Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a working parent, or someone who just needs a quick two minutes to shower, toddlers need constant stimuli. It is important to keep their little brains interested in learning to prepare them for school and social play. Even at the tender age of two, they are soaking up everything they see and do. As caregivers, sometimes it's important for a 15-45 minute "break" to get some stuff done. Read ahead for 10 easy activities to keep a toddler busy when in need.
Toddlers love organization and sorting shapes and colors more than we think. The Maria Montessori method can come in handy, especially for sporting activities such as this. This activity uses green, yellow and red lentils with bowls to match. This is an easy activity that will keep the toddler busy as a bee.
Place each bowl in a row in front of the toddler on a table. A placemat or plastic cover underneath these materials will come in handy; it'll make clean up a breeze. Give the toddler a small, easy-to-handle spoon. Have the beans separated by color behind the bowls. Explain that they must carefully scoop the beans with their spoon into the correct, colored bowl.
9 Mail Slot
Grab an old container with removable lid. We have the perfect activity to keep a busy toddler occupied! Slice a 3-inch slot in the lid large enough to fit a playing card through. Give the child a deck of playing cards. Place the deck beside the container and show them how you would like them to mail their “letters”. The toddler will enjoy this mailing game more than you think!
8 Number Identification
Have a toddler who is learning how to count? Whether they know how to count from one to five or one to twenty, this is a great “game” that will have the toddler encouraged to learn. It will also allow them to be proud of themselves when they have accomplished a task such as this one.
Identifying numbers can be fun! On a large piece of paper, write the numbers they are able to count to with a large circle around them. Ensure the numbers are not in the correct order. Give the toddler a bowl of pompoms (or Cheerios if you are worried they may try and consume the pompom). Tell them they must count the pompoms and put them in their appropriate bubble. For example, the circle with the number 3 must have 3 pompoms placed within it.
7 Water Play
Wouldn't it be nice to kill two birds with one stone? Fill the kitchen sink with warm, soapy water. Pull up a chair (or stool) safe enough for the toddler to stand on. Bring their toys to the sink that needs a good cleaning. Now, the entire gang can have fun! Not only does the toddler get to pretend each toy is having a bath or swimming in a big pool, the adult knows they are each getting a good soak down. Never leave a child unattended during water play.
6 Sticker Spelling
An easy way to keep a toddler busy and teach them how to form letters is simpler than anyone would think! Grab a blank piece of paper and with a pencil or pen, write a small word or name that you would like them to learn how to spell. Give them stickers to place along the lines. This may take practice and time (what we are all looking for). Their concentration may impress!
5 Q-Tip Game
For this activity, an old egg carton and a handful of Q-Tips is all that will be needed. Flip the egg carton upside down, so the bumpy base is facing upwards. With a pen, poke holes large enough in each point.
Give the toddler the Q-Tips and demonstrate pushing each Q-Tip through the holes. This activity will keep them busy for hours. It is cheap, easy and fun for them. Just be prepared for a potential Q-Tip tornado!
4 Felt People
Activities that involve getting children to be creative are sometimes the best. Being able to see what their little minds create can be so entertaining for both the adult and child! Cutting out felt people along with shirts, shoes, sweaters, pants, and accessories is a great way to help them develop the skills to see which article of clothing goes on first. For example, they will practice putting on their big-kid underwear before pants. If it is winter, cut out snow pants and boots along with hats and mittens. They can practice getting “themselves” dressed.
Depending on the child’s age, the adult may get an array of eclectic outfit choices. Have fun with it. This game can go well into their childhood. The adult can always cut out more articles of clothing if need be.
3 Toilet Roll Race
Rather than recycling toilet paper and paper towel rolls right away, we have a very fun way to incorporate them into an activity that will keep a toddler busy for hours. Tape the rolls onto the side of a kitchen counter and/or wall to form a long tube. This will soon be the toddler's “race track”!
Give the toddler a block or toy that will easily slide down the tubes. The toddler can also practice their coloring skills by decorating their tubes before sticking them together, too! Start at the top of your tube structure, drop the block or toy down, and watch their face light up with excitement! They will want to race all day!
2 Car Paint
This is a perfect activity we have thought of for a busy and active toddler to ensure they don't get too dirty on those hot, messy summer days! With a clean paintbrush and a bowl of cold water, allow the toddler to “paint” a car! The dirtier the car, the better! The water will disappear within seconds and the toddler can practice their artistic skills. Paint shapes, words or numbers. The toddler will absolutely love this fun activity.
1 Number Sorting
On a large piece of paper, write the numbers they are able to count to on in a line. On a separate piece of paper, write the corresponding numbers and cut them into squares. Demonstrate laying out the squares on top of their matching number on the large piece of paper.
Once finished, lay them on a tray of plate beside the piece of paper. Repeat. Using their tiny fingers, not only does this activity gain interest in learning but it also helps the toddler gain fine motor skills. It will also keep them busy while you finish up whatever you need to have done.