Fun activities for dads and toddlers

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Days out with Dad

While mom certainly gets most of the fun when it comes to activities with your toddler, there is no substitute for a day out with Dad. Toddlers love one-on-one bonding time with Dad, and what better way to get some "Daddy-and-me" time this summer than by planning an adventure both your big kid and grown-up kid will love? We've put together a few favorite outings for dads and toddlers along with a few activity essentials.

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Catch a ball game

Whether it's the big leagues or your local minor league team, teaching your little guy or girl to cheer for your favorite ball club is a great way to spend an afternoon. Eat some hot dogs and peanuts, do the wave and watch out for foul balls together while your little one takes in the sights and sounds of the game. She won't want to sit still for a full nine innings, so make sure to get up and take frequent walks around the park, ideally with her seated on your shoulders for a better view of the game.

What you'll need:

  • Baseball gloves. One for you and one for your little one, just in case a foul ball comes your way.
  • Kid sunscreen. Lather them (and yourself) up before and during the game to protect from harmful UV rays while cheering on the team.
  • Team apparel. Get yourself and your little one geared up for the game with a team shirt or hat.
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Explore nature

Let his budding curiosity run wild as you explore the outdoors together. A forest, a nature trail, even just your local park can be the perfect spot to discover nature. He can dig in the dirt, examine leaves on a tree and hunt for insects while you enjoy watching his face light up with joy with each new discovery. For added fun, bring along a homemade nature scavenger hunt and celebrate each new find he makes.

What you'll need:

  • Magnifying glass. Let your little explorer get an up-close look at those fascinating bugs crawling over his shoe.
  • Plastic bucket. To collect all of the exciting treasures he discovers along the way.
  • Day bag or backpack. For all of your exploration essentials, like sweatshirts or bottles of water, and your nature scavenger hunt materials.
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Pitch a tent

Let's face it: Dads love camping, and kids love being outside with Dad. So while taking your toddler on an actual camping trip may be a little tricky, why not set up camp in the backyard instead? Make it feel like you're on a real outdoor adventure by letting him help set up the tent and explore the backyard like you two are in the woods. And no camping trip is complete without story time by flashlight! Keep the rain fly off so you and your little camper can do a little stargazing before bed.

What you'll need:

  • Easy-to-set-up tent. Making quick work of tent setup gets your adventure started right away. Choose a tent with plenty of room for you, your little one, sleeping bags and pillows, books and any stuffed animal friends they may need to bring along.
  • Bedding. One large sleeping bag unzipped and opened will probably be big enough for you and your toddler, but for an authentic camping experience, bring along a sleeping bag and ground pad for each of you.
  • Small charcoal grill or hibachi. For cooking up classic camping fare like hot dogs and s'mores.

Check out our camping necessities checklist for more camping gear ideas.

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Be a junior scientist

One of the greatest parts of being a dad is watching your son or daughter discover the amazing world around them. Nowhere are the wonders of the natural world more accessible than at local zoos, aquariums and natural history museums. Get your little one up close with colorful marine life, exotic wild animals or even ancient dinosaur skeletons. And while she's having fun discovering all creatures big and small, you can enjoy watching her squeal with delight when she touches the skin of a sea star for the first time.

What you'll need:

  • Snacks and drinks from home. Admission, food, drinks and souvenirs can all add up, so save some money by packing along snacks, water bottles and even sandwiches for you both to enjoy.
  • Good walking shoes. Since you'll be on your feet most of the time, save little (and big) feet from aches and pains with good shoes meant for walking, or running, around all day
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Play ball

One sure way for Dad and toddler to enjoy an afternoon together is to get out to the park, or even the backyard, and play ball. It doesn't matter what kind of ball—soccer, football, basketball or baseball, just as long as Dad and his little teammate get to play together. Set up a soccer goal in the backyard, and let Dad play goalie. Or bring a tee-ball set to the park, and let your little guy practice his swing. Dad will get the chance to bond with your toddler over a sport that he loves, and your little one will get exercise and work on his coordination. But most importantly, he'll get to play with Dad.

What you'll need:

  • Soccer ball and net. Play goalie for your little one as she practices running and kicking the ball past you.
  • Tee-ball set. Adjust the tee to his height, and let him take batting practice while you encourage him to keep his eye on the ball.
  • Adjustable basketball set. Teach your toddler the finer points of a slam dunk with an easy-to-adjust basketball net that will let him jump, throw and score the game-winning basket
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Dig for treasure

Just about every toddler loves the idea of digging for buried treasure, whether it was left there by pirates or by Dad. Indulge their curiosity, and take your little one to the beach, or even a playground with sand, and let them scoop sand to their heart's content while celebrating each pebble or stick they happen to dig up. Bring along a handful of pennies to bury in the sand with an "X" marks the spot to add to the fun. If you are going to the beach, small colorful stones and shells can make great buried treasure, as well.

What you'll need:

  • Plastic shovels and a bucket. Your little treasure hunter will need these basic tools to get digging. Bring along an extra bucket to keep all of the new treasures she finds.
  • Sunscreen. Even pirates get sunburned sometimes. Keep your little one safe from the sun while he digs for plundered gold.
  • Snacks and water. Digging for treasure is hard work! Keep yourself and your little one fed and hydrated when your treasure hunt takes you under the hot sun.

Used with permission. © 2015 Walmart. All Rights Reserved. See full legal.

Used with permission. © 2014 Walmart. All Rights Reserved. See full legal.


Important Walmart Disclaimer: All content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither the author nor assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter. Walmart does not sponsor, recommend or endorse any third party, product, service or information provided on this site.

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