Delight your toddler and get his creative juices flowing with hands-on activities that will keep him engaged and entertained, all while developing his budding skills. You don't need to spend a lot of time on prep work to make these activities fun, which means you have more opportunities for playtime and one-on-one interactions with your youngster.
Make sensory bags for your toddler to explore by filling heavy-duty, resealable bags with items such as food coloring, water, vegetable oil, pompoms, beads, glitter and glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Seal them up with clear tape to keep the contents safe inside. You can cut out pictures from magazines ahead of time and have your child use a glue stick and the pictures to create a collage. Make duplicates of some of her photos to make a "Me" collage instead. You can help your toddler make flowers from egg carton cups and chenille sticks. Let her paint the flowers with nontoxic paint and then poke a hole in the center for her when the flower dries so she can slide the chenille stick through. Pull out the modeling clay for some more sensory exploration, or use salt dough instead and let your toddler’s creations dry to turn them into knickknacks and ornaments.
You can transform the backyard into an obstacle course with a few simple items. Set up tricycles or ride-on toys for riding, a skipping rope for tightrope walking and a ball to balance on one hand. Alternatively, host a nature scavenger hunt with absolutely no preparation. You can help your toddler search for leaves, pine cones, rocks, and sticks in the backyard or at a nearby park and save his findings to use in crafts later. Introduce your toddler to bubbles with a variety of bubble blowing tools, or turn on the bubble-making machine so he can chase the bubbles around the yard. When there’s snow on the ground, fill a few squirt bottles with watered down paint and take your youngster outside to make drawings in the snow. You can use water and food coloring instead if you prefer. During the summer, hang some old sheets from the clothesline and let him create a masterpiece on the linens instead.
Whether it’s raining outside or it’s just time for indoor play, you can make your house just as exciting as a playground. You can build a fort with blankets and chairs in the living room or use plastic cookie cutters to make shapes in the carpet. Show your toddler how the shapes disappear when you rub your hand across the floor. Bring your child into the kitchen when it’s time to bake. She can help you measure, pour, and mix to learn about measurements and textures. Bake cupcakes or muffins and then throw a birthday party for your toddler’s favorite stuffed animals with balloons and presents that she can make for her toy during craft time. Save a balloon when you’re done to play balloon volleyball in the playroom, too. When laundry day arrives, save the clean socks for your toddler. Help her sort the socks into pairs to develop her visual discrimination skills and then toss the pairs into another laundry basket for motor skill practice.
Toddlers Got Game
Play a game of freeze dance together to get your toddler moving. Use a variety of different types of music to stimulate her aural senses, too. You can use empty water bottles or paper towel rolls to play a round of bowling in the hallway. Line up the bottles or rolls like bowling pins and use a rubber ball to knock them over. Have a balloon blowing race by using a straw to blow a balloon from one side of the room to the other. You can try to keep it up in the air, but blowing it along the floor works just fine. If you have some beanbags around the house, play a beanbag balancing game to see who can walk the furthest before it falls off her head. If you don’t have beanbags, have a crawling race instead to see how far your toddler can balance one of her small stuffed animals on her back.