3-year-olds have a lot of energy! It’s smart to look up ways to redirect that energy into fun, educational activities for them to do outside. We don’t want it to go and waste time inside watching TV, so it’s our duty as parents to have a plan for our children’s playtime.
That can be a little difficulty. There are just so many activities out there! And if you don’t have much time to go through it or to come up with new ways to teach your children something new, then it can be frustrating. Not to worry, because you’ve come to the right place.
Here are 11 outdoor activities for 3-year-olds for you to try at home and see what sticks!
A nice way to spend time outside is taking sheets of paper with you to color and draw in the sun! Your kids will love this puffy paint, especially if it’s something they’ve never seen before.
It’s really easy to make, so pay attention. You’ll need:
- self-rising flour
- food coloring
- container to make each color or a paint tray if you have it
Once you have all of your ingredients you just have to mix:
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 3 teaspoons of food coloring
- add water until you have a paste
Now you have to find some cardboard. You can cut out big cardboard boxes into pieces or empty tissue boxes. Once your kids make all of their drawings, you have to go inside and microwave them one at a time for about 25 seconds for the paint to puff up! Make sure it doesn’t overcook.
You’ll be encouraging your child’s creativity and sense of achievement. This activity is also great to develop eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and color recognition.
Sensory play with ice
This is a great activity for a particularly warm day! Sensory play is always great for the development of fine motor skills, coordination, language exploration, and imaginative play.
All you’ll need is:
- plastic containers of different sizes
- plastic animals to go with your ice world theme
- food coloring
- large plastic container or tub
You’ll just have to fill all of the different containers with water and freeze them. Make sure the containers come in different shapes and patterns to make it interesting! Once they’re ready to use just put them in the sun for about 10 minutes and the ice will come right off. Take your large tub or container and arrange your ice world. Make sure you also add ice cubes! Now pour a small jug of water mixed with blue food coloring over it, add the toys, and bring your kids outside!
This activity will give your children opportunities to talk about temperature, different textures, sizes and the names of the animals you used. Overall, it’s a great learning activity and they’ll love it!
Jelly Play Dough
This is just another great way to use household items to make new toys for your kids. Once you make your jelly play dough, your kids are free to create so many things.
It’s really easy to make, you’ll only need:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 cup of warm water
- half a cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
- 1 pack of jelly (85gr).
Put all of the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Mix the jelly with warm water and stir it to make it lump-free, and then add it to the dry ingredients along with the oil. Cook this mix on medium heat and don’t stop stirring until you have a thick blob. Once it’s done turn it out on a clean surface and turn it into a ball. Be careful because it will be hot. Make sure to use a bit of flour on your hands if it’s too sticky. Store it in a plastic container and let it rest at least a few hours before using.
Now you can take your kids outside and they can make all kinds of things! You can even hand them small items for decoration such as googly eyes and cut out pipe cleaners. This will help them develop fine motor skills and it will allow for their imagination to run wild.
Pasta Play Dough
Play dough can be really plain! That’s why we have to mix it up with what we have at hand to make sure we’re always encouraging our children’s imagination. One of the ways you can make it interesting for them is by letting them play around with dry pasta!
Just hand them a bunch of play dough and separate different types of pasta into several containers so they can decorate their creations with that! Make sure you have a wide array of shapes like bows, shells, spiral, penne, and even spaghetti. You guys can make play dough pizza, creatures, flowers, etc. The sky is the limit!
This activity is great for developing special awareness, creative thinking, concentration skills, fine motor skills, and it also encourages imagination!
This is a fun activity to do out in the sidewalk or the driveway! All you’ll need is water bottles and food coloring! Mix the food coloring with the water to make colorful pins. Now just take your kids outside and let’s see if they can get a strike!
You can use and ball you have at hand, it just have to be solid enough to knock down the water bottles. If you want to make it a bit easier, only fill the water bottles halfway. Your kids will have so much fun with this!
Once you’re done, you can reuse those water bottles and turn them into a sensory item but adding glitter, soap, small pebbles, or anything else you might think off!
