Explore these fun and engaging mom and toddler activities to enjoy quality time together at home while promoting your child’s development and creativity.
Are you a busy mom looking for ways to keep your toddler engaged and entertained at home?
Finding fun and stimulating activities for your little one can be challenging. But don’t worry, there are plenty of activities you can do at home to keep your toddler engaged and happy while also providing opportunities for learning and development.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some exciting mom and toddler activities that you can try today at home.
From arts and crafts to sensory play, these activities are sure to keep your little one entertained for hours while also fostering their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
So, grab your apron, roll up your sleeves, and let’s dive into some fun-filled activities that you and your toddler can enjoy together!
Getting The Kids Busy- Our Story
We actually did leave the house in the morning on this winter storm day because my 5-year-old had Kindergarten. So our boredom didn’t really hit us until noon.
That being said since it was noon, we had to make lunch and warm up the house a little bit. I involved my kids in the making of lunch and that kept us all busy for about an hour. We ate lunch happily and boredom hit again.
I’m not totally against screen time, but I try to limit it and since it was only 1 pm, I didn’t want to approve screentime just yet. I ended up spending time with my 5-year-old working on his cutting skills and reading books. I threw some pencil crayons at my 3-year-old and he happily coloured along with us. Activities like this really strengthen the relationship between my kids and myself and honestly, we spent about an hour doing that too!
By 2 pm we were struck with boredom once more, this was definitely trending on our day. I wanted to really keep the kids engaged so we made some chocolate chip muffins together! I love getting my boys baking in the kitchen. We learn a lot about teamwork and patience. We also get a little extra quality time together which is a huge bonus for me.
Since our tummies were full and I was pretty much exhausted for the day, I said yes to a movie. But I had conditions.
- I was to pick the movie.
- We were to cuddle on the couch with a blanket together.
- There were to be many snacks and popcorn available.
- And we all had to be nice and quiet so Mommy could get a little rest.
We ended up watching The Peanuts movie which is a feel-good family movie that gives me the warm fuzzies.
After our little movie adventure, which went quite well I must admit. There was very little jumping around and lots of cuddles were shared.
I turned off the TV and started dinner. I make the kids play with their toys until dinner is made. I love how their imagination starts to really work when they forget about TV, Computer, Ipad, Nintendo DS and whatever else they have to play with, My 5-year-old actually acts like a 5-year-old should, playing with toys, running around the house and making funny noises.
Letting their imaginations run wild like that is my favourite thing in the world.
After dinner time, we have a pretty strict bedtime routine, you can read all about it here.
80 Fun Mom and Toddler Activities
Build a blanket fort
Building a blanket fort is a fantastic way to spend quality time with your little one, turning an ordinary day into an adventure right in your own home.
Using blankets, pillows, and maybe even cardboard boxes, you can create a magical fortress that becomes a cozy hideaway for you and your toddler.
This activity not only fuels their imagination but also strengthens problem-solving skills as you figure out the best way to construct your fort.
It’s a great activity for rainy days, providing a special space for reading stories or enjoying a snack, making it one of the best things for keeping a busy toddler entertained.
Here is a great fort building kit that we use sometimes, so I do not have to use my house materials!
Have a picnic in the park.
A picnic in the park is not just about enjoying fresh air; it’s a wonderful opportunity for toddlers to explore the outdoors and for moms to take a break from the routine.
Packing a simple meal and a blanket provides a special time to bond, enjoy nature, and maybe even make some feathered friends.
This outdoor activity is perfect for encouraging gross motor skills as your little one runs around in the open space, and it’s a fun way to introduce new foods in an exciting setting. Don’t forget to bring along some small toys or a ball for even more fun.
Create a sensory bin with rice and toys.
Sensory bins are a toddler-approved way to explore textures and practice fine motor skills. By filling a large container with rice and hiding small toys inside, you provide a safe and engaging activity that can keep your toddler busy for a long time.
This simple activity is ideal for young kids, offering them the chance to dig, pour, and discover hidden treasures. Adding items like spoons, cups, or even small pom poms can enhance the experience, making it a fun way to learn through play.
Play with Play-Doh.
Play-Doh is a timeless favorite that offers endless fun for kids of all ages. It’s a great activity for rainy days or when you’re seeking a creative outlet for your toddler. Molding and shaping Play-Doh helps develop fine motor skills and encourages creativity. Whether you’re rolling out dough to make pretend cookies or creating colorful creatures, Play-Doh provides a fun way to spend quality time together. Plus, it’s a toddler-approved activity that can lead to hours of imaginative play.
Paint with watercolors.
Painting with watercolors is a simple yet exciting way for toddlers to express their creativity. It’s an easy toddler activity that doesn’t require much preparation but offers a lot of fun and the opportunity for sensory exploration. Using washable markers, brushes, and paper, your toddler can experiment with mixing colors, learning about cause and effect as they see how water transforms the paint on the paper. This activity is also a gentle introduction to art and can be a soothing way to wind down after a busy day.
Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to combine outdoor activities with learning. Create a list of items to find, such as a leaf, a rock, or something red, and explore a park or your backyard together. This activity is a great opportunity to teach your toddler about the natural world, practice problem-solving skills, and enjoy some fresh air. It’s a fun way to engage older children as well, making it a great activity for the whole family to enjoy together.
Blow bubbles in the backyard.
Blowing bubbles is a simple pleasure that can provide so much fun for toddlers. It’s an excellent outdoor activity that encourages children to chase and pop bubbles, helping develop gross motor skills. This fun activity can easily turn into a joyful pursuit for kids of all ages, making it perfect for family gatherings or a fun way to spend an afternoon in the fresh air. Plus, it’s a great activity for new moms to engage in with their toddlers, creating special memories with something as simple as a bubble solution and a wand.
We go through a few bubble machines like this one in the summer, mostly because the kids leave them outside and it rains…and I do not always get a chance to make sure everything is put away.
Dance to toddler-friendly music.
Hosting a dance party in your living room is a fantastic way to have fun and get moving with your toddler. Put on some toddler-friendly music and let loose together. Dancing is not only a great activity for developing gross motor skills but also for bonding and creating an emotional bond through laughter and movement. It’s a fun way to introduce rhythm and music, encouraging a love for dance and music from a young age. Plus, it’s a great way for both mom and toddler to shake off a hard day.
Read books together.
Reading together is one of the simplest yet most impactful activities you can enjoy with your toddler. It’s a wonderful way to spend quality time together, fostering a love for reading and stimulating imagination. Whether it’s a classic children’s book or a new discovery, reading aloud provides a special time for you to connect and explore new worlds together. It’s an essential part of any bedtime routine, offering a calm and comforting end to the day for both parent and child.
My youngest is loving this book set right now.
Bake cookies or muffins.
Baking together is not only a fun activity but also a great learning experience for toddlers. Measuring ingredients, mixing, and watching the transformation in the oven can be magical for young children. It’s a fun way to introduce basic cooking skills, practice counting, and understand sequences. Plus, the reward is delicious and makes for a great snack after a busy day of play. Baking cookies or muffins can be a great activity for older kids as well, making it a perfect family activity for a weekend or a special treat after a long day.
Play with building blocks.
Playing with building blocks is a great activity for toddlers to unleash their creativity and develop fine motor skills. It’s a simple way to encourage problem-solving as they figure out how to stack blocks without them toppling over. Building blocks can be a fun way to introduce concepts of shapes, sizes, and colors. This fun activity can keep a busy toddler engaged for a long time, making it a favorite among new moms and dads looking for easy toddler activities that also support cognitive development. Usually we use mega blocks, but sometimes we love to use these giant foam blocks.
Have a puppet show.
Hosting a puppet show is a great idea to spark imagination and provide entertainment for your little girl or boy. Using hand puppets or making your own from socks or paper bags, you can create stories that captivate your toddler’s attention. This activity is a fun way to practice storytelling and can be a special time that encourages expressive language skills. It’s also a great opportunity for family members to get involved, making it a memorable experience for kids of all ages.
Playing dress-up is much fun for toddlers as they explore different roles and characters. This activity allows them to use their imagination and express themselves in unique ways. Whether it’s pretending to be a superhero, a fairy, or just mimicking mom and dad, dress-up play is a great activity for developing social and emotional skills. It’s a simple activity that offers a fun way to spend quality time together, making it a favorite for both young kids and their parents.
Explore a local children’s museum.
Visiting a local children’s museum offers a great opportunity for hands-on learning and exploration. These museums are designed with young children in mind, featuring interactive exhibits that engage their senses and curiosity. It’s a great way to introduce new concepts in a fun environment, from science experiments to art projects. Exploring a museum is not only educational but also one of the best things to do to foster a love for learning and discovery.
Go for a nature walk.
A nature walk is a perfect activity for getting some fresh air and exploring the natural world. It’s a simple way for toddlers to practice gross motor skills as they walk, run, and jump outdoors. You can make it educational by pointing out different types of trees, flowers, and animals. This activity is a great opportunity to teach your toddler about the environment while enjoying some special time together outside.
Make a homemade obstacle course.
Creating a homemade obstacle course is a fantastic way to turn your home or backyard into a fun and challenging playground. Use pillows, boxes, and soft furniture to design a course that encourages crawling, jumping, and balancing. This activity is great for developing gross motor skills and can be adjusted for kids of all ages. It’s a fun way to keep a busy toddler engaged and active, making it a great activity for rainy days or when you need a fun way to get moving indoors.
Have a tea party with stuffed animals.
Hosting a tea party for your toddler and their stuffed animals is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. This activity encourages imaginative play and teaches manners and social skills in a fun setting. You can set up a small table with tea cups, a teapot filled with warm water or juice, and some snacks. It’s a special time that can be enjoyed with siblings or during a playdate, making it a memorable experience for your little one. This is the tea set we are loving right now.
Do yoga or simple stretches together.
