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.

    A boy at play

    I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way bear plays all of a sudden. 

    Interacting

    Instead of merely sitting back and watching us, waiting for us to introduce an activity or toy to him,  he is interacting in almost all activities around him. He wants to be a part of what we are doing from conversations to baking.

    Busy

    Oh my exhaustingness is he busy!!!!! Lol now that he has crawling down he darts off in all directions and is constantly busy. His play room is his favourite space as all activities are at his level so he can choose what he wants to play with.

    Alone time

    Before bear needed me around at all times. Now he is quite content to play for 10 t0 15 minutes with his toys alone in the cot or downstairs on the playmate while I busy myself around him.

    Constant entertainment 

    I find I’ve had to purchase new toys as he constantly needs to be entertained with the new things . Where before he was content to play now he wants to explore and find new items to discover.

    I love watching bear play … to see the concentration on his face as he discovers new things and the determination  I see inhim trying to gain a new skill.