Each stage of motherhood has its challenges, but the toddler years might be some of the busiest you will experience. Kids are considered toddlers between the ages of one and 4 years old, and the amount of learning and growing that happens in this stage is incredible.
Children experience a critical period in their learning at age 2 and have twice as many brain synapses as adults at this stage. This period lasts until age 7, and the learning that happens over these years has long-lasting effects.
That is why having a selection of learning activities for toddlers in your parenting arsenal is essential. Not only will they keep your child busy, but they will help facilitate their learning.
There are so many fantastic options when looking for learning activities for toddlers. They also fall into a few different categories that cater to the various aspects of your child’s development.
Here are a few types of activities that you could use for your toddler:
- Sensory activities for toddlers
- Fine motor activities for toddlers
- Color Activities for toddlers
- Science activities for toddlers
- Rainy day activities for toddlers
- Activities for toddlers at home
- Halloween Activities for toddlers
1. Learning Activities For Toddlers
Almost any activity can be used as a learning activity, but here are two that can be done easily at home.
Playdough mats are such a versatile play option for your home. There are excellent free resources online, but you could easily make your own ones as well. Print them, laminate them, and you have an easy to clean learning activity at the ready.
Playdough is a childhood staple and can be used in a variety of ways. Use it to introduce colors, build fine motor skills or add it to a sensory activity. Here is a quick playdough recipe that you can easily make at home:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
3 tablespoons of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of oil
2 cups of boiling water
Mix all the ingredients together and knead until smooth. Make sure to seal it in an airtight bag or container to prevent it from going hard, and you will have playdough that lasts for weeks. Add food coloring to the boiling water to make your playdough fun colors!
What a fun way to help your kids recognize patterns, sizes, and colors?
Pop a selection of socks in a basket and let your toddler find the matching pairs. You can even show them how to ball the socks, which is great for their motor skills. Not to mention the added bonus of having your socks neatly organized after laundry day.
2. Sensory Activities For Toddlers
Sensory activities are essential for the development of motor skills, creativity, and language. Sensory activities are important for your developing toddler, but they can be messy, so maybe choose a sunny day and do them outside.
Moon sand is an excellent way for kids to get messy and creative while playing with a different texture. It will also last if you keep it in a sealed container, so you have it available for impromptu fun.
Moon Sand Recipe:
- 8 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of baby oil
If you have a blender with a dough attachment, mix it with that. Otherwise, just mix it with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Once everything is combined, put it in a large container and let your kids play and explore.
Who knew that a can of shaving cream could be so much fun?
You will definitely want to do this outside but getting messy is what kids are meant to do! Empty a bottle of shaving cream (or more) into a tub for your toddler to play in.
You can also add food coloring to the shaving cream to change the color. Throw in some spoons, jugs, and other containers and let your toddler get lost in a new sensation.
3. Fine Motor Activities For Toddlers
Fine motor activities help your toddler develop the skills they need to feed themselves and learn to write. Helping your toddler develop fine motor skills will help them be more confident in their ability to look after themselves and become more independent.
While easy for an adult to use, a simple office punch is a real challenge for a toddler. To start out, use a single hole punch and move up to a double hole punch. Give your toddler a selection of paper and allow them to make holes in them. You can choose paper or cards of different textures and thicknesses which will challenge your toddler.
For older children, you could ask them to punch along a pattern or shape. The punched pieces can also be used for a fun sensory activity or craft project.
Pegs are an incredible way of strengthening the muscles in your toddler’s fingers and hands.
They can help you hang up the washing, but if that is too advanced, then cut some clothes out of paper, make a washing line out of string and let your toddler hang up the paper clothes.
Pegs are versatile, so you could have your toddler put pegs on a skewer, on a piece of card, a leaf, or the hem of your shirt. Fine motor activities using pegs will help your toddler develop the coordination they will need for writing.
4. Color Activities For Toddlers
Learning colors is more important than most parents realize. It is vital for object recognition, language development, and effective communication.
Color Sorting Train
Create a color train with each train cart being a different color. Use an A4 piece of colored card for each coach and cut the front of the train and the wheels out of the black card. It is a good idea to tape these to the floor so they don’t move around.
Have a basket filled with different items. It could be toys, clothes, flowers, or household items. Ask your toddler to fill each train cart with things of the matching color. This is great for toddlers of different ages as they need to differentiate between color tones across a wide range of items.
This is not only a great color activity for your toddler but also a sensory activity. Using rice and food coloring, this is an activity you can pull together easily.
All you will need is 1 cup of rice per color you want to make, some water, and some food coloring. Pop the rice into individual Ziploc bags. Mix ½ a teaspoon of water with 20 drops of food coloring and add to each bag. Then seal the bags and shake until all the rice is coated in color.
Spread the rice out on a baking sheet or paper towel and allow it to dry. This can take a few minutes or up to an hour, depending on what food coloring you used. Letting it dry just helps the color set and will limit the amount of color that stains your toddler’s hands.