Doing yoga or simple stretches together is not only beneficial for physical health but also for bonding. This activity can be a calming way to start the day or unwind before bedtime. There are many toddler-approved yoga poses and stretches that are fun and easy to do. It’s a great way to introduce the importance of exercise and mindfulness, making it a healthy habit for both parent and child.
Finger painting is a sensory activity that toddlers absolutely love. It’s a fun, messy way to explore colors and creativity. Using washable, non-toxic paints, your toddler can create art with their hands and fingers, making it a great activity for developing fine motor skills and imagination. This activity can be done on paper plates, large sheets of paper, or even directly on a plastic tablecloth for easy cleanup. It’s a great way to have fun and create lasting memories together.
Play with a parachute.
Playing with a parachute is a great activity for kids and adults alike. This can be as simple as using a large sheet or buying a colorful play parachute. Toddlers love the sensation of lifting the parachute up and running underneath it. This activity is excellent for developing gross motor skills, coordination, and teamwork. It’s a fun way to get active and can be a great idea for birthday parties, playdates, or family gatherings, providing fun for the whole family. You can get a parachute here.
Plant flowers or herbs in the garden.
Planting flowers or herbs in the garden is a great way to spend quality time outdoors with your toddler. This activity not only introduces them to the basics of gardening but also teaches responsibility and the concept of growth from caring for their plants. It’s a fun way to explore nature together, and watching their plants grow over time can be incredibly rewarding. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for toddlers to get their hands dirty, which is always much fun! How cute is this gardening toy!
Have a “Treasure Hunt” Indoors
Organizing a “treasure hunt” indoors is a fantastic rainy day activity that can turn your home into an adventure land. Hide small toys, stickers, or treats around the house and create a map or list of clues to find them. This activity encourages problem-solving and can be tailored to fit any age group, making it a great activity for older children as well. It’s a fun way to keep a busy toddler engaged and excited about discovering hidden “treasures” around their own home.
Play with Stickers and Sticker Books
Playing with stickers and sticker books is a simple yet engaging activity that can provide hours of entertainment. Stickers help toddlers develop fine motor skills as they peel and place stickers, and it’s also a creative way to introduce themes such as animals, letters, or numbers. Sticker books are especially great for on-the-go entertainment, making them perfect for long car rides or waiting rooms. Plus, it’s a mess-free activity that parents love.
Blow Up Balloons and Play Catch
Blowing up balloons and playing catch is a fun and inexpensive way to entertain toddlers. Balloons are fascinating for young children, and the unpredictable movements make catch even more exciting. This activity is great for developing hand-eye coordination and can be played indoors or outdoors. Just be sure to supervise your toddler closely to avoid any safety hazards with broken balloons.
Create a Sensory Bottle
Creating a sensory bottle is a wonderful DIY activity that can captivate a toddler’s attention. Fill a clear bottle with water and add items like glitter, food coloring, small toys, or beads. These bottles are fantastic for sensory play, helping toddlers to focus and calm down by watching the items float and settle. It’s an easy and creative activity that can be customized in countless ways, making it a fun way to learn about different materials and colors.
Visit a Petting Zoo
Visiting a petting zoo is a delightful experience for toddlers, offering them the chance to interact with animals up close. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about different animals, their sounds, and how to gently touch and feed them. A day at the petting zoo can be a fun and educational outing that provides fresh air and plenty of excitement for young children, making it a memorable way to spend a day.
Play with Toy Cars and Trucks
Playing with toy cars and trucks is a classic activity that never gets old. It’s a great way for toddlers to engage in imaginative play, whether they’re racing cars, constructing roads, or creating entire cities. This type of play supports cognitive development and can keep a child entertained for a long time. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce concepts like speed, direction, and cause and effect, making it not only fun but educational as well.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
Having a water balloon fight is an exhilarating outdoor activity that guarantees laughs and splashes, making it perfect for a warm day. This fun activity is a great way for kids to cool off and practice their throwing and dodging skills. It encourages physical activity and provides a playful way to develop coordination and motor skills. Always ensure to supervise the play to keep it safe and enjoyable for everyone involved. This activity is not only a blast for toddlers but can be enjoyed by the whole family, creating special memories during hot summer days.
Play with a Ball Pit
A ball pit offers endless fun and is a fantastic sensory activity for toddlers. Diving into a pool of colorful balls can be a delightful experience, stimulating their senses and encouraging active play. Ball pits can help develop gross motor skills as children crawl, sit, and move around. They also provide a safe environment for toddlers to explore movement and balance. Whether it’s a visit to a local play center or a small ball pit set up at home, this activity is sure to be a hit with young children.
Create a Mini Science Experiment
Engaging in mini science experiments can be a wonderful way to spark curiosity and introduce basic scientific concepts to toddlers. Simple experiments, like mixing baking soda and vinegar to create a volcano or making a rainbow with a glass of water and sunlight, can provide awe-inspiring moments. These activities are great for developing problem-solving skills and understanding cause and effect. Plus, they offer a fun way to learn together, making science exciting and accessible for young minds.
