I'm always searching for new activities to try with my daughter. Often, the "toddler" activities I find on the internet are actually meant for older toddlers and preschoolers. This list has been tested and approved by my toddler daughter for younger toddlers. (Which isn't to say that older children couldn't enjoy them as well!) Here are a few of her favorite activities that are very simple and make use of things you may already have in your house, so they are cheap or free. No fancy toys required!
Shaving cream and food coloring as bathroom paint:
Not only does this help your child work on motor skills, but this also allows him/her to be creative. You can also teach your child how to mix primary colors (red, blue, yellow) to make the secondary colors (purple, orange, green).
Directions: Just mix some food coloring into shaving cream. You can use a few drops to make a lighter color, or add 5 or 6 drops to make a bolder color, like I did. I used an old muffin tin as my "palette" and added some water color brushes.
Sponge Shapes = Bathtime Fun and Learning!
I came up with the idea for this when I saw floating foam alphabet letters for the bathtub. I was searching for a fun way to teach my daughter about shapes, and decided to make my own bath toys out of kitchen sponges. My goals initial goals were to help her with name and recognize shapes, but she also has fun sticking them to the wall. These sponge shapes can also be helpful if you are playing a game of "Does it sink?"
Directions: You can really make these anyway you want, but here's what I did: I used colorful kitchen sponges (the kind that don't have a scrubbing surface on one side). I drew the outline of the shapes onto the sponges with a washable marker, and then cut the shapes out with a pair of scissors. Super easy.
Cut up fabric to make "tissues" for empty wipes container
- Select your material. I find that something with a bit of texture works best (an old flannel sheet or some felt scraps). If you use a smooth fabric, the pieces won't stick together very well when your child tries to pull them out of the wipes container.
- Use a baby wipe as a template, and cut your fabric squares to the same size as the baby wipe.
- Fold the fabric tissues the same way that regular tissues are folded in a box. Pull the top one out, and let your little one go nuts!
Pipe cleaner fun!
Toddlers enjoy pulling the pipe cleaners out of a colander. You can also help them make bracelets and ankle bracelets. The pipe cleaners also provide a great opportunity to talk about colors and practice counting. Just make sure you supervise closely so that your kiddo doesn't poke him or herself.
Froggie pompom drop
- large, clean empty bottle
- tape (I used masking tape because that's what I had on hand, but I think red electrical tape would look even better!)
My daughter loves pompoms! One day, she was dropping pompoms into a water bottle, but had a hard time getting them back out. So, I decided to take an empty 2L bottle and cut a hole in it for her to get them back out. I then put masking tape around the edges so she wouldn't cut her hand on the edges. I decided the hole looked like a mouth. Since the bottle was green, I decided to turn it into a frog face! But, you could do any animal you want.
This activity helps develop fine motor skills. You could also use it to teach colors and counting.
Pompom scoop and transfer
I've been reading up recently on the Montessori education method and it's focus on teaching independence and practical skills to young children. This is a fun way to help your toddler develop motor skills and work with kitchen equipment. I used two bowls, a large spoon, and craft pom-poms, but if you don't have pompoms you could also use beans, cotton balls, or anything else that you have handy!
We count all the time. Here are some of our favorite counting activities:
Swing Counting at the Playground One of my daughter's favorite games is to count when I'm pushing her on the swings at the park. I count 1-2-3-4 with small pushes, and then give her a really big push on 5. She has started counting with me and gets really excited when she knows the big push is coming on 5.
Counting Songs are a great way to practice counting. My daughter's current favorite is "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Click here to visit the "Songs for Teaching" website for more songs and finger plays that teach counting.
Counting in your Environment Count whatever you see! Cars in the parking lot, birds on a branch, legs on a dog.
Empty and refill the dishwasher and other chores:
My daughter loves to copy what I'm doing. One of her favorite things to do is take objects in and out of the dishwasher. She also likes to "help" me dust, sweep, and do the laundry.
click here for a link to a list of pre-literacy activities
Start a Conversation!
What are your toddlers favorite activities? Share in the comments below!