Looking for fun toddler activities that are educational, developmentally beneficial, and easy to pull off? Inspiration awaits…
Hunting for toddler activities to keep your little peanut amused, learning, and busy can be tough.
You may be out and about, sheltering from the rain indoors, or huddled in a car on your travels.
Every moment of life is another moment for your toddler to learn, have fun, and figure out what sort of person they are.
And we know you want to set them up for the best life possible, so you want activities for toddlers that aren’t just fun, but are also educational.
Read on, mama!
In this article: 📝
- What activities are appropriate for toddlers?
- How do I entertain my indoor toddler?
- Fun activities for toddlers outdoors
- Toddler activities FAQs
What activities are appropriate for toddlers?
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money.
Toddler activity ideas are everywhere!
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.
This includes their attention spans, so don’t feel down if one of your favorite toddler 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 toddler activities.
As for appropriate* toddler activities?
Well, that depends on your little one’s age and your parenting choices ‒ what one parent considers an appropriate toddler activity may not be appropriate for another.
What activities should a 2-year-old be doing?
Here are some fun toddler activities that also work on key development skills for 2-year-olds:
- Play with a ball. Improve hand-eye coordination with this easy toddler activity. Get fresh air. Have fun.
- Blow bubbles. Bubbles: makers of wonderment for generations. Magic for them. Entertaining for you.
- Sidewalk chalk. If you have a suitable piece of sidewalk available to you, it’s time to do some redecorating.
- Make paper plate flowers. With very limited supplies, you can create a whole paper garden.
- 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.)
- 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.
What do 3 year olds do for activities?
Is your toddler just a little bit older? Here are some more “advanced” fun things to do with toddlers at 3 years old.
- Make matches. (Not the flammable type.) Match like-colors, like-shapes, like-sizes, like-numbers…
- 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.
- Unleash that inner artist. Draw, color, paint. And yes, you will have to get a bigger fridge to accommodate all those artworks.
- Play with playdough. It’s so easy to make (flour, water, salt), it’s great for motor skills development, and provides endless fun as a toddler activity.
- 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. This is one of the more time-consuming toddler activities, so make sure you have a few hours to spare.
- 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.
- 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.
How do I entertain my indoor toddler?
How about toddler activities at home or indoor toddler activities?
If you’re after rainy day toddler activities, you’ll love our toddler indoor activities:
- Clean the house. Give them a broom, feather duster, or a cleaning cloth, and watch the magic unfold before your eyes. This is what is known as a Grade-A parenting hack, and easily among our favorite toddler activities. Get them started young.
- Give each other a call. Sure, you can use a cellphone, but a banana works just as well. Or get crafty with a homemade phone using tin cans and a piece of string.
- 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.)
- Look at family photos and videos. 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.)
- Have a dance party. This can be a daily occurrence that never gets old. One of the best toddler activities if your little peanut is full of energy. Warning: chances are high that they’ll pick the stickiest of earworms as their favorite jam.
- 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.
- Walk the line. Use a piece of string to trace a line on the floor, then have your little tightrope walker walk on it.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- Simon Says. This is another classic toddler activity that’s stood the test of time. Funny how Simon inspires so much more obedience than mama does… They’ll do anything that guy says!
- Floor is Lava. Get your little one’s imagination and cognitive thinking into action! Try to get from one end of the room to another without touching the floor!
- Sing songs, clap hands. There are just so many options (like this one) that will provide endless musical entertainment for your mini performer.
- Have a tea party. Simple as water in some non-breakable cups and something of the snack variety. Plus, this toddler activity works their motor skills, too. Cheers!
- Set up shop. Go on a shopping spree in a pretend shop with pretend money. The stuff dreams are made of.
- 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.
- Toddler gym. Whether you buy a ready-made toddler gym or make your own using sofa cushions for your little one to run around and climb over, this is a fantastic toddler activity to encourage your little one to exercise.
Toddler crafts ideas
Crafting is a staple when looking for fun things to do with toddlers ‒ sure, it might get a little messy at times, but it encourages your little artist to use their imagination.
Plus, some of the things they craft can be super adorable.
- Finger painting. Messy, beautiful, colorful fun. Get them to stamp their handprints and footprints to capture moments in time.
- Potato prints. Simply cut a potato in half, carve a shape into it, dip it in paint, then stamp it onto a piece of paper. Challenge your mini Picasso to create a portrait of you in potato prints to see what they think of you!
- Paper plate portrait. Paper plates, pens, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners ‒ all you need for your little Van Gogh to create their very own self-portrait!
- Pasta jewelry. If your little one wants to wear a beautiful necklace or bracelet like their mama, why not let them make their own fashion statement? Simply thread some dry penne pasta onto a piece of string, tie it so it’s the right size for your little one (or for you, if it’s a present!), and supply them with some paints to add their own colors.
- Leaf stamps. This is one of the more natural toddler activities that encourages your little one to find beauty in nature. First, go on a leaf hunt to find the leaves with the prettiest pattern, then spread a little paint on them, and stamp them on a piece of paper to make their own colorful tree.
- Collage. Collage, not college. Your little one isn’t flying the coop just yet, mama! If you have any old magazines or newspapers, have your little peanut tear off their favorite pictures to stick to a piece of paper.
Toddler learning activities
Some of the most fun toddler activities are also fantastic at teaching your little peanut important life skills.
Let’s dive in!
Give them a case to solve. Where is the bunny? Your toddler will not rest until they have cracked this one.
- Read picture books. Warning: toddlers’ tastes are discerning. You might end up reading a particular book many, many times.
- Point and name. Take their word for it, toddlers are little language sponges.
- Practice coordination skills. Balance on one leg. Touch your nose with your finger. Pat your head. Stand on tiptoes.
