41 Activities for your toddler

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By Tiffany Sweeney and Melody Aanderud

  1. Play the Shopping Bag Game: put objects in a bag and have your child take one out. Have them explain it (color, shape, texture, etc.) or tell a story about it. Great for learning to take turns as well!
  2. Shopping List: This is one that I'm in the middle of working on for Cooper since he won't be riding in the cart on grocery trips soon! Make a picture grocery list of things you need to buy and have your child be in charge of those products (milk, cheese, special snacks, bread, etc.).
  3. Opposites: Say a word or find pictures of opposites and have your child find the opposite. Examples include up/ down, hot/cold, short/tall, etc. Go Dog Go by Dr. Suess would also accompany this really well!!
  4. Cutting: For the older kids! Have them practice their cutting skills with age appropriate scissors. Can be a part of another activity (i.e., sun catchers) or by itself.
  5. Textured Collages: Find different objects, such as wallpaper, fabrics, pictures from magazines, photos, etc. and glue them onto a piece of cardboard or heavy paper. You can then frame it and hang it in his/her bedroom!
  6. Sewing Cards: You can use old greeting cards or cut a picture from a magazine and glue it to a piece of cardboard. Punch holes around the picture, put tape around the ends of yarn, and "sew."
  7. Finger painting (with paint or with pudding so it is okay if they eat it!)
  8. Watercolors
  9. Marble Painting: Line a small tray (needs edges) with paper. Dip a marble in finger paint and put it in the tray. Have your child move the tray around causing the marble to move and create a masterpiece.
  10. Red Light, Green Light
  11. Food Coloring: Mix basic colors with water and give your child paper towels or paper to drop the colors on. Have them try to mix the colors and see what happens.
  12. Follow the Leader: use motions and sounds, pretend to be different animals, shapes, etc.
  13. Hide and Seek
  14. Make Playdough (Ruth posted some great recipes that are non-toxic at one point in time) -- also use spoons, forks, plastic knives, rolling pins, etc. to create different shapes and textures within it.
  15. Obstacle Course: make sure it includes around, under, over, and through!
  16. Have a Dance Party!!!!!!
  17. Put on a concert and make some music . . . you can make microphones out of tissue paper and toilet paper rolls, drums out of pots and pans or old coffee cans, you can buy recorders for less than a $1, etc.
  18. Make Placemats: create art and laminate (you can even use contact paper for laminating).
  19. Simon Says
  20. Make Suncatchers using tissue paper and contact paper. Cut or tear different pieces of tissue paper and place on a piece of contact paper. Seal with a second piece and cut to your desired shape. String up with yarn.
  21. Alphabet Search: use old magazines, photos, pictures, etc. to find different objects that start with the different letters of the alphabet (or you can even do different colors, objects, animals, etc.). You can create a book out of these that your child will love to return to over and over and over again!
  22. Create Personalized Books
  23. Scavenger hunts (nothing too difficult . . . we looked for things that were tall, green, silly, etc
  24. Make a book of our adventures and enjoy looking at it over and over again! I even wrote little stories to go along with each adventure -- kind of like a mini memory book!
  25. Stickers
  26. Marker board
  27. Play with a big pile of dried beans- lots of bowls, spoons etc.
  28. Stick the toddler in the sink while you cook. "My son loves to turn on and off the water, play with the turkey baster and other kitchen utinsels, etc."
  29. Cook together- let them pour the stuff in and stir.
  30. Peanut butter play dough-fun and yummy (google the recipe)
  31. Make a picture or banner or something for Daddy and put it under his pillow
  32. Make homemade thank you notes. Let the kids put on the stamps and take them to the mailbox.
  33. Glue cotton balls on things
  34. Make paper bag people/ puppets
  35. Make a moon buggy or space ship out of paper towel tubes and other trash
  36. Make a snake you can play with- anything will work
  37. Play with noodles- glue them on to something
  38. Make a rattle or noisemaker - noodles, beans, paper towel tubes
  39. Research something on the internet. "We love Google Video. My son learned about fencing yesterday. We looked up musical instruments once and listened to what they sound like. We like to look up animals to."
  40. Google earth is a great way to teach kids about our planet.
  41. Make felt animals and put them on tongue depressors to play with.

  42. Return to April 2008 list of articles