13 Free play ideas for Toddlers

Toddlers learn best through play.

The activities below will keep your toddler busy as well as teach them vital skills.

I’ve personally used each idea either in a class or with my own kids.

  • Ribbons in a bottle

Take an empty bottle with a wide lid . Stuff with ribbon. Help your child to push the ribbon in and pull it out.

  • Pom pom play
  • For this you need a bowl of pom Poms and some tweezers. Use the tweezers to transfer the pom Poms into and out of the bowl.

    • Colander pipe cleaners

    Take several coloured pipe cleaners and a colander. Turn the colander upside down and have your toddler stick the pipe cleaners in using the colander like a peg board.

    • Corn kernel sensory box

    This is great for if you have a child learning about the farm or food theme. Place popcorn into a shallow box. Insert farm animals, farmer and a tractor into the kernels covering them.

    Give your child spoons, a funnel, an empty container and a jug to play with.

    Let them discover the animals and scoop out the kernels. Teach them to pour the kernels into the container and how they pass through the funnel.

    • Cardboard box

    This is self explanatory, give your child a box and let their imaginations go wild.

    • Rip tissue paper

    This is fantastic for fine motor skills. You can start with soft papers like serviettes, tissue paper and work up to white paper, old magazines and wrapping paper.

    • Fabric scraps

    Give your child a box of fabric scraps.

    On a huge piece of paper trace around their body. Let them glue on the fabric scraps to make clothing.

    • Jars and lids

    Take several jars with lids. Unscrew all the lids. Muddle them up and have your child match the right lid to the container and screw it on.

  • Pots and pans orchestra
  • Hold your ears with this one. Give the kids some old pots and wooden spoons let them make music.

    • Transfer water

    This is especially fun in the bathroom but a bowl of water outside will also work.

    Fill a container and have your child transfer water from it to another container.

    You can use a variety of different items like spoons, cups, jugs, buckets, ect.

    • Stack cups

    Let your child stack plastic cups or Tupperware in your kitchen the same way they stack blocks.

    • Toothpicks and meat trays

    Draw a simple picture on a meat tray and let your toddler prick all around it to make the pattern.

    Most importantly have fun and always stop an activity if your toddler has lost interest.

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    15 fun Toddler Activities to do this weekend

    As an educator I enjoy easy activities that not only keep kids busy but allow them to learn through play.

    Here are 15 fun easy activities to keep your toddler ( and you) busy this weekend.

    1.Cut up pipe cleaners – collect a variety of coloured pipe cleaners and let your child practice their cutting skills by cutting the pipe cleaners into smaller pieces.

    2.Balloon badminton – make 2 bats by taping a carton tube to a paper plate. Alternatively You can cut a pool noodles and each use a piece or use fly swatter. Take turns using a balloon as the ball to hit.

    3.Bubbles wrap runway – this is very cute and perfect for little toddlers. Place a long strip of bubble wrap on the ground. Have your child stand like an aeroplane , arms outstretched and run down the runway to take off and fly.

    4.Golf tees into Styrofoam – for this you need a few golf tees and some Styrofoam. Give your child a wooden hammer and let him hammer each tee into the Styrofoam.

    5.Highways – make roads from tape on the ground and let your toddler ride their cars on the roads.

    6.Treasure hunt – hide a few items in a room or outside. Draw the items into a piece of paper and help your child to find each one. I like a nature hunt where each child has to find a few items to collect outside.

    7.Cereal necklaces – using a cereal that looks like hoops make a necklace by stringing tgem onto a piece of string or ribbon.

    8.Thread cereal onto a spaghetti stick – place a piece of raw spaghetti into a piece of playdough. Thread cereal with hoops onto the spaghetti.

    9.Newspaper balls – roll newspaper up into a ball and throw, kick and roll the balls with your toddler.

    10.Roll down a hill- I’m sure you all remember the fun of rolling downhill and in the grass. Teach your toddler to roll downhill.

    11.Balance beam- a balance beam can be made from a piece of plank or a few bricks placed together . Allow your child to hold your hand until they are confident enough to balance by themselves.

    12.Block stack – use blocks or plastic containers to stack into tall towers and let your toddlers knock it over.

    13.Lacinging cards – cut some easy shapes from card boxes. Old cereal boxes work best. Punch all around and let your child use a shoe lace to thread around.

