5 Top Toddler Garden Play Ideas (and they’re all FREE!)

Need to entertain the kids for free? Here are some top garden play ideas that will cost you nothing at all. Garden | Play | Fun | Activities | For Kids | For Toddlers | Free | Outdoor | Summer | Ideas
Make the most of the summer by getting outside and enjoying some garden fun.

Summer is here which means more sunshine (hopefully!) and more time spent outside. Yay! If you’re anything like me and are ‘solar powered’ then this is a great time of year. Lots of fresh air and sunshine makes for a happier version of me.


Summer holidays can be expensive

Now that I’m a mummy and have kids to entertain, the summer isn’t as relaxing a time as it used to be. That’s not a bad thing though! There are tons of activities and play ideas that I get to do with my kids that are a lot of fun. I did enjoy the days when I could relax in the garden with a good book, lazing in the sunshine. But now I get to enjoy summer in a different kind of way.

Having several weeks of constant entertainment can get expensive, if you’re taking the kids out on lots of excursions and making use of the numerous paid activities that are always on offer over the summer.

These are all great and definitely stop the summer boredom. BUT it’s sometimes nice to just chill at home and enjoy some ‘free’ play (in both senses of the word). And if you’ve got a garden then why not make use of it and get the kids outside for some fresh air. I always find my kids sleep better when they’ve been playing outside.


Summer holidays can be expensive. These garden play activities are all FREE! #frugalliving Click To Tweet


Keeping the kids entertained for free

Keeping the kids entertained doesn’t have to cost you anything. I’ve already given you a detailed itinerary for having  a no-spend weekend. We spend numerous days during the holidays at home and I think it’s important to have those slower days to recover from the busier ones.

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy some time at home, keep the kids happy and entertained and not spend a single penny. These activities all involve items you will already have in your cupboards. They’re best to enjoy outside, which saves on the clean up time, but if the rain hits and you’re not up for getting wet then most of them can be brought indoors.


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Water play

Water play with bottles.

This is great for hot, sunny days. And there are no rules. All you need is a tray or bowl of water and let the kids go mad. There are so many things you can do with water, the only limit is your imagination…

  • Use empty bottles to collect and pour water.
  • Poke some holes into water bottles to make a sprinkler system.
  • Scoops, spoons and kitchen utensils can all be used to splash in the water.
  • Toy cars/boats/planes can be ‘driven’ underwater.
  • Bath squirters are always a winner, especially if it’s hot, for your kids to squirt each other with.
  • If you have a garden hose, get that out too!

And if all the water disappears after being thrown/squirted/splashed onto the ground then you can just refill for free from the tap!


Rice & sequins

Rice play with spoons.

This is another really easy way to keep little ones entertained for ages. Ideally you should use a big tuff tray, but a tea tray or washing up bowl would also do. All you do is pour some (uncooked) rice onto the tray then add some nice sparkly sequins. If you don’t have any sequins lurking in your cupboard, don’t worry! You can use whatever you want really…pom poms, foam shapes etc.

You can let your kids enjoy getting their hands in there to play, or you can give them some kitchen measuring spoons/cups/scoops. Again, there are no rules to this one!

Once they’re done, I simply pour the rice into a designated ‘play rice’ tub to be kept and used again next time.


Pasta & spoons

Pasta play.

Like above, this play idea uses another kitchen staple…pasta. Use the same tray/bowl as you used for the rice, pour in the pasta and give your little ones some spoons and scoops to play with it however they wish. It can then be stored in a designated ‘play pasta’ tub for later. I’ve found this works best if you have several different sizes and shapes of pasta as it’s a bit more exciting that way.

But don’t go out and buy several bags of pasta just for your kids to play with! I would use whatever you have in the house at the time, then if you want to mix things up, buy a different kind of pasta next time you go shopping and add some of it to your ‘play pasta’. Repeat this each time you go shopping until you’re happy with your pasta selection.


Find out how rice and pasta can be turned into hours of free fun. #frugalliving Click To Tweet


Mud kitchen

Playing in the mud.

This is my son’s absolute favourite thing at nursery! I’ve not been brave enough to create one at home yet, but if you’ve got some time to do it I’m sure your little ones will love you for it. All it is is an outdoor kitchen where mud is used as the cooking ingredient. So simple yet kids are going mad for them! Several of my friends have set up mud kitchens in their gardens and their kids are absolutely loving the creative play they can do with them.

You can make them as simple or as fancy as you like. Ranging from a patch of mud and some old wooden spoons to a full wooden kitchen with an oven, utensils, pots and pans (just make sure they’re old, not current!!). The choice is yours.

Outdoor living room

Why potter about playing with toys in the living room when you could be outside? Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the sun for a while, or away from the wind and rain. But it is possible to have the best of both worlds!

Take your living room outside. Not literally of course, but most families these days own a tent. So, pitch your tent in the garden, bring some cushions and blankets from the living room and voila, you now have a sun, wind & rain shade but you’re still able to be outside in the fresh air.

Outdoor living room.

And if your kids are anything like mine, then putting up the tent is an exciting activity in itself.

We have the front of the tent rolled up so that there’s easy access into the tent and we can all come and go as we please. I’ve found that by doing this then we are able to spend longer outside because there’s shade from the sun, a barrier against the wind and we don’t have to run inside when the rain hits. We simply use the tent as our outdoor living room and it’s great!


5 top toddler garden play ideas. And they're all free! #frugalliving Click To Tweet



There are so many ways to keep your kids entertained for free at home. Spend some time out in the garden with these play ideas this summer. What’s your favourite garden play idea?



2 thoughts on “5 Top Toddler Garden Play Ideas (and they’re all FREE!)

  1. Awesome ideas! especially the rice one, I might just do that when my little girl gets bored. I might even put in some tiny prizes in there. 🙂 The mud kitchen is intensely fun! It’s one of my favorite games to play when I was little. I’d mold pots and vases from mud, get leaves from the garden and pretend to cook. 🙂 Such fun memories! 🙂

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