Have your toddler for the whole day and not sure what to do with them? Or just need to find some fun, guilt-free activities to fill the day? I’ve got you covered! Below are my 10 favorite ways to entertain my toddler without a TV, phone, or tablet.
Reading is one of the best activities you can do with your toddler for brain development. It has helped JC with object identification and developing his language skills. Click here to see JC’s favorite books.
Reading opens a world of infinite possibilities. The illustrations, sounds and different tones will all help to keep your child captivated while expanding their imagination, vocabulary, and language skills.
Arts and Crafts
This is a great and inexpensive way to entertain children of all ages! When they’re younger, it can be as simple and inexpensive as buying $0.50 crayons and a $1 notebook from your local grocery store. And as your child develops his fine and large motor skills, the projects can become more elaborate.
Here are some of ideas:
- Finger painting – you can simply let them paint whatever they want or help them to make a turkey or tree using the outline of their hands.
- Mess-Free Painting – Fill a plastic zip lock bag with shaving cream and place a few dots of food coloring inside. Then zip the bag and let your child swirl their fingers across the bag to make designs.
- Buried Treasure – Fill a big plastic container with cotton balls. Then hide (child-safe) objects or small toys inside and let your child discover the buried treasure.
JC’s been listening to music since he was able to hear, in the womb. We play all kinds of music: Children’s, Gospel, Latin, R&B, Jazz, etc. When he’s super cranky I throw on some of his favorite songs and suddenly, his whole mood changes.
- Sesame’s Street: Number of the Day Compilation
- Sesame’s Street: Letter of the Day Compilation
- Wheels on the Bus
- Baby Shark
During our music time, we enjoy listening, dancing, and singing, so songs with dance moves are a big hit in our household!
Not only does music make kids happy, but it also helps in early child development with coordination, as well as fine and large motor skills. You can play music or even make music with household objects or actual instruments. I purchased this set (and threw out the cymbals before JC got ahold of them ). We love shaking the maracas and beating on the drum. Surprisingly JC loves to blow into the harmonica and flute and is always so amused with the sounds that come out. I love the variety in this fun music pack.
Puzzles and Shape Sorting
Around 10 months or so, I introduced JC to share sorters and once he got the hang of them, we transitioned to puzzles. I love using these because there are soooo many benefits for your child’s development.
They help to develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, object identification, vocabulary, problem solving, and abstract thinking. You can’t go wrong. It’s also nice to see them get so excited when they fit the piece into the appropriate space. Puzzles and shape sorters helped me to teach JC his shapes, colors, and animals.
Here is the shape sorter and puzzle we started out with:
- Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack & Baby’s First Blocks Bundle – Once JC was able to stack rings, I knew it was time for him to move onto a shape sorter. It took some time, but with practice, he mastered it. Even after he’s mastered it, we continue to play with this sorter to help JC with learning his colors and shapes. I’m so glad that it comes with 2 of each shape because we’ve definitely lost a few.
- Melissa & Doug Old MacDonald’s Farm Sound Puzzle – I love how bright and comfortable this puzzle is. And best of all, it actually plays the sound of the animal. Less work on Mommy .
- Wooden Upper Case Letters and Numbers Puzzle – These colorful puzzle boards are a great way to teach colors, letters, numbers, early math, and so much more to children 2+.
This is a fun, mess-free activity that you can do practically anywhere. We blow bubbles at home, at the park, in the car, pretty much anywhere we want. It keeps JC preoccupied and with the no-spill container, I don’t even have to hold the bottle. As infants, babies love to watch bubbles float in the air. As toddlers, they love to pop the bubbles before they land. Either way, it’s so cute to see the excitement in their eyes when playing with them.
Now this can really occupy your child’s attention for extended periods of time. JC’s grandparents were generous enough to get him the Step 2 Kitchen and he cannot get enough of it! They have so many different models, but to be honest, these things are so expensive, I recommend trying to find a gently used one. JC will literally spend an hour cooking, tasting, and serving us food and beverages. We use “kitchen time” to talk about different foods and objects in the kitchen, practice sharing, and sometimes he does his own thing and I just take a break and watch.
Ways to Imaginative Play:
- Teddy Bears
- Dress Up
- Build a fort
The great thing about imaginative play is you can use almost anything. Take a sock and make a puppet, take a pan and become a famous drummer, there’s no limit to imagination!
Teach Them Something New
Children love to learn new things and practice them over and over again. Learning something new can fill their spirit with joy and help to use up some time. As we’ve all seen, toddlers LOVE independence, so teaching them something new will also help with their confidence and allow them to feel more independent.
Below are some ideas of new things to teach your toddler:
- pour water from one cup to another
- count from 1 – 10
- comb or brush their hair
- kick a soccer ball into a net
- throw the basketball into a net
- put the k-cup in the Keurig and press the magical Start button (to start mommy’s day right )
- tie their shoe laces
- drawing shapes
- make a sandwich
Go to the Playground
Going to the playground is a fun experience for kids and parents (especially stay-at-home parents or parents on parental leave). Your children can try new things and exert their energy while you enjoy watching them running, laughing, and playing. It’s also a great way to make new friends and socialize. This was especially helpful before JC started daycare, it was the only exposure he had to other children.
If it’s a beautiful day outside, we go to an outdoor park. Alternatively, if it’s not a good outdoor day, we go to the indoor playground. You can find indoor playgrounds with a simple google search or at your local mall.
Go for a Walk
Whether your little one is an infant or a toddler, getting out of the house can be a game changer! Sometimes they just need to get out of their normal environment and find stimulation in another setting. JC and I were such frequent visitors at our local Trader Joe’s, I am surprised Joe’s wasn’t his first word lol. It’s nice to get out and get moving. A nice stroll around the block or to your nearest coffee shop or park will give your little one some fresh air and something new to look at.
Go to a Museum or Zoo
The museum is a great place to fill your toddler’s entire day with fun and excitement. There are so many things to see and do and plenty of children to play with. Kids will gladly spend hours at a children’s museum and in addition to playing, they’ll also be learning…win-win! The Children’s Museum provides exhibits and activities that allow for parent-child interaction, as well as independent learning.
The zoo is also a great place to spend hours of your day. We love walking around, naming the animals, as well as listening and imitating the sounds they make.
I’d love to hear about what your toddlers enjoy doing. Let me know in the comments section how you spend time with your little ones.
Find 6 clever ways I get my picky toddler to eat his veggies and actually enjoy it!
The Best Reading List for Infants & Toddlers
Click the link to find the most interactive, fun, and educational books!