Build with Magnetic Tiles
Building with magnetic tiles is a creative and educational activity that toddlers and older children alike enjoy. These tiles snap together easily, allowing kids to construct 3D structures, shapes, and patterns. This activity promotes spatial awareness, creativity, and fine motor skills. It’s a quiet, engaging way to spend time indoors, offering endless possibilities for imaginative play and architectural exploration.
Make Homemade Popsicles
Making homemade popsicles is a tasty and fun activity that allows toddlers to experiment with flavors and colors. Mix fruit juices, purees, or yogurt with small pieces of fruit in popsicle molds and freeze. This activity is a great way to introduce toddlers to cooking and the concept of freezing, while also offering a refreshing treat. It’s a delightful way for kids to enjoy the fruits of their labor, making it a favorite for warm days.
Have a Bubble Bath with Toys
A bubble bath with toys turns bath time into playtime, offering a fun way to get clean while playing. Adding bubbles and waterproof toys can create an exciting environment for imaginative play. This activity is excellent for relaxing and winding down before bed, making bath time a special and enjoyable part of the day. It’s also a good opportunity for sensory play, as toddlers can explore different textures and sensations with bubbles and bath toys.
Go to a Local Playground
Visiting a local playground is a classic outdoor activity that provides a safe space for toddlers to run, climb, swing, and slide. Playgrounds are great for physical development, encouraging gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. It’s also a fantastic way to get fresh air and socialize with other children, making it beneficial for emotional and social development. Playgrounds offer a variety of equipment that can keep children entertained and active for hours.
Play with Shaving Cream
Playing with shaving cream is a sensory activity that can provide messy, hands-on fun for toddlers. Spread shaving cream on a tray or table and let your child draw and write in it with their fingers. This activity is excellent for sensory exploration and can also be used to practice letters and shapes. Adding food coloring can enhance the sensory experience, making it even more engaging. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to have fun and learn at the same time, though it’s best enjoyed with some preparation for easy cleanup.
Finger Paint with Pudding
Finger painting with pudding is not just a fun activity; it’s also a tasty and safe way for toddlers to explore their creativity. Using vanilla pudding dyed with food coloring allows young children to enjoy a sensory activity that’s also completely edible. This can be a delightful way for toddlers to practice drawing shapes or simply enjoy the sensation of moving the pudding around with their fingers. It’s a perfect combination of play and snack time, making cleanup much more enjoyable when they’re done.
Go on a Color Scavenger Hunt
A color scavenger hunt is a simple and engaging way to teach toddlers about colors while exploring their environment. Create a list of colors and search indoors or outdoors for items that match. This activity encourages observation skills and can be a fun way to spend quality time together. It’s a great opportunity to get moving and learn, making it perfect for curious young minds eager to explore the world around them.
Play with Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk provides endless possibilities for creativity and outdoor fun. Drawing on the driveway or sidewalk allows children to express themselves on a large canvas, where they can create everything from hopscotch grids to imaginative murals. This activity is great for fine motor skills and encourages physical activity as kids move around to create their art. Plus, it’s a wonderful way for families to enjoy the outdoors together.
Have a Backyard Camping Adventure
A backyard camping adventure is a fantastic way to introduce toddlers to the joys of camping without leaving the comfort of home. Setting up a tent, telling stories under the stars, and enjoying some outdoor snacks can create a memorable experience. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about nature and the environment in a safe and familiar setting, making it one of the best things for a family to do together.
Make a Bird Feeder
Creating a bird feeder is a fun and educational activity that teaches toddlers about nature and caring for animals. Using simple materials like pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed, or constructing feeders from recycled materials, can make this a creative and eco-friendly project. Watching the birds visit the feeder can provide ongoing enjoyment and learning opportunities, making it a gift that keeps on giving.
Create a Homemade Marble Run
Building a homemade marble run can be a fantastic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activity for older children and a fun project for toddlers to watch and learn from. Using items like cardboard tubes, boxes, and tape, families can work together to create a path for marbles to travel. This activity encourages problem-solving and creativity, making it a great way to spend a rainy day indoors.
Explore a Children’s Library
Visiting a children’s library can be a magical experience for toddlers, offering them a world of stories and learning opportunities. Many libraries also offer story times and other educational programs specifically designed for young children. Exploring books together is a great way to foster a love of reading and to spend special time together, making it a valuable experience for toddlers and parents alike.
Play with a Water Table
Playing with a water table is a refreshing outdoor activity that allows toddlers to explore water in a controlled environment. It’s a fantastic sensory activity that can also introduce basic principles of physics, like flow and buoyancy. Adding toys, cups, and funnels can enhance the play experience, making it a great way to cool off and learn during the warmer months.
See also: Most Popular Water Tables For Kids
See also: 18 Important Water Safety Tips For Kids
Sort and Count Objects
Sorting and counting objects is a simple yet educational activity that can be done with items around the house. Whether it’s sorting toys by color, shape, or size, or counting items like blocks or pieces of fruit, this activity introduces basic math concepts in a fun and tangible way. It’s a great way to engage toddlers in learning through play, encouraging cognitive development. How cute are these shape bean bags?