- Go on a treasure hunt for colors. Find me two blue things, three red things, one yellow thing—you get the picture. If your little one is in a safe place, this is one of the toddler activities you can leave them to do by themselves ‒ as long as you’re nearby, of course!
- Build puzzles. Start as soon as you can. They’ll be tackling 3000 pieces in no time.
- 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.
- Cook up a storm. Or at least a pretend one. If you have some toddler-sized kitchen equipment, even better. This is another of our toddler activities that’s great to start fairly young, to get your little one used to cooking and healthy eating.
- 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.
- Build blocks. Excellent for developing 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.
- 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.
Toddler math activities
Want to help your little one become the next Einstein? Well, you can start helping their brains get whirring with these fun toddler math activities:
- Counting. Time to put those fingers and toes to good use. The best part? This is one of our favorite no-budget toddler activities.
- Matching numbers. On some flashcards, write numbers 1-10 and use other cards to show a number of dots, 1-10. Then mix them up and have your little mathematician match up the number two to the card with 2 dots on it, 3 for three, and so on.
- Singing counting songs. We love “[Ten in the Bed[(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwutR8gxgto)”, which goes “There were ten in the bed and the little one said ‘Roll over, roll over!’. Then one fell out, he gave a little scream and gave a little shout! Nine! There were nine in the bed and the little one said ‘Roll over, roll over!’.” And on it goes!
- Hopscotch. A great outdoor toddler activity for building their math skill ‒ draw a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, making sure the numbers are easy for your little one to read, then give them a pebble to throw onto the hopscotch, then they jump the number of times their pebble landed on.
- Find all the numbers! Go on a number hunt ‒ this is another great outdoor toddler activity for your little peanut. Have them point out and repeat all the numbers they can see.
Fun activities for toddlers outdoors
If you’re out and about, or the sun is shining and you want your little one to get their vitamin D (make sure they’ve got suncream on!), you’ll love our fun toddler outdoor activities:
- 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. One of our favorite outdoor toddler activities to help them burn off some steam.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- Gardening. Little thumbs can be green, too.
- Get those wheels turning. A pushbike, a tricycle, a wheelbarrow.
- 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.
- Go for a ride on a bus. Or a boat. Or a train. Through the eyes of the toddler? Wowzers.
Toddler car activities
Whether you’re going on a long trip or just visiting baby’s grandparents, taking your toddler for a car journey can be a trying time.
Save yourself from the endless “Are we there yet?” questions with these great toddler car activities:
- No-mess doodling. If your little one loves to draw, our mamas on Peanut highly recommend investing in one of these magnetic drawing boards, especially for car journeys.
- Eye spy. It’s one of the most well-known toddler car activities, and with good reason!
- Find 10 Things. Simply set the parameters, like “Find 10 things that are green”, then your little detective can point them out and name them as they find them.
- Singing in the car. We all do it, and your little one with love it!
- Listen to an audiobook. Yup, there are audiobooks for kids!
Toddler plane activities
What if you’re traveling to more distant lands? Well, we’ve got you covered with out fun toddler airplane activities. The key here is quiet…
- Mix and match. Either with a magnetic mix-and-match or one you’ve made yourself, let your little one unleash their inner fashion designer!
- Coloring book. If you forget to bring something for your little one on your travels, chances are you can pick them up a coloring book or activity book at the airport.
- Busy board. If your little one is learning how to use their hands, a busy board is a must!
- Movie time! Ah, old faithful! Bring their tablet, pop on a movie, plug in their child-friendly headphones, and leave them to it!
Toddler activities FAQs
Now you’ve got some great ideas for fun things to do with toddlers, there are still a few key things to know.
Rest assured, mama, we’ve got the answers.
How often should you play with your toddler?
According to this study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, playing with your toddler every day is critical to their development.
Do I have to entertain my toddler all day?
No, you don’t have to keep your toddler entertained constantly during the day.
No one’s got that sort of energy!
It’s actually beneficial to your little one to have some supervised “alone time” where they can be by themselves, whether they’re playing alone, watching TV, or reading a book.
Is it OK to let toddler play alone?
Yes, it is okay to let a toddler play by themselves.
Playing alone teaches children independence, which is great to learn at a young age.
But it’s generally not a good idea to let your toddler play by themselves all the time ‒ getting them playing with other children and you is also important for them to learn social skills.
How can I entertain my toddler without a TV?
Okay, we know we probably let our toddlers watch “too much” TV ‒ we get it, it’s exhausting having a toddler to entertain, and TV is so convenient.
And that’s fine.
But if you’re after a few TV-free toddler activities to keep them busy, how about:
- Playing catch outside
- Making some arts and crafts
- Telling a story with puppets
- Putting on a mini-concert
- Cooking and baking together
- Cleaning the house
How do I keep my child entertained for hours?
One of our favorite ideas for toddler activities that last for hours is to DIY it ‒ make things from scratch!
If your little one wants to do some coloring, encourage them to make their own coloring book.
If they want to play dress-up, tell them to find non-clothing items to make into costumes.
If they’re hungry, let them take the lead in the kitchen (with your supervision, of course).
If they want to play with a puzzle, have them make their own puzzle.
You get the gist.
How do you entertain kids with no money?
Not every toddler activity involves spending a lot of money on toys your little one will probably play with once, then will lose behind the back of the sofa.
Here are a few free toddler activities for you to try:
- Visit the library and read some books together.
- Go flower picking outside.
- Clean the house together.
- Put on your own concert or play together.
- Play Floor is Lava.
- Hide and Seek.
We hope you enjoy our fun toddler activities, and that your little peanut loves them, too!
And yes, you are allowed to have as much fun as they do in the process.
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