Then you can place the rice into individual containers or mix it all together. My favorite is making a rainbow design with the rice and then allowing your toddler to mix it all together.
5. Halloween Activities For Toddlers
It has just been Halloween, so these are appropriate activities, but you could easily adjust them to suit whatever holiday is up next.
This activity needs help from an adult, but it is a lot of fun for everyone. Kids of all ages will get involved as older kids could do it on their own. It gets messy, though, so head outside for this one.
Hollow out a pumpkin and place a cup of baking soda inside. The amount of baking soda will also depend on the size of your pumpkin. The bigger the pumpkin, the more baking soda you need.
Add a few drops of food coloring, preferably a spooky color, to 3 cups of white vinegar. Again, you will need to use more vinegar for a bigger pumpkin. Then slowly pour the vinegar into the pumpkin. As it hits the baking soda, it will create a fizzy, frothy reaction that will bubble out of your pumpkin.
It never fails to excite, so be prepared to go through a lot of baking soda and vinegar!
Crafts are always a great way to keep your toddlers busy while engaging them in learning.
This one is sticky and messy and just what kids are after. Let your toddler put glue on some black paper. Then let them tear pieces of cotton wool up and place them on the glue.
Draw on eyes with a marker or stick googly eyes on for a spooky ghost. You can add bats, spiders, and string spiderwebs to your Halloween picture.
6. Science Activities For Toddlers
There a so many easy at-home science activities for toddlers, and they will ignite your child’s curiosity and enquiring mind. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities are a vital part of a toddler’s development.
This is like magic, and your toddler will love being able to get involved.
You will need:
- A cup of milk (whole or 2%)
- A selection of food coloring
- Dishwashing liquid
- A shallow dish
Pour the milk into a shallow dish until it covers the bottom. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring in a circle in the center of the dish. Then squeeze a drop of dishwashing liquid into the center of the circle and watch the magic happen.
This activity never fails to impress and is a simple option for your toddler.
You will need:
With your toddler, place the M&Ms in a circle around the plate, touching each other. You might want to buy an extra packet of M&Ms because a few will inevitably make it into your toddler’s stomach.
Slowly pour the water into the circle of M&Ms, making sure it is touching all of them. As the water-soluble coating on the M&Ms begins to dissolve, it will create a colorful rainbow in the water.
Wet days stuck inside are the worst, but some fun activities will keep your toddlers busy and help them burn energy.
7. Rainy Day Activities For Toddlers
There is nothing cooler than a pillow fort!
Pick a spot in the house that you are happy to build in: the living room or bedroom works well or even under the dining room table. Then pull out all the cushions, sheets, and blankets you can find.
This activity will feel magical for your toddler but also allow their imagination to run free. If you are up for it, why not spend the night in your fort?
Some of my most treasured childhood memories involve a night spent in a fort my sister and I built. My mom strung up fairy lights and made us pancakes and ice cream for dinner, and we spent the night lost in our own magical world.
Color Scavenger Hunt
If you need to help your toddlers burn some energy, then this activity is a winner. Use the same pieces of colored paper you used for the color train activity. Stick them to the floor, and then have your toddler run around the house finding items that match the colors on the floor.
This could also be a scavenger hunt for shapes or letters, which makes it a versatile option for the rainy season. Not only will your toddler be using up energy, but they will also be having fun which is when learning happens.
8. Activities For Toddlers At Home
For the days you don’t feel like going to the park or the indoor play gym, here are some activities you can easily do at home with your toddler.
Set up a mud kitchen.
Now, I know some parents aren’t keen on mud, but it is actually really good for your toddler’s development. Playing with mud not only benefits their immune system but also helps them communicate, think creatively, and work cooperatively. Not to mention the sensory experience.
A mud kitchen is easy to set up. All you need is a shady spot, a small table or shelf, a selection of old kitchen utensils, and water. Then leave your toddler to play and explore and get dirty!
Lego is a childhood staple that has a myriad of learning benefits. Not only will it keep your toddler busy, but they will be stretching their capacity for creativity, persistence, and engineering.
Lego building will also help your toddler develop their fine motor and problem-solving skills. Lego or the larger Duplo allows your toddler to use their imagination to create their own world, and that kind of free and creative play is essential for a toddler’s developing brain.
Building something from loose parts also helps your toddler develop the capacity for patience and perseverance while allowing them to build confidence in their own abilities.
Having a toddler means long, busy days, and these activities are sure to keep them occupied. They are all quick and easy to prepare, and most of them only need items you already have at home.
Your toddler is growing and developing so quickly that you want to give them the time and space to explore the world around them. These activities allow them the freedom to play and encourage them to think creatively and explore new concepts and ideas.
Having a variety of activities in mind means you can offer your toddler options that are not only fun, but that will help them make the most of the critical period in their development.