Motherhood

Toddler Activities: 50 Fun Ideas

Team Peanut5 months ago8 min read

Okay. You can actually see the tantrum potential rising, and the scream of the century is about to be unleashed. Toddler activities needed, and stat. Don’t worry, mama. We got you.

50 Toddler Activities

First question:

What activities are good for toddlers?

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Toddler activity ideas live amongst us. The fact that your toddler has only been on this planet for a few years is a real plus—because everything is new to them. Ev.e.ry.thing. (Including their attention spans, so don’t feel down if one of your favorite activities is tossed after just a few minutes of fun.)

Toddlers learn through play. They are mini scientists, intent on discovering the world through experimenting with it. That means pretty much everything (safe) is a potential plaything and can form the basis of a toddler activity.

Here’s your launchpad:

Must-do activities for toddlers at home

Indoor activities for toddlers

  1. Clean the house. Give them a broom and watch the magic unfold before your eyes. This is what is known as a Grade-A parenting hack. Get them started young.

  2. Give each other a call. Sure, you can use a cellphone, but a banana works just as well.

  3. Cook up a storm. Or at least a pretend one. If you have some toddler-sized kitchen equipment, even better.

  4. Start a family band. Drums out of pots and pans. Shakers out of salt containers. It’s amazing what can be turned into an instrument. (May need to warn the neighbors about this particular venture.)

  5. Look at family photos. Show them pics of loved ones near and far. (Also, those little narcissists tend to love pictures of themselves. Yes, you’re allowed to enable their vanity.)

  6. Have a dance party. This can be a daily occurrence that never gets old. Warning: chances are high that they’ll pick the stickiest of earworms as their favorite jam.

  7. Finger painting. Messy, beautiful, colorful fun. Get them to stamp their handprints and footprints to capture moments in time.

  8. Create a sensory bin. There is no such thing as mundane in the world of the toddler. Colorful shapes, bottles with rice in them, a range of textured materials—as long as it’s safe for them to play with, it has a place in the bin.

  9. Yoga. It’s never too early to get them into a downward-facing dog. (Yes, you’re allowed to be a little jealous of how easy it is for them to touch their toes.)

  10. Crafting. And at this age, you don’t even need fancy supplies. You’ll be amazed at their willingness to turn simple colored paper and old newsprint into masterpieces.

  11. Build a fort. We did it. Our parents did it. Building a fort just does not get old. And there’s no right or wrong here. Sheets, chairs, tables, pillows, cardboard—and there you have it. Done. (Just be warned—forts can quickly become so well-loved that they are hard to tear down.)

  12. Learn please and thank you. Manners and entertainment all in one. Please hand me the toy on the other side of the room. Thank you.

  13. Build blocks. Excellent for motor skills and endless fun. Also, there’s a great lesson to be had from what happens when you knock them down. The beginning of a lifelong interest in physics? Perhaps.

  14. Have a costume party. And again, no need to go out and spend a fortune to have the ultimate dress-up box. Scarves, hats, sunglasses. It all works.

  15. Simon Says. This is another classic that has stood the test of time. Funny how Simon inspires so much more obedience than mama does… They’ll do anything that guy says!

  16. Body maps. Get them to lie down on a large sheet of paper and trace the outline of their bodies. They can then decorate their 2D selves.

  17. Sing songs, clap hands. There are just so many options (like this one) that will provide endless musical entertainment for your mini performer.

  18. Have a tea party. Simple as water in some non-breakable cups and something of the snack variety. Cheers!

  19. Set up shop. Go on a shopping spree in a pretend shop with pretend money. The stuff dreams are made of.

  20. Hide and Seek. Um, this is one of those that, if you start, it’s quite hard to stop. Fun, sure. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Fun activities for toddlers outdoors

  1. Obstacle course. At this age, this can be super simple. Climb over a thing. Climb under a thing. Run around a thing. There you have it.

  2. A simple walk. Everything is exciting. A flower that has fallen from a tree. A dog having a pee. And holy heck, if you see another small person along the way, brace yourself.

