Toddlers are figuring out how things work in the world around them... and thrive on making connections between cause and effect, working on language skills, and gaining more physical confidence by running, jumping, and more. Most of all, they love playing with you! Even the most simple activities are special when done together.
Looking for some creative ways to spend time with your toddler? Read on for twenty fun and development-boosting ideas!
1) Transform a cardboard box: The possibilities are endless… make a rocket ship, a car, or a house. Cutting a simple door or window can lead to hours of imaginative play.
2) Make a masking tape road: Using painter’s tape or masking tape, create a “road” on the floor for toy cars to drive on. Create buildings with blocks to make a little city!
3) Make playdough: Toddlers love squishing and shaping playdough into all kinds of shapes, boosting fine motor skills. You can even make your own non-toxic playdough together! Follow an easy recipe here.
4) Take each other’s portrait: Wear funny, silly, or fancy outfits and snap a few pictures of each other.
5) Ask open-ended questions: Even if your little one can’t quite answer yet, they understand almost everything you say! Asking open-ended questions is a great way to boost those early language skills.
6) Have a tea party: Invite your child’s stuffed animals to join you in a tea party…practice table manners, pouring juice or water, and serving snacks (even pretend ones!).
7) Re-enact a favorite book, movie, or tv show: You can each play a character and act out a favorite story.
8) Play with sidewalk chalk: Create a hopscotch, a maze, a pathway to follow, or different colored shapes to jump on. Draw a favorite animal, spell out their name, or let them scribble freestyle!
9) Have a nature scavenger hunt: Create a simple list of items to find outside: a rock, a stick, a leaf, a bug, etc.
10) Have a library adventure: Go to the library and find a book you’ve never read before about your child’s favorite animal or activity.
11) Make a living room fort: Even a simple blanket between two chairs can create a new world! Toddlers love having a cozy space to play in.
12) Toy car wash: Filling up a sink or washtub full of bubbles, do a car wash with your child's toy cars (or other waterproof toys). Practice scrubbing and rinsing.
13) Freeze dance party: Press play and dance while the music goes, when the music stops, you have to freeze in whatever funny position you’re in. Start dancing again when the music starts!
14) Draw a picture together: Collaborate on drawing a scary monster, a big boat, or a flower garden. Draw a circle and let them fill in the face, or vice versa!
15) Hidden puzzles: If your toddler has done the same puzzle dozens of times… make it into a new and exciting adventure by hiding the pieces around the room for them to find before completing the puzzle. (Just don’t forget where you put ‘em!)
16) Create an obstacle course: Create a simple course for them to follow, for instance, have them jump over a pillow, crawl under a table, or walk across some chairs.
17) Car ramp: Using a piece of cardboard or a board of some kind, balance one end on a couch, chair, or block to create a ramp. Deceptively simple, this is a big hit with toddlers! They’ll love racing two cars, or seeing how fast different cars can go. Try ramps at different angles and compare what happens.
18) Cook together: It may be much less efficient than doing it yourself, but toddlers will love doing simple tasks to help prepare a favorite food. Helping with "grown-up" tasks makes them feel confident and proud!
19) Test sinking & floating: Fill a small tub with water, have your toddler grab ten items from around the house (that are water-safe), and try dropping each one in… see if it sinks or floats!
20) Balloon float: All you need for this game is a single balloon—challenge yourselves to pass the balloon back and forth without it touching the floor.