8 Ways to Create Summer Fun for Toddlers

Summer can be a wonderful time to let your active little one discover some of the sights and sounds of the season. Mighty Mommy shares eight ways to create summer fun for your toddler.

Cheryl Butler,
Episode #439

As the mom of 8, many of my favorite memories from when my kids were younger were their spirited toddler days.  Toddlers can sometimes get a bad rap with comments about how exhausting and thankless it can be to parent a little one who always seems to be creating messes or throwing a tantrum if they don’t get their own way, and while that is certainly part of their deal, I always enjoyed their curiosity about life. 

It’s a toddler’s job to explore his surroundings and investigate all the things that are new to him.  Summer can be a wonderful time to let your active little one discover some of the sights and sounds of the season. Mighty Mommy shares eight ways to create summer fun for your toddler.

Tip #1:  Backyard Waterbed Retreat

Keeping cool in a pool isn’t the only way to stay refreshed on a hot summer’s day, you can also have tons of fun in your very own backyard waterbed, which is also referred to as a water blob. What is a “water blob,” and how do you make one? Simple. A water blob is a large piece of plastic sheeting (a clear thin tarp) filled with water. When it’s done, it makes a cool, dry play surface. For added fun, you can even turn on a sprinkler on top of the blob, which then turns it into something similar to the popular slip'n slide. There are many renditions of the “water blob” available on both Pinterest and the internet.  The one we made came from directions shared on PBS Parents.  The materials couldn’t be more simple: plastic sheeting and duct tape.


Fold the plastic sheeting in half and tape the three open sides with duct tape. (It helps to have assistance!)

Insert the hose and fill the blob with water. When it's full, tape the small opening shut and let the kids loose. 

If you like, you can add some blue food coloring for a little extra fun.

Tip #2: Backyard Tee Pee

One activity that my kids always loved as little ones was finding nooks in the house to turn into a cozy place to hang out or hide in.  With tweens and teens, those days are pretty much behind me, but memories of them snuggled up in a corner with a blanket and pillows still makes me smile.  Earlier this summer I noticed my neighbor had a fun tent arrangement up in her backyard.  She has twins who are 18-months old.  I could hear them laughing and having a ball so I went over to investigate, and when I realized the tent was a homemade tee pee, I even squealed.  When she shared how easy this backyard tee pee was that she found on-line, I wished I had been able to do this for my 8 kids when they were younger. 

The materials were simply six, 6-foot bamboo stakes found in a gardening department, a king-sized flat bed sheet, jute, and 10 – 12 clothespins.  For directions on this easy and clever tee pee that is sure to keep your toddler entertained on a hot summer’s day, visit mama.papa.bubba.com.

Tip #3:  Do Nothing Together

Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less, says, "There is a myth that doing nothing is wasting time, when it's actually extremely productive and essential,"she says. "During empty hours, kids explore the world at their own pace, develop their own unique set of interests and indulge in the sort of fantasy play that will help them figure out how to create their own happiness, handle problems with others on their own, and sensibly manage their own time. That's a critical life skill."

Spending time just chilling out with your toddler this summer is one of the best gifts you can give him.  Unscheduled blocks of time throughout your week can be a wonderful way to connect with your toddler and at the same time, let him just putter around his environment investigating and entertaining himself with whatever his little heart fancies.  I referred to this as “lay low” time with my 8 kids and made sure we had chunks of this unstructured time on a very regular basis, especially on hot summer days when we didn’t feel like being hot and busy.

Some days they would get completely absorbed in pretend play or looking through their books and coloring, other days they would just meander around being silly or seeking me out as a playdate.  It really didn’t matter how that time was spent, as long as it was unstructured down time.


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