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Toddlers have an attention span of around 2 minutes per year of their age. At times, it can feel like we’ve exhausted all options to keep our toddlers busy. We’ve looked a bit deeper, and there are plenty of fun options worth a try.
Consider your child’s personality and decide if art, active, outdoor, or quiet activities are better suited for the day. Depending on your energy level and the weather, we’ve selected projects to do indoors and outdoors. Some require your participation, while others can be enjoyed by your little one independently.
If you’re stuck at home or wondering what to do on a rainy day, here are some excellent ideas:
Cooking is always a big hit with kids, and it can encourage your little one to try new foods. Some adults think only girls enjoy mixing ingredients, while in fact, most boys find it just as fun. Toddlers usually like activities that imitate what parents do, and cooking is certainly one of them.
Baking cookies or cakes are generally a good idea. You can even let them scrape the bowl as a reward. We’d recommend emphasizing healthy cooking; good habits start young.
Many kids have a lot more toys than they can play with. Some of them remain at the bottom of a closet and sometimes get forgotten. Look for these games, and give them a second life.
Whether card, intellectual, board, memory, or creative games, these can be played with two or more players and make for some quality family time. Most of them are also very educational.
If you’re looking for a more independent activity to give you some quiet time, grab a cardboard box. An old moving box would be perfect. The larger the carton, the better.
Position it with the open side facing upwards, and create a little house or fortress. Some parents even cut a door on one side to allow easy access and exit.
This alone should keep your little one occupied for some time. If he or she gets bored, provide colored pens or crayons and tell them that the cardboard house needs decorating.
White paper and washable paint are all you need for this activity. Keep in mind that your kiddos may need some light supervision to avoid disasters. This activity can also take place outdoors.
Tape sheets of white paper on the floor or on a table. Depending on your type of flooring, you may want to fix a plastic sheet underneath to avoid leaks. Let your child paint the palms of their hands, or even their feet, and they should know what to do next!
Give a Massage
Massages create a special bond between a parent and child. Some parents make it a routine before bedtime. You could also use a lotion or oil with a relaxing and soothing smell, such as lavender.
Start by asking permission and telling your child what you’re going to do. Don’t force it; if he or she starts whining, stop the session. At this age, kids love to move around, and you may need to be creative and change positions. They might even want to give you a massage!
Be very gentle and don’t underestimate the relaxing power of a simple hand massage. Warning: Your little one may become addicted to massages and could ask for one regularly.
Books aren’t only for bedtime; they can also make a fantastic daytime activity. Grab your child’s favorite book and sit comfortably with your toddler. Some stories can even be interactive, featuring pictures, sounds, or textures to activate all senses.
My kids love this activity; for once, I allow them to play with food! Take some Play-Doh and shape it into a bowl. Stick two uncooked spaghetti noodles, as vertically as possible.
Your child’s task will be to slide the Cheerios down the spaghetti without breaking it. It enhances fine motor skills and generates great fun when the Cheerios become too heavy for the noodle to handle.
This is a game to play either in the bathroom or outside. Although extremely simplistic, it can somehow keep kids engaged for hours.
Fill the sink or basin with water and pour foamy soap inside. The more bubbles, the more entertaining it gets.
Ask your child to bring their cars and other waterproof toys. Give them some brushes or sponges to clean the cars with. That’s all, you’ve created a fantastic playground for the day!
Do you have a few empty aluminum cans handy? Set them up in a pyramid shape and grab a small ball from your kid’s bedroom. It can be a foam ball, a bouncy one, or even the type used to play beach volleyball.
Your toddler should have a blast trying to bring all the cans down. Keep in mind, however, that you may be the one tasked with putting them back up after each strike.
When the rain keeps pouring but you still want to get your little one outside of the house, these can be great alternatives.
Attend a Kids’ Event
Most cities organize events specifically for kids. It can be a game exposition or a Lego exhibition—even museums set-up shows aimed at kids.
Some of these events might be educational. Regardless, it makes for a fantastic family day out and an event your child will likely remember.
To get your kiddo moving, head to your local swimming pool. Most of them have smaller pools dedicated to toddlers and young kids.
Go for a Walk
The first outdoor activity we’d recommend is to go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Depending on your location, it could be strolling through the forest, picking up pine cones.
Older kids like “playing grocery shopping” out in nature. Ask your little one to pick up items and hand over ‘money’ for their purchases. It’ll get their imagination going and give them a sense of independence and accomplishment.
If your child needs a reward incentive, you could go for a walk to a nearby playground, or fly a kite if space allows. You could even bring a bubble bottle. You probably won’t cover a long walking distance, but they’ll likely run after them.
This activity is more educational than it may seem. You could look for a farm where you can pick fruits and vegetables before buying them. This will teach your toddler what real and healthy food is and where it comes from.
Alternatively, go somewhere where you can feed the animals, your toddler will love it! Farms are magical places for little people and encourage lots of developmental skills.
You’ll find attraction parks designed for young kids. There are various kinds, and you can choose according to your child’s personality.
Some parks mainly contain kid-friendly rides, while others come with tree-houses and some climbing and crawling activities. Just plan to bring along water, snacks, and schedule a long nap when coming home.
DIY Balance Beam
Although it makes for a fun outdoor activity, you could also set-it-up inside your home if space allows. You’ll only need a few old beams you may have stored in your garage. Lay them down one after the other to form a path.
Instruct your child to walk on the beam, trying to reach the end without falling. Your toddler will work on balance while there is no risk of falling far. Plus, your child might want to modify the path’s shape and build his or her own.
Toddler activities can shape our little one’s mind and health. They’re critical in kids’ proper development.
Although it can sometimes seem challenging to keep our kiddos busy, many fun activities can be created and built on the fly. With toddlers, simple is quite often better.
If you have time to plan, schedule a day out. It could be educational or involve physical exercise and getting close to nature.