I often chat with parents that are looking for activity ideas for their kids. They express their desire to keep their kids busy while they can get on with other things.
There are some problems with this thinking though... we forget that our toddlers have a desire to be WITH us, not separate from us.
So how do we find the balance, where parent feels as though they can take 5 for themselves, and toddler feels happy and content?
We simply involve them!
Yes, there might be more mess.
Yes, it may not go as planned.
Yes, it is quicker to just do it yourself.
But in my time as a parent, and whilst working with other parents, I have seen clear proof that when we bring our kids in closer and include them, rather than sending them away to busy themselves, we create deeper connection between us and our children as well as getting the job done.
What we need to do is to SLOW down and think SIMPLE. How often do we race through our days?
If I had £1 for every time a parent told me they'd set up a beautiful and elaborate sensory tray for their toddler, but they didn't play with it, I'd be a very rich woman. This is because toddlers need simple stuff. They want real stuff. They don't want complicated. They don't want tons of colour. They don't want tons of objects. Simple is enough and simple is plenty. And also, simple means you don't have to waste your time making something beautiful and elaborate, for your toddler to just walk away from it.
So here in this blog, I have included 100 EASY and SIMPLE activities for you and your toddler.
They take minimal prep, they're easy to set up and they play to your toddler's needs for movement and sensory input. They might seem boring to you, but to a toddler they DEFINITELY are not, so stay open minded and give it a go.
Sometimes parents tell me their kids aren't interested - that's ok! They won't be into everything. Watch them and you'll see what they like. Do more of that!
100 EASY ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLERS
Soft and hard objects
Fruit and veggies
Natural objects (shells, pine cones etc)
Rough and smooth objects
Heavy and light objects
Shiny and dull objects
Open and close boxes
Matching and Sorting
Ordering sticks by size
Ordering pebbles by size
Sorting pebbles by colour or shape
Sorting shells by shape
Sorting leaves by colour or shape
Animal matching (object to picture)
Leaf matching (1/2 leaf to other 1/2)
Shell matching (object to object)
Flower matching (object to picture)
Lid and container matching
Pouring (jugs, scoops, cups, containers etc)
Playing in the rain
Washing toy cars
Washing a doll
Squirrel tag (tuck a sock into your waistband like a tail and try to catch each others)
Climbing mound (stack cushions under a blanket)
Jumping and hopping games
Walking on cushions like stepping stones
Walking on the line (balancing game)
Threading beads onto pipe cleaners
Threading leaves onto sticks
Screwing on lids
Tong transfer (pom poms or pine cones into a muffin tray)
Herb container & cotton buds
Washing the dishes
Pouring dry ingredients
Mopping the floor
Loading the washing machine
Scooping cake mixture into cake cases (transferring with a scoop)
Counting out sweets or peas (transferring with fingers)
Counting out fruits or balls (transferring with palm)
Pouring a glass of water (transferring with a jug)
Putting socks on
Peeling an orange
Folding wash cloths
Feed a pet
Brush a pet
Smashing herbs in a bowl
Smelling bottles (fruits)
Basket of bells
Traditional wind up music box
Silent game (turn a 30 second egg timer over and play being silent)
Sound hide and seek (hide with some bells and shake them)
Mystery bag (3-4 objects)
Sound bottles (fill with items that rattle like rice, pasta, coins, bells)
Oobleck (2 parts corn flour, 1 part water)
Cloud dough (1 part oil, 8 parts flour)
Sensory bottle (fill with lots of interesting objects)
Push ball bin DIY (cut holes in a shoe box the same size as a ball then push through)
I hope you and your toddler find the joy in the simple things!
P.S. If you want to learn more about play baskets and natural, heuristic play, head HERE for a freebie and to learn more!