Sep 4, 2014

Activities for toddlers

This is one of the stages that I looked forward to so much before becoming a mom  - dreaming about being creative together and discovering the fun of paints and paper and glue.

My oldest is now 21 months and I want to make the most of these toddler and preschool years that are so short, to say yes to reading book after book and getting out the markers and paints and playing together.

Thinking about art projects or fun activities is something that excites me but at the same time I'm realizing that it takes intentionality, because it's often easier to just let our little people entertain themselves, isn't it? Especially when there are many other things we would like to get done. While I believe in the importance of independent play, I know I'm often guilty of being too distracted or focused on my own to-do's. There are lots of cuddles and love and needs being met over the course of a day, but not always focused time to do things together, or to facilitate trying new things.

One of my goals as we move into fall is to work on establishing a loose routine for our days, and part of this routine is to incorporate a fun or creative activity into most afternoons after naps are over. I think planning and then expecting this as a normal thing in our day will make it more likely to happen, but we'll see how it goes!

I placed an interlibrary loan request for The Toddler's Busybook but have also been perusing the internet for easy activity ideas, and there are a ton! Here are just a couple that we've tried in the last few days - I had fun playing along with him but these are also great things to set out when you need some space to prepare dinner or make a phone call.

Play-dough and wooden beads.  Both from the dollar store (My boy is great with not putting things into his mouth but if you're concerned you can supervise). Because I was feeling ambitious we worked on counting out beads and saying colors as we played - over his head but something to work towards. He surprised me with knowing where to push down the beads to make eyes and a nose on a face. Rolling play-dough balls and then squishing them to the table with your nose is optional. This activity entertained him for about forty-five minutes and then he announced "aaaall done". Plus I had fun and we laughed a lot together - success!

I hope this doesn't cause nightmares.

Pipe cleaners and containers with holes. Again, both from the dollar store. I guess the idea behind this is to encourage concentration and fine motor skills. The bright colors and bendy pipe cleaners make it fun. I plan on pulling this out once a week (or maybe more) to keep it interesting as it's a super simple thing to keep your toddler from wrapping himself around your leg or whining when you're trying to cook.

It's the inexpensive things they seem to like best, isn't it? I love this because it's easy to get into a rut and expect your toddler do the same old things every day but just a couple dollars or even free materials found around the house can change that!

I'm looking forward to collecting some other ideas for shared creative or independent play activities, if you have any please let me know!


  1. Fun fun! I love this stage and you girls are so blessed to have ideas at your fingertips what with Google and Pinterest, etc. I had to drag home tons of books from the library when you were little and comb them for good ideas. That usually meant a second trip into town to pick up the needed items and then another trip to the library to return the books a week or two later. Joshua seems very concentrated in what he is doing.

  2. I have that book! I'll have to put it to use one of these days, ha ha! I like the play-dough idea as David hasn't really been interested in it before, but maybe pressing objects INTO it would appeal. I found myself drooling over the discount stores in the U.S. where it was so easy to find things like a set of spare buttons. But it's fun to make do with what we have...I can always poke holes in a box myself, right? :) Good for you for taking a few extra minutes for your child!