Putting together this list brought back so many memories for me! Memories of the days when I had a baby and a toddler to keep occupied for hours and hours at a time. While my boys are a bit older now, they still would love a lot of these activities. (I even stopped putting together this list to go create the baby oil and food coloring one right then and there!)
I hope these ideas help your days go by a little more smoothly and bring fun to everyone involved! I tried to pick things that are easy to set up and clean up because I understand that you already have enough on your plate! Also, be sure to share this list with fellow parents of toddlers who could use it!
1. Paint in Ziploc bags (put paint in Ziploc bags and tape to your table for clean finger painting).
2. Sticker-sorting (different colors of construction paper with matching colors of stickers).
3. Watch YouTube channels that get kids up and moving.
4. Animal rescue (put animal toys in a bucket of water and scoop them out with a large, slatted spoon).
5. Pipe cleaners and colander (your toddler can loop pipe cleaners through the holes in a colander).
6. Pretend mailbox (cut a slit in a shoe box and color letters to pretend to send).
7. Car wash (get out the toy trucks and cars, brushes, and some soapy water).
8. Fine-motor sorting (have your toddler use tweezers to pick up small toys and organize them by shape, size, color, type, etc.).
9. Balloon tennis (all you need are fly swatters and balloons).
10. Pasta-threading (stick straws into a pile of play dough, and then have your toddler put rigatoni on the straws).
11. Pouring station (get a large bin, fill it with water; put cups, spoons, and other kitchen supplies in for your toddler to play with).
12. Glitter bottles (there are a lot of recipes out there to make these, but the easiest way seems to be water, baby oil, glitter, and food coloring).
13. Cutting practice (purchase dull play dough scissors and let your toddler practice cutting play dough creations).
14. Painter’s tape roads (put down painter’s tape to create roads, parking lots, rivers, etc.).
15. Toilet paper fun (give your toddler a roll of toilet paper and let them go to town unraveling it, creating mazes, etc.).
16. Color-sorting (assign a color and have your toddler run around the house finding things that are that color).
17. Stacking cups (purchase a large pack of plastic cups and let your toddler get creative with them).
18. Cardboard car ramps (cut up a cardboard box to create ramps for matchbox cars to race from the couch to the floor).
19. Marble runs (you can create your own or buy one from the store but either way, they are usually a hit! Just be careful that your toddler doesn’t put the marbles in their mouth!).
20. Rice bin (fill a pan or bin with rice - put in toys, spoons, bowls, etc.).
21. Baby oil and food coloring in a Ziploc bag.
22. Chalkboard and chalk (you can purchase affordable chalkboard stickers on Amazon).
23. Magnets (magnets provide so much entertainment! Place them on a metal baking sheet or play with them on the fridge).
24. Velcro felt puzzles (draw shapes on a piece of cardboard, cut the same shapes out of felt, place Velcro stickers to the shapes on the cardboard, and voila! An easy toddler-friendly shape puzzle).
25. Rock box (collect pebbles and put them in a bin with digger trucks).
26. Cardboard boxes (give your toddler cardboard boxes and markers and let them go to town).
27. Watercolors in the tub (your toddler can paint all over the tub, and it easily washes clean).
28. Pool ball bit (grab the kiddie pool and fill it with whatever balls you have around the house).
29. Paper towel tubes (tape paper towel tubes to the wall and let your toddler drop pom-poms through it).
30. Water bead window (purchase water beads, put them in a Ziploc bag and use painter’s tape to attach it to a window for your toddler to play with).
31. Happy-/sad-sorting (print out a whole bunch of pictures of happy and sad people and have your toddler sort them by the emotion).
32. Corn bin (dry corn kernels are another great sensory bin item).
33. DIY binoculars (tape two toilet paper rolls together and attach some string for pretend binoculars).
34. Decorate the tree (draw a tree on the non-stick side of contact paper, collect leaves - or get fake ones - tape up the contact paper to a wall or a window, and let your toddler stick leaves onto the sticky side of the contact paper).
35. Sticker names (write your child’s name in big letters and have them cover the letters with stickers).
36. Tub fishing (put magnets in the tub, tie a magnet on a string, tie the string on a stick… tub fishing!).
37. Bubble wrap run (place bubble wrap in a line down a hallway and let your toddler run back and forth).
38. Light forts (get the Christmas lights back out of storage and set them up in a DIY fort).
39. Q Tip fun (rinse out a parmesan cheese bottle, hand over some Q tips, and watch your toddler spend forever putting the Q tips through the small shaker holes).
40. Sticky mural (tape contact paper to the wall and cut out paper shapes for your toddler to stick to it to create their own mural).
41. Velcro sticks (buy a pack of popsicle sticks and some Velcro stickers and place Velcro on either end of the sticks so that your toddler can create things out of the sticks).
42. Object hide-and-seek (there might be a limited number of places where you can hide, but there are tons of places to hide a stuffed animal!).
43. Bowling with bottles (save your recycling for a little while and use them to go bowling instead).
44. Play charades (have your toddler act out different animals and see if you can guess what they are).
45. Baking soda and colored vinegar (mix small amounts of food dye and vinegar, and then have your toddler use a dropper to drop the colored vinegar into a pan of baking soda. Watch it bubble!).
46. Ribbon stick (tying a ribbon to the end of a stick can be surprisingly entertaining!).
47. Shaving cream (spread shaving cream on the tub wall and let your toddler have fun).
48. Float or sink (collect objects and make guesses as to whether you think they will sink or float in a tub of water).
49. Draw on the table (cover your table completely with paper - be sure to tape it down - and let your toddler go to town!).
50. Paper plate puzzles (cut paper plates into a few different shapes and have your toddler piece them back together).
Shari is the co-owner of the parenting website, adorethem.com. Adore Them strives to share positive, practical advice and resources to help you find joy in your own parenting journey! Feeling Social? Follow them on Facebook, facebook.com/AdoreThemCommunity, and Instagram, instagram.com/_adore_them_/.
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