People all over the world are finding themselves at home with their kids and whether you were already a stay at home mom or find yourself trying to work from home now; we all have the same problem. These toddlers need things to do! I rounded up my favorite super easy toddler activities that use things you already have in your home!
3 Things to Remember
There are tons of different schedules and routines floating around the internet right now. Most of them geared towards homeschooling and older kids. When it comes to toddlers, we must remember 3 things.
- Toddlers have almost no ability to sit still and focus. Keep them moving and keep activities simple!
- The thing they REALLY need to be learning right now is not reading or math. Spend this time teaching them to be good people or use the potty if you’re ready for that challenge!
- Toddlers do have the ability to entertain themselves. I promise! This would be a great time for them to learn how to play independently. Depending on the kid and if you have worked on it before now you may find this part a little more challenging but its SO worth it!
Keep it Simple and Keep it Fun
The internet is full of inspiration for toddler activites. Often they are so Pintristy that unless you are a professional social media mom they feel out of reach.
I wanted to pull together some more achievable ideas for some toddler activities. Things that you can pull together in less than 10 minutes using supplies you most likely already have in your home!
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Sensory Toddler Activities
Sensory play is probably at the top of most toddler’s favorite activities, I know that It is in the Top 3 at our house for sure. Sensory play can come in a lot of different ways as well!
Bath Time Playtime
A daytime bath is always a hit, don’t worry so much about the washing. Add extra bubbles and break out the bathtub paint and just let them play! I find that so long as I am in the room, she will play mostly independently allowing me to get some laundry folded or get some work done on my phone.
Or Go Above and Beyond and do a Themed Bath Time!
- Cooking bath – Just grab your play food and some pots and utensils and get cooking!
- Color bath – Use a bath bomb or some food dye and a random collection of water safe toys that match your color!
- Block bath – Round up your mega blocks and dump them in the tub. Bonus points it counts as washing the blocks too!
This is very similar to bathtub play just at a sink or water table. Fair warning your toddler will probably end up just as wet as if they were in the tub, but the change of scenery, especially if you can play outside, is worth it! Water play can be as simple as a tub of water and a couple of cups to pour back and forth.
Extra Fun Water Play Ideas
- Washing babydoll clothes – Give access to some soap and let them splash, scrub and ring the little clothes out. A great way to get them to wash their hands as well!
- Giving animals a bath – This works especially well if you can get the animals dirty in some way before.
- Magic Potions – I like to provide various little jars and bowls, some spices, leaves, and flowers then you just let them mix and explore
I don’t think I’ve met a kid that doesn’t like playdough. When we play the must-haves are a rolling pin, a knife and some kind of bowl or cup. I suggest one color at a time unless your game for all your playdough to end up brown.
Themed Playdough Play
I like to do playdough trays. These take a little more thought upfront but I have found that they invite more prolonged and creative play! Our favorites have been a construction themed and a jungle-themed
If you’ve spent any time on the toddler childcare side of the internet then I am sure you have heard about sensory bins. Often they are very detailed and Pinterest worthy. I have a few of that kind on my blog right now. But here is your permission to keep it simple! If you want more help in getting started with your sensory bins I have a whole series with lots of tips!
Simple Sensory Play Set Ups
- Salt or Sand tray – Great for drawing and practicing writing in! Use a tray or walled cookie sheet and a thin layer of sand or salt. That’s all you need!
- Kinetic Sand – If you don’t have any I strongly suggest looking into it. It’s hard to describe, but it has rave reviews from many a toddler.
- Beans or Rice – Any kind so long as they are dry and you can play with them time and again and they are sure to love it. Add a couple of cups and a funnel and its bound to keep them entertained for a while. You can add some of their favorite toys like animal figures or construction trucks for even more fun!
Practical Life Toddler Activities
Have you ever noticed that your toddler loves doing what your doing? They love helping out around the house and having an effect on their environment. True they often make a mess in the process, but they love it and they are learning while they play!
If you can get your kid involved in the kitchen I suggest you do it! It’s a great way to keep them busy and get dinner started! Just plan a little extra time for them to “help”
Right now our favorite ways to have her help in the kitchen are pushing the buttons on the microwave or the instant pot, cutting up vegetables with her crinkle cutter, and kneading dough. She also likes to help pour ingredients in the mixer and stir things in big bowls.
This is one of those not really helping kinds of help. She LOVES to spray things with her spray bottle and its building great muscles in her hand…but it often leads to puddles. So take the time to teach them what is okay to spray and how to clean up the water and then let them at it!
Other great cleaning activities are teaching how to dust with a feather duster (just practice on non-breakable things) and using disinfecting wipes on their toys
Arts and Crafts Toddler Activities
There are tons of beautiful crafts all over Pinterest for your toddler and you (heavy on the you) to make. While we do make a few of them, I try and just offer free exploration of supplies. We do free access to things like colored pencils, stickers and coloring books and she can use them when ever she wants. But we also have some supplies that she has to ask or I have to set up for her.
