- Family and Parenting
100 Fun Free Toddler Activities
Whether you are a stay at home parent, grandparent, carer or simply seeking weekend and holiday entertainment for your child, sometimes finding the right activity can be frustrating; particularly when the attention span of a youngster is not all that long, you’ll find they are back at your heels before you know it looking for something else to do.
This list of ways to entertain your child is designed to spark creativity and where possible be done without spending any money.
Ideas can be varied depending on the age of your child but with the basics covered you will find yourself with a little more free time to get some of life’s other chores done.
If you are aiming to plan your activities for a period of time, such as over the school holidays, it is a great idea to get a big wall calendar and plan one morning activity and one afternoon activity every day that way your child can see what is coming and it can also be a great way to reward them for doing the right thing!
- Charades: A great miming game.
- Climb A Tree: If you have some safe trees in your garden (or at a local park) and your child is of the appropriate age let them climb up a few feet.
- Clouds: Lay on the grass outside and look up at the clouds. See what shapes or animals you can see.
- Cooking: Let your child help you in the kitchen whether it be helping to make a sandwich for lunch or mixing some ingredients for dinner.
- Coordination/balance: Place a rope on the ground and get your child to walk on it, and follow it. Great for coordination and balance.
- Cubby House: Get pillows and blankets, pull some chairs together and make a fun cubby house.
- Cuddles: Cuddles are free and should be endless.
Activities that can be done at home:
- Animals and Bugs: Go on a bug hunt. Look under stones and leaves for ants or worms.
- Baby Book: Show your child their baby book and the memorabilia you collected for them in their first few years
- Balls: Play ball in the yard – practice catching, throwing and kicking. Great for coordination
- Balloons: If you have some left over balloons in the cupboard from a party, blow them up and let them play.
- Books: Read some of their favorite books and add in an activity such as “can you see the tree?”, “Can you see the cat?”
- Bubbles: Make a mixture with dishwashing liquid and water if you don’t have any store-bought bubbles and let them play free in the garden.
- Building: Give them a basket of plastic bowls and measuring cups and let them build towers or just play with unbreakable things.
- Camera: Get out your camera (or use your iPhone) and take some fun photos.
- Car Wash: Let them help you wash the car with their own sponge.
- Cards: See how high you can build a house of cards or play snap
- Cars & Trucks: If your little boy loves his cars and trucks help him make a racetrack or play with his trucks in the garden digging.
- Chalk: Chalk drawing on an outside driveway or pavement is lots of fun. You can even play hopscotch!
- House Work: Yes, that is right! Do some dusting! Kids really love to copy you and make it fun.
- Ice Cubes: Freeze little toys inside ice cubes and play a pretend ‘pick-axe’ game to rescue them.
- Insects: See if they can catch a fly or an insect in a glass jar. Have a look at it close up and then let it go.
- Instruments: Let them make music with pots and pans and wooden spoons
- iPad Apps: There are lots of free apps you can download for hours of education and entertainment.
- Jewelry Making: A simple box of beads or dry pasta and some string could make for fantastic beading provided that your kids are old enough to not ingest the materials.
- Jigsaw Puzzles: If you don’t have any age appropriate ones you could look to borrow some from your local library or toy library
- Dance: Get them to make up a dance routine, or help them out. Lots of simple moves and a great song.
- Dog Wash: If you have a dog let them help you wash it and get splashed with water.
- Dolls: If your daughter loves her dolls, spend time playing make-believe with her. Dress them up and let her lead the way.
- Dominos: Make a line of dominos and see how they fall.
- Drawing: Give them a bundle of colored pencils and plain paper and allow them to draw anything they like.
- Dress Ups: Let your child dress up in fun clothes – and maybe even some of your old ones.
- Face and/or Feet Painting: Using non toxic paints, do some fun face painting, or paint feet and hands and print them onto paper.
- Follow The Leader: Take turns walking around the house copying each other.
- Food Dye: Add food dye to water to make paint.
- Funny Faces: Make funny faces
- Games: Play hide-and-seek but pretend to be a bit short-sighted when it’s your turn to do the seeking!
- Garden: Dig in the dirt, water the plants and just explore the garden.
- Hairdressers: Play pretend hairdressers and take turns brushing each others hair and creating styles.
- Old Boxes: If you have old boxes lying around they can be used for creative play, pretend cars, cubby houses and so much more.
- Old Toys: Dig out a basket of old ‘baby’ toys. They may actually be very keen to play with them, as they won’t have seen them for a while.
- Pegs: Sort pegs into colors and do counting
- Photos: Get out some old family photos.
- Picnic: Out in the garden or on the lounge room floor
- Pirate Treasure Hunt: Make a list of clues for your child to follow and have a reward or surprise at the end.
- Plant: Get their help to plant a tree or flower. Or even create your own mini garden growing grass out of moist cotton wool.
- Play Dates: Organise for a special friend to come over for a play.
- Play Doh: Make your own or use store-bought play doh for creative fun.
- Rain: If it’s been raining, put on your gumboots and jump in puddles!
- Recycle Old Cards: Make flashcards or craft and create new artwork
- Ride A Bicycle: Teach them to ride a bicycle.
