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Play Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy!

What to do when your toddler or preschooler is bored, that doesn’t cost a lot of time, money, set-up or clean-up? There are many exciting things you can do!

1. Get a basic car track that you put together in a line. Then use pillows to make hills and valleys. See how far the cars will go!

2. Have a dirt pile in the backyard and run a hose through it. The neighbors will not like it, but the kids will have a blast. Send them home if they have to use your bathroom, though!

3. Make an indoor sandbox with a baby-sized swimming pool, and rice or puffed wheat or lentils as the sand.

4. Use a small stool as a play table in the bathtub and give them cups to pour from and in.

5. Get a small rebounder to jump on. Or designate certain sofa cushions for jumping on and fort-building.

6. Give blankets or old sheets for fort building.

7. Use jumping balls in the house to work off excess energy.

8. Have an easy-to-reach craft box of odds and ends: ribbons, cards, paper, markers, scissors, glue or glue sticks, glitter, paint, rulers, cardboard pieces, etc., so the kids can help themselves and create a craft that is unstructured and entirely of their own imagination.

9. In the bathtub with no water, put your child in the tub dressed only with old underwear, and add a bowl of chocolate pudding. Allow finger painting on the walls, tub and themselves. A wonderful, sensuous feeling and much easier clean-up than finger-painting. Just hose down the walls and the child with a little soap and the showerhead afterwards.

10. Assemble a box of dress-up clothes and items for props. Check out finds from the dollar store and thrift shop for castoffs.

11. Blow bubbles on the kitchen floor. Use the excess soap to clean the floor after!

12. For children past the tasting stage, put small amounts of shaving cream in a muffin tin and tint with food color. Allow finger painting on the tub walls.

13. Spread the sheets out on the floor and have a picnic in the house.

14. Play “I spy” or “Rock, paper, scissors,” when you are stuck waiting somewhere.

15. Fill the baby bathtub or bowl of soapy water in the bathtub and let them play. Add food colored ice cubes, spoons, and cups for pouring.

16. Let the kids ride bikes or scooters or ride-on toys in the basement.

17. Make homemade playdough and let the kids press in different shapes and items such as rings, straws, etc.

World’s best playdough recipe

This recipe is courtesy of Parents and Children Together (

2 cups white flour   
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups water  
4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup salt   
4 tsp. food color

Mix salt, flour and cream of tartar in a heavy medium pot. Add water, oil and food coloring. Cook and stir over medium heat. When the mixture forms a ball in the pot, turn it out and knead on a lightly floured surface. Store the playdough in an air-tight container, preferably in the fridge. Serve with cookie cutters, rolling pins, necklaces and rings (for imprinting), cupcake trays, garlic press, etc.

Judy is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, trainer, mom of five children, and author of the best-selling: Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery. She specializes in 'Parenting the Digital Generation.' For more information, visit, contact 403-714-6766 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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