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Outdoor Games for Toddlers

Start your toddler on a path to physical fitness with these five imaginative outdoor activities.

While toddlers have seemingly unlimited energy reserves, they also have notoriously short attention spans. To keep your jumping beans healthy, plan creative outdoor activities that will keep their brains engaged while getting their heart rates up.

Here are five great ideas -- some of which come from the President's Council on Physical Fitness -- for fun activities you and your toddler can enjoy together.


  1. Follow the Leader
    Start out as the leader and have your child mimic your movement. Take your toddler through various types of movement, such as hopping, running, standing on one leg, crouching down behind a bush, or jumping up to try to reach a tree limb. Give your little one a chance to be the leader, too!
  2. Rabbits and 'Roos
    Ask your toddler to hop up and down just like a rabbit (try it yourself, too!). Then, have her hop like a kangaroo, and gallop like a horse. Add other animals, too, and bring in props to encourage her to use her imagination, like bunny-ear headbands, or a stick horse.
  3. Tiptoes
    Walking on tiptoes teaches your toddler to use his own body weight to develop strength and balance. First, show him how to tiptoe, and then have him follow as you tiptoe forward, backward, sideward, and in circles. Pretend to be different characters or animals. For example, tiptoe like a kitty sneaking up on a bird, or like Santa putting presents under the tree.
  4. Hopscotch
    This classic children's game is a great way to teach balance and coordination. It's even fun before you play it! To start, use some washable chalk to draw a hopscotch board on your driveway, sidewalk or patio. Once that's done, you and your toddler can start to have fun searching your backyard for a smooth stone to use as your marker.
  5. Go Berry Picking
    Arrange a day trip to a local public orchard and have fun filling your baskets with nature's bounty. Another idea is to create a bouquet of wildflowers with your toddler (just make sure to watch for things like poison ivy or plants with thorns or burrs). Use the season as your guide: in the fall, head to the pumpkin patch.
More from the President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports

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