See also: When Do Kids Learn Shapes?
Have a Pretend Tea Party
A pretend tea party is a timeless activity that encourages imagination and social play. Children can invite their stuffed animals, dolls, or family members to share in pretend snacks and tea, using toy dishes and teapots. This activity is a delightful way to practice manners and role-playing, making it a favorite among toddlers.
Play with Musical Instruments
Playing with musical instruments introduces toddlers to the world of music, rhythm, and sound. Whether it’s shaking a tambourine, banging on a drum, or creating simple instruments from household items, this activity is great for auditory development and can be a joyful way to express creativity. It’s a fun way to make noise and learn about music together. Here is a great music set.
Make Paper Plate Masks
Crafting paper plate masks is a creative and fun activity for toddlers to explore their imaginative. With simple supplies like paper plates, paint, feathers, and yarn, children can create masks of their favorite animals, characters, or even invent their own. This activity encourages creativity and can be a playful way to prepare for a mini performance or storytime featuring their new characters. We use this pack for about a year!
Go on a Short Bike Ride
Going on a short bike ride is a fantastic way to spend quality time outdoors with your toddler. Whether they’re riding their own tricycle or secured in a child seat on your bike, it’s a great opportunity for fresh air and physical activity. This simple activity helps develop balance and coordination for young riders and introduces them to the joys of cycling. It’s a fun way for the whole family to explore the neighborhood or local parks together.
See also: Most Popular Balance Bikes For Toddlers
Play with Felt Board Stories
Playing with felt board stories is a creative and interactive way to bring storytelling to life. Toddlers can place and move felt characters and objects on the board as the story unfolds, making it a dynamic way to engage with narratives. This activity enhances language development, comprehension, and creativity, offering a fun way to encourage a love for stories and reading from a young age. Here is a great felt board.
Create a Sensory Bag
Creating a sensory bag is a clean and safe way to explore sensory play. Fill a durable, sealable plastic bag with items like hair gel, beads, glitter, and small toys. This mess-free activity allows toddlers to squish and press the bag to manipulate the items inside, providing visual, tactile, and kinesthetic learning experiences. It’s an easy and effective way to engage their senses and can be customized with different themes and materials.
Have a Playdate with Friends
Organizing a playdate with friends provides toddlers with invaluable social interaction. It’s a great opportunity for them to practice sharing, cooperation, and communication skills in a fun and supervised setting. Playdates can be centered around simple activities, toys, or just free play in a safe environment, making it a beneficial experience for developing social skills and friendships.
Play with a Sensory Tunnel
Playing with a sensory tunnel can offer an exciting adventure for toddlers. Crawling through a tunnel with different textures, colors, and maybe even sounds stimulates their senses and encourages gross motor skills like crawling and coordination. It’s a fun way to promote physical activity and exploration, making it a great addition to indoor or outdoor playtime.
Have a “Show and Tell” Session
A “show and tell” session is a classic activity that encourages communication and self-expression. Toddlers can bring their favorite toy, book, or object and share something about it with family members or friends. This activity helps build confidence in speaking and listening skills, making it a valuable learning experience in a supportive environment.
Play with Kinetic Sand
Playing with kinetic sand offers a mesmerizing sensory experience for toddlers. This unique material can be molded, shaped, and squished, providing endless creative play. It’s great for fine motor skills development and encourages imaginative play as children create various shapes and structures. Kinetic sand is a versatile and mess-free option for sensory play that can captivate children for long periods. I like this because this sand box closes. It’s easy storage!
Make a Nature Collage
Creating a nature collage is a wonderful way to combine art with nature exploration. Collect leaves, flowers, sticks, and other natural materials during a walk, and arrange them on paper or cardboard to make a collage. This activity encourages creativity and appreciation for the natural world, offering a tactile and visual art project for young children.
Play with a Fishing Game
Playing with a fishing game can be both fun and educational. Whether it’s a magnetic fishing game or one made with paper clips and a makeshift rod, it’s great for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. This playful activity can also introduce concepts of patience and concentration as toddlers try to catch the fish, making it a fun and rewarding experience.
Play with Pom-Poms and Tongs
Playing with pom-poms and tongs is a colorful and engaging activity that helps toddlers develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. By using tongs to pick up and sort pom-poms by color or size into different containers, children can also learn about colors and categorization. This simple activity is great for keeping busy toddlers focused and can be a fun way to introduce basic math concepts like counting and comparison.
Create a Foam Sticker Scene
Creating a foam sticker scene allows toddlers to express their creativity while enhancing their fine motor skills. With a variety of foam stickers in different shapes and themes, children can stick them onto paper or a designated background to create imaginative scenes. This activity offers a mess-free way to explore storytelling and artistic expression, making it a perfect quiet time activity.
