Here are few activities that are favorites of my toddler. I got the ideas for these activities over the Internet, from my friends and children’s museum. I hope you will find them useful.
Materials Needed: Stickers, 10 sheets of Paper and Crayons
On each sheet of paper write a number 1-10. Ask your toddler to stick 1 sticker on the paper with digit 1 and 2 stickers on paper with digit 2 and so on. We started this when my son was 2 and now by the age of 3, he has reached to the number 33.
- Reading Books
This is one of the favorite activities. There is a glitter in my son’s eyes as soon as I suggest that I will read to him. We get lot of books from the library.
- Household Chores
I let my son help me with following household chores:
putting clothes in washing machine,
taking out clothes from dryer,
transferring cutlery from dishwasher to the cutlery drawer,
arranging table mats and cutlery for everyone on the table before meals,
cooking where fire is not involved such as salads, cake batter and so on,
raking leaves in the fall.
- Lacing Plastic lids
Materials Needed: Plastic lids (lids of plastic boxes such as yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, raisins and so on); Shoe lace
Make a hole in the center of each lid. Tie a knot(s) on one end of the shoe lace securing that end of the shoe lace. Then show your toddler how to insert the free end of the shoe lace in the hole of the plastic lid. I was surprised to see how much my toddler loves this activity. He was introduced to this activity when he was 1 year old and it’s still one of his favorite thing to do.
When he could lace all the plastic lids himself, I had him paint all the lids. Then I wrote one alphabet on each lid. Now he is two and a half years old and his job is to lace the lids in correct alphabetical order. He is still enjoying it. I plan to do the same with numbers. So, I am trying to collect more lids now.
- Large cardboard box, bubble wrap, old magazines
My son has a lot of fun with these especially when he bursts the bubbles of the bubble wrap accidentally.
- Tupperware, pretend food, spoons, plastic cups, whip
I have a cabinet in my kitchen where I keep all these and my son knows that he can play with these. It’s so amusing to watch him cook. I bought a whip, measuring spoon and some cooking utensils for him from dollar tree.
- Paper towel roll
I save the empty cardboard of the paper towel roll. My son uses it as a microphone, telescope and just loves to walk around with his hands inside the roll.
When my son turned 3, we put some beans in the paper towel roll. Covered the ends with parchment paper and duct tape. Then he painted a construction paper with finger paints, glued some sand and glitter. Then he cut it in strips and glued them on paper towel roll. Then I covered the paper towel roll with cling wrap. Hence, we just made our own musical instrument.
- Nails and Hammer
Materials Needed: Styrofoam, plastic/wooden golf tee, plastic/wooden hammer, burlap cloth
Wrap the Styrofoam with the burlap cloth so that you wouldn’t have to clean the Styrofoam pieces in the house. Golf tee works as nails. Then show your toddler how to hammer tee in the Styrofoam. You can also show him/her how to take them out using hammer. My son loves to take out the tee using hammer.
- Dressing up
I have a laundry hamper with my gloves, scarf, hat, cap, plastic watch, whistle, plastic sun glasses, shoes and so on. My son loves to take them out and try to wear them on his own. Also, when we read books where they have photos of any of these items, I take them out and show it to him. Then he can compare the real item with the photos in the book.
- Broom, a spray bottle filled with water and a rag
My son can be kept busy with these for at least an hour.
- Music and Dance
We love to put on a music CD or the children’s songs on YouTube and dance.
My son loves to scribble on the driveway with chalk.
- Rocks and Cups
I got a small bag of rocks and few cups/bowls. My son enjoys making mess with these. It’s a chore to clean up but the fun is worth it. If your toddler doesn’t put stuff in mouth, you can use beans of different colors and sizes instead of rocks. You can show him/her how to separate beans based on color, shape or size. I had tried using baked trail mix at first. My son ended up eating it all.
I let my son pair items such as socks, sippy cups and their caps. It’s fascinating to see how he can match colors and patterns. As he grew older, I printed a few pictures from Google Images such as socks and shoes, pant and shirt, pencil and paper, table and chair, carseat and car, trash can and trash truck, so on. I taped these to the index cards. So, he can pair the cards.
- Hide and seek
- Pipe Cleaners / Chenille Stems
- Nursery Rhymes
- Balls and basket
You can take a cardboard box or plastic box that works as a basket and show your toddler to throw all the balls into the basket.
- Cookie Dough
I buy oatmeal and raisin cookie dough and I take out enough for just 1-2 cookies whenever I want to bake cookies with my son. We make letter (A-Z) shaped cookies, number (1-10) shaped cookies and different shape (such as square, triangle, round, diamond) cookies.
- Flower Arrangement
I bought 3 bunches of different types of plastic flowers and a green foam from Dollar Tree. Even though I couldn’t imagine it but my son loves to arrange flowers in the green foam and I am very impressed with his aesthetic skills.
When my son was old enough, I bought safety scissors and let him cut small portions of newspaper. I watch him like a hawk during this activity.
I cut interesting pictures from magazines and help my toddler to glue them on the paper. Initially, I will put the glue and he will stick. Gradually, he can do it himself.
- Playing cards
My toddler loves playing cards and it’s a great way to teach number recognition. I shuffle and then distribute the cards between us. Then I put one card facing up and then he puts one on top of it and so on. Whoever puts the matching number or alphabet on the stack of the cards, wins it.
- Treasure Bottle
I got an empty water bottle and filled it with different things such as a small key, a very small lock, paper clips, googly eyes, pom pom, and so on. Then I put some rice in the bottle and sealed the cap. Now, my son has to find stuff in the bottle and tell me what he sees.