Anyone who has a toddler in their life knows that they are great balls of energy!
While this can be a lot of fun, it can also mean that we, as adults, run out of both physical stamina and activity ideas very quickly. While we may not be able to help you with the physical aspect of this (we would say “sleep better” but we all know how hard that is when you’re on a toddler’s schedule), we can give you a few ideas of activities to keep your toddlers occupied for when you’re all out of ideas.
Outdoor Games for Toddlers
If you are lucky enough to be experiencing good weather, take your toddlers outside as much as possible! Not only is the fresh air good for them, but it helps to instill a love of the outdoors that is sure to last them the rest of their lifetime.
We see the activity of flying a lot in children’s books and on TV, but when is the last time that you or somebody that you know actually flew a kite? Kite flying is an underrated fun activity that is perfect for that sunny but windy day. You can find a number of store-bought kites available on the market, or you could make your own for extra fun. Here are some great DIY tutorials.
Kick a Ball Around
Kicking a ball around might not seem like the most exciting activity in the world, but put yourself in the eyes of a toddler! Ball kicking not only helps strengthen essential skills like coordination, but it also has the power to keep your toddler entertained for hours, not to mention the fact that it introduces your toddler to fitness and athletic activities.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is the kind of game that is beloved by all age groups. Even if your toddler may not be able to understand the rules of the game completely, they can still have a lot of fun by engaging in a game or two of hide and seek. You can take turns with who is the “hider” and who is the “seeker”—see which one your toddler prefers. Don’t be surprised if they start asking to play all the time once you teach them this game.
Do you remember playing games of freeze tag in your childhood? If not, here is a refresher of its premise: one or two players are “it”. Their job is to chase all of the game participants who are not it. When those who are not it are tagged, they must freeze until another game player comes by to “unfreeze” them. This game does require a group to pull off, but it is a lot of fun!
Climb a Tree
This isn’t the safest activity for toddlers and should not be done without a parent in sight. However, it deserves a place on this list because there is something so wonderful about taking the time to enjoy the pure outdoors! Let your child start out with a small, short tree that they are not at risk of falling off of. Hold their hand so that they feel empowered to explore!
Here is a great outdoor activity for anyone who gets to enjoy the winter season. Tobogganing is a fun way to get outside and make the best of the cold weather. All that you need is a toboggan, some kind of hill formation, and of course some snow! If you didn’t grow up in a snowy climate and are afraid to ask how to toboggan, don’t worry, we have some directions for you. Learn how to toboggan here.
Red Light, Green Light
No, we don’t suggest taking your child out for a test drive of your vehicle! Instead, the game “Red Light, Green Light” is played like this: when you say green light, your child knows that it is time to start running. When you say yellow light, your toddler slows down. Red light, of course, means that they stop. Simple, yes, but very fun for toddlers, as well as educational because it teaches them basic traffic rules.
Limbo is a fun game that allows your toddler to be silly and to use their muscles! To play, you will need to have a long stick-like object such as a meter stick. You will then instruct your child and their friends to go under the meter stick, making it progressively lower and harder to do every time. Here’s a good breakdown here.
Indoor Games for Toddlers
Sometimes the weather isn’t great for going outside, or we as parents have something to do inside of the house and don’t have time to take the kids out. In these instances, you’re going to want to have some indoor games lined up for your toddlers. Here are a few ideas:
Kids love yoga! While you can definitely have yoga lessons for your kids outside, it can also make for a totally great indoor activity. All you’ll need is a yoga mat and some comfy clothes for your kiddo! Of course, you won’t want to throw them into an advanced yoga practice that is designed for adults. You can start them off easy with some fun poses that are great for toddlers! Get ideas here.
Puzzles are inexpensive yet versatile toys that can keep toddlers occupied for hours! Puzzles are not only good for defining motor skills but they also help your toddlers to develop logic and reasoning skills. Make sure that you are not starting your toddlers out with puzzles that are too hard as this has the potential of discouraging them. There is a good list of toddler-appropriate puzzles here.
