Playing outside is essential for children and parents. Fresh air and sunshine; room to run, yell, and tumble; and all sorts of things to explore make the out-of-doors a whole new world. Playing outside is also an opportunity to teach yard and street safety, and boundaries. The following games can be modified for city or suburban play as needed:
Have your toddler lie down on the sidewalk. Trace his outline with nontoxic sidewalk chalk. Then have him draw in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
Place a series of parallel sticks on the ground spaced 8 to 12 inches apart. See if your toddler can walk through them without stepping on any.
Play follow-the-leader: walk with one or both hands on your hips, above your head, while swinging your arms.
Blow tufts off the head of a dandelion.
Collect leaves and line them up on the sidewalk in a long chain.
Use the money you saved from making indoor toys on kiddie transportation your toddler can play with outside. Invest in a small shopping cart or toy stroller that your child can push. She'd love to peddle a tricycle or Big Wheels toy. Finally, don't underestimate the hours of fun he can have with a wagon. The Navigator Wagon won the People's Choice Award for spring 2001.