60 Fun Things To Do With Toddlers
Are you searching for fun and exciting ideas (other than gadgets) to engage with your toddler? You are about to unlock a basketful of them. Read on…
By Team ParentCircle
Age group: 1 to 3
Toddlers love to explore every part of their 'little' big world, be it under the carpet or the highest cupboard in the room! In a bid to keep your little munchkin out of trouble, you readily hand over your phones or tablets into their eager little hands, or turn on the television for some 'quiet' time. We get that! But before it becomes a typical scene like in most households, it's never too late to pause and start over. The time is now. Get down on the floor, play, engage and laugh with him. To help you with this, we offer you 60 exciting activities that your little family can indulge in for some pure unadulterated family fun!
All you need to do is — pick from these 60 super fun ideas and make the most of the 60 gadget-free minutes of family time! Watch an hour fly by as you create memories of a lifetime!
1. Mirror act: Did your baby learn a new trick, like how to wiggle her tongue or say “dudu”? Imitate her. In fact, mimic whatever she does and watch her giggle with glee. She will not tire of this any time soon.
2. For me and you: Get around 10 to 20 small lightweight balls. Make a divider with a sheet. Sit on one side of the divider and have your little one sit on the other side. Put one ball on your side and then the next one on his. As you do, say, “one for me” and “one for you”. Get him to do the same and lead the way. Make a funny sound each time a ball plops on either side!
3. Rainbow bottles: Put strips of satin ribbons of different colours into a transparent bottle. You add one ribbon and let your baby add the next. Rainbow bottle ready! But, don’t be surprised if you toddler enjoys pulling those ribbons out more than putting them back in.
4. Bubble trouble: Blow bubbles from your balcony jointly with your toddler. Name each bubble and see how it turns into thin air. As each one vanishes or pops, exclaim together “there goes spooky” or “there goes tintin”.
5. Goofy faces: How about a contest? Who can make the goofiest facial expressions? Try to twist your faces as weirdly as you possibly can. This game is sure to leave both baby and you in splits.
6. Sink or float: Collect a few toys and household items. Drop the items into a bucket of water, one by one, to see which one sinks and which one floats. Use objects of different sizes and weights, so your toddler can understand the difference between the two. Shout out “sink’ and ‘float” when it happens!
7. Where is ‘baby’? Within safe boundaries, ask your baby to hide. Even if you can spot her, pretend you can’t see her, and take some time to find her. As you search, keep reciting ‘where is baby?”, ‘where is baby?’ and when you find her exclaim, ‘there you are!”
8. Stepping stones: Line up a row of cushions, mats and pillows and ask your toddler to step on these ‘stones’ one by one to cross an imaginary stream. Cheer, clap and encourage her as she takes each step. Nothing short of a giant leap for her!
9. Ball catcher: Play ‘catch’ but with a twist. Throw a sponge ball to each other. Catch the ball with anything but your hands. It could be a bowl, a bag, a cardboard box – use any of these to catch the ball. Let’s go!
10. Listen and tell: Ask your child to close his eyes. Make different sounds with items around the house – crumple a piece of paper or squeeze his favourite squeaky toy. Your baby must guess what the secret item is!
11. Tunnel crawl: Line up few chairs. Drop a blanket over them. Ask your child to crawl through the tunnel made of blanket-covered chairs. And you can crawl right next to him on the outside. You could time it and make it a sport! Take caution with sharp edges or chair falling.
12. Magnetic power: Take a colourful fridge magnet and let your child try sticking it on different surfaces. It will be fun to see his excitement each time the magnet sticks on a metal object. You can join in the fun!
13. Guess what: Ask your child to close her eyes. Then, place an object right in front of her. Allow her to touch and feel the object. Ask her to try and guess what it is. If she guesses it correctly, do a little jig with her.
14. Rainbow ice cubes: How about some rainbow cubes? Make coloured water by mixing some food colouring. Blue, red and green water (or as many colours as you please). Let your child pour this into an ice tray and put it in the fridge. Once the colourful ice cubes are ready, you can touch, feel and run it around on each other. Watch it melt too!
15. Sticky fun: Put a sticky tape across the doorway. Make little balls with colour paper or cotton. Aim and throw the balls on to the tape and try to make it stick. For each ball that sticks, shout out a ‘hip, hip, hurray’!
16. Bowl over: Set up a few items such as old plastic bottles or paper towel tubes as bowling pins to knock down. Grab a soft ball. Take turns with your kiddo and have some fun indoor bowling!
17. Pots n’ pans: Make some ‘musical’ merry as you and your child bang on some empty pots and pans with wooden spoons! Children love making noise – join in and make it louder! So, what if your neighbour is unhappy!
18. Coin trick: Take three cups, hide a coin under an upside-down cup and shuffle the cups a few times. Now ask your toddler to guess which cup holds the coin. Do it slowly and do it fast – just to liven up the game! Just imagine the reaction on your child’s face when he guesses it right.