Scissors and Glue
By far her most requested items right now. She asks to cut paper daily and glue is almost daily. Now that I am starting to trust her more with the supplies I often let her get them out and just use them without any end project in mind.
You can go for safety scissors or jump straight to kids scissors. That’s up to you and your comfort level! I use two kinds of glue. The color change glue sticks are great for allowing her to figure out how glue works and good old liquid Elmers when we really want something to stick and stay stuck.
If you don’t have any contact paper on hand, I would suggest picking some up there are tons of different activities you can use it for. It’s a great option for kids that just can’t sit still as you often have it taped to a wall or window versus at the table. Happy Toddler Playtime has a great list of activities you can do with it or you can just provide some tissue paper and let them explore.
Playtime Toddler Activities
These are activites that might require a little more involvement from you but are great ways to find something new to do when they seem bored of their toys and books
Toy Hide and Seek
- Basic hide and seek – Just what it sounds like. It can be their favorite stuffed animal. A doll. Or Something totally random like a lemon. Hide it somewhere and play warm or cold until they find it.
- Scavenger Hunt – Create a list of items that they have to round up. Obviously toddlers can’t read. So you will have to either have pictures they can reference or you will just have to prompt them for each item.
- Color hunt – Lay down a colored piece of paper and send them searching for any item that matches that color. If you want to limit the options of items they can select from gather them together in a laundry basket before hand and have your toddler pull from the basket!
- Cup transferring – This can be done with things like water or rice and all you need is two cups or small pitchers. Fill one up with your filler of choice and then have them pour it into the other cup. Continue back and forth.
- Tong transferring – Using tongs and some smallish items like pompoms and a couple of bowls. Have one bowl with your items and an empty bowl to move the pompoms over to. The tongs are great fine motor work and depending on the type of tongs and the type of items, it can present lots of different challenges.
- Pompom posting – Simple as some pompoms and a bottle that you push the pompoms through the opening. That said, whatever bottle you use you’re going to be able to want to get the pompoms out of again. I recommend a coffee creamer bottler personally.
- Popsicle stick posting – Using a taller container or box, create slits in the top big enough to put a popsicle stick through. With works on orientation as the stick only fits one way!
- Pipe cleaner posting – Grab your kitchen strainer and some pipe cleaners. And let them practice getting the pipe cleaners in the small holes of the colander. I do recommend cutting the pipe cleaners in half to keep them from being unwieldy. This also works with toothpicks if you need something more stable.
A favorite in our house is a tin foil puzzle. You take all the pieces off a chunky puzzle and wrap each piece loosely in tin foil. Then let your toddler unwrap and solve the puzzle. The surprise of each piece mixed with the fun destruction of unwrapping makes for a great toddler activity
Learning Toddler Activities
Post it Notes
Busy Toddler has some great post-it note activities that work on letter recognition. My favorite is the letter match. You can do the same letters or upper and lower matching. You can also name recognition and work with just the letters of your toddler’s name. All you need is a large piece of paper and a stack of post-it notes!
Some more great ideas from Busy Toddler are all her dot sticker activities! Seriously she has TONS of ideas using simple dot stickers. These are great as the backing is easy to remove and the dots are easy for little hands to peel off the sheet. Honestly, you could do a lot of the activities with any stickers you already have.
Gross Motor Toddler Activities
Toddlers have an insane amount of energy. I watched Bitty run in circles around the livingtoom for 10 mins the other day, that’s it that’s all she was doing. Sometimes though they need a little more prompting to burn that energy.
- Follow the line – Using some painters tape, lay down a simple line to balance on or a more complicated path to have to follow. You could also have them drive cars along the line or line up toys for a parade on the line
- Hopscotch – Chances are your toddler wont actually be able to DO hopscotch, but it’s a great way to practice jumping and they will think its super fun.
- Freeze dance – Again, chances are your toddler won’t freeze very well and will need to be reminded how the game works, but I remember my nanny crew loved this game and it can be a hoot to try and watch them freeze.
- Action dances – This is a great time to work on things like the Head Shoulders Knees and Toes or the Hokey Pokey, heck you could even try the Macarena if you’re feeling ambitious! Preschool Inspirations has a great list of songs to start with!
Often the set up takes longer than the actual play, BUT obstacle courses can be a lot of fun and can also work on some challenging skills for your toddler. Things like balancing or weaving or jumping are all great gross motor skills and when you add them all together it can be great fun! Stepping stones, cones, tumbling mats and balance beams are not necessary but they can add some fun new challenges to your Obstacle course!
Stay Safe and Keep Each Other Safe
I know that times are crazy. I say it almost every day. We are living history right now and the most important thing we can do is stay home and hope to flatten the curve in an effort to help slow the spread of this illness.
I have been making an effort to up my posting on Instagram to offer any distraction or inspiration I can, so check me out there if you need something new to scroll through!
This week marks one whole month of social distancing for our family. We have been officially under the shelter at home order for two weeks now. I am so thankful that we have a warm safe place to shelter and I want to express my gratitude for all the essential employees that are working tirelessly to help keep things running! Thank you.