40 Activities for Toddlers You Can Do at Home
Hunting for something fun to do with your toddler at home? Check out these 40 fun ideas for toddler activities that will keep your little one busy and happy both indoors and outdoors. Included are all kinds of things to do with toddlers like arts and crafts projects, educational activities, and indoor adventures for a rainy day.
Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day
When your toddler’s stuck in the house on a bad weather day, the following indoor activities can be a lifesaver:
1. Snowdrifting. Get your toddler set up by a table that’s easy to clean, or use a large bin or tray placed on the floor. Pour some regular flour onto the surface and let your child drive his cars through the “snow,” leaving tracks behind. Help him mound the flour to create drifts that will be extra exciting to drive through. This might be a good choice to have him do while you’re baking since you’ll already have the flour out anyway.
2. Edible sand. Toddlers love playing in the sandbox, but parents don't always love having to watch that no sand is eaten. In this activity, you’ll make edible sand using one part coconut oil and eight parts graham cracker crumbs or cookie crumbs. Combine the ingredients in a bowl or a bucket, and let your toddler play with the sand, squish it in his hands, and even take a bite now and then. A small scoop or spoon may also be fun for digging around in the yummy sand.
3. Push broom curling. If you’ve got an active toddler with energy to burn, try this version of indoor curling. Grab a push broom or a regular broom, a large basket (such as a laundry basket) placed on its side to act as a goal, and a bunch of small plastic plates. Your child can use the broom to sweep the plates across the floor toward the goal.
4. Recycled fortress. Dig through your recycling bin and collect clean plastic or cardboard items, like milk jugs, margarine tubs, cereal boxes, and paper canisters. Let your toddler have fun stacking these items into a large fort that he can build around himself and then gleefully knock down.
5. DIY drum set. Just a warning: You may want to skip this one if you live in an apartment with easily irritated neighbors nearby. Assemble a drum set for your toddler using pots, pans, bowls, or buckets, all turned upside down. Hand him a couple of wooden spoons, grab some ear plugs, and let him play away!
6. Bubble wrap popping. Find some leftover bubble wrap that's lying around the house, or pick some up at an office supply store. Use masking tape or painter’s tape to attach the bubble wrap to the floor—this works best on tile or hardwood surfaces. Then let your little one jump around, popping all the bubbles with his feet. A great choice for a toddler with energy to burn!
Educational Toddler Activities
Your toddler is always learning while playing, so strictly speaking any activity or game is educational. Still, we’ve collected some toddler activities that are especially focused on encouraging learning through play:
7. Magical magnetism. This activity works well for older toddlers who aren’t as likely to put everything in their mouth, but you'll need to be close at hand, just in case. Give your toddler a box of safe household objects, including some metallic items that are attracted to magnets and some that aren’t, making sure none are so small that they could be swallowed or pose a choking hazard. Have an empty box at the ready and ask your toddler to sort through the objects, placing the magnetic items into the empty box using a strong refrigerator magnet.
8. Bean bank. Check your pantry for a bag of dried beans. Then get an empty water bottle or some other container with a small opening. Ask your toddler to fill the “bank” bean by bean. If you’d like to make the activity a bit harder, use a bag of mixed dried beans, and ask your toddler to sort the different kinds of beans first before depositing them in the “bank” (or get a few more containers to make more banks). You may even consider establishing a different value for each type of bean; for example, the black beans are “worth” more than the pink beans. This can also be a great way to teach numbers.
9. Alphabet fishing. Fill a large bucket with water. Feel free to add a few drops of blue food coloring so it looks like pond water. Add plastic alphabet letters, like the magnetic ones you’d usually put on the refrigerator door. Then hand your toddler a mini sieve, colander, or slotted spoon, and ask her to fish out the letters into a bowl. As she does, she can name the letters or you could help her spell out some short words like dad or cat.
10. Sink or swim experiments. Fill a large tub with water and add a bit of blue food coloring. Gather different objects from around the house that you don’t mind getting wet. It should be a balance between items that have some weight, like toy cars, and others that are quite light, like foam balls. Before adding each item to the tub of water, ask your toddler to guess whether it will sink to the bottom or swim at the top. This will be a fun learning game that could get quite splashy!
