Feb 1, 2014

100 Ideas to Entertain a Toddler

Being a parent is wonderful.  But it is a wonderful, difficult, rewarding challenge!  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year... Sometimes, it can be really hard to come up with ways to entertain your little ones and not have them sit in front of the TV all day.  So, I have been brainstorming 100 things to do with your kiddo.  Obviously not all of these are appropriate for every situation.  Some days you might have more time, some days you might have less money... we get that.  But hopefully this will spark some creative ideas for you.  Have any to add to the list? Comment with your suggestions!

  1. Legos
  2. Sing a song
  3. Color
  4. Stickers
  5. Go on a walk
  6. Movie night with popcorn and a pallet on the floor
  7. Build a fort
  8. Play a game.  I highly recommend the Roll and Play Board Game.
  9. Play a Letter Game - name all the things you can think of that start with a particular letter.
  10. Collect something (leaves, rocks, sticks, etc)
  11. Have a play date - invite over another mama (or daddy) friend and let the kids play while you chat
  12. Try some mommy and me yoga
  13. Practice words in another language
  14. Go to the park
  15. Go to the Aquarium
  16. Day trip to a location you have been to before and pretend to be tourists
  17. Do a little science (and art at the same time!)
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Read a book - or ten
  20. Go to a book store - teach your children to appreciate the smell and feel of a good book
  21. Play a game on the iPad or tablet
  22. Play-doh (make your own for even more fun!)
  23. Dance
  24. Make a picnic (and eat it outside!) - let your child help make the sandwich and pack the bag
  25. Learn to ride a tricycle (this is surprisingly hard for my girls, haha)
  26. Throw a ball
  27. Play Barbies
  28. Swing on a swingset
  29. Play Mommy (or Daddy) - baby dolls, play stroller, etc.  They love you and want to be you!
  30. Make up new verses for Wheels on the Bus ("The Izzy on the Bus plays with Legos... ")
  31. Skype with Grammie
  32. Help in the kitchen (mix the flour for bread, put the cheese on the tortillas for enchiladas, etc)
  33. Play Explorer with home made binoculars from toilet paper rolls
  34. Walk on a beach and collect sea shells
  35. Go outside and play with chalk
  36. Visit a farm and see where milk comes from, or eggs, or cheese
  37. Go to the grocery store - not for weekly groceries, but to make something specific and special
  38. Have a half birthday party
  39. Explore a foreign culture (visit an Asian art museum or celebrate Chinese New Year)
  40. Get a little pampering and paint everyone's toe nails
  41. Have a tea party
  42. Plant flowers on the deck
  43. Take swim lessons
  44. Make animal noises - how many animals can you think up?
  45. Make macaroni necklaces (remember this from when you were a kid?)
  46. Make cookies with your child
  47. Paint with water on the sidewalk
  48. Check out local rec centers for toddler playtimes
  49. Visit a local arboretum
  50. Take a drive with the windows down
  51. Let your kiddo take a few photos with your phone or with a child's camera
  52. Run!
  53. Hot Lava - the floor is lava - put pillows on the floor and have kids jump from pillow to pillow
  54. Have a race - who can .... the fastest?  (ie:  Who can pick up 10 legos the fastest?)
  55. Practice balance - try standing on one leg
  56. Practice cutting with safety scissors
  57. Print out shapes or letters and have your toddler try tracing them with a pencil
  58. Visit the Science Museum
  59. Pass out food at a local shelter - or do some sort of community service
  60. Have a lemonade stand for friends and family
  61. Take a bubble bath
  62. Test out some magnets - what do they stick to?
  63. Make lunch time exciting - serve the meal in an unusual container
  64. Set up a tent
  65. Look at clouds and find shapes in the clouds (or the trees)
  66. Make something out of a big cardboard box
  67. Have an Easter Egg hunt (even if it isn't Easter)
  68. Blow a dandelion
  69. Make a flower arrangement for the dinner table
  70. Set the table - show them how and let them be in charge
  71. Play Simon Says (or a version of the game, at least) "Simon says, hop.  Simon says, crawl"
  72. Make up Nicknames for everyone
  73. Play Hide-n-seek
  74. Mirror play - something so simple can be so fun.  From just looking in the mirror to drawing on it with a dry erase marker.
  75. Make a light box and find things that the light will shine through.
  76. Make a sensory box and fill with beans or rice - hide things inside for your child to discover
  77. Write a story.  Start with "Once upon a time..."
  78. Let your child pick out their clothes for tomorrow
  79. Allow your little one to help "clean" the floor with a spray bottle of water and a cloth
  80. Freeze little toys in ice and see what makes the ice melt to find the toys
  81. Practice measuring (how many hands is this table, etc)
  82. Sort colors in egg cartons - use small puffs or objects from around the house
  83. Make an obstacle course
  84. Use potatoes or apples to print with paint
  85. Play school.  Take turns being the teacher
  86. Do a random act of kindness for a friend or neighbor, but remain anonymous
  87. Pop the bubble wrap that came in Mom's package
  88. Go visit grandma
  89. Date night with Daddy (one on one time with dad and one kid)
  90. Use bath crayons and draw in the bath tub
  91. Use items around the house to make a drum set (like an old oatmeal canister)
  92. Find seasonal fun - go to a carnival, a corn maze, or something family friendly
  93. Tie Dye a tshirt to wear to bed
  94. Make cards to send to soldiers
  95. Watch (or count) airplanes that fly overhead
  96. Let your child help sort socks.  Can they find all the matches?
  97. Rake leaves (and jump in them... or take them to the compost pile)
  98. Practice doing flips (on a pallet on the floor, on mommy's bed, etc)
  99. While in the car, see if you can spot all the A's on signs on the way home (or B's or C's...)
  100. Snuggle!  Spend some precious time with your babies that won't always be babies.
 Many of these activities are Montessori inspired.  My friend, Catalina, from Art of Peace Montessori School says, "Allow your toddler to join in real daily daily activities it makes them feel happy contributors of the home and community: washing dishes, feeding pets, setting the table, etc. All of these activities are special and can be really fulfilling and important to their physical emotional and spiritual and cognitive development. One way to make them special is to buy real child size tools from Montessori catalogs along with beautiful aprons for each activity. Children love doing real jobs and having special aprons of their own."
I hope you find some inspiration here for things to do with your child on this list.  I also hope that you stop and do a few of these things WITH your child, not as just a means to keep them busy.  It's pretty amazing how much wonder and excitement we can find as adults when we stop and see things from the point of view of our child.

Happy playing!

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