You might think of board games as being an activity that is a bit too mature for toddlers, but it all depends on the choice of board game. There are some that are designed for toddlers and, much like puzzles, they will work to improve your child’s reasoning and logic skills. You can even make your own board game for your toddler if you can’t find one that is appropriate! Here are some DIY board game ideas for toddlers and here are some toddler-appropriate board games.
A matching game is a great way to work out your toddler’s brain muscles, and it’s easy to set up and execute, too. The idea is simple: your toddler is faced with a variety of cards, some of them matching and some of them not. The goal is to group all of the matching cards together. You can make your own matching game by following the tutorial that is found here.
Laundry Hamper Fishing
No, we are not suggesting that you fill your laundry hamper with fish and water—we’re not even sure how that would work exactly! Laundry hamper fishing is a game that toddlers love, and it consists of placing your toddlers into a laundry hamper and giving them a stick or a pencil with a string and a magnet on the end. Then, you’ll want to place magnets on paper cut-out fish so that your toddler can use their “fishing rod” to catch them. There’s a tutorial here.
Here is another example of a game that you can set up for your toddler that requires prep work or materials. This is the perfect game for a toddler who is learning how to count. You will want to take a piece of paper, and write the numbers 1 through 8 on it. Then, you will want to give your toddler some dry pasta (colorful enriched wheat works best) and have them count out the pasta pieces to match every section on the piece of paper. Fun and educational!
Sensory Games for Toddlers
The senses of our toddlers are still developing, so it makes sense why sensory games would be so fun and exciting to them! Here are some easy sensory games that you can pull off at home making a huge mess:
There are a few different ways to pull off the infamous toddler “shape hunt”. This particular tutorial from Fun With Mama uses cooked rice, but you can use bubbles or snow or sand, too. The purpose is just to hide shapes or toys in the texture so that your toddler has to move their hands through it to retrieve them.
This one is pretty much how it sounds! The purpose is to give your toddlers a bowl of water with some bubbles in it. Then, they can use a whisk to move the bubbles around and watch them grow. Pro tip: if you don’t have bubbles, you can always use dish soap.
Remember how making slime was all the rage a few years ago? Well, the trend may have gone away, but it still remains an incredibly fun game for toddlers. You can make your own slime at home by following this easy-to-use tutorial. The fact that it’s rainbow just helps it earn more points in the books of toddlers.
Shaving Cream and Bubble Wrap
This one sounds a bit unusual in its name, but trust us on this one. If you don’t have a ton of supplies around your house to use for sensory games, you can get by with shaving cream and bubble wrap! It’s time to finally put the materials from all of those Amazon purchases to work. Add some food coloring for extra fun. Get the tutorial here.
Toddler Games for the Park
What toddler doesn’t love going to the park? If your toddler is getting a little bit bored of the same old playground equipment, you can make things a bit more exciting by incorporating some games into your park trips.
Hot and Cold
Warmer, warmer, warmer…very hot! The rules behind “hot and cold” are very simple. Basically, you will want to hit an object somewhere on the playground. Then, you direct your toddler to said object by giving them directions using only “hot” or “cold”. It’s just bizarre enough to capture the interests of a young one.
You’ll need to bring some supplies to the park to pull this one off, but you’ll have a ton of fun with outdoor bowling at the park! You can even use painted toilet paper or paper towel rolls. We are particularly fond of the DIY tutorial that is found here. Of course, you can also use a store-bought outdoor bowling kit! There are a lot available on the market.
Badminton is another game that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being toddler-friendly, but it is! There are a lot of portable badminton kits available that you can bring to the park with you. Otherwise, feel free to bring your own net and set it up between two tree branches at the park! This is a great idea for families that live in apartments and have limited backyard access.
Make your trip to the park particularly memorable with a fun toddler-friendly scavenger hunt! This one works particularly well for birthday parties. You can make your own scavenger hunt using any clue and map combination that you’d like, but you can pick from the wonderful ideas here if you are stuck for inspiration.
It’s not always easy to keep toddlers occupied, but it can certainly be rewarding. And, if you choose your activities carefully, chances are that you as an adult will have fun, too! Which activity in this list are you most looking forward to trying?