20 Enjoyable Toddler Activities: Great For Development
Toddlers love to explore and it can be so much fun seeing the world through their eyes while engaging in toddler activities, just going for a short walk with my daughter has now become a lovely part of our day where she finds joy in spotting dogs and birds. It is not always easy to find toddler activities to entertain her though, and that’s why I dedicated her nap time to finding enjoyable toddler activities that are also great for our little ones’ development.
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Enjoyable Toddler Activities
Either put on some of your favourite songs, grab an instrument, or sing to your toddler. Some toddlers love it when you dance with them. My daughter loves it when I make up random songs or play the guitar for her (she may be my biggest and only fan). This helps with their balance, and strength and shows them how to enjoy exercise. Why not add a song that means they can interact with you to learn the actions. This helps develop their mouth muscles for speaking, expands their vocabulary, motor skills, and social skills, and helps them learn about creative rhythm
2. Hide and seek with an object
Grab one of your child’s favorite toys and pretend they are hiding somewhere, your child will love to find them and be very excited when they do. This can keep a child entertained for ages and it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Your child may want to hide the toy themselves which is great for planning skills and judgment skills.
3. Create soft play at home
Gather together all the pillows you can find, maybe your toddler’s mattress, and turn the sofa on its back. Create soft landings and areas your toddler can climb onto. You could put mattresses down your stairs to make a huge slide! (if you don’t mind the mess for one day) Remember to take some brilliant photos to keep. Climbing engages their whole body, sharpens their visual perception, and refines speed, agility, and balance.
4. Fill up some water balloons and play catch, roll, or football
Good for balance and hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. Play indoors if your balloons are thick enough that they won’t burst. Or go outside in the sun. You could experiment with using different textures to fill the balloon with like rice or pasta.
5. Stacking Random objects
Toddlers LOVE to stack and they will copy whatever we show them. Why not get some random items from around the house and see how high you can stack them without them falling (or before your toddler crashes into them)? This helps with problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and mathematic skills, and it helps them achieve the feeling of success while socializing with you.
6. Paint food
Grab some bread or something similar and a paintbrush. Now put a few drops of food colouring in water and let your child have some fun painting the food! This is great because the food can be decomposed so it’s better for the environment and even better if you use food that is near its sell by date. It also doesn’t matter if you have very young ones and they put it in their mouth. Great for exploring colour, fine and gross motor control, visual perception, and creativity, it’s a relaxing task that will focus their attention.
7. Flour treasure hunt
Grab a box and pour in some flour, then hide some of your child’s toys within the flour and let them hunt for treasure! this is also a great idea for an easter egg hunt with eggs they can open to find the treasure inside. Keep the box with flour in it for next time so it doesn’t go to waste. Builds sensory development, physical development, and building muscles, and great for them to get a natural sense of reward for their efforts!
8. Surprise box
Find any box with an open top and a large piece of material that you no longer need (wrapping paper could also work). Cover the box with the material, then cut a hole in the middle of the material at the top. Place lots of random items which your child may find interesting inside. Now tie some string around the box to secure the fabric and let your child explore inside the surprise box! By pulling things in and out of the box your toddler develops their fine motor control, problem solving, and cognitive skills. Depending on what you put in the box your child will also develop a love for exploring!
9. Use chalk in the garden
Grab some large chalk that is safe for toddlers, go find a place in your garden with some patio and get creative! your child will love to create their own art on the floor and you could even make a trail for them to follow, the possibilities are endless. Chalk is great because it can easily be washed off. They’ll be learning an appropriate pencil grasp, increasing their hand strength, colour recognition and they’ll be developing their self expression!
10. Paint the garden walls
Simply fill a bucket or pot with warm water, grab a paintbrush, and let your child “paint the garden wall” the water will naturally cause a different shade on the fence so your child will really feel like they are doing a grand job. And with your praise, they’ll develop a great sense of helping and achievement. Develops small and large muscle control, and hand eye coordination.