Blow Up a Kiddie Pool and Splash Around
Blowing up a kiddie pool and splashing around is a fantastic way to enjoy water play in your own backyard. On a hot day, it provides refreshing fun and a great opportunity for toddlers to practice splashing, pouring, and even gentle swimming movements under supervision. Adding toys, cups, and water wheels can enhance the experience, making it a delightful way for young children to cool off and develop water confidence.
Make Homemade Slime
Making homemade slime can be a fascinating science experiment and sensory activity rolled into one. With simple ingredients like glue, baking soda, and contact lens solution, families can create slime of different colors and textures. This activity encourages exploration and creativity, offering a tactile experience that can keep children engaged and curious about the properties of materials they’re using.
Have a Teddy Bear Parade
Organizing a teddy bear parade is a charming activity that allows toddlers to showcase their favorite stuffed animals. Children can line up their teddies, decorate them with makeshift costumes or accessories, and parade them around the house or garden. This playful event encourages imaginative play and provides a special way for kids to bond with their toys, making it a memorable and fun activity.
Play with a Dollhouse
Playing with a dollhouse opens up a world of imaginative play for toddlers. By creating stories and scenarios for the dollhouse inhabitants, children develop language skills and explore concepts of family, home, and daily activities. This activity can be very engaging, offering a platform for creativity and storytelling in a miniature world.
Create a Sensory Bin with Water Beads
Creating a sensory bin with water beads offers a unique and captivating sensory experience. Water beads are colorful, squishy, and grow in water, providing hours of play. They can be used in a bin along with scoops, cups, and small toys for scooping, pouring, and squeezing activities. This sensory play helps develop fine motor skills and offers a calming activity for toddlers to explore textures and colors.
Make a Homemade Rainstick
Making a homemade rainstick is a creative and musical activity that introduces toddlers to sounds and rhythm. Using a cardboard tube, nails, and rice or beans, families can construct a rainstick that mimics the sound of falling rain when tilted. Decorating the rainstick can also be a fun art project, making it a multifaceted activity that combines crafts and music.
Have a Family Puzzle Time
Family puzzle time is a cooperative activity that encourages problem-solving and teamwork. Working on a puzzle together can be a rewarding experience for toddlers and adults alike, offering a way to develop spatial awareness and patience. It’s a quiet and focused activity that can provide a sense of accomplishment when the puzzle is completed, making it a great family bonding experience.
Play with a Xylophone or Keyboard
Playing with a xylophone or keyboard introduces toddlers to musical notes and melodies. Experimenting with different sounds and rhythms can be an enjoyable way for children to express themselves musically. This activity promotes auditory development and can spark an early interest in music, providing a foundation for musical learning and appreciation.
Build with Large Cardboard Boxes
Building with large cardboard boxes can turn an ordinary day into an imaginative adventure. Boxes can be transformed into forts, castles, cars, or spaceships, offering endless possibilities for creative play. This activity encourages problem-solving as children figure out how to construct their ideas, and it’s also a great way to reuse and repurpose materials.
Have a Bubble Wrap Stomping Session
A bubble wrap stomping session is a simple and exhilarating sensory activity. The popping sound and sensation provide immediate feedback that delights toddlers and even older children. This activity can be a fun way to release energy and experience the joy of causing a sensory reaction with every step, making it a perfect activity for active play.
Play with a Sensory Light Table
Playing with a sensory light table offers an enchanting experience for toddlers, illuminating their play with a soft glow. Children can explore colors, shapes, and shadows on the table, using translucent toys, colored gels, or natural materials. This type of play encourages visual and tactile exploration, making it a captivating and educational activity
Make a Paper Plate Tambourine
Crafting a paper plate tambourine is a fun and easy musical activity. By sandwiching beans or bells between two paper plates and sealing them around the edges, children can decorate their tambourine with markers, stickers, or ribbons. This activity encourages creativity and musical exploration, providing a homemade instrument that kids can play and dance with, enhancing their rhythmic skills and auditory senses.
Have a Color-Themed Day (e.g., “Blue Day”)
Organizing a color-themed day, such as “Blue Day,” is a creative way to learn about colors. Dress in blue clothes, eat blue foods, find blue objects around the house, and create blue art. This immersive experience is a fun way to deepen understanding of colors, encouraging observation and categorization skills. It’s a simple yet effective method to engage toddlers in a full day of thematic learning and exploration.
Play with Finger Puppets
Playing with finger puppets can bring stories to life and spark imaginative play. Toddlers can use finger puppets to create their own narratives or reenact their favorite tales, developing language and storytelling skills. This activity also encourages emotional expression and can be a comforting way for children to explore different perspectives and roles through play.
Create a DIY Play Kitchen
Building a DIY play kitchen from recycled boxes or old furniture can be a rewarding project. Equipping it with pots, pans, and utensils from thrift stores or toy collections allows children to engage in pretend cooking and hosting. This activity stimulates creativity, organization skills, and social play, offering a fantastic setting for imaginative scenarios and role-playing.