Alphabet play dough
This is really simple! All you have to do is take your alphabet cards and your play dough outside to enjoy a little fun in the sun. If you don’t have alphabet cards, you can take this opportunity to make them with your children. Just cut out cardboard into pieces and draw big alphabet letters; let them help you decorate them how they want.
Once it’s time to play, give them the play dough and tell them to trace the letters by molding the play dough. They have to roll and cut the play dough to make it fit, so they’re developing their fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, special awareness and they’re practicing their letters as well. Have them think of a word for each one!
Play dough garden
Yes, play dough is very popular on this post. That’s just because there is so much you can do with it. Including this wonderful play dough garden. You can make this activity structured by giving your child some directions, or you can just let them do what they will. Take them to the backyard or the front yard so they can be inspired by whatever bits of nature there are.
Hand them a ball of play dough, egg cartons to work as pots, and artificial flowers for them to play. Plastic containers will also work as pots, in case you threw all of your egg cartons away. Now all that’s left is leaving your kids to create their garden how they see fit. They can use the plastic containers to plant the flowers, or the egg cartons to grow a little crop. Some children will even use only the play dough to plant the plastic flowers.
That’s what’s so wonderful about unstructured play! You get to see what your children come up with and how their minds work.
Bubble wrap painting
This is a great way for your kids to explore their imagination and to spend a little time outside! Just get a bunch of cardboard boxes and spread them in your yard to make a sort of giant chalkboard or canvas. Now all you need is some bubble wrap and paint!
Cut out the bubble wrap in different shapes to make this a learning experience. You can make geometric shapes, stars, hearts, houses, moons, suns, flowers and anything else they might recognize. Pour the paint into plastic trays and take them outside. Now just let your children fill the cardboard canvas however they see fit! They’ll have so much fun with the texture of the wrap and the paint. Plus, you’ll get to see how they arrange the shapes to make a picture!
Allow them to use their hands and their feet to paint if that’s what they want. Just have fun with it and make sure they wear clothes fit to endure a mess!
This is one of those sensory plays that are just a lot of fun! Fun and messy! That’s the perfect combination for kids, they go crazy for it. To make the soapy slime all you’ll need is:
- 3 cups of warm water
- soap, food coloring
- electric beater
Mix all of them together with the beater until you have a perfect soapy slime mix! It should look a bit like shaving cream, but fluffier. Allow your kids to help you make it so they’ll be part of the process.
If you don’t have much time for preparation you can simply mix shaving cream with food coloring! It will work just as well. Now just go outside with your buckets of soapy slime and let the fun begin!
What’s in your jelly?
Jell-O is one of the go-to materials to use for sensory play. It has a great texture, and it’s fun to play with! Plus, if you see the kids taking it straight to their mouths you won’t have a mild heart-attack. You’ll just need jelly, a varied array of plastic containers and small toys like plastic numbers, animals, colored beads and even small dolls. Just make sure these are toys your kids can wash up and use!
All you have to do is make jelly in different colors, pour it in the plastic containers and add a toy. If you can, combine the color of the toys with the color of the jelly so they’re disguised a bit better. Once the jelly surprise cups are ready, take your kids outside and let them discover their treasures!
Tin can instruments
This is both fun as a DIY project and as an activity to take outside! All you’ll need are some recycled tin cans, colored paper, balloons, glue, scissors, stickers, a couple of sticks to play the drum, and rice or other dried goodies to make the shaker. You can choose different sizes and shapes like, rice, pasta, and anything you can think of to create different sounds.
All you have to do is decorate the tin boxes so they’re nice and colorful! Make drums and fill other tins with different things to make various shakers. Once you’re done filling them up, cover the open end of the tins with a piece of cardboard that fits perfectly. Make sure you glue it tight, then take some balloons and cut the top half so you can use the bottom half as a cap to cover the cardboard. Make sure it’s tight. You can use more than one balloon if necessary.
Now all there’s left to do is hand the new instruments and go outside to make some noise! You guys can also have fun trying to figure out what’s in the shakers!
There you go! Your 3 year olds won’t be bored or restless any longer thanks to all of these fun activities. They’ll be busy, happy, and most importantly they’ll be learning and developing their skills.