I have four kids that range in age from 3 to 10 years old. We try to make it a point to date all of our kids so that they get that one-on-one time with each of us. Toddler outings are fun but they can also be about teaching and learning. Today, I am sharing my top 10 picks for toddler dates that I have done through the years.
Toddler to 3-Year-Old Dates
1. Park Treasure Hunt
I take my toddler on nature walks frequently to our local park. I make a short treasure hunt map with pictures to help him find specific things to look for while we are there. It’s amazing to me how quickly he is able to spot a red leaf, a butterfly, or an acorn. Once he finds an item, he puts it in a sandwich bag that I bring with us, and then he helps me cross out the picture of what we found on his treasure hunt list. It’s a great thing for them to be able to bring out at the dinner table to talk to Daddy about. Check out our free Spring Treasure Hunt printable to get you started.
Talk about it question: What was the hardest item to find on your treasure list today?
2. Animals and Sounds
The zoo is a great place to take a toddler. There is so much to see and explore at a zoo. We usually read a book about the zoo before going. I like to build up the date and let him or her know what to expect before we go. We go over animal names and sounds. I pack a picnic for us when we go and we find a shady place to eat lunch and discuss what else he wants to see before we leave.
Talk about it question: What was your favorite animal? Do you know what sound it makes? Can you remember anything you learned about that animal today?
3. Ice Cream Social
I have had a lot of dates with my kids at an ice cream parlor. Going for ice cream is always a favorite date in my house. I take them in and let them pick out the toppings; I try to get the opposite of what they order so we can share flavors. We sit outside when we can so they can get up, walk around freely, and spill without you feeling pressure to keep them confined and spill-free (because let’s face it, toddlers + sugar= moving all over messy mess).
Talk about it question: How do you think ice cream is made? (Or, Tara provided a recipe for sorbet below if you want to change the wording. *See recipe below.)
4. Paint with the composers.
This is always a special date. My kids love to paint. I pack up paper and paints with snacks, we head outside, and I let them have at it. I pull up George Frederic Handel’s “Water Music” on YouTube and play the songs while they paint with watercolors. I am always so impressed with how focused they become when I play music while they paint.
Talk about it question: Did you know that this kind of music was played live and served as entertainment a long time ago? Instead of going to see a movie, people would go to see a composer share his musical talents.
5. Buckets Full of Berries
I took my toddler to pick blueberries once. I wasn’t sure if he would be into it at all since he didn’t like blueberries at the time. I went with the idea that if we tried it and he just wanted to run through the rows instead, I would be okay with that. We went and he was hands down my best picker that I have ever taken. He was focused on helping me fill up my bucket with berries. He even ate a handful without spitting them out.
Talk about it question: Did you know that each berry starts as a flower?
6. Meet a Hero
Last weekend, I drove my toddler to the fire station. You don’t have to call ahead and they love visitors. They immediately put a jacket, hat, and pants on him. Showed him every single facet of the fire truck, let him turn on the lights, blow the horn, and play with ALL the flashlights. I loved watching him look up to the people who protect us.
Talk about it question: Did you know that firemen have to practice saving people all the time so that when they need to save someone they can do it as fast as possible?
7. Read Aloud Picnic
Having a picnic outside is so easy to pull together and never looses its charm. I usually get my toddler involved in helping me pack the lunch and make the sandwiches. We grab a blanket, sit outside, and eat together. I try to grab a short book so I can read to him for a little bit while he is sitting still. Afterward, I ask him to find a certain animal in the clouds.
Talk about question: What do you think a cloud feels like?
8. Petting Zoo
Petting zoos are a fun way to get up close to animals safely. I took one of my little guys to one where he was able to hold rabbits and catch and hold chicks. He had the best time exploring and touching them all. He didn’t want to leave.
Talk about it question: What sorts of animals would you get if you had a farm or a zoo?
9. Reading Zone
The library has been a favorite date spot for all of my kids (even up to the age of 8). There’s something special to them about getting to pick out a handful of books to bring home for Mommy to read to them. If there is a read aloud time, I try to time our trip with that.
Talk about it question: How many books do you think are in this library?
10. Camp Out Inside
Forget the blanket tents and surprise your toddler by setting up a real tent inside the house. I remember doing this with my daughter when she was 3. We pretended there was a campfire inside the tent and bears were walking around outside the tent. I brought in the lanterns, the sleeping bags, the whole deal. She LOVED it.
Talk about it question: What sort of noises do you think we would hear if we were camping outside at night?
What activity do you do with your children that brings in a facet of learning as well as fun?
*Recipe for 10 Minute Fruit Sorbet
1 1/2 cups any frozen fruit (We like blueberries or strawberries best.)
1 3/4 yogurt (You can use any kind, but if it’s flavored the same as the fruit it’s amazing!)
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it’s smooth and blended.
- Place in freezer friendly container.
- Freeze for an hour before serving.
Tara Norman is a homeschoolng SAHM to four kids and has been married 10 years to the love of her life, Paul Norman.