Snow days can be so long for a toddler (and a mom!). Recently we have cut back on television in our household. This has been a big adjustment, but a really great one. I compiled this list a few weeks back for myself and thought I would share. There are so many great household supplies that can be used to help keep a toddler busy for hours- and for free. Toddlers are so amazing at imaginative play.
Having this list handy reminds me that there are plenty of activities we can whip out on a whim!
1. Play dress up
Anything goes in a game of dress up. Bring out mom and dad’s hats, gloves, and socks. Or pull out some scarves. Let little one pull out his or her shoes, dresses, and pajamas. Throw items in a pile on living room floor. Then go to town! Show them how to put on clothes. This is a really fun skill for my daughter that has helped teach her awesome motor skills as well as learn how to dress herself. She will sometimes play this game for up to a full hour.
2. Bath time + measuring cups
I once read somewhere that letting children use cups when playing with water teaches lots of things, such as weight distribution and gravity. I will sometimes pull out measuring cups and let my daughter try filling up a bowl using the cups in the bath. She loves it! It changes up her normal “bath-time”.
3. Dance party
There is nothing like a good ole’ dance party to get the wiggles out for toddlers! Throw on some fun music, grab them by the hands, and do some dancing! This is a great way to take a break from reading books or playing with puzzles and transition them to something new.
4. Make homemade play-doh
There are tons of tutorials online for how to make homemade play-doh. It is really fun, and chances are you have all the ingredients you need in your household!
5. Make pipe-cleaner animals
Grab a bag of cheap, fuzzy pipe cleaners and bend and twist to create silly animals!
6. Make music with pots and pans
Grab some ear plugs. Let your little one bang on pots and pans with a wooden spoon. I did this all the time as a child. It will be fun for her to get to play with real kitchen stuff, and she can learn about sounds and music, too!
Crayons are the best. Coloring is a great way to teach art and personal expression. If your little one is tired of coloring books, grab some colorful construction paper! We also have a chalk board, which is another fun variation for coloring.
8. Pillows on floor
Throw your sofa pillows on the floor in a line and let your little one have fun. Chances are he or she will be rolling on the pillows, picking them up and throwing them down, and stacking them.
9. Make a fort
Grab a sheet and a small table, and make a home-made fort! I don’t know why but my child loves her little make believe fort. She likes having her own little “home”.
10. Nature walk
If it is nice outside, grab a small bag and go on a nature walk. Examine birds, bugs, leaves, and rocks. Take a few rocks or leaves home for a nature box!
Again, if it is nice outside take your toddler out to get her hands dirty. Teach her about flowers and gardening while maybe getting a little done, too!
12. Jello paint
This one is messy, but if you want to allow it give your toddler a bowl of jello pudding with a spoon. The few times we have done it my girl has spread it over her tray and had a blast!
13. Shaving cream paint
Another messy but fun activity. Do you have an old coffee table you want to wash? Do it old school and go outside. You can throw plastic on the table, or simply put shaving cream directly on the table. Put a garbage bag on your kiddo or a smock. Then let them smear, spread, and play with shaving cream (without eating it!). We have done this and it was fun and actually pretty easy to clean off!
14. Make Cheerios necklaces
Lace Cheerios on a string to make fun, homemade necklaces!
15. Stamp art
Got an old stamp and ink pad? Make some fun stamp art!
16. Sticker book
Get out all those random stickers and create a sticker book!
17. DIY photo book
This one might take a little more planning, but get one of those cheap, small, brag books. Pic out a few pictures of your toddlers playmates and family members. Then, print out her personal brag book! My daughter has one of these and for weeks she carried it around and looked through it. This is also a fun way to teach names of important people in your life.
18. Read books
Set up a story time area and read books!
19. Tea party
Get out some plastic cups, a small table, and some stuffed animals. Throw a fun tea party! Even let your child serve you!
20. Wash dishes
One of our favorite things to do is wash dishes together. I get a chair for my daughter so she can reach the sink and give her a personal wash cloth. She loves helping and playing in the foamy water!
21. Fold laundry
Ok, you won’t be getting much folding done. Get a warm, fresh load out of the dryer and let your little one try and help folding. Chances are they will be more excited to throw around those warm clothes, but it will keep her busy for a little bit!
Bubbles are so fun! I can play with them forever, and they are so cheap! Have some stashed around the house and every once in a while, bust them out for a little bubble fun!
23. Throw balls
Get out all the bouncy balls in your house and teach your child how to kick and throw balls!
24. Puppet play
We love playing with puppets. It is really fun to make funny voices and read books aloud using a hand puppet.
Are those old blocks sitting in your closet? Re-use them! My child loves her blocks, and I often forget how powerful blocks are for brain development. Try sitting with your child and building things together.
Have any more ideas? Please share them!