    14.Cook with mud- who didn’t love cooking with mud as a child? Give them some old kitchen utensils and make a small mud patch outside. This is great for creativity.

    15.Peg play-allow your child to peg the clothing pegs on and off a paper plate, shoebox or string tied between two chair legs.

    Bears first toys & fun ideas to stimulate your baby at home

    These were Little bears first toys.

    Mammas you do not need expensive items to entertain baby.

    The wooden bunnies were made by my friend Karolien at www.momsdirectory.co.za and I painted them using nail polish . I used them to help him focus and do tracking with his eyes.

    The plastic containers, I would put beans, ect in to make different sounds. I shook these for him to hear.

    We placed all the items into the gift bag as storage and pointed out the bright items on the bag to bear as we spoke during the day.

    The washing machine I made from an old mug box by cutting a hole in the centre and drawing on the details. I would place various tactile materials inside for him to pull out.

    The finger puppet fitted over bears hand and I would place it on his hand or foot for body awareness and to get him to grasp at it and cross the midline.

    Those first 1000 days are the most important and one of my peeves at having worked in several daycares, is how the school owners feel babies do not need as much stimulation as older children .

    Today I’m sharing just a few of the items bear and i did together in his early months …

    Shaving cream

    This is one of my all time favourite go to sensory activities and even my age 4/5 year old class enjoyed writing and playing in the shaving cream.

    You can colour the shaving cream with a dash of food colouring .

    Best of all if you spray into a cupcake tray , put a different colour into each cup, mix and leave in the fridge till bath time you have awesome bath paints. My older bears loved these.

    Little bears reaction to the shaving cream was delightful. He was 4 months old here and loved mooooshing the cream over the tray.

    And …no mess!

    Just dump in bath ๐Ÿ˜›

    For bath fun I love the www.acornkids.co.za bath foam which is the same as coloured shaving cream. Too much fun in a can.

    Serviettes

    Items as simple as a serviettes can keep babies entertained and are great for tactile discovery.

    Just watch how quick those little hands can get to the mouth …

    Bubble wrap

    Another one of my favourites.

    Little bear squished it in his chubby fingers, walked on it, rolled on it, crawled on it and I sat him in it, in his pool.

    Obviously never leave baby alone with plastic of any kind. And watch items near babies mouth.

    Crawling tunnels

    One of our favourite items when little bear was crawling was his www.melissaanddoug.com tunnel.

    When my other bears were babies my budget didn’t allow for such fancy items and we made tunnels from empty boxes, chairs lined up and under beds.

    Crawling obstacles were placed within reach to encourage movement and develop those gross motor skills.

    Baking

    Baking is one of the activities little bear and I enjoy together.

    You can bake from young.

    Even at just a few months he enjoyed tasting the dough, squishing it in his fingers and slamming rollers and cutters onto the dough.

    As he’s gotten older he now helps add ingreadience to a bowl, place decorations on and has more control over the roller and cutters.

    How cute is his chef hat from Theresa at www.magoo.co.za ?

    Sand

    Oh how much fun was Little bears first sandy day at the beach?

    Sand is a wonderful medium to explore.

    As I was stuck inside with a broken leg for most of bears early months we used kinetic sand from www.acornkids.co.za on a tray to play with often.

    Garden sand is his favourite and he loves the feel of squishy mud between his fingers as he drags his bulldozers through it.

    We’ve tried to build sand castles on the beach but up until now my OCD builds the castle and bears Toddler curiosity crushes it ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Did you know preschools steralise their sandpit sand with coarse salt. It keeps it free of worms and fleas.

    If you have pets always keep your sandpit covered.

    Water

    Water play can be just as exciting to explore as sand and again you don’t need any expensive water tables.

    A large container with a bit of water, a small blow up pool or a plastic shell will do.

    You could even put baby in the bath.

    Boats, bath toys and kitchen odds make the best experimenting tools.

    You can colour the water with a drop of food colouring or use www.acornkids.co.za angel powder.

    A bit of bubble bath, shower gel or shampoo makes amazing bubbles.

    Alternatively if your toddler is older you can give them a hand whisk and get them beating that water to make the bubbles …

    Ball pitt

    A ball pit can be tremendous fun at any age .

