When you’re responsible for entertaining small children, you can quickly run through all the toys in your home. The good news is that there are tons of activities for toddlers that won’t require you to rush out and purchase new toys and supplies. We’ve put together a list of options that will help with brain development and allow you both to have some fun together.
We will start with some of the benefits of trying the activities and how to set yourself up for success when you’re working with little kids.
Entertain Your Toddlers With Adventures From Scratch
When you’re in need of fresh ideas to tempt your toddler, try Adventures From Scratch Family Edition. This interactive book includes over 50 suggestions for things you can do with your child. Your excited kiddo will love being able to choose a page and uncover a surprise activity. Grab a copy and start scratching!
The Benefits of Activities for Toddlers
You probably don’t need any convincing that implementing constructive toddler activity ideas can aid in child development, but if you want a little boost of inspiration, what are the specific benefits? Let’s review what carefully-planned activities for toddlers can do for your little ones.
They encourage creativity and the use of imagination.
The best activities for little ones encourage some type of imagination. It’s important as a parent or teacher to support that and organize some fun things to help kids have the space to be creative.
Some activities can improve literacy.
Reading begins well before kids can actually comprehend sentences on a page. It’s important to start with your six-month-old by reading books and letting them hear people talk. Show them letters and take advantage of any early childhood learning tools to encourage literacy.
Spending time learning together helps strengthen your bond.
Spending time together is obviously important for the relationship. The kind of interaction you’ll have when taking part in enjoyable activities is different from your normal daily routines. There should be plenty of variety in interactions and by participating in these toddler activities, you’ll be able to play a new role.
Physical activities can improve fitness.
With all the new technology, kids spend plenty of time in front of screens. By organizing specific activities, you’ll be able to get them moving. Outdoor activities can involve more running around and playing to help them boost their fitness and have fun being active.
Activities can aid in the development of fine motor skills.
Sensory activities are important for toddlers to develop their fine motor skills. There are many types of these games and activities. Anything that gives little kids a chance to practice using their fingers and focusing on moving things around or small, precise movements. The more you do, the better you are.
Things to Remember When Planning Activities for Toddlers
Whether you are wanting to try some new things or if you’re preparing for the toddler stage with your little ones, these are just a few tips to help you get started. It’s important to remember that managing activities for one to 3-year-olds is a totally different experience than planning fun for adults.
Don’t give up.
It’s not easy to entertain a busy toddler. You never know what will hold their attention and their minds can change very quickly. When you set up a new activity, make sure to leave it out even if it doesn’t initially grab their attention. Often, kids will circle back to new things that have been introduced a little bit later.
Partner with other parents.
Playtime activities can take a lot of energy, so it’s great if you find a partner. If there’s anyone you know that has kids around the same ages, see if they want to set up playdates and swap days with each other. When toddlers can observe other toddlers, they will learn even more and can start to get used to schoollike atmospheres.
Each household is filled with plenty of toys and supplies, so by moving around playdates to various homes, you’ll be able to switch things up and expose the kids to more. If you have the opportunity to meet other parents that are at the same phase in parenthood, it’s beneficial for numerous reasons.
DIY when you can.
Kids grow so quickly. When you’re planning activities and gathering the supplies, you don’t want to have to buy a ton of brand new items from Amazon. Consider alternatives before purchasing anything. The chances are good that you have something in your home that can work instead. Kids will not notice if something is used or made instead of shiny and new, so take advantage of any savings and shortcuts you can.
Involve the kids in clean-up.
If you have toddlers, you already know how quickly a room can transform into what looks like the path of a tornado. Start the routines of cleaning up early and include the kids. Make sure they understand that it’s part of the activity and once they’ve completed the activity, it must be put away. Many parents and preschools love the clean-up song! There might be many versions, but you just need to let them know that it’s time and what activities will follow clean-up and keep it consistent.
Fun Indoor Activities for Toddlers
Whether you’re facing a rainy day or just trying to get some things done around the house and keep the kids entertained, these indoor kids’ activities are perfect for the toddler ages.
Create a sensory bin.
Sensory tables and bins are easy toddler activities with great benefits. It counts as fine motor activity. These bins and tables can change with the season or whenever your toddler gets a little bored. Sensory play helps build vocabulary and gives them new experiences. To put these activities together, think of a fun theme and then find objects that fit that theme. For example, you can put together a summer-themed bin. Fill a bin with sand and hide a few small toys that fit the theme for the kids to find. Water, ice, jello, shaving cream, and rocks are other popular materials to use that you probably already have laying around your home.
