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20 Simple Activities for Toddlers

These Simple Toddler Activities will keep your kids busy for hours! Great for learning, sensory and development! These are so fun, the older kids might want to join in too!


collage photo with photos of different activities.


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They're not babies anymore! 

When your toddlers aren't eating or sleeping, they are moving, grabbing, licking machines. And with recently increased mobility, there is a whole new world of things to learn, snatch and taste. We find ourselves struggling to get anything done because we are busy trying to prevent 'owies' and 'boo boos'. 

So how do we survive during the time they are awake? 

Water, cups and a large bin to start. These tools will not just keep them entertained, they will support our adventurous explorers as they work to reach their milestones of development. 

Remember, nothing here is black and white. Just as each child is different, these activities can be made differently to fit them.


pastel colored craft pom poms.


1. Pom Pom drop:

Three things: toilet paper or paper towel tubes, tape (painters tape if you like your walls) and pom-poms. Click here to see Pom Pom Drop instructions. 


red, white and blue buttons in a container.


2. Shake it up!

Using an empty plastic bottle (a 2 liter works best in my opinion), fill the bottle with pom-poms, pipe cleaners cut into pieces, even buttons. I wouldn't suggest anything that rolls. These little grabbers will have a blast shaking things up to try to get them out. If you have a wand magnet, you can use that to move the pipe cleaner pieces up and down inside the bottle. Make sure the cap is screwed on tightly, so the items inside the bottle don't become a choking hazard.

*Hand strengthening

*Developing problem solving skills

 

3. Tape rescue.

Painters tape and their smaller sized toys. Tape them down or to a wall and let those tiny fingers get to work!

 

4. Oatmeal can card drop.

A deck of cards and an empty oatmeal can (or a box). Cut a slit in the box, model putting the cards in the opening, and watch as your toddler begins to show signs of comprehension.

This comes with many variations that have matching milestone.

*Developing fine motor skills

*Enhances the ability to use both hands

 

5. Color sorting while putting balls in a box or boxes. This works great with boxes or buckets inside of a ball pit with balls for sorting.

With larger materials, the milestones are more cognitive and less physical.


a child's hand putting pipe cleaners in a pasta strainer hole.


6. Pipe cleaners in a strainer.

With smaller material the milestones are more physical. By adding challenges like color sorting or counting, this activity can enhance cognitive skills as well.

*Developing fine motor skills

*Enhances the ability to use both hands

 

7. Box of tissues.

I wouldn't suggest handing a toddler a box of tissues. But an empty tissue box that has been filled with old scarfs, towels, or handkerchiefs, or a mix of materials, that could be fun.

 

8. Hunting season!

What child doesn't love a good scavenger hunt or treasure hunt? You can find colors or shapes, match letters, even pictures of objects. This activity is so versatile, multiple developmental skills can be practiced regardless of the level of your little one.

*Developing fine motor skills

*Begin following 2-step assignments

*Enhanced cognitive skills like sorting and matching

 

9. Ribbon pulls.

Smaller material helps build a stronger pincer grasp. The texture of the material is great for sensory building. Click for DIY Tugging Box instructions.

 

10. Paint with water.

Water is magical. Your little artist can paint a masterpiece on the concrete, construction paper, or even the inside of a box. Once it dries, they can do it all over again! Don't have any paint brushes? No problem! This activity can be done with almost anything. Sponges, small cloths, even their hands will work for this.

*Developing fine motor skills

*Enhances cognitive skills like cause and affect

 

11. Bathtub painting.

With watercolors, not only is it fun to create, many have fun cleaning up as well. Click to learn How to Make Bathtub Paint for Kids.


a pile of popsicle sticks on a white background.


12. Popsicle sticks, solo cups, and imagination.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to a little one's imagination. Build towers, and bridges. Sing into a cup.

*Enhances multiple cognitive skills

 

13. Ball rescue.

This hand strengthening activity works great with rope, string, or ribbons. Just be careful with rubber bands. See video here


a graphic that says library with an image of a book.


14. Family/parent resource center in the local library.

Don't forget, the library is full of activities, ideas, and resources. Many libraries already have the supplies put together and are free to check out.


a white bowl with blueberry cheerios in it.


15. Cereal sensory bin.

You can play with whole pieces, or mash them into sand. Either way, its fun and edible.


a child's hand playing with snow in a green plastic tub.


16. Snow sensory bin real or fake.

For some, it's as easy as stepping outside and filling a large tub or tray with snow. For others it may take a few ingredients. But once you have it, it can be molded, painted, dug in, or sorted. The developmental skills practiced depend on how you plan to use the bin. Click here for instructions to make Fake Snow.

*Developing fine motor skills

*stimulates sensory development


a child's hand playing with bubbles in a water table.


 17. Water and soap sensory bin.

It's never too late to start cleaning. With a toothbrush or small towel, it can be fun for hours! Click to see Bubble Water Table ideas.

 

18. Cool whip or pudding sensory play.

This can be a bit messy. Be sure the use tools like measuring cups and paint brushes along with descriptions of this as playtime to avoid any confusion and thoughts that all food is for sensory play. You can also add some food coloring to the cool whip or pudding for painting.

*Cognitive development skills such as differentiating

*stimulates sensory development


cooked spaghetti in silicone cupcake liners.


 19. Noodles and pasta

Pasta can be used in so many ways. Sorting, counting or threading. Play with uncooked or even cooked pasta for fun sensory play. Click here for a Pasta Sensory Play idea.


sensory bag with red gel and glitter.


 20. Sensory play in a bag.

Just like sensory bins, the sensory bag variations are endless. The bags can be filled with paint, food, even small objects in water or oils. Unlike sensory bins, these bags are cleaner and portable. Click here for a sensory bag idea!

*Developing fine motor skills

*stimulates sensory development



snow in a plastic tub with a title text overlay.


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