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It can be difficult to keep a toddler busy all day. As a stay at home mom, you may be thinking, “what do I do with my toddler all day?” Well, here you go, a list of 28 activities your toddlers will love.
Kids can be surrounded by toys and still claim they have nothing to do. So here are some cheap, if not free, activities to keep your toddlers engaged.
It can be hard to find things new and exciting things toddlers want to do. Sometimes they just want to watch cartoons all day.
I admit sometimes I will just let my kids watch TV so I can get stuff done or just take a break. Or, like today, as I write this, my daughter is laying on the couch next to me watching TV.
Unfortunately, in her first week in preschool, she caught a cold. Now she is whiny and miserable, so mommy just lets her watch TV while she tries to rest as much as possible. For educational screen time check out these Free Learning Resources for kids.
But for those days you need to have them be as active as possible, here are great activities for toddlers that they will love and look forward to doing.
I love coming up with new activities for my toddlers to do. I’ve been going through all these activities with my son now that my daughter is away in preschool for a few hours.
I love it when my son finds something he loves doing, especially if it simultaneously teaches him something, which most of the time, fun time does.
Activities to keep toddlers busy.
1. Tell stories while acting them out.
Come up with an adventurous story and start acting it out. Toddlers love when you get silly with them. Create funny voices and find props around the house to make it fun.
2. Go for a nature walk.
Go for a walk with your toddler. Point out different flowers and talk to them about the colors, or how they grow. Find some bugs. Collect rocks along the way. Get them interested in nature and all things in it.
My son is obsessed with birds or anything flying. He is always looking in the sky for birds or planes.
3. Have a picnic.
Whether it is at the park, while on your nature walk, or just in your backyard, any day is a great day for a picnic. Your kids may even end up eating things they usually wouldn’t just because it’s fun and different.
Cut up some sandwiches into cool shapes. Easily cut sandwiches or fruit and veggies into shapes with these awesome shape cutters! Or make some fruit kabobs for a fun way to eat fruit. Have them help prepare the food to bring.
4. Paint or Draw
If you don’t want them to make a mess in the house, bring the paints to the backyard. Get some cardboard boxes and flatten them out, then get the washable paints and go to town.
5. Cook or Bake something together.
Toddlers love to feel useful and use their hands. So get in the kitchen and let them create. Keep it simple of course.
You could do something as easy as having them throw the ingredients into a blender to make a smoothie. Or create a pizza party and let them put their toppings on some store-bought dough. Plus they love rolling out the dough too.
This is one of the activities my toddlers absolutely love! They love to help me make pancakes. We still use this recipe for Baby Led Weaning Pancakes and they love them! They dump the ingredients in the bowl after I measure and then they mix it all up.
During the holidays I always have them bake with me. They love rolling out the sugar cookie dough and then decorating them.
Kids love bubbles. Sometimes it can get messy when they try to blow bubbles themselves. But, most of the time they are happy just chasing them around and watching them blow away.
My kids can’t get enough bubbles. We have to make sure to have it on hand all the time. I love this bubble solution, and you can buy it in bulk so you never run out.
7. Make paper airplanes.
Toddlers are always so amazed when you can make an airplane out of a sheet of paper. They will keep coming back to have you make another and another.
After making a fleet of them, race them all, see which ones can go the furthest.
8. Sidewalk Chalk.
My kids’ love, love, love sidewalk chalk. It keeps them busy for a long time. You can even add another activity to this and draw hopscotch.
My son just figured out how to jump and he is beyond excited about it. Now we are trying to work on balance and hopping by playing hopscotch. And BONUS, it helps them practice numbers too!
I love sidewalk chalk because it washes away so easily. A fresh canvas for the next day is a cinch, just give the driveway a quick rinse.
9. Go to the park.
Kids always love the park. They can run and climb and play until their heart’s content. Or at least until mommy says it’s time to go.
My kids love the swings, which means mommy gets a little arm workout pushing them “higher, higher, and higher!”
10. Check out your local library.
Libraries usually have a story time for young kids. Or you can just explore all the books. Ask your child about a topic they would like to learn about and then search for books on that topic.
11. Create a scavenger hunt.
I love to have my kids look for things around the house that are certain colors or that begin with a certain letter.
My oldest is starting to get the idea of using clues to find certain things which makes it more fun.