    We turned a mini blow up pool into bears first ball pit.

    He would sit and play like that for a few minutes at a time and soon learnt to throw them out .

    Bubbles

    Who doesn’t love bubbles?

    I collected some of Kikis bath bubbles and placed them in a container for little bear to explore. He enjoyed feeling the bubbles on his hands and feet.

    So much fun in a box.

    Balloon play

    This is still one of little bears favourites.

    I started by tying a balloon to his car chair or pram for him to watch.

    As he began to sit and crawl I would blow up several and place them all around him to bop at and try catch.

    Now that he is older we can throw them to him and he kicks them.

    Bring nature inside

    As I mentioned I was stuck with a heavy cast and moonboot for most of little bears early months and so i would often get one of my older bears to find me leaves, flowers, bark, stones, shells and other pieces of nature for bear to explore.

    Sensory pools

    These really can be made with any container large enough for baby to sit in.

    I filled Little bears blow up pool with a variety of different items and hid toys and small things in between for him to discover.

    This one I used packaging pellets but you can use :

    Rice
    Beans

    Foam
    Cut up pool noodles
    Sponges
    Cooked noodles
    Dry noodles
    Leaves

    Paint

    I introduced Little bear to paint at a very young age and it’s one of his go to activities.

    It’s possible to let your child paint from 4/5 month old with help. You guide their hand and then watch as they learn to swipe the paper themselves.

    If you are worried about mess mix a little dish liquid into your finger or poster paints , it helps it wash out faster.

    Or you can make your own paint by mixing either flour or cornflour with a drop of colour and a small bit of Water till you have the consistency you need.

    He has his own style and will paint anything in front of him.

    This box was from his www.buddingminds.co.za kit and he had not finished painting yet so the box was his next project ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

    Discovery boxes

    I feature my discovery boxes often because I feel it’s important to place a child in an environment that fosters learning and discovery.

    The box is an old train box but you could use a tray, shoe box, cupcake tray or printers tray.

    Chose a theme

    For this box we used a baking theme

    Fill the box with items related to that theme and step back allowing your child to explore and discover each item for as long or short a period as they like.

    This was my saving grace over the December holidays and kept bear busy enough for me to get some work done.

    And always end with lots of mamma hugs and kisses

    15 things to do that won’t cost you money

    Here’s a list of 15 things you can do with your family this weekend that won’t cost you much money .

    • Visit the park – we have so many amazing parks on Cape Town. My favourite is the Greenpoint Biodiversity park. It even has an amazing fenced in play area for little kids.
    • Go sightseeing – I recommend a trip to the V&A, they have a free walking history tour. Just grab a map at the tourist information centre and follow the maps and signage.

    • Play a board game – when last did your family sit down to monopoly or scrabble? My boys are currently enjoying Risk.
    • Visit the library – go grab some new books and havd a chilled weekend relaxing with a good read.
    • Try a new recipe- the internet is full of devine recipes. Pick one to treat the family with.
    • Draw something- you don’t need to be an artist to draw. Try your hand at nature journaling. Take a book and some pencils outside and sketch what you see.
    • Camp out – if you have a tent put it up in the back yard . Build a bonfire and let the kids camp outside for the night. If you can’t camp build a table blanket fort and spend sometime in the fort reading to the kids.
    • Watch a movie – between DSTV, Netflex, YouTube and the internet your choices are unlimited . Or you could go old school and rent some dvds. Don’t forget the popcorn.
    • Learn a new skill – take the time to start that diy project you’ve been dreaming up or trying a new craft.
    • Budget- sit the family down and work out an entertainment budget for the month. Get the kids to make lists of things they would like to do as a family.
    • Make a time capsule- collect a box and everyone writes letter to their future self if puts in an item that is special to them. Agree to open in 2030.
    • Go through old photos – the kids will enjoy seeing younger photos of themselves and it’s always fun to relive a memory.
    • Exercise -take a walk,join a fun run or go for a bicycle ride.
    • Go geocatching – Navigating to find caches.Learn more on Geocaching.com: bit.ly/2sVBwOe

    • Make paper aeroplanes – teach the kids to make paper aeroplanes and race them.

    Happy 60th Lego

    January the 28th marks the 60th birthday of the iconic Lego block.