Use the wall behind the table to put up some new words for the kids to look at and practice all week. You can include animals, pictures, letters, and numbers. Or you can simply set it up for strict playtime and keep their little hands busy.
Make your own playdough.
Playdough is a blast for kids because they can mold it into shapes and mix and match colors. It’s also an easy DIY project if you want to avoid purchasing any. It will cost less than a dollar and will last you months. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already and can get the kids involved (if you’re prepared for a bit of a mess).
You’ll mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, vegetable oil (or coconut oil), and food coloring. Store them in plastic bags and take them out whenever the kids want to use their hands and mix something. It will stay squishy and moldable for a long time as long as it’s put away and isn’t able to dry out. Also, keep a close eye on the kids that are 3 years old and younger to make sure they aren’t just eating all the playdough.
Play with stickers.
Stickers are very popular with toddlers. They are easy to use and give them the chance to get a little creative. You can find sheets of stickers in the dollar section at retailers, plus you probably have some laying around your house. Think about the address labels you get in the mail or old gift tags.
Sticker books sometimes have shapes for the kids to match up with the right sticker. Those might be a little challenging for young kids but will provide a lot of sticker options at least. Other options for kids who like sticky things are tape and window clings. Tape is usually laying around your house and is easy to replace. Window clings are reusable, so you can let the kids put them on doors and windows and then move them around.
Take out the finger paints.
Art activities can’t get too complicated with toddlers. Finger paints are a great option because they invite the children to get a little messy and really be part of the experience even before they are ready to hold a brush and delicately dip it in the paints.
It’s important to prepare the space you are going to do this activity because paint can really get everywhere. Spread out old blankets or tape down newspaper, anything that you don’t mind getting some paint on it, and then set out pieces of paper for them to paint on. You can create fun gifts for your family members and neighbors or frame the artwork for your own home. Kids will have a blast.
Use ice cubes to enhance fine motor skills.
Ice cubes are an easy item you already have in your home that toddlers can play with. They slip and slide out of your hands and require a lot of patience and care to pick them up and move them around. Kids can learn more about water and how it freezes. You can also dress them up using food coloring or by making special ice cubes with things frozen inside.
Have the kids practice popping the cubes out of the trays and challenge them to melt the cubes to rescue their toys or whatever is frozen inside. Water is an easy resource and you can do so many things with it. Play a game where you have to slide the ice cube across a surface and reach a goal. You can turn it into a game for the whole family.
Practice the ABCs.
Popular children’s television shows start focusing on the alphabet early on because it’s the basis of our entire language. There isn’t any standardized testing you need to be worried about for your 2-year-old, but you should be spending some time practicing singing the song and learning letters.
There are many ways to do this. You can have kids trace the letters of their name, focus on identifying letters and sounds or even associating words with the letters they start with. Any head starts you give them when they are toddlers will help them develop their speech and vocabulary and be ready for reading when the time comes.
String garlands using unique materials.
Another fine motor skill involves putting something through an opening, like threading a needle. Obviously, 2-year-olds cannot thread a tiny hole in a needle, but there are creative options to use.
One popular option is to grab a bowl of Fruit Loops and have the kids put them on a string. You can make a necklace that they can snack off of. Holiday decorations are also fun because they can show off their work in your home. Noodles are another great option.
Using your fingers to do something small and focused can really help develop those tiny muscles and attention. There are so many supplies you can use to keep this entertaining many times over and over.
Create with pipe cleaners.
Pipe cleaners are perfect for toddler crafts. They are available in many colors. You can bend them into funky shapes like animals, jewelry, and other objects around the house. The fuzzy texture makes it even more fun for kids to play with. Challenge your toddlers to create a crown or flowers.
Try out tools.
Toddlers love watching what the adults are doing and mimicking those behaviors. There are some great preschooler activities that utilize tools. One popular option is taking a piece of styrofoam and putting quite a few golf tees into the styrofoam. You can give the kids a hammer (stick to a toy for obvious safety reasons) and have them hammer in the golf tees like nails.
You can also find tool benches and kitchens that are made for toddlers and include all the same tools and objects that the adult-sized normal spaces. There are vacuum cleanings and lawnmowers. The kids can feel like they are doing all the same chores and tasks that you’re doing with their own version. Plus, they might even help out more around the house once they get older.
Build with Legos.
Legos make a larger size for younger kids called Duplos. You want to be careful with the smaller legos and toddlers because it can definitely be a choking hazard. Duplos work exactly the same way as legos, but they are larger and made for younger kids. You can purchase sets that build certain structures, like fire stations or Disney scenes, or you can just pick out full sets with multiple colors and sizes to create anything you want.
