Toddlers are always on the run — and can you blame them? With so much to learn about the world, they must always be operating with a sense of urgency that adults couldn’t possibly understand. One of the best things that caretakers of toddlers can do is provide them with activities that encourage their creative minds and fill them with new information.
However, this is easier said than done. Anyone who has watched a toddler for any period of time knows that we can easily run out of ideas of ways to keep them occupied, no matter how hard we might try! If you are feeling stuck, here are 18 ideas for toddler activities that will help them develop their skills and learn new things.
Sink or Float
Will it sink or will it float? It may not be a question that inspires a lot of suspense in adults, but for toddlers, it is an exhilarating question. This learning exercise from The Stay At Home Mom Survival Guide involves filling a bucket with water and giving the toddler a variety of items, some of which will float and some of which will sink. You can even ask your toddler to make a prediction about what they think the item will do before they throw it in the bin!
Paperclip Busy Bag
A busy toddler makes for a happy parent, and you can keep your toddler very busy with this activity from Powerful Mothering. Their example consists of filling a pencil case with items such as paper clips, laminated paper pieces, and more, but you can fill your own version of a busy bag with whatever you have laying around that your toddler may take an interest in. You can change up the bag every so often so that your toddler doesn’t get bored of the same old items.
Ice Cream Math
Ice cream is something that most toddlers love, so why not make math a little bit more fun by giving it an ice cream theme? The premise of this tutorial from Fun a Day is simple enough — it involves taking small cotton balls, or “ice cream” and placing them on an “ice cream cone” made out of construction paper.
Egg Carton Color Sort
Colors are a complicated concept for young humans — many children will not be able to even recognize different kinds of colors until they reach the age of two. However, if your toddler is at the age where they are starting to differentiate colors and where they know them by name, they may find joy in this activity from Powerful Mothering that shows you how you can make a color organizer out of an egg carton.
Addition is a complicated concept for toddlers, but you can give your preschoolers a head start by introducing them to these basic mathematical concepts by following the idea from the Best Ideas for Kids. Our personal favorite is the “tube” that is made out of paper towel rolls and allows you to count cotton balls or other items as you drop them down.
Preschoolers love learning about the alphabet, and while there are many songs that you could use to teach them, it doesn’t hurt to do an activity or two! How We Learn has great alphabet activity ideas that are designed to familiarize your children with the alphabet so that they will eventually be able to read them.
Sometimes toddler ideas are not just about challenging the mind. Toddlers are also developing their fine motor skills on a daily basis. Even a simple activity, such as this ball drop box from Taming Little Monsters, can help your toddler finesse their coordination and overall motor skills.
Cardboard Roll Stamping
Kids love stamps, but the real stamps that are made with authentic ink are not the best idea in the hands of a toddler. Not only do they make a mess, but they stain skin and clothing, which overall makes them not the best idea. Luckily, you can make your own DIY stamps using washable paint and recycled cardboard rolls —find out how over at Powerful Mothering.
Puzzles are another activity that are beloved by toddlers around the world! You can make your own puzzle using tape by following this tutorial from Happily Ever Mom. It will show you how you can use detachable painter’s tape and geometric shapes to create puzzles for your child.
Kids love to play with sand —if only we all lived close enough to a beach to give them some sand to play with! Even if you do live near the beach, this moon sand idea from Little Learning Club is too intriguing to pass up. With only two ingredients, the end result is a wonderful sensory activity that is sure to keep your toddler busy — all with minimal mess!
Muffin Tin Counting
If you do not have an abundance of craft supplies around the house, you can use other household items such as baking tins to create activities for your toddlers. Case in point: the muffin tin counting game from Early Learning Ideas. This is a great introduction to counting for your toddler!
Senses Activity Binder
If you have a preschooler, they are probably starting to learn about all of the senses of the human body and what each sense can do. You can make a binder that will appeal to every one of their senses by following this tutorial over at Active Littles —it is easy to put together and sure to provide hours of entertainment!
Painting is an incredibly fun activity for young children, but any parent knows that it can get very messy very fast. The ingenious solution to this mess is to allow your toddler to use water —if they are painting on a dark surface, it will still show up and keep them occupied. Find out how over at Happy Toddler Playtime.
Here is another fine motor skill activity for your little one. This simple activity idea from Teaching Littles uses only two items —a whisk and pom poms — which makes it a great option for a rainy day where you haven’t had much time to plan ahead.
Alphabet Watering Game
Here is a wonderful outdoor activity! This unique idea comes from Toddler Approved. Basically the premise is this: an adult draws all of the letters of the alphabet on the concrete, and gives the toddler a watering can. The adult will then instruct the toddler to water certain letters. Not only does this help teach your toddler how to recognize the letters of the alphabet, it also helps them with their coordination.
Washing Dishes Bin
Toddlers love washing the dishes —no, seriously! No matter how hard it may be for us adults to imagine finding joy in such a mundane chore, there is something about the sensation of soap and the appearance of bubbles that toddlers love. You can make your toddler their very own dish washing set-up by following this tutorial from Twin Mom Refreshed.
Sorting Toys by Color
Here is a simple one that doesn’t require any new materials at all. If your child has a large variety of toys in a number of colors, then you can give them the task of sorting their toys by color. Not only does this help your child familiarize themselves with all of the colors and shades of the rainbow, but it just might reacquaint themselves with some toys that they had forgotten about! Get the idea over at Little Learning Club.
Not only does this sock matching activity from Chick Link teach your child how to recognize similar colors and patterns, but it will also help you with sorting the laundry —what could be better than that?
Keeping a toddler occupied can be hard work —but as long as you have new games up your sleeve, every day will feel like a new adventure. Not only is it more fun for them, but it’s more fun for you, too!