    These little plastic building blocks were launched in Denmark in 1958.

    They take their name from two Danish words that mean PLAY WELL.

    “Leg” and “godt”

    “PLAY WELL”

    Since its humble beginnings over 480 billion bricks have been made.

    Lego is now one of the biggest toy brands in the world with theme parks,expos, movies and videos dedicated to the brand.

    In 2016 alone , 75 billion pieces were sold worldwide.

    To celebrate their 60th birthday a giant 10 feet tall 2×4 Lego brick statue was unveiled on Friday in New York at the Flat iron Plaza.

    The statue is made up of 133,000 individual Lego bricks and it took Lego’s master builders more than 350 hours to construct.

    A very Happy Birthday Lego !

    Little Bears Toddlerย  bucket list for January 2018

    It’s January again , I mean how fast are the days flying by? It seems just yesterday we celebrated little bears first New Years eve and here we are again.

    As one does in the beginning of a new year, I’ve started organising and scheduling our year. Sorting our posting schedules and looking at various challenges for the year.

    One of the things i’ve started is a bucket list of things I want to achieve this year, some are easy , others require a bit bigger dreaming ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So, I thought why not include a bucket list for little bear

    I know , I hear you groaning … as moms we can bearly keep up with the kids milestone books and extra murals so how will we fit in a bucket list

    Easy …

    Instead of writing a long list i’m going to post 5 bucket list items a month and work throughout that month to complete them ๐Ÿ˜Š

    I hope you’ll join us and share your experiences with us.

    To make it easier for us to share your experiences with you ,tag us on your social media with #littlebearsbucketlist or #funmammasa

    January bucket list

    1. Join a library
    2. Picnic in a park
    3. Go for a ride on my bike 
    4. Build a sandcastle
    5. Bake with mom 



    1. Join a library

    We love to read and have a wide collection of toddler books. Even so i find little bear sometimes wants a new book to read or I want to read a specific book to him and don’t want to spend a fortune on a book we may only read once or twice.  That is where the public library comes in handy.

    The toddler book range is extensive, you can try out new authors and books at no cost, theres no need to worry about space for new books as you return your books every two weeks (or sooner), your child learns to love and respect books, it’s a fun outing and you can chose specific books to match your child’s interests and abilities never to stress about replacing the books your toddler has outgrown. Your library also loan out dvds, talking books, puzzles and magazines.

    So, how do you join the library

    If you aren’t a member already you will need to open a card for you aswell.  For that you need your ID and  proof of residence.  To open your child’s card you will need their birth certificate. 

    Remember to ask your library for a list of times, services offered and about their story hours and holiday programs to keep your todders busy.

    2. Picnic in the park

    When last did you pack a picnic basket of all your favourite nibbles and head to your nearest park to enjoy some quality family time? 

    I love to picnic, and the last picnic we enjoyed was bears teddy bear birthday picnic.

    I’m a bit weary of being alone in a park so chose an open park with lots of houses around or take a group with you. 

    3. Go for a ride on my bike

    We very lucky to live both next to the pretty #mycity walkways and close enough to the beach promanade so little bear can enjoy both.

    We lazy though and don’t  always take him for a ride on his bike.

     One of my own goals is to be outside and moving more this year so this bucket list challenge is the perfect way for me to start my daily walks with little bear.

    4. Build a sandcastle

    Is there anything nicer than the soft cool feel of sand between your toes? Little Bear loves the sand and has now started to copy what we do so building a sand castle together could be alot of fun. 

    As a little girl I spent hours decorating my sand castles with shells and driftwood imagining they were homes to mermaids and sea creatures. When I was done i’d built an entire town on the beach.

    If you don’t live near the beach, let your toddler build a sand castle in the sandpit or garden. Kinetic sand is also great if you cant get outside.

    5. Bake with mom

    Little bear loves to be in thd kitchen with me. He also wants to do everything we do, so baking is a great activity to bond and build that independance.

    He even has his own little apron to help bake in. 

    I’ll be posting some no bake recipes for you all to try with your children Or you can email me for a copy of the sugar biscuit recipe we’ve been using for the last 26 years, since Tammi first baked with me.

    I can’t wait to get little bear and I started on this bucket list .

    Enjoy the activities and building memories with your bears manma๐Ÿ’–