Are you trying to keep your toddler entertained for more than a few seconds without resorting to screen time? It’s not an easy task. And sometimes there are activities you want to do, but they take so much time and effort to set up. Well, friend, I’ve found 22 toddler activities that don’t require much prep work that your toddler will love!
1. Colander and Pipe Cleaners
This game is easy and just requires some pipe cleaners and a colander. Threading the pipe cleaners through the holes in the colander helps build your toddler’s fine motor skills.
2. Moon Sand
Remember the moon sand from the 90’s commercials that looked so cool and you begged your parents for? Yeah, you can make that pretty easily yourself. You just need 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil.
Your toddler can squish it in their hands or use shovels, cups, and other toys to play with it. You can even make sandcastles with it! Hide little objects for them to dig up and discover. They can be little archaeologists!
Side note: make sure you take off your rings before you play with them. I had a hell of a time getting moon sand out of my wedding ring. Whoops.
Ahh, sorting. Toddlers love to sort things. You can use pretty much anything for sorting games. Socks and clothes are a good option because then you’re just getting your laundry done. Two birds, one stone.
Here are a few other things you can sort:
- Stickers by color or shape
- Sorting Cups and Bears (our favorites!)
- Toy cars
- Pom Poms
- Pipe Cleaners
- Stuffed Animals
4. Piggy Bank
You can play Piggy Bank once your toddler is old enough to not immediately put coins in their mouth. You should still monitor them with change because, let’s face it, toddlers think coins are pretty tasty for some reason. (Like omg, child, do you WANT to die?)
It doesn’t even have to be a piggy bank. You could use anything with a slot for coins. Take a container and cut a hole in the top.
This is one of her favorite toddler activities for fine motor skills. If you tell your child the names of coins as they’re dropping them in, it will also build their vocabulary.
5. Coloring pages
Coloring is fun. Even as adults, we still love to color. (I mean, have you seen those awesome coloring books for adults?)
Usually, we start our toddlers with blank paper to color because they’re obviously not going to color in the lines. But even if they don’t have the coloring techniques down, they still like the cute outlines and can get the general concept.
Not only is this a fine motor skill, it’s also vocabulary building and problem solving if you do it right. Ask your toddler to color certain areas with a specific color. “Can you color his shoes red?” So she gets the concept of red and shoes and problem solves to make a connection.
Need some coloring pages? There are some free printable ones in my Mom Resource Library!
(ps you can get her coloring desk here. It’s one of her favorite things!)
6. Cardboard Box Fun
We get Amazon boxes almost daily. (Thanks to Prime free shipping) So we’ve learned how to recycle those boxes into toddler fun. You can do pretty much anything with a cardboard box. We color on them and add stickers. She even uses one as a ball pit.
7. Blanket Fort
Of course, there’s the age-old blanket fort. A staple in every childhood. Take a sheet or a blanket and drape it over some chairs and boom. You got a fort. Bonus points if you have a tunnel to add to it!
8. Dance Party
I don’t have nearly as many dance parties as I’d like to. Toot loves to dance! All you need for this activity is music and space to dance! We like to turn Spotify on our FireStick so it comes out of our TV’s sound system.
Check out our playlists in my Mom Resource Library.
9. Shape Tape
The only thing you need for this activity is washi tape (or masking tape). Tape some shapes to the floor and your toddler can jump to each one or walk along the tape. It’s a great activity for gross motor skills. It’s one of my favorite toddler activities.
My kid loves stickers. She’ll put stickers on anything. Sticker fun can just be decorating a piece of paper or you can sort and match stickers. They get to practice their pinching skills for fine motor exercise, too. You can get a big bulk package of stickers on Amazon.
11. Cup stacking
After my 30th birthday party, we had a billion plastic cups left over. (It was a Friends theme) So I gave a stack to Toot to play with. She loved it. She separated them and stacked them and had a blast! If you want smaller cups, Dixie cups work too.
12. Pouring station
Toddlers love water. You can take a big storage bin and fill it with some water for an instant water table. Add some cups and measuring spoons to create a simple pouring station. Toddlers can learn how to pour and it helps with their motor control. It’s also a great introduction to measuring.
13. Ball Toss
Sometimes I forget that kids just want to throw a ball. It’s so simple but it’s fun. It’s good exercise and works their gross motor skills. You can gently toss a ball inside. We have a fluffy Ninja Turtle ball pillow that’s fun to toss.
With toddlers, they’re still learning how to catch so a medium or light large ball will be easier to catch than something small like a ball pit ball.
Ball toss can be tossing to each other or tossing a ball into bins, toy boxes, or buckets. You can get a few toddler activities out of this one.
Your toddler can help you bake! It’s easier than cooking because most of the active work for baking doesn’t require being around something hot. The only hot part of baking is when it goes in the oven. But mixing flour and sugar and other ingredients is safe and easy to do. Plus it’s fun! Your toddler will love helping you bake cookies, muffins, cakes, or pies.
This is also a good activity to learn measurements and how to follow directions.
15. Grocery Store
Pretend play is important for little minds. They get to practice social skills. So if you have some plastic food like this, set it out on shelves or across your couch. Your child can use a basket or a bucket to pick out the food they want to “buy” from the grocery store. They can even check out and give you play money. You can easily make play money from paper or get a pretend register and money.
Bonus if you have a grocery cart! They’re cute, and Toot loves hers.
Another fun pretend play game for toddlers is library! You just need the books you already have and a shelf. Stuffed animals can check books out or your toddler can. Then they can sort the books back into the right places. Plus, it gives them a chance to read some of their books.
17. Mail Carrier
Give your junk mail a job. It’s not doing anything but being garbage. Your toddler can use it to play mail carrier. Make mailboxes out of tissue boxes or old Amazon boxes. Have them deliver and pick up the mail from each mailbox.
They can also “write” letters to their friends/stuffed animals and take them to their mailboxes.
If you really want a mailbox for your toddler, we have this one by Melissa and Doug and it’s a lot of fun. It even has wooden stamps!
18. Crafts with paper plates or construction paper
Cut up some paper plates or construction paper into shapes and have your child glue or tape them together. You can easily make a cat or a fish out of a paper plate and some simple shapes.
Toddlers can also color the pieces before or after they’re stuck together.
You can also try making a Daddy Finger Song craft.
19. Hide N Seek
Toot is very bad at Hide N Seek. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love playing it. It’s a simple game that you can start as soon as your toddler can walk. You’ll have to show them how to do it first. It helps if you have another adult or an older child. You can help your toddler seek and hide until they get the concept.
21. Rice Bin
Rice is the new sand. It doesn’t mold like sand does, but it’s fun to stick your hands in and scoop and pour. You just need a bunch of uncooked rice and a bin similar to the sand situation. It’s also easier to clean up if it gets on the floor. (which, who are we kidding? It totally will.)
22. Sink Play (water or snow)
I used to love playing in the sink when I was a kid. Now Toot loves it! My mom lets her play in the bathroom sink with bath toys and soap. It’s a fun activity if you don’t want to give your kid a bath twice a day. My niece would take 3 baths a day if we let her.
Bonus: you can play in the snow in the sink too! We bring snow inside to play with so we don’t freeze.
What are your favorite low prep toddler activities?
Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out the resources, printables, playlists, and ebooks in my Mom Resource Library!
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