Fun Ideas for Toddlers
How to Entertain Young Children
Generally, toddlers are older babies who are physically active and very alert.
Babies who develop at a normal rate tend start walking between the ages of 9 to 15 months. On average, they start to take their first steps between the ages of 12 to 15 months. However some children may not want to do it until they are 18 months old.
As soon as you little one is up and about you need to be as alert as they are. Toddlers need stimulation as they are learning as a fast pace, so they will explore everywhere and get into everything!
When it comes to finding ideas to entertain your child it may feel a little challenging. You may not want to sit them in front of the television for hours on end, and your child may not want do to that either! Small children have short attention spans and get bored easily, but soak up information like sponges. You need games and activities which are varied and interesting, which won’t cost the earth.
You must watch toddlers and young children with small objects as they tend to feel with their mouths, but by being sensible a lot of fun could be had by all!
Learning about the Environment
Some of the best ways to make things fun and interesting for your youngsters include taking them out and about to learn. It helps them to interact socially, understand the world around them and they can carry on the learning when they get home.
You can teach children about nature with the changing seasons or natural objects around them.
Ideas for the Children
When Autumn arrives, encourage small children to take an interest in crunchy colourful leaves on the ground. They will love to run and jump in piles of leaves as they learn from the sounds and textures. Collect up different types and tones of leaves to take home.
You can then be artistic with the collection with the children, depending on their age or ability.
At home gather all of the leaves and let the kids get messy! Use aprons to cover their clothes and newspaper on the table or floor. Using large pieces of plain or coloured paper, allow them to have the option to either glue them to the page or dip them in paint. Allow the activity to be child led so they can have supervised fun, but don’t let it become chaotic.
Wax Crayon Rubbings
Before you go out, put some chunky wax crayons and paper in your bag. Find interesting markings on objects, buildings and trees and place the paper on top. Next encourage the children to rub over it with the crayon and see the result. It works well on leaves and bark.
If you live close to the beach, then this is an exciting day out for children. Take a bucket and walk up and down the sand collecting up interesting finds. Shells of all shapes and textures are fascinating for small children. Let them find their own ‘treasure’ and put them in the bucket.
Pebbles, dead crabs and starfish are also great for learning. These can all be brought home to either create a beach scene picture or make a mini seaside in a tray with play sand and the finds from the day.
If there are rock pools, let the children explore with fishing nets. Teach them to put back live creatures though when they have finished looking at them.
Make use of Items at Home
Expensive games and the latest toys are in demand when it comes to Birthdays and Christmas, but sometimes they just end up in a cupboard after a while.
Playing with pre-school aged children doesn't always mean spending extra money. You may have things at home to entertain them with.
This is an interesting substance for children. The texture is different as it moves like liquid but feels dry.
Simply mix some cornflour with water in a tray to make gloop. It needs to be a thick consistency for it to work.
Give the children a stick to stir it round and make shapes and patterns in it. When they pick it up in and run it through their fingers the mixture will run back in the tray, but when they build it up it will stay more solid.
Add some food colouring and glitter and play around with it!
This is simple and something which will never go out of fashion. Get toddlers to feel the paint and make patterns with their fingers.Do hand prints and even foot prints. These are lovely to keep and remember how small your child was once.
Avoid mess by doing this out in the garden. Roll up trousers and put on old t-shirts and have bowls of water handy to wash in.
Ice Fairy Cakes
Another quite messy activity but kids love to get dirty.
Teach the children how to measure out the ingredients for fairy cakes and put them in a bowl for whisking. You will need 100g butter, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs and 100g self -raising flour. For natural flavourings, mix in a few strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.
Lots of supervision and help will be needed to make the cakes but they will enjoy spooning the mixture into the cake cases.
Do not allow children near a hot oven but whilst they are baking in a pre-heated oven (for approximately 20 minutes) make the icing.
Butter icing is a combination of butter and sieved icing sugar whisked together. Use around 50g of butter and 100g icing sugar. You can also add flavourings if you wish, such as vanilla extract.
Be relaxed with the children as they play around with the icing. Help them to squeeze it out of an icing bag onto the cooled cupcakes, or let them spoon it on making textures and patterns.The idea is to make baking fun and involved.
Once all the icing is on add glittery edible sprinkles or flowers made of icing. They will love to taste the final result!
Once you have made your fairy cakes you can add them to a selection of finger foods for a picnic. Have it in the garden or in the front room on a rainy day.
Good ideas for healthy finger food include:
- Bread Sticks
- Tuna or cheese sandwiches
- Chopped up melon, kiwi and banana
- Cracker bread and cream cheese
- Cucumber sticks
- Vegetarian cocktail sausages
- Cubed cheese
This is another painting activity which is very cheap to arrange.
All you need is paper or card, water based paints in trays and potatoes.
The adult needs to be heavily involved in doing this as it means cutting shapes out of the potatoes, but you can be as creative as you like. Get picture ideas from books or the Internet and cut the potato in half. Next carve a shape into it. For simple designs cut out star shapes, crosses or flowers. For the more adventurous make animals, smiley faces, cars or paw prints.
Once the shapes are made, let the children have a play with them! Let them dip them in coloured paint and print away. Add glitter to the paints for an extra touch.
This can be done in the spring and is a fun competition for all the family.
Plant giant sunflower seeds in pots using compost. Get the children to plant their own seed and water it. Put stickers on the pot or even paint them beforehand so they look colourful and easy to identify.
As the seeds begin to grow encourage them to keep them watered and well looked after in the sunlight. They will need to go into bigger pots as the plants get taller and may need to be tied to small canes for support.
As the weather becomes milder and the flowers bigger and stronger, they can them be planted out. Put named labels by each one once everyone has chosen a spot for their sunflower.
As they get taller and start to flower, measure them to see which one is the tallest!
Role Play and Dress ups
This is great for early development and social skills. Most young children enjoy dressing up, so make a dressing up box out of old clothes, hats, scarves, shoes and wigs.
Children will naturally run around and play as they take on an alter-ego.
One way to encourage drama is to read a book to the children then ask them to act it out. Use fairy tales or your child’s favourite book at that time. This is a great way for them to get interested in reading as well.
Pasta is an inexpensive way of making things with little children. Use tube shaped dried pasta with holes all the way through.
Next roll them in glue then in glitter, paint or just leave them plain.
Leave them to dry if painted or glued, then thread them through string. Make necklaces, wristbands or anklets.
Babies, toddlers and even bigger kids love to play in water. It is good for sensory play and children love to splash.
Always be careful for little ones when it comes to water and watch them closely, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy.
Fill a washing up bowl and let them play with plastic toys, fish and bricks. If you have a water table then use that. Children will play for hours with their toys in this way.
Add bubbles to the water and allow them to swish them round. Use baby bath or a mild liquid soap.
Fill a paddling pool on a warm day and let them sit in or splash around. If your toddler is still a little unsteady on their feet, keep them supported. Use warm water and bubbles.
Use containers and scoops to fill with the water and pour back and sponges to squeeze and rinse. Even give them a pot of bubbles to blow and watch them settle in the pool.
There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to keep your toddler amused. They are learning all the time and these are some ways to tire them out! Give them a try.
© 2012 Emma Kisby