Have a Leaf or Flower Pressing Session
Collecting and pressing leaves or flowers is a wonderful way to explore nature and create lasting mementos. Placing them between sheets of wax paper or in a heavy book teaches patience and gentle handling, as toddlers wait for their treasures to dry. The pressed items can be used for art projects, enhancing creativity and appreciation for the natural world.
Play with Foam Alphabet Letters
Playing with foam alphabet letters, especially during bath time or on a play mat, introduces toddlers to the alphabet in a tactile and engaging way. Spelling simple words or identifying letters can make learning interactive and fun, laying the foundation for literacy skills and letter recognition in a playful, pressure-free environment.
Make Homemade Musical Instruments
Creating homemade musical instruments from household items, like shakers from rice-filled containers or drums from oatmeal boxes, is a fantastic way to explore sound and music. This activity encourages experimentation with different materials and sounds, fostering an early appreciation for music and rhythm, while also promoting creativity and fine motor skills.
Create a DIY Marble Maze
Constructing a DIY marble maze out of a shoebox lid, straws, or cardboard pieces challenges problem-solving and engineering skills. Designing and navigating the maze offers a hands-on experience with physics and geometry concepts, making it a fun and educational activity that can captivate both children and adults.
Have a Shadow Puppet Show
A shadow puppet show using a lamp and handcrafted puppets against a blank wall can be a magical evening activity. It allows children to explore storytelling and dramatic play, enhancing creativity and narrative skills. This enchanting activity also introduces the concept of shadows and light in an entertaining and interactive way.
Play with a Toy Kitchen Set
A toy kitchen set offers endless opportunities for imaginative play, from cooking meals to hosting tea parties. This type of play supports social development, problem-solving, and role-playing, as children mimic daily routines and social interactions, learning about the world around them in a fun and engaging setting.
Create a Homemade Rain Cloud
Creating a homemade rain cloud with a clear container, water, shaving cream, and food coloring is a simple science experiment that fascinates children. Dropping food coloring into the “cloud” of shaving cream and watching it “rain” into the water below demonstrates basic principles of weather and water cycles, sparking curiosity and wonder about natural phenomena.
Have a Balloon Tennis Match
A balloon tennis match is a fun and safe way to introduce toddlers to sports. Using homemade rackets made from paper plates and sticks, or simply using hands, players can hit a balloon back and forth. This activity helps develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, and the slow movement of the balloon gives toddlers plenty of time to react, making it an enjoyable game for young children.
Play with Stacking Cups
Stacking cups offer endless entertainment for toddlers as they learn to build towers and nest the cups within each other. This simple activity promotes fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and understanding of sizes and spatial relationships. It’s also a great way for toddlers to experiment with cause and effect as they knock their towers down and start over again.
Make a Simple DIY Sensory Book
Creating a simple DIY sensory book can provide tactile experiences for toddlers. Include pages with different textures, such as felt, sandpaper, bubble wrap, and fabric. This activity encourages sensory exploration and can be a comforting and engaging way for toddlers to learn about their world through touch, making it a wonderful addition to their book collection.
Play with a Toy Doctor’s Kit
Playing with a toy doctor’s kit allows toddlers to engage in pretend play, exploring roles and scenarios that help them understand the world around them. This activity can ease anxieties about doctor visits and teach empathy and caring for others. It also encourages language development as they use medical terms and engage in dialogue during play.
Create a Bubble Wrap Runway
A bubble wrap runway provides a delightful sensory experience. Lay down a long strip of bubble wrap on the floor and let toddlers walk, crawl, or stomp along it, enjoying the pops and sensations under their feet. This activity is not only fun but also stimulates the senses and encourages physical activity.
Have a Sensory Balloon Toss
Filling balloons with different materials such as rice, flour, or water creates a variety of sensory balloons. Tossing these balloons gently back and forth is a playful way to explore textures and weights, enhancing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Ensure the balloons are sturdy to prevent them from bursting and creating a mess.
Play with Stacking Rings
Stacking rings are a classic educational toy that helps toddlers develop fine motor skills, color recognition, and an understanding of size and sequencing. Trying to stack the rings in order on the pole can be both challenging and rewarding, offering a fun way to learn through play.
Make a DIY Car Racetrack
Creating a DIY car racetrack out of cardboard boxes, tape, and markers can offer hours of imaginative play. Designing their own racetracks allows children to engage in creative problem-solving and storytelling as they navigate toy cars around the course. This activity encourages fine motor skills and spatial awareness.
Have a Sensory “Sink or Float” Experiment
A sensory “sink or float” experiment is a simple science activity that can be done with a bowl of water and various household items. Toddlers can guess whether objects will sink or float and then test their hypotheses, providing a hands-on way to introduce basic scientific concepts and encourage curiosity about the physical world.
Play with a Toddler-Sized Basketball Hoop
A toddler-sized basketball hoop is perfect for introducing young children to sports and physical activity. Shooting baskets helps develop gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and timing. This activity also teaches persistence and provides a fun way for toddlers to practice counting as they make their shots.