  3. Simple scavenger hunt. Find mama a leaf and a stone. (You can of course get much fancier with this and hide things for them to find. That sort of diligence will have you up for mama of the year in no time.)

  4. Have a picnic. If it’s possible to do this with other mamas and their little ones, you all get some social time in. Arrange on the Peanut app. Done and done.

  5. Water fun. If you have access to a pool, awesome. If not, no problem—a bucket of water does wonders. (Quick note—regardless of the amount of water, serious supervision is necessary.)

  6. Gardening. Little thumbs can be green, too.

  7. Get those wheels turning. A pushbike, a tricycle, a wheelbarrow.

  8. Explore seasonal fun. The fall has leaves. The winter has snow (in some places). The spring is rich with color and baby animals. And the summer has beaches and parks.

  9. Go for a ride on a bus. Or a boat. Or a train. Through the eyes of the toddler? Wowzers.

What activities should a 2 year old be doing?

Here are some fun activities that also work on key toddler development skills.

  1. Play with a ball. Improve hand-eye coordination. Get fresh air. Have fun.

  2. Blow bubbles. Bubbles: makers of wonderment for generations. Magic for them. Entertaining for you.

  3. Give them a case to solve. Where is the bunny? Your toddler will not rest until they have cracked this one.

  4. Counting. Time to put those fingers and toes to good use.

  5. Point and name. Take their word for it, toddlers are little language sponges.

  6. Practice coordination skills. Balance on one leg. Touch your nose with your finger. Pat your head. Stand on tiptoes.

  7. Sidewalk chalk. If you have a suitable piece of sidewalk available to you, it’s time to do some redecorating.

  8. Make paper plate flowers. With very limited supplies, you can create a whole paper garden.

  9. Face painting. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple star on the cheek can set their hearts aflutter. (Not all toddlers love facepaint, so if there are tears, it has nothing to do with your skills as an artist.)

  10. Play with dolls or stuffed animals. Take them to the pretend doctor, the pretend dentist, the pretend school. Luckily, those inanimate objects are usually up for anything.

  11. Read picture books. Warning: toddlers’ tastes are discerning. You might end up reading a particular book many, many times.

What activities can I do with a 3 year old?

Is your toddler just a little bit older? Here are some more “advanced” things you can do for this age.

  1. Make matches. (Not the flammable type.) Match like-colors, like-shapes, like-sizes.

  2. Have a video call with grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends… The likelihood is high that the person on the other end of the call will enjoy it just as much as your toddler does.

  3. Go on a treasure hunt for colors. Find me two blue things, three red things, one yellow thing—you get the picture.

  4. Unleash that inner artist. Draw, color, paint. And yes, you will have to get a bigger fridge to accommodate all those artworks.

  5. Play with playdough. It’s so easy to make (flour, water, salt), it’s great for motor skills development, and provides endless fun.

  6. Build puzzles. Start as soon as you can. They’ll be tackling 3000 pieces in no time.

  7. Make puppets and put on a concert. Turn your recycling bin into a world of wonder. Amazing what you can do with an old toilet paper roll and a sharpie.

  8. Play with letters and sounds. Wherever they’re at in their development, show them letters and sound them out. Toddlers are serious about the art of imitation.

  9. Create pictures with dot stickers. Make insects, butterflies, dinosaurs—or an amalgamation of the three. Creative and fun—and a great help in boosting the dexterity of those little fingers.

  10. Decorate cookies or cupcakes. Toddlers make excellent kitchen assistants. Their style may be a little, um, avant-garde, but they are certainly not short on passion.

And yes, you are allowed to have as much fun as they do in the process. Enjoy, mama.

Read next:
17 Toddler Meal Ideas
21 Indoor Activities for Kids
22 Outdoor Activities for Kids
Building Social Skills for Kids: Fun Ideas
20 Team Building Activities for Kids
How to Entertain a Toddler: Simple Ways to Play at Home