11. Shape-matching. Trace various shapes onto felt. (To make it easier you can use variously shaped cookie cutters or create your own shapes.) Cut the shapes out and then cut each shape in half. Have your toddler match the different halves. Use different colored felt to make the art project even more colorful.
Activities to Keep Your Toddler Busy
If you need to keep your toddler busy for a short period of time, such as on a day when you happen to be working from home, the following ideas can help occupy his hands and mind for a while:
12. Sticker art. Give your toddler some construction paper and a sheet of stickers or colored labels and let him go to town creating sticker art.
13. DIY marble maze. To create a maze for your toddler, glue some paper straws onto a square piece of cardboard that will fit inside a large gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Make sure that you glue the straws in a way that creates a maze. Then add a marble, seal the bag, and let your toddler practice getting the marble out of the maze.
14. Sorting box. Don’t toss the lids of your empty wipes containers—instead, hot glue them to different areas of a cardboard box, and carefully cut out the cardboard from inside each lid to create openings. Give the box to your toddler with a bowl of plastic balls in different colors and have him drop and sort the balls by color.
15. Excavation site. Fill a large tub with sand. Mix in some of your toddler’s favorite small toys, like mini plastic dinosaurs, or other little treasures. Then let your toddler dig around and excavate all the hidden items.
16. Card dealer. Cut a slot into a large canister, like an oatmeal canister. Let your toddler insert playing cards one by one into the slot.
17. Building block bath. This could be a fun activity for bathtime. Simply add plastic building blocks to your toddler’s next bath and see what interesting things he’s able to build while soaking clean. Just remember to never leave your child unattended in or near water.
18. Bubble jar. Fill a jar with water, some liquid soap, and a few drops of food coloring. Tighten the lid, and let your toddler have some fun shaking the jar and watching the colorful bubbles form inside.
19. Color sorting. Get a package of colorful pompoms and pour them into a bowl. Hand your toddler a pair of tongs and have him sort the pompoms by color into an empty egg carton or muffin tin.
20. Stackable cups. Get your toddler a package of paper or plastic cups, the more colorful the better, and ask him to stack up a big tower as high as he can go. If the cups are different colors, he may even sort them and stack multiple towers separated by color.
21. Gelatin aquarium. The night before, prepare some gelatin according to the package directions, pouring it into a large glass baking tray or loaf pan, and then add some of your toddler’s favorite little toys, like plastic fish, toy cars, etc. It’s a good diea to sterilize the toys first by putting them through the dishwasher or in boiling water for five minutes. Refrigerate over night. The next day, your little one can dig around in his "aquarium," trying to pick out his toys, and he can even eat some of the gelatin.
Toddler Arts and Crafts Activities
Bring out your toddler’s creativity with the following arts and crafts ideas:
22. Button art. You probably have a box of random buttons somewhere in the house. Put them to good use. Give your toddler some construction paper, some kid-safe glue, and hand her the box of buttons. Watch as she creates unique artwork that you’ll be proud to hang on the refrigerator. Because small items, like buttons, can become a choking hazard, never leave your toddler unattended with buttons or any other small items. Once you are done creating button art together, put the supplies away and make sure they are out of reach of your little one.
23. DIY snowglobe. Get an empty jam jar, clean it well, and remove its labels. Let your toddler choose a little plastic figure that you’ll hot glue to the inside of the lid. Add a spoonful of glitter to the jar, and fill it three-quarters of the way with mineral oil or glycerin. Squeeze some glue to the inside of the lid, and screw it on the jar. Now, your toddler has a DIY snowglobe she can play with and take pride in because she helped make it.
24. Tracing objects. Get some black or dark colored construction paper and a chalk marker. Gather different objects from around the house like cookie cutters in different shapes, and have your toddler trace each of the items onto the paper.
25. Paint project. Provide your toddler with tempera paints in different colors and a large rectangle of cardboard—or a sheet of thick paper—to act as the canvas. Squirt the paints onto a paper plate or another piece of cardboard. Give her some brushes or let her use her fingers to paint her masterpiece.
26. Paper flowers. Gather paper cupcake liners in different colors, and help your child cut out different flower shapes using child-safe scissors. Then help your toddler attach the flowers to skewers using glue. Let her stick the flowers into a pot of dirt or a vase.