Learn with color activities.
Learning colors and shapes is an important milestone for younger kids and you can help them by playing games and doing activities that utilize different colored crayons and markers. The kids can utilize coloring books or create their own masterpieces.
If you aren’t ready to give your toddlers anything that can mark up walls or things in your house yet, there are coloring books that utilize water pens. You fill the pens with water and when they hit the paper, you’ll see colors appear on the page.
Organize things in egg cartons or muffin tins.
A popular activity for fine motor skills involves having your toddler take smaller items, like cotton balls or pom poms, and putting them into a container, like an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll. Once they get bored of that, you can give them new challenges. Color sorting items into egg cartons or muffin tins is popular. Or you can challenge them to use tongs or a spoon instead of their fingers.
Use cardboard boxes for imagination games.
Never underestimate the power of an empty cardboard box. Before you break these down and put them out with your recycling, you can give them a second purpose in your home. Grab some markers and tape, and turn that box into a rocket ship, a fire truck, or some other fun vehicle and let your kids play inside and take all kinds of adventures. You can get as into it as you want and utilize any dress-up clothes to really help your kid put that imagination to use.
Fun Toddler Activities for Outside
If you get some good weather, it’s important to have your toddler play outside for at least part of the day. There are plenty of fun activities that you can set up in your own yard. These outdoor activities are just a few of the options you have.
Take a nature scavenger hunt.
There are so many learning activities right around your own home. Put together a little scavenger hunt and go for a walk together. You can have your toddler look for flowers, trees, birds, leaves, and other animals and things in the neighborhood. You can make little game boards and let them identify the items. It’s a great activity to get everyone outside and take some time to appreciate nature.
Get creative with chalk.
Chalk is a great creative tool for the outdoors. There are so many fun ideas to try. Use the chalk to create roads around your driveway and have the kids drive their toy cars and trucks on the road. Give the kids some to draw their own creations or play some hopscotch. Chalk will be fun for years to come so it’s a great investment.
Visit new playgrounds.
When the play ideas for your own yard and outdoor space start to run out, toddlers love getting to experience a brand new playground. Make a list of the best playgrounds in your city or town and have fun checking each one off the list. You’ll find features like new slides, distinct surfaces, and other accessories to keep life a little more interesting.
Get out the squirt guns and water tables.
Water play is a toddler-approved outdoor activity. You don’t need a pool to keep them cool on a hot day. Water tables are popular and can be easily found on used neighborhood sites or even done as a DIY. Include things for them to use to scoop water and transfer water. Squirt guns are fun, but cups and bowls work too. Make sure to include something challenging like a strainer that won’t hold the water.
Play with bubbles.
Bubbles are an incredibly affordable option for kids that will keep them entertained for a while. Whether they are working on blowing them on their own or they just spend time chasing them to catch them, bubbles are always a hit. If you’re concerned about soapy water being dumped all over the place, pick up a drink dispenser with a spigot and fill that to use. The kids can dispense their own into a smaller bowl so you aren’t dealing with a giant bottle all the time.
Create an obstacle course.
Telling kids to go outside and play might inspire just a few minutes of activity and peace for you, but if you set up something a little more formal, it will last a lot longer and provide a lot more quality entertainment for your toddler. You can use things that are in your yard or garage and challenge the kids to jump over, run around, climb under, or any other fun challenge. You can also find things of various colors and play a twister-like game where they need to run to whichever color you call out. It’s a perfect way to mix up exercise and a little brain work.
Toss bean bags onto targets.
Bean bags are a fun outdoor activity that can be played at any age. If you don’t have the bean bags and boards to throw them to, you can use some other supplies you probably already have at home. Toss objects onto paper plates. You can even color them in and challenge the kids to hit certain colors. This is a fun game that the entire family can play.
Get ready for some fun!
Nothing is more fun than watching toddlers figure out the world at their own pace and in their own time. Setting them up with many activities will help them discover hobbies and things they like to do. This list is a great way to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sensory bins are very popular activities for toddlers. All it takes is to set up bins with items for them to touch and explore. It’s a great way to heighten perception and introduce new vocabulary.
Many activities for toddlers can be done with items you have at home. Have your toddlers practice moving ice cubes between bowls and cups, play with chalk or finger paints, or have a dance party.
Looking for activities for the whole family? Try Adventures From Scratch! The Family Edition includes 50+ activities to scratch off and try together. AdventureBook.com also publishes many ideas for family fun!