12. Have a dance party.
Turn on some music and get moving. Be silly and spin around. My kids always like me to pick them up and dance with them. Or we hold hands and dance in circles.
Have your kids plant something and then watch it grow. Or while you plant something, have them play in the dirt with a small shovel.
Teach them about how things grow and how to take care of a plant. This is also a great way to get them excited about vegetables.
This year my kids and I planted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. They can’t wait till it is time to water them. They ask to go water the plants every day. And they get so excited as they watch the tomatoes turn to red.
14. Play make believe.
This is one of the easiest activities you can do with a toddler. Because this can be anything you make of it. My kids love to pretend there is a dragon chasing them and they run all over until they are saved on mommy island.
They also love to have tea parties or birthday parties for their stuffed animals.
15. Fly kites.
Even if the kite doesn’t go very high, my kids love to fly kites. They try so hard to get it high in the air, running as fast as they can.
It mostly falls back down shortly after, but my kids are still so happy about it.
16. Have a beach day.
Live near a beach or a lake? Grab some buckets and shovels and go have some fun! Show them how to skip rocks or build some sandcastles.
My kids could dig in the sand all day long. My son especially loves knocking down anything my daughter builds.
17. Water play.
Fill up a kiddie pool, make some water balloons, run through the sprinkler, or anything else with water. If you have a water table fill it up and give them all sizes of little cups and spoons to play with.
18. Build a fort.
My kids right now are obsessed with forts. They will create a fort out of anything. Stack some things up and throw a blanket over it and they will play in there for hours.
Sometimes I move all the furniture and make a really sturdy fort. They love it! They end up wanting to eat all their meals there too.
19. “Paint” with water.
This is one of my toddlers’ favorite activities to do. Fill a large bowl with water, get them some paint brushes (just some cheap ones from the hardware store) and they can ‘paint’ the driveway, sidewalk, or fence.
It dries fast and then they want to ‘paint’ that area again. They stay busy for a long time doing this.
20. Play ‘Hide & Seek’.
My kids don’t grasp the full concept of this game, but they love it. Mostly I am counting and they are ‘hiding’ out in the open. Or if they are counting they peek the whole time while I am hiding.
Regardless, it is still a blast with them. They are always giggling like crazy when I come to ‘find’ them. Plus, they are practicing their counting, which is awesome.
21. Make shadow puppets.
Get a flashlight and then show them how your hands can make shadows on the wall. I’m not that great at it, but it still makes my kids laugh, so that’s a win.
22. Have a clean up party.
Are toys everywhere on the floor or in your kid’s room? Make it a game while they help clean up. I call our game the ‘clean up party.’ I just get them super excited about cleaning up and sing a song while we clean up.
Make it even more exciting by timing them. Ask them how fast they think they can get X, Y, Z into the toy bin.
23. Play ‘I Spy’
Whether you are outside on a walk, in the house during a rainy day, or in the car, it’s always fun to play ‘I Spy’. This is also a great way for them to practice their colors or shapes.
24. Do flashcards.
They don’t even need to be fancy flashcards. I will just write down letters, numbers, or shapes on pieces of paper and then ‘quiz’ them with it. My daughter couldn’t get enough the other day. She kept saying “Do another one Mommy!”
25. Read books.
Books, books, and more books. My kids love to try to read books and having books read to them. I love it when they recite what they have heard me read to them while pointing at things in the book.
26. Build something out of cardboard.
Have extra boxes laying around? I know I do! So make something with them. A rocket ship, a race car, or even a castle. You can incorporate this into your make-believe play.
27. Play a sport.
Play any sport. Kick a ball around. Throw a frisbee. My kids love just sitting in a circle and rolling the ball back and forth. Just get a ball and ask them what they want to do with it. If they happen to get bruised during outdoor play coconut oil is great for bumps and bruises.
28. Create ‘challenges’
This is kind of a made-up game my daughter learned from some kids in our neighborhood. They would do different tasks and then time themselves doing it.
Things like, ‘Skip to this tree, then hop 5 times, crab walk 10 steps, then run back to start.’ My kids aren’t quite as elaborate as that, but they still have fun with it.
Usually, my kids are just hopping 5 times, then doing a somersault or something. But, it keeps them busy and they love trying new things.