Toddlers are so fun! I love how Mae finds delight in the simplest things sometimes, and I love finding activities for her that are fun, educational, and keep her occupied for a long time so I am able to have a bit of uninterrupted time to clean the house, cook supper, or whatever else is on my to-do list at the moment.
My goal with activities for Mae are for them to be safe, entertaining, and educational, or somewhat educational…I mainly do not want her staring at a screen all the time. I am sure there will be times when we need to implement screen time, but I would love to avoid it as much as I can.
Last week I shared our morning routine, and these types of activities are usually what we’ll do next. I’ll either play alongside Mae or do some work nearby (she likes me to be near her all the time, and if I’m not close enough she’ll pat the space next to her and say, “floor! Floor!”)
Here are five ideas of easy toddler activities to fill your day.
All you need is a big towel or blanket, a bowl of dried beans, and an assortment of containers and utensils. I use a towel or blanket to make clean-up easier, so when we are done playing I can gather up the beans and pour them back into the bowl. Your toddler can use a spoon to scoop beans into a bowl, or cups to scoop and pour with. Mae also enjoys stirring the big bowl of beans and feeling them in her hands.
I try not to get out this activity every day so she doesn’t get burnt out, but so far this could keep her occupied for hours, I believe! I always put them up when she starts making a huge mess or tries to eat the beans, but she is never ready to put them away.
This is Mae’s favorite activity right now! I fill up the sink partly with water and give her various dishes and spoons to wash. She loves it when I leave a tiny trickle of water and she will fill up a spoon to pour into a cup, or filling up a bowl to pour into another one.
We have a learning tower that my father-in-law made for us and it is perfect for this activity! I just pull it up to the sink and Mae is at the perfect height. I lay a towel down under the learning tower to catch water spills, and it is always soaked.
This is a messy activity, but it is only water so it’s easy to clean up. Mae always needs a change of clothes afterwards because she is soaked, but again, she is never ready to stop.
Coloring and Stickers
I have to be slightly more hands-on with this one at the moment, but it is still a great activity for Mae while I am working at the counter and she can be in her learning tower, whether I’m preparing food, doing computer work, or writing/journaling/planning.
All you need is a notebook, crayons, and stickers. I have a cheap spiral-bound notebook for Mae, as I have found it stays in place better than loose paper, and it has several sheets of paper for many days.
Stickers require a little help from Mama when they don’t come easily off the page, but Mae is getting to where she is able to take them off herself sometimes. She loves to stick them on the paper and on herself, then take them off and stick them again. Whenever we are done with this activity there are stickers all over the paper, as well as Mae, the counter, and her learning tower!
I have recently discovered that puffy stickers are perfect for Mae. She can take them off the paper by herself, and when she does stick them on things other than paper, they are very easy to remove.
Bonus Tip: these works of art are great for making cards for others! Cut a shape out of the middle of your child’s scribbles (like a heart) and glue it to a card and write a note. It is a fun and meaningful way to save and share your child’s artwork!
Baby Doll Bed
I got this idea from a book Mama recently lent me called The Busy Book for Toddlers. It has 365 ideas for toddler activities and I have only barely, barely scratched the surface of these ideas!
To make a baby doll bed all you need is a cardboard box or basket, a couple small blankets, and a baby doll. I had a plastic basket that wasn’t being used and I folded a small quilt in the bottom. For her baby’s cover I just gave Mae a cloth napkin and it was the perfect size.
Mae loved this bed even more than I expected. It entertained her for a good stretch of time, as she took the baby in and out, covered her up, sang to her, and read books to her. Sam said he watched her face as I got the bed ready and she was so filled with excitement.
This is a very simple activity with easy preparation and clean up, but with hours of fun.
We gave Mae a play kitchen for Christmas (best yard sale find ever!) but you do not have to have a play kitchen or play food to have fun. Right now Mae doesn’t care much for the pretend food, but the dishes are the best. She loves to stir “oatmeal” in bowls and pour cups of “coffee.”
She will cook in her little kitchen and bring me cups and bowls filled with goodies (coffee and oatmeal are her favorite). She asks her baby dolls what they want, then quickly fix them whatever food or drink they need.
If you don’t have a play kitchen, your toddler can still make pretend food in whatever dishes and utensils you have for them to play. I modeled “making” some food to Mae the first time, and she has taken off since then!
I started making a list of activities Mae and I like to do, and several of them were outdoor activities. So I will write a part two of this list with outdoor activities soon!
What ideas do you have to add to the list?