27. Handprinting. Gather paper plates, some tempera paints, paintbrushes, and some rags or paper towels. Pour out different colors of paints onto a paper plate. Let your toddler paint one of her hands, which she can then press onto a paper plate to create a handprint. Wipe up any excess paint and the mess, and hang your baby’s handprints on the fridge when they dry.
28. Egg carton caterpillar. Gather some colorful pompoms, pipe cleaners, and child-safe glue. Let your toddler decorate an empty egg carton to look like a fuzzy caterpillar, covering it in pompoms, and adding pipe cleaners on the sides to act as its legs. Add some googly eyes to complete the look.
29. Tissue butterflies. Get some sheets of tissue paper, watercolor paint, and pipe cleaners. Have your toddler paint the tissue papers in her favorite colors. (Or you can start with colored tissue paper and skip the painting step.) Once the paper has dried, help your toddler folder the paper and gather the center like an accordion and tie it on a pipe cleaner, which will serve as the butterfly’s body and antennae.
30. Animal tracks. Purchase some moldable air-dry clay. Using a rolling pin, roll out a large oval for your toddler. Have her gather up some of her favorite animal toys like plastic dinosaurs, ponies, etc. She can then press their feet into the clay to make tracks. Once the clay is dry, you’ll have a fun archaeological sample that your little one could also paint later on.
Interactive Toddler Activities
Although all of our toddler activities require adult supervision, the following activities may involve some additional adult help:
31. Paper tube chute. Using toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls, help your toddler build a long spiraling chute by slipping the rolls into one another and taping around the edges. Your toddler can hold the chute over a bowl, and drop plastic balls or marbles down it. To make it extra cool, he can paint the outside of the chute.
32. Water xylophone. Fill water glasses or glass jars with water at various heights, and line them up. Hand your toddler a wooden spoon and let him compose his own tune by hitting the sides of the jars. To make it more appealing, add a different colored food coloring to each container.
33. Sidewalk art. When you can be outdoors on a nice day, give your toddler some large sidewalk chalk and let him create whatever he pleases on your home’s walkway or sidewalk. If you’re letting him use the driveway or sidewalk, make sure to closely supervise.
34. Main Street USA. Break down a large cardboard box, and give your toddler markers in different colors. Help him create his own city by drawing roads, buildings, homes, driveways, etc. Once he’s done drawing, he can use his toy cars to drive around town.
35. Edible necklace. Give your toddler a bowl of O-shaped cereal in different colors, and a long piece of shoestring licorice. Have him string together a necklace, help him tie off the end, and voila—a colorful, edible necklace.
36. Tea time. Your toddler will love setting up tea time in the kitchen. He can invite all of his stuffed animal pals, and then enjoy make-believe tea-time with his friends!
37. Ball-and-cup game. Get three opaque plastic cups and one of your child’s favorite items that can easily fit beneath one of the cups. Hide it under one of the overturned cups, and turn over the other cups, too. Then shuffle around the cups and ask your toddler to guess which one has his favorite toy underneath.
38. Hopscotch. Teach your toddler this classic playground game. Start by drawing the squares on your driveway or sidewalk, and explain the rules of the game. It’s OK if your toddler doesn’t completely get how to play the game yet—trying to jump from square to square will be fun.
39. Sprinkler fun. For many people, jumping over the sprinkler in the backyard on a hot summer’s day is one of their best childhood memories. Set up a sprinkler for your toddler, dress him in his swimsuit, and let him have fun jumping around and getting wet with your supervision. Feel free to join in the fun!
40. Pretend picnicking. You don’t even have to have a real picnic outside. Simply spread a blanket on the floor and have a pretend picnic with your toddler. Make up a fun make-believe menu of foods, and then pretend that the ants are coming, and you have to quickly pack everything away!
The Bottom Line
Trying to keep an active toddler occupied can be challenging. Fun activities that you can do at home are the key, whether it’s an indoor sport for a rainy day, an absorbing arts and crafts project, or just something to keep your little one busy for a short time while you cook dinner, for example. What seems like a simple idea to you can be a magical experience for your little one. Let your and your toddler’s imagination run wild and you’ll find there are tons of things you can do together. Enjoy!
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
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