19. Picture this: Toddlers love bright and colourful pictures. Nothing new there! So, try picture books, flash cards and charts to show and tell. Point to a picture and get your toddler to guess. A high five for every correct answer!
20. Touch and feel box: In a box, put different knick knacks with varied sensory feel (like soft, rough, sticky or bumpy) – a little soft toy, strips of cloth in different textures, a hard ball, a shoelace and a crayon. Through a small circular opening in the box, let your child put her hand inside and touch and feel the different objects. She should try and guess what it is. Each time she is right, shout out a “yay”!
21. Sort it out: Give your toddler a jumbled mix of safe toys and household items in four different colours. Ask him to sort and categorise these items by colour – red, blue, yellow and green. Voice out each colour as he sorts them!
22. Toy town: Children love their toys. Just get down on the floor and let them lead the play. Follow their cue and interact with them. Do what they tell you to do!
23. Read-a-lot: Toddlers enjoy repetition, rhyming words and bright, colourful pictures. And any book that tickles their funny bone is sure to become their enduring favourite. Narrate in the voice of the characters or point to a picture and ask what’s happening. Engage and interact!
24. Walk the line: Draw a line on the floor in different ways (zig zag, curvy or straight) and have your toddler walk along it. A fun balancing game! Can they do it forward? How about walking backward? Join in the fun!
25. Beany bowl: Give your child a mixed bowl of seeds, beans, lentils and grains and let him scoop them with a spoon and transfer to another bowl. Let his hands touch the beans as it falls into the container. Be watchful to make sure your toddler doesn’t put anything in his mouth, nose or ear!
26. Doctor doctor: Hospitals and doctors can be scary for children. Make it fun by playing ‘doctor doctor’ with them. You can be the doctor and your child can be the patient. Switch roles. Ask the right questions, check her temperature and heartbeat! Pretend, enact and play.
27. Chalk talk: Allow your child to scribble on the sidewalk or wall with colourful pieces of non-toxic chalk. Start a picture and all of you can take turns to add to it. Wonder what it will end up looking like? Go for it now.
28. Line up: Kids enjoy lining up toys in a row. Together, try to make the longest row of dinosaurs, farm animals or cars as possible. Make it challenging and ask her to line them up from the smallest to the biggest.
29. Role play: A jungle theme, perhaps! Here’s how: Convert your room into a jungle with green cushions and blankets. Add some indoors plants if you like! Then act like daddy lion, mommy lion and baby lion. Baby lion can hide, while mommy and daddy look for him! This is great for some roaring family fun!
30. Bubble pop: Blow as many bubbles as you can and encourage your child to run through them and burst as many as she can. For each burst make a popping sound. POP!
31. Shadow play: Turn off the lights and use a torch to create shadows on a wall. Use your imagination (and fingers) to display some animals and objects. Ask your child to guess the shadow shape. Cheer when he is right. You can even make up a story with different shadowy characters and keep him entertained.
32. Puppet time: A puppet can always come to your rescue each time you need to read a book or sing a song to your tiny tot. You can make a paper one or buy one of those furry hand and finger puppets. Goof around, dance and sing along with your child!
33. Clap clap: Children love clapping their hands. Sing a song like ‘pat-a-cake’ and all of you can together do the clapping game. Make eye contact and smile at each other as you sing together nice and loud.
34. Clay play: Get down with your toddler and knead the clay/playdough. Roll it with a roller and use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of it. Make a ball and stick beads or popsicle sticks into it. Shape into different objects like cars, elephants, bowls…
35. Scurry up: Give your toddler a set of 10 lightweight balls and a wide-mouthed bowl. The game is to fill the bowl with all the balls and then spill it over onto the floor. As it rolls all over the place, crawl around with your child on your fours, and see who can pick the most number of balls and put it back in bowl the fastest! Hurry and scurry!
36. Sand land: Kids of all ages are drawn to sand, be it at the beach or park, so why not play with some sand at home? You could have an area marked for sand play or invest in a sand box. Your child will have fun digging and piling up the sand. You could bury little treasures in the sand for your child to search for and dig out. Add some water and try building a sandcastle together.
37. Splish Splash: Nothing like water. Just give them a bucket of water to sit with and let them just splash it around. Maybe together, wash some toys in it. With spoons and ladles, your child can scoop water and pour it into little cups or bowls! Be careful not to leave your child alone with a bucket of water even for a minute.
38. Make some noise: Different sounds and noises quip your baby’s attention and interest, almost immediately. So, moo like a cow, nee-naw like a fire engine and roar like a lion and encourage your child to imitate the sounds and guess what makes that noise!
39. Stack it up: Sit down on the floor with your toddler and together try to stack up cups, toys or boxes, one on top of the other. Take turns placing each piece of the tower! Try to build it as high as you can!