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11. Make their toys come to life
Gather their favourite toys around and create your own real life toy story scene. Your child will absolutely adore hearing their toys “talk” and creating their own personalities. This can be a wonderful way to bond with your child and learn more about them. You can role play real life experiences such as tea parties, visiting the zoo, visiting the doctors, and going to school. The list is endless and it can help if you want to prepare your child for an upcoming event or help them process one from recently by reenacting this with your child. Your child can be socially creative and emotionally expressive. Wonderful for developing language skills, developing social skills, developing emotional intelligence such as empathy, and developing an awareness of themselves and others.
12. Collect sensory nature items
Take your little explorer on an adventure and collect different nature items along your way. You could go by sea and collect shells, go to a woody area and collect pinecones and leaves. Picking things up will develop fine motor skills, and exploring different textures and colours will help develop their senses. Working with you to find items will help develop their teamwork skills and they’ll be making positive links between exercising in nature and having fun!
13. Finger and toe painting
Get a large piece of paper and nontoxic finger paints. Go somewhere which is easy to clean up after like in the garden, and let your little one explore with colors. They can explore the texture of the paint and make different patterns with their feet and hands. This promotes creativity, and develops fine motor skills. If you’d like to make a finger painting you can keep forever, I have created a free printable you can download here which I made with my daughter and it looks beautiful on the fridge or wall
Clear a large space in the room or go outside and get out the bubbles! the baby group which my daughter and I go to each week at the local library always gets the bubbles out for the children at the end of the session, and this is the moment when they are all so calm and content. There is something so relaxing about bubbles. Develops their visual skills, (following and focussing) hand eye coordination for popping the bubbles. And it also introduces them to a bit of science!
15. Pretend fishing
Put some pom poms in a tub of water of different colours and give your child the task of collecting all of the (pink) or (yellow) pompoms for example. Pom poms are great because they can dry out and be reused for any other game or arts and crafts. Your child will love playing with the water and the pom poms. Water play helps develop gross and fine motor skills, sorting objects helps develop visual perception, executive function, and memory. Playing with water can also be very therapeutic for children
16. Do a chore together
Does your child always pull things out once you have spent time neatly putting them away? your little one is naturally exploring and developing the skills they need all by watching you. So why not get them to help you next time you need to take the washing out of the machine? or give them a sponge and let them dunk it in the soapy water next time you’re washing the kitchen cupboards? this will help your child develop a sense of connection with you and interdependence. This is a great way to praise your child and teach them words like thank you and please by modeling these to them.
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17. Visit somewhere for free
Some of our favorite places to go are free, especially when they have free children’s events and activities happening. We also keep a watch out on Facebook for local free events and make the most out of them. Getting out into the community will help develop social skills, and learn body language, and cooperation. And hey, it will probably tire them out for an afternoon nap so you can have a moment to yourself!
18. Bowling with toys
This is a fun one, my son used to love this game. Line up some of their little figures, grab a ball, and see how many you can knock down taking turns. Develops hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and spatial awareness. They will get a real sense of achievement when they knock it down and they’ll develop important social skills by taking turns with you.
19. Sensory light
Whenever I visit a play area for children, I always love to go and check out their sensory room with my baby. I find the sensory lights so calming not only for my daughter but for myself too! My 10-year-old son also likes to have one in his room for relaxing. When my daughter seems upset and nothing can quite regulate her, we often go and sit in the sensory area of her room and put on her sensory fish light. We have one just like this. Because my daughter is only one, I have it up high so that she cannot reach and pull it over, but her face lights up every time I turn it on and I lift her up to count the fish together.
Magnets are great for toddler activities because they can be cheap to buy and it gives your toddler something to play with while you’re in the kitchen preparing food and you can still keep an eye on them. A game I like to play with my toddler is finding different places in the house that we can put the magnets on (like the legs of her high chair which are metal) playing with magnets is good for fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, stimulates curiosity, and is a fun way to introduce science early on.
What are your most enjoyable toddler activities? Head over to the forum to share thoughts, get advice or connect with like-minded others. See you soon!