Parenting Tips

10 Toddler Activities to Use in Your Home and Classroom

Before I had my girls, life with a toddler was much easier to handle. We would go on walks everyday, play outside, toss the bouncy ball back and forth, and so on. Not to say there weren’t moments where taking care of one kid was difficult because it was.

Now that my girls have been home from the hospital for 2 and a half months, Iv’e had to get creative with activities for my son. He is quite the independent little boy and always on-the-go. Keeping him focused on one thing is quite a daunting task. Toddlers don’t have the attention spans that older kids do which makes everyday a challenge.

I feel more confident now that I have established routines for all of my kids and believe me that has kept me sane through all this! So I want to share some fun activities that I have used with my son to help with development and engagement throughout his day.

#1: Playdoh

Allowing a child to use their creative mind is probably one of the most important things you can do to  help your child grow. They need to be allowed to figure out certain things on their own and create their own things. Also, a great fine motor skill activity as well

Playdoh is a great activity for toddlers! Of course, adult-supervision is advised. I will be honest, I do NOT use regular playdoh in my house because my son likes to put everything in his mouth. I make my own edible playdoh and it lasts so much longer than regular playdoh. Here’s the recipe I use:

Kool-Aid Playdoh

  • 1cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 package of Kool-Aid (any flavor)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large pot. Mix water and oil in separate bowl. Add liquid to the pot and stir over medium heat until it turns into dough consistency. Take off heat and knead the dough out on a cutting board until it is cool enough to play with. ( The mixture will be quite hot so you can use gloves to handle but it cools really quickly.)

*I made the batch I am using now back in June and it still is fresh! Recipe by Frog Street Learning

#2: Coloring

All you need is a piece of construction paper and some crayons! If you are in a classroom you will need to follow whatever age standards for the kiddos you teach.

My son loves to color and this activity helps with his creative mind and fine motor skills. Help them learn how to hold the crayon in their hand. Teach them how to draw a line. The possibilities are endless! Let your kid be creative!

#3: Stacking Cups

Another cheap activity that will keep your child occupied for a little bit. You can use plastic cups (sturdy), paper cups, or whatever you have in your pantry.

My son has his own little table and chairs so I usually set them out for him and stack them first to show him. It is a great activity to help with hand and eye coordination!

#4 Ball Pitcher Transfer

I have two plastic pitchers that I use for this. You could use two big mixing bowls too!

I fill up one of the pitchers with a handful of his plastic balls from his ball pit and place the other pitcher next to it. I pick up one of the balls and drop it into the empty pitcher. This is another great hand eye coordination activity. This also could be considered a sorting activity which aids in their cognitive development and hand/eye coordination.

You could use different shapes as well to introduce shapes to them!

#5 Card Sorting

Search for those old and used gift cards and playing cards lying around the house and put them to good use!

My son loves this activity! I bring a stack of the cards to his table and start by placing them on the table one-by-one. Then I show him how to pick them up one-by-one.

Maybe show them how to put them in a line across or up/down! Maybe use cards that have multiple same colors and help them sort them into different color groups. This activity is great for cognitive development as well fine motor skills.

#6 Milk Jug Drop/Toss

Save those empty milk jugs and let your toddler have fun with them!

Obviously, rinse them out first so they don’t have all the gross milk crust on the inside. Then I cut a circle out of the side big enough for my son to reach in and grab objects. You can put whatever kid-safe item you want in there.

For the Drop activity, you can use a smaller object, such as a straw, rolled up piece of paper, small toys, etc. Then you will show them how to drop the object through the opening of the jug. This is another great activity to build those fine motor skills!

For the Toss activity, you can do this activity inside or outside doesn’t matter. You just need a good chunk of room to toss the milk jug far! Show your toddler how to toss the jug by bringing it over their head. This is a great gross motor skill activity! Working those bigger muscles and kids love throwing things!

#7: Paint with Water

If you’re someone like me who isn’t brave enough to use paint with your toddler yet, use water!

Pull some construction paper out and put it on the table with a bowl or cup of water. (Expect water to be splashed everywhere if your child loves water.) Another great fine motor skills activity and they use their creative mind!

#8: Sensory Tables

This requires a little more supervision depending on what you put in them. All you need is some kind of empty clear bin. Here’s a list of things you can use:

  • Water, soap and some toys
  • Whipped cream (don’t have to worry about them eating it)
  • Jello and fish ( sweedish fish is a great one!)
  • Snow (during those cold winter months)
  • Crushed graham crackers and toy cars
  • Uncooked rice or dry beans

There is no right or wrong thing to put in sensory tables. It’s just a great activity for toddlers to explore different textures. Fine motor skills and cognitive development come into play here.

#9: Make a Fun Dessert

Cupcakes, cake, maybe some Pumpkin Bread being that’s October! The sky is the limit! Have your toddler help you with certain steps during the prep process.

Stirring the mixture would be a great fine motor skill. Maybe have them pour in one of the measured ingredients which is a great hand eye coordination activity. Then eat your tasty treat together! (This activity will take a bit more planning and time management if you have other children.)

#10: READ

I have been told by many moms that this is a crucial activity you should incorporate into your day with your child. Reading a book to them can help them with their language development quite significantly.

If your child doesn’t attend daycare, then you know its very important to read to your toddler to help them build their vocabulary. Language development is really important during the toddler years.

Find some interactive books to hold their focus a little longer. My son isn’t one to sit and listen to a book. He would rather have something interactive. I have touch and feel books I use, books with pop-out objects, music, and anything that he can touch. Sensory books are great to get your child involved with reading.

All these activities are just a few examples of what I use in my own home that you can use too! They all focus on a specific area in their development which is very important during this stage.

If you have any activities that have worked well with your kids, please share with us!! I’d love to hear from other moms!

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