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Six outdoor play activities for toddlers

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With the sun shining, it's the perfect time to let their imaginations run wild outdoors.

One of the most wonderful things about toddlers is how even the tiniest thing can take their attention and be the basis for a good long play session, from paints and pencils to marbles or Lego.

And when the weather's good, and they can finally spend more time outside, there's a whole world for them to explore. Here are some fun nature-inspired activities that will keep them occupied in the fresh air for hours on end.

Make a tiny rock garden

Kids love rocks. The endless sizes, shapes, colours, and even textures, from craggy flint to smooth pebbles. Spend some time collecting pretty rocks, large and small, in a basket, and then sort them out according to size, near the spot that you're building the rock garden.

Dig some of the larger rocks into the soil, then pile them up so they're stable, and pot in some alpine plants or succulents for a colourful effect. Your little one will see it as their own magical garden.

Play mud bullseye

Use chalk to draw a target on a fence or wall (draw a big circle with two smaller ones inside, and a bullseye), and then make mud balls to throw at it. To make the mud balls, mix soil, sand and water into a thick paste, roll into balls, and roll around in some extra sand. Then assign points for each circle and take it in turns to throw.

Of course, this could get messy, so make sure they're wearing their oldest clothes, and have your Flash Multi-Surface Concentrated Cleaner on hand, ready to clean up as soon as they've dragged all that mud across the floor!

Make leaf art

This is one that will prepare you for the next rainy day. Spend a day collecting pretty sticks, feathers and leaves (children LOVE collecting stuff!), and point out the different shapes and sizes as you go along.

Then when you get home, or on the next rainy day, they can use poster paint to make leaf prints, and non-toxic glue to stick on feathers, sticks and any other bits and pieces they've found. Don't worry if it gets a bit messy - a quick rub with a Flash Magic Eraser will sort out any paint, pencil or glue marks.

Create a water world

If the sun's shining, it's time to get the paddling pool out! To make it more fun, seek out seashell and fish-shaped toys to put in there (real sea shells are lovely, but make sure they don't have sharp edges), and you can even use non-toxic water colouring (available in toy shops) to colour the water ocean blue. If you have a sandpit as well, place the pool near to it for a beach feel, so they can make sand castles too.

Always make sure your child is supervised in the water - even a few inches can be dangerous if you're not there - and check the water temperature before putting them in, to make sure it's not too cold. On hot days ensure your little one has plenty of sun protection, including a parasol while they're sitting still.

Go camping in the garden

There's something really appealing for toddlers about the idea of a little house of their own, and it's easy in the summer to help them play this game. If you have an easy-to-erect tent, put it up in the garden, or use an online tutorial to make an easy teepee with just a few dowels and a sheet or two.

Then take out some plastic bowls and cups and help them make a pretend campfire, mix a mud pie, and serve their imaginary guests a fine campside dinner. They can make their 'bed' with leaves and grass and pretend a whole night has passed before it's time for tea.

Get artistic

If you have a path or driveway, you can get some coloured chalk and let them go wild with drawing on it. They might want to draw a game, like hopscotch, or their family, or you could encourage them to draw a whole garden on the path, with colourful flowers and leaves.

What outdoor activities do your tots and toddlers love? Share your ideas in the comments box below.

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