Create a DIY Sensory Board
A DIY sensory board can be made with a variety of materials affixed to a board, such as locks, zippers, buttons, fabrics, and textured surfaces. Toddlers can explore the different elements, practicing their fine motor skills and satisfying their curiosity about how things work. This customizable board can be tailored to the interests and developmental stages of your child, making it a versatile and educational tool for sensory play.
Have a “Guess the Smell” Sensory Game
Creating a “guess the smell” sensory game is a fun and interactive way to engage toddlers’ sense of smell. Use jars or containers filled with various scented items such as coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon. Blindfold the participants or ask them to close their eyes and guess the scents. This game enhances sensory awareness and can be a delightful way to introduce new vocabulary related to smells.
Play with a Foam Puzzle Mat
A foam puzzle mat not only provides a soft play surface for toddlers but also offers an educational experience. As they fit the pieces together, children develop spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. The colorful pieces can also be used to teach colors and shapes, making it a versatile tool for learning through play.
Make a DIY Cardboard Castle
Building a DIY cardboard castle encourages creativity and imaginative play. Gather large cardboard boxes, and together with your toddler, cut out windows and doors, and decorate the castle with paint, markers, or fabric. This project allows children to step into a fantasy world where they are kings, queens, knights, or princesses, fostering imaginative storytelling and role-playing.
Create a Shadow Art Gallery with Objects and a Flashlight
Creating a shadow art gallery is a simple and magical way to play with light and shadows. Arrange toys, household objects, or even hands in front of a flashlight projected onto a wall. Experiment with distances and angles to change the shadow sizes and shapes. This activity can fascinate toddlers, teaching them about light properties and encouraging artistic expression.
Have a Family Photo Shoot with Costumes and Props
Organizing a family photo shoot with costumes and props can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. Dress up in funny hats, sunglasses, or themed costumes, and capture the moments with a camera. This activity allows for creative expression and can be a joyful way to create lasting memories, encouraging family bonding and storytelling.
Make Homemade Greeting Cards for Friends and Family
Making homemade greeting cards is a thoughtful and creative activity. Provide toddlers with paper, markers, stickers, and other craft supplies to design their own cards. This activity promotes fine motor skills and creativity and teaches the importance of giving and thoughtfulness towards others.
Play with a Bubble Machine in the Yard
A bubble machine in the yard can turn an ordinary day into a magical experience. Watching and chasing the bubbles promotes physical activity and hand-eye coordination. It’s a simple pleasure that can captivate toddlers and even older children, providing endless entertainment and joy.
Build a Cardboard Box Maze
Constructing a maze out of cardboard boxes is an adventurous and stimulating activity. Design a labyrinth with tunnels and dead ends, and let your toddler navigate through it. This activity encourages problem-solving and decision-making skills, offering a fun way to challenge and entertain young explorers.
Have a Watercolor Resist Art Project
A watercolor resist art project uses materials like crayons or oil pastels on paper, covered with watercolor paint to reveal a beautiful pattern. This art technique is fascinating to toddlers as they see their secret drawings or patterns emerge, encouraging creativity and experimentation with different materials.
Make Jewelry with Colorful Beads
Making jewelry with colorful beads is a fun and engaging craft activity. Toddlers can create necklaces, bracelets, or keychains, practicing their fine motor skills by threading beads onto string or wire. This activity also allows for pattern creation and color recognition, making it educational as well as fun.
Go on a Neighborhood Nature Scavenger Hunt
A neighborhood nature scavenger hunt is an exciting way to explore the outdoors. Create a list of items to find, such as a red leaf, a smooth rock, or a feather, and go on a walk to find them. This activity encourages observation skills, physical activity, and appreciation for the natural world.
Play with a Mini Trampoline
Playing on a mini trampoline is a fun way to get toddlers moving. It helps develop balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. Jumping can also be a great way for children to release energy in a safe and controlled environment, promoting healthy physical activity.
Create a Sensory Bin with Dried Pasta and Toy Animals
A sensory bin filled with dried pasta and toy animals offers tactile exploration and imaginative play. Toddlers can scoop, pour, and sort pasta, and create scenarios for the toy animals. This type of sensory play supports cognitive development, fine motor skills, and can be a calming activity for young children.
Remember, the essence of these activities is not just to keep your toddler busy, but to create lasting memories and learn together. As a mom of three, I can vouch for the fact that these moments are precious. So, have fun, take lots of pictures, and enjoy the beautiful chaos of motherhood!
- Morrissey and Brown (2009) found that toddlers who engaged in pretend play with their mothers demonstrated more rapid learning and earlier maternal transfer of responsibility for play, which correlated with higher child IQ later on (Morrissey & Brown, 2009).
- Cohen and Tomlinson-Keasey (1980) observed that the quality of toddlers’ play differed based on social settings, including playing with mothers, alone, with peers, or with both mothers and peers. Boys engaged in the most creative play with peers, while girls did so when with their mothers or alone (Cohen & Tomlinson-Keasey, 1980).
- Kramarenko (2021) emphasized the role of modern art and play materials in fostering artistic and creative criteria in children’s development (Kramarenko, 2021).