Before you reach for the wine (yes, that was our first instinct too) here are some fantastic activities to fill the time and stimulate your little one's imagination and development.
Whether you are a stay at home parent, working full time (and have the help of a grandmother or nanny), taken leave from your job for a short while, or are teaming together with one or two other moms to create smaller playgroups; these ideas are simple and can be enjoyed by all toddlers between 1 - 3 years.Toddlers are active, curious, affectionate, and just plain fun! And while we don’t recommend spending much sit-down-at-a-desk learning time with them, it’s still a great opportunity to continue their development, as they are naturally curious and ready to learn and explore.
Here are some fun, active, real-life learning activities for your toddler.
Practical Life & Caring for the Environment:
- If you’ve got a lot of washing up to do. Get out a plastic tea-set, a bowl of soapy water and a tea-towel to put it all on. Then let them wash up on the kitchen floor whilst you do yours.
- Start a windowsill garden of herbs or flowers. Let your toddler fill the pot with sand, dig the little holes, plant the seeds and water. (This is a great way to teach them delayed gratification as they wait for the plants to grow over the next few weeks.) Be sure to invest in seeds that germinate quickly.
- Purchase a pocket of oranges and ask around for an old hand juicer. Teach your little one to squeeze their own fresh orange juice. It's a lovely form of messy play and the Vit C boost is an extra bonus!
- If you are up for an outing, why not take them down to the local park or beach with a pair of gloves and do a litter collection. It's a great way to teach them about recycling and caring for the environment, and will help release some energy as well.
- Bake some cupcakes or biscuits and let your toddler add the ingredients together, mix and pour. Little ones LOVE to help with cooking and baking activities.
- Put some sand from the sand-pit in a washing-up bowl and hide mini treasures. A spoon makes a good-sized spade and a sieve’s fun, too.
- Create with playdough. Give your toddler shaped biscuit cutters and a rolling-pin and explain how to cut out ‘biscuits’. A garlic press is fun for making squiggly bits.
- Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls.
- Do some magic painting! Draw a simple design on paper with a white candle or crayon. Make up watery paint in a strong colour and let your tot paint the paper to reveal the lovely designs – they’ll be amazed.
- Make a letterbox! Cover an old cereal box in red paint or paper. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes. Your child can write on the envelopes, stick on pretend stamps and post them.
- Slice some potatoes in half and cut stars and other shapes into each flat surface. Dip the potatoes into saucers of poster paint and let your toddler use them for printing.
- Toddlers like sticking things, so why not make a collage? Use sweet wrappers, scraps of material, foil, cotton wool – anything you’ve got lying around!
- Paint a butterfly. Fold a piece of paper in half, then open it out again. Paint one side of the fold, then close it up again. Open it up to reveal your butterfly pattern.
- Thread tubes of pasta on to lengths of string to make some pasta jewellery.
- Put on some music and have a dance.
- Put on some tunes and play musical bumps. Tell your toddler they have to sit down as quickly as possible when the music stops.
- Play ‘Follow my leader’. Your toddler has to copy everything you do. Jump up and down, pat your tummy, sit down, stand up, walk up stairs, put your slippers on your head. The sillier the better. Once they’ve got the idea, let them lead you.
- Go into the garden and collect items such as twigs, petals, stones and leaves and put them in a bucket. You could make it a game for your little one by making the list before hand and ticking things off as they find them.
- If it’s been raining, put on your gumboots and jump in puddles!
- Put 20 household objects on a tray. Show them to your child for 2 minutes, then hide them. See how many they can remember.
- Make a homemade obstacle course in the living room or garden. Use chairs to crawl under, ropes to jump over, balls to dribble or throw into a bucket – use your imagination.
Quiet and Calm Play:
- Read some stories together – the more you read, the more your child will get interested in books. Doing funny voices will make it even more fun.
- Make a tent. Just drape a sheet over a couple of chairs and encourage them to read a story to their stuffed toys or colour in quietly on their own.
Looking for some more ideas? Check out these 5 Minute Crafts!