wakes up from nap. She’s going to love it. I’m using this as my featured post for Simply Natural Saturdays this week – thanks!!
Christia Colquitt says
These are such fun ideas. I love doing sensory play activities with my toddler. These summer themed activities will be tons of fun for us to do together. Thank you for the ideas.
Sherry Nappa says
Great summer projects. Our grandkids love to paint! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Merry Monday.