Sunshine, fresh air, little kids. They go together naturally. But sometimes, it may seem like you have few options for playing outdoors with a toddler who isn’t steady enough on his feet to run free and isn’t strong enough to navigate the playground equipment alone. At the same time, your energetic tot is not likely to be content being strapped in the stroller for too long. So how do you enjoy a sunny morning with your little one? Try these simple yet enchanting ideas to turn a park, backyard, pool, or sidewalk into a magical place for toddler outdoor fun.

Give the Park a Test Run

I remember the first time I really let go of my toddler’s hand at the playground. My heart pounded a bit harder as she made her way up the steps of the jungle gym. She watched the bigger kids race along the bridges, jump over gaps and zoom down the slides. I trailed her every step the first few times, but in a few weeks of teaching her playground safety, I was sitting on the bench watching her make her way all alone. In no time, she too was running jumping, swinging from the bars and doing belly slides. To get your toddler acclimated to playground equipment, try to go on off hours – early in the morning on the weekends or during school hours are best. That will help you avoid older kids who may be a bit too rough on the equipment.

Have a Picnic

Grab a blanket and some finger foods and you have the makings for a special meal in the sunshine. The change in setting is a great way to get a young child to experiment with new foods in new ways. spread some peanut butter on a cracker or introduce veggies with a dipping sauce. The sheer pleasure of eating in a yard or the park may persuade even the fussiest eater to try something new.

Enjoy a Splash

From pools to sprinklers to water tables, there are many ways to keep toddlers cool and entertained with water. Water play gives your toddler a chance to experiment with cause and effect, stimulates her senses, and (of course) cools her off on a steamy day. It's also sure to provide endless giggles and fun.

Take a Walk

Sometimes it's the simplest thing that makes a day extra special. A walk around the block for instance, lets you and your toddler enjoy fresh air and many opportunities for exciting adventures and learning. From introducing new words to letting your child touch, see, smell, and hear new things, a short stroll is like a mini vacation to young kids. It's the perfect activity whether your toddler is still mastering walking independently or is ready to balance on the sidewalk bricks.

Blow Some Bubbles

In the spirit of "keep it simple," might I suggest you just step outside with some bubble solution and a blowing wand? Proof that you don't need a big backyard or fancy swing sets to entertain and delight a toddler: blowing bubbles will make them happy.

Do a Little Gardening

Digging in the dirt is about the penultimate in fun for toddlers, so planting, weeding, and making mud for plants to grow is one of the greatest activities you can invite a young child to do. Beyond planting basic plants, there are numerous gardening activities that you can enjoy with toddlers.