40. Thread them: If you have big beads, rings, pasta pieces or anything that can be threaded, give them to your kiddo, along with a nice thick thread or shoelace. Hold one end of the string and ask your toddler to start threading the beads from the other end. A funky necklace in the making!
41. Baby care: Take your baby’s favourite doll or soft toy and let it be the ‘baby’. Bathe it, dress it, feed it, play with it, put it to sleep and so on. Explain to her how the two of you are taking care of the ‘baby’ and describe the actions!
42. Pretend play: Let your child embark into a whole new world of being doctors, parents, chefs and teachers with you! Different play sets are available in the marketplace like the doctor set, cooking set, tool set, etc. Or just improvise with things around the house. Pretend, enact and play!
43. Queen of Sheba: This thrilling game will surely get your toddler going. Dish out different instructions like “Queen of Sheba asks you to fetch a towel.” or “Queen of Sheba asks you to bring something in blue.” Watch your toddler waddle around!
44. Volley balley: Play indoor volleyball using a balloon as a ball. Use a rope to divide the court. When your child hits the balloon ask him to shout out ‘volley’ and when you do, say ‘balley’! And maybe, your toddler will suggest dining table for table tennis next!
45. Doodle time: Let your child doodle a picture on a sheet of paper. It need not make sense. Just engage and use your imagination and make sense of it – try to picture it as a unicorn or a garbage truck. And make up a story with it!
46. Show and tell: Ask your child to exhibit her collection of dolls or toys. Ask her to give each toy a special name and hear from her where she keeps it and how she plays with it.
47. Crawling game: Get on all fours with your child and act like animals such as a hoppity rabbit, a spunky monkey or a jumping kangaroo. Have fun!
48. Cardboard home: Take an empty, big cardboard box and together make it into a makeshift home for your toddler. Decorate it and add some cushions or comforters, to make it a cosy little play home!
49. Freeze dance: Play some music and bogey around. Stop the music abruptly and all those who are dancing must stop on the spot and not move. Once the music plays again, continue to wiggle and giggle. You can alternate this with the age-old ‘passing the parcel’.
50. Walk in style: Together, walk from one corner of the room to another in different styles. Maybe one time, on one leg, another in a zig zag way. Make up different styles as you walk the talk. Now, that’s a perfect show on the ramp!
51. Hot or cold: Hide an object in a secret place. Ask your child to find it. Depending on her proximity to the object, shout out “cold” or “warm” “warmer” “hot”. ‘Cold’ being when she is far away from the hiding place, and ‘hot’ when she is close to it. Makes the search even more thrilling!
52. Vegetable art: Vegetable printing is a fun activity for the little ones to try. Let your child get busy (and a bit messy) creating a veggie masterpiece. For instance, cut an okra in half, dip it in non-toxic paint and imprint the same on paper. Do it together!
53. Build a fort: Nothing like a cosy little fort with cardboard boxes, blankets, pillows, cushions and bedsheets for your little one. Let your child put her favourite soft toys inside the fort and sleep in for the night!
54. Quiet book: Engage with your child by opting for a quiet or busy book (interactive fabric book). Buy one or make one on your own. Each page, typically, has an activity to do and a skill to work on – together, learn colours, shapes, sort and count, pair and match, explore different textures and materials and more. Just indulge!
55. Art attack: Spread sheets of paper on the floor. Use your fingers, sponges or toothbrushes – dip it in paint and get your masterpiece going.
56. Paper Mache: Make some paper mache with your child. Together, soak old newspapers in water for some time. Then take it out, squish it and shape it to anything you like!
57. Dinner Out: Visit your child’s make-believe restaurant. Your child can pretend to be a waiter and take your order making notes in his notepad. You could pretend to look at a menu and make some choices. He can then turn into a chef, whip up some clay or imaginary food with his cooking set, and serve!
58. Stare and laugh contest: Do nothing but stare at each other and get the other one to laugh out first. Take this moment to discover who has the loudest laugh too!
59. Rough it up: Sometimes, all you need to do is some good ol’ roughhousing! Jump around, take your child on a horse ride or a piggyback ride, or have some fun gently wrestling each other.
60. Pillow fight: Have a crazy fun-filled night with a pillow fight. Jump around the bed and punch each other out… softly with pillows. Add to this, some roughhousing fun! Laugh and make merry. Be watchful though. These pillow fights can get out of hand, at times.
Wasn’t that a fun ride? Remember, the life of a toddler is all about the simplest and silliest of things. You don’t need to go searching to pick the best ways to spend quality time together. They are all around you. We hope that with these activities, you and your toddler can spend some fun, quality time together, creating happy memories and, most importantly, simply connecting with each other!
About the author:
Written by Team ParentCircle on 30 October 2019.
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