- Rock Pets: Pick a rock from your garden and pretend it is a rock pet. Glue things on as clothes. Give it a pretend name.
- Kites: Fly a kite or make one with string and a plastic bag and play in the garden or local park.
- Laugh: Have a laughing competition. See who can laugh the funniest and longest.
- Letter: Help your child write a letter or get them to draw a picture and then you can walk to the post box to mail it to a grandmother or special friend.
- Make Something: Make a hat. Cut a strip of card to fit round your child’s head, then get them to decorate it.
- Maze: Using random pieces of furniture, make a maze or obstacle course, either inside or in the garden.
- Memory: Put 10 household objects on a tray. Show them to your child for 2 minutes, then hide them. See how many they can remember.
- Milk Carton & Pegs: With a clean empty milk carton and pegs they stand above the milk carton and just drop them in. It is such a simple concept but very entertaining
- Music: Put on music and let them dance around
- Musical Statues: Dance around to music and when the song stops, you have to freeze like a statue.
- Nail Polish: Set up a pretend beauty salon and do each others nails.
- Nature: Collect things such as twigs, petals, stones and leaves and put them in a bucket and then you can bring them inside and paste them onto paper to make a collage.
- Necklaces: Pick flowers and make necklaces with them such as daisy chains.
- Nothing: Sometimes it is lovely just to let them have free rein and not organize anything for them. Free play will allow them to create their own fun.
- Origami: The art of paper-folding does not have to be precise for a child but it can be fun folding paper into shapes and even paper aeroplanes.
- Shoe Laces: Teach them to tie a shoelace or do up a buckle.
- Silence: Play the ‘Shhh game’ and see who can be quiet the longest
- Silly Walking: Create a night-time routine of walking through the house, doing things like getting little drink, going to the toilet, brushing teeth etc all with a silly walk.
- Simon Says: This is a great fun game where you can take in turns to play Simon. ”Simon says put your hands on you head” and the other person needs to do what you say. But if you give an instruction without saying ‘Simon Says’ and the person does it, you win!
- Sing: Make up crazy songs for fun to made up tunes.
- Snack: Healthy snack of colored fruits
- Sock Puppets: Get some old socks and make a puppet show.
- Sort Socks: Teaches matching colors and pairs
- Sprinkler: On hot days let them run through the sprinkler on the grass.
- Story: Have your child read you a story – of course if they cannot read get them to look at the pictures and make it up. You’ll be surprised at their amazing imagination.
- Tea Party: Play tea-party games with your child’s favorite toys.
- Television: As much as we want to limit television usage, it can often be a great savior when their favorite show or cartoon is on.
- Tickles: Take turns tickling each other.
- Time Capsule: Collect some special items to make a time capsule to bury in the garden or hide in the home; ready to be opened on a specie date.
- Vegetable Prints: Cut potatoes in half and print onto paper
- Washing Clothes: Let your child help with the washing by getting them to help sort the whites from the colored items and then let them put them into the machine.
- Washing Dishes: If you’ve got a lot of washing up to do. Get out a plastic tea-set, a bowl of soapy water and a tea-towel to put it all on. Then let them wash up on the kitchen floor whilst you do yours.
- Wet Sponges: Give your child a wet sponge and a bucket of water and let them throw it at a fence or side wall to see what splashes and marks they can make.
- Writing: Get them to practice writing their name or newly learnt words
- Movies: Over school holidays there are often movies released which are a great outing for your child.
- Nature Walks: Go for a walk through a park or a nature trail.
- Park: Nothing beats an outing to the park. Fresh air and exercise.
- Stickers: Take them to the local thrift shop to buy a huge sticker book and then let them go wild sticking them onto old newspapers or old boxes.
- Train or Bus Ride: Take a train ride or a local bus ride for a fun outing.
- Visit: Take them to visit their grandparents or a family member for a change of scenery.
- Yard Sales: Take the kids to a local garage sale and maybe they can ‘buy’ a 50 cent toy for a bit of fun.
- Zoo: Visits to the zoo are educational and fun.
Activities outside of the home
Activities outside of the home (which may cost a little):
So yes this was meant to be ideas that won’t cost a cent, but here are a few other ideas which may cost a little bit of money.
Keep an eye out for coupons, two-for-one deals and family passes which can help you save a fortune.
- Aquariums & Museums: You will find that aquariums and museums often have events happening which are child focused. Save money by packing lunch and snacks.
- Beach: Take them to the beach to watch the waves, collect shells and play in the sand.
- Car Ride: Pack up the family with no destination in mind and take a road trip. Let everyone have a chance to decide which turn to take next. Give yourself a timeframe. When the time is up, stop and explore your destination.
- Feed The Ducks: Take some old bread down to your local park and feed the ducks.
- Fire Station: Take them to see the local fire station and the fire engine.
- Library: The local library has activities and story times or if you are not able to coordinate with one of those, let them sit in the kid’s books area and browse.
- Markets & Fairs: If there are any local markets on, take the children. Usually there will be music and sometimes fun entertainment for them to watch.
I am sure there are lots and lots more examples. Why not share your ideas for entertainment with us below.
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