20 Fun Activities to Do With Toddlers
20 Fun Things to Do with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Playtime helps children develop cognitive skills, master concepts, expressive creativity, and just have fun! If you are needing ideas on how to entertain a toddler, consider these activities below. These are great for parents, grand-parents, baby-sitters, teachers and more.
Make Scratch 'n Sniff Watercolors
This is a great sensory activity. Try this recipe and let your child paint away! It'll make a great picture to send to the grandparents, aunt/uncle, or a teacher. Talk to him/her about the sense of smell and how each paint smells a little different. You might even find pictures of fruit for the child to color that correspond to the scent.
Have some pinto beans in your pantry? Just scoop up some dirt and put it in a disposable cup (or even a real cup), water it, and watch it sprout up over the next few days. Better yet, read Jack and the Beanstalk to go along with the activity. Be sure to talk about what helps plants grow - water, sunlight, etc. You can plant any seeds of course, not just beans.
Write the Child's Name in Whipped Cream
Just grab some wax paper, and some Reddi-Whip Whipped Cream (the kind that you squirt out) and write your child's name. You can also write out other words, print the ABC's, or draw smiley face's, etc. It's a great way for your child to learn letters and it's fun! He/she will enjoy cleaning it up too! Perhaps add some strawberries to cover with the whipped cream - it makes a great dessert!
Go On a Nature Walk
Even in the middle of a big city, you can go on a "nature walk". Point out the clouds, trees, grass, leaves, and be on the look out for birds, squirrels and more. Ask questions, such as "What color is the sky?", and "How many birds do you see?" Try to get the child as involved as possible. It's excellent exercise and educational as well!
Peanut Butter Playdough Recipe
Make Edible Play-Dough
If you're up for a mess, this is a wonderful activity! There are a variety of edible or safe-to-eat playdough recipes you can try. Read, "Different Recipes for Homemade Edible Playdough" for suggestions.
Create Peanut Butter Marshmallow Beards
This should create some laughter and leave lots of memories! It's a great photo moment too! Let your child wear peanut-butter marshmallow beards - just slather on the peanut butter, add the marshmallows and enjoy!
Make homemade Finger Paints
Finger-painting is one of the highlights of childhood! If you don't feel like stirring up something, store bought finger paints are just as good. Or, you could just use pudding!
Go to the Library
Your tax dollars support the public library system, take advantage of it! Most libraries, even in small towns, offer story time for toddlers and above. Reading to your child not only stimulates his/her cognitive skills and tickles their creativity, it increases their vocabulary and can be fun!
Create an Indoor Playhouse Out of Blankets
This is one of my toddler's favorite activities! Also known as a "tent" or "fort", an indoor playhouse made out of blankets is a very amusing activity. Just line up chairs, table, couch, etc. and cover it with blankets and they'll love playing in their own little private playhouse! It's also a great time to play peek-a-boo.
Make Music Shakers
This one might get a little annoying after awhile, but it'll be fun for your kiddo! Just take some disposable paper plates and beans. Put the beans in between the paper plates and staple them together. Let the children decorate the shakers with colors or magic markers. He/she will enjoy shaking their new instruments! Perhaps encourage your children to shake along to songs from a CD.
Go to a Pet Shop
A pet shop can be just as exciting as the zoo for a toddler! Try to locate a pet shop in your area with dogs, fish, snakes, gerbils, and more. He/she will love watching the animals. Ask questions such as "What color is the bird?", etc. It's a fun outing! Try to buy something (such as a small doggie treat if you have a dog) from the store if you spend awhile there.
Make a Collage Together
Do you have a lot of old magazines lying around? Some toddlers love to glue things on paper. Just flip through the magazines and cut out pictures of animals, kids, flowers, etc, and encourage your tot to glue (with a glue stick) the pictures on a sheet. Perhaps try to create themed collages like "food" and "smiles". It's an excellent way to help your children learn to categorize, and it'll keep them busy for a few moments or so. In the fall, you can also collect leaves outside to create a nature-themed collage.
Make a Hand Print or Foot Print Memento
Most cities and larger towns have at least one paint-your-own pottery studio. This is a great place to make hand print or foot print mementos such as as plates, bowls, coffee mugs, etc. You can take your child there, and they'll even help you press your child's hand down and will decorate it for you if you want. To find a studio in your area, just google your town's name and "pottery studio" or "paint your own pottery". You might also look on www.paintyourownpottery.net, however not all businesses are listed. You could also create something at home - or order a kit online to make a hand print mold.
Decorate Your Driveway or Sidewalk with Chalk
If you've got a little picasso on your hands, this is a fun activity that should entertain them for at least 15 minutes or so. Just purchase sidewalk chalk - or even regular chalk - and let their imaginations go wild. It's a unique way to encourage them to express themselves and they'll love showing off their artwork. Just wait till it rains and it'll clean up on it's on, or you can hose down the drawings with a water hose. (Perhaps take pictures before you erase them!)
Make Sock Puppets
This one is sure to bring on a little bit of laughter. Glue eyes and a nose to old socks and you've got a perfect little puppet! You can purchase craft eyes, or just create some your of own out of construction paper. Just to warn you - your toddler might end up taking his socks often afterwards to make sock puppets again and again!
Make Bird Seed Feeders
Create birdseed feeders using pine cones and peanut butter! Just tie or super glue a string to a pine cone. Roll the pine cone in peanut butter and pour bird seed over it - voila!- you've got a great bird feeder! Hang them in your backyard and wait for the birds to enjoy them! Your child will love looking for the birds. This is a wonderful activity to do outside, so you won't have to sweep up a lot of bird seed.
Make a Card for the Grandparents, Aunt/Uncle, Teacher or a Friend
If a Holiday/Birthday is coming up, or even if it's not, help your child create a card for Grandma/Grandpa, an Aunt or whoever. Let him/her color/draw pictures on the card, use rubber stamps (can be purchased at Wal-Mart or a craft store), glue pictures, or stick stickers on it. He/she might feel very proud of his/her little artwork.
Feed the Ducks
If you live anywhere near a pond/lake with ducks, stop by and feed the ducks! Bring old bread - or even new - it's worth the cost of the loaf of bread for the entertainment. Just be careful, as some toddlers have a habit of throwing an entire piece of bread to the ducks - which, of course, they love!
Play with a Flashlight in a Closet
This is my little boy's favorite. I cleaned out a closet recently and his new past time is to get in the "cave" with a flashlight. Try it with your little one! Flashlights are always a big hit among toddlers.
Play Dress Up
Yes, even little boys will enjoy this fun activity! Have a variety of shirts, hats, boots, sunglasses, dresses (for girls) and more for the children to dress in. You might visit a second hand store or search on eBay for some fun items.
Happy Playing! Enjoy!
Which of these toddler activities would your child enjoy the most?See results without voting
More by this Author
Nashville has several parent and child (also called "Mommy and Me" classes. This list might help you find the right enrichment activity for you and your little one.
Play dates help children learn social skills, develop friendships and just have fun. If your son is having a friend over for a play date, here are some ideas.
If you have had a negative experience at your child's school, consider writing a complaint letter. These examples of complaint letters might help you write your own letter.