Skip to Content

100 Best Activities and Things to Do with a Toddler at Home

100 Best Activities and Things to Do with a Toddler at Home

Share!

Looking for the best things to do with a toddler at home? Toddlers crave lots of attention, so it’s a great idea to have easy, at-home activities to entertain them. These kid-friendly ideas include different ways of connecting, developing motor skills and tips for incorporating everyday fun with your toddler at home.

Mom Rewritten uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through the links in these posts. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the Privacy Policy and Disclosures tab.

This article originally published in April 2018 and has been updated and republished with a new date.

Things to Do With a Toddler at Home

These things to do with a toddler can help them stay healthy inside and out, by providing a learning experience and foster a toddler’s development.

Limiting screen time for toddlers is ideal. But boredom is a real thing (for kids and parents, alike). I’ve come up with a few simple crafts, exercise activities, brain-building games and ideas for entertaining little ones from an early age.

My personal story

My third baby was a little surprise. Several years ago I was “lucky” enough to be laid off of my full time job. The same month, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. That’s the surprise!

It all worked out for the best because now, for the first time, I’ve been able to be home with my children. I’ve been delighted to spend time at home, teaching my toddler and learning everything about her.

Toddlers have such fun personalities, adorable voices, at times-indecipherable language and all that boundless energy! You know, even the little tantrums don’t bother me (too much!)

It’s been a great few years with my toddler. I love how I’ve been able to connect, play and grow alongside my little one. My daughter has only just turned two years old, so she still needs lots of supervision and parental guidance with everything.

However there are some days when I just don’t know what to do with her! I want her to learn through communication and age-appropriate activities. But it can be a challenge to know just what a toddler will enjoy.

Toddler wearing a striped dress and red bow

Creative Arts & Crafts for Toddlers

Toddlers really love to get into their playtime. Messy craft activities are a way that kids explore the world, to expand their brains and learn. The fine motor skills are essential to developing better hand-eye coordination.

Allow your toddler to safely squish dough, paint and craft. Kids will need constant supervision when crafting, as toddlers have the tendency to put these items into their mouth! Hey, that’s how they learn too.

Here are a few suggestions of fun activities for creative play and crafts to offer your toddler.

Magic Mirror

Sit side by side facing a mirror and make faces. See if young kids can mimic your expressions.

Coloring Books

Old fashioned coloring books and crayons are the perfect art tool for toddlers. The dollar store offers both affordably.

Toddler Clay

Mushy Play-Doh and kid-friendly clay is a delight. Pair play dough with a few simple items, like a safe plastic knife, rolling pin and small cookie cutters.

Toddler playing with clay
Clay is a classic for toddler’s creative, open-ended play.

Stickers

A sheet of stickers and colored construction paper are one of the best things for occupying little ones. Encourage toddlers to peel and stick (while under your supervision).

Medium sized square of round sticker shapes are the most ideal for small hands. Avoid choosing stickers that have too many edges or that will tear when lifted off the backing.

There’s a helpful hint that makes it easier for kids to remove the sticker from the backing. Peel off the outside border material, leaving only the stickers on the page.

Pipe Cleaners

These soft bendy wires can be manipulated to create any number of creative things. An even better option is WikkiStix. WikkiStix are slightly sticky and coated in wax,. They can be used over and over again.

Paint Fireworks

Snip the ends of an empty cardboard tube (like a toilet paper roll or paper towel roll). Fan out the edges. Paint the fringe with acrylic paint and let your child stamp the paper. Overlap colors to create patriotic “fireworks”.

5 Budget-friendly Patriotic Summer Crafts for Kids

Learning How to Play Independently

Many toddlers will insist that you either play with them or at least remain with them while they’re playing. Don’t feel like you have to sit and play with them all the time.

Yes, engagement is great but you also want to teach little ones how to play independently. If your toddler is reluctant to play alone, here are some tips to ease into that transition.

Choose Free Play Toys

Encourage the use of toys that are “open-ended”. Items like blocks, silk fabrics, dolls and dress-up clothes let toddlers use their imagination to play alone.

Disengage to Encourage Independent Play

Let your toddler choose the toy and start playing with them. Excuse yourself with a reason (you have to use the bathroom, etc). Be prepared for your toddler to follow you when you’re first using this tactic.

Return in a few minutes to join the game. Play for a few minutes, then leave again. Eventually you’ll be able to get up and leave the area without giving a reason. At some point, your child may not want you to return, preferring to play on their own!

LIttle girl playing in bedroom with toys

Fun Indoor Physical Exercise with Toddlers at Home

Toddlers absolutely need physical exercise every day. If you can’t get outdoors or to the park, try these indoor exercise ideas with your little kids to help them strengthen their muscles and improve coordination.

Balloon Toss

Blow up a balloon, then show your toddler how to tap the balloon gently with the palm of their hand to keep it in the air.

Stretching

The slow movements of stretching are easy for little ones to learn. Put on some peaceful music and use kid-friendly connotations like, “Melt to the floor like ice cream”.

Dance Party

Play some kid-friendly songs like the “Hokey Pokey” and “Ring Around the Rosy”. Instructional songs like these that teach the lyrics along with movements are ideal.

Make up silly moves like, “Wiggle like a dog after bath time” or “Waddle like a penguin”.

Balance Beam

Tape a piece of blue painters tape on the floor and show your toddler how to walk on the line.

Obstacle Course

Creating an indoor obstacle course is so much fun as a rainy day activity for older toddlers. Set up a route through the living that toddlers can follow behind the sofa, crawl under the dining room, over the ottoman, behind the recliner, and around the rug.

Marching Band

Grab an old pot and wooden spoons to beat out the rhythm. Teach your toddler how to march and clap. Then synchronize both movements together to improve gross motor skills.

Bubble Wrap Jumping

Tape a square of bubble wrap securely to the floor. Let your toddler jump atop the plastic in their bare feet to POP the bubbles!

Toddler girl playing with wooden train track

Incorporating Toddler Reading Time

Turn off the device and television in favor of story books and snuggles. Toddler story time is a great segue between playtime and nap time.

Make reading to your child a part of your entire day, not just at bed time. Have a select library of books that are reserved for the afternoon, and a separate group of bedtime books.

No need to just stick to reading the words on the page. Talk about what you see in the pictures, asking your child to find specific images on the page.

If you’re bored of reading the same books over and over, head for the library to borrow new stories. Host a “book swap” with friends to trade for new titles.

Sometimes the books that toddlers love aren’t the ones that you’re usually drawn to! Keep an open mind when allowing your young children to choose reading material.

READ MORE: Need suggestions on the choosing the best book? This list includes 50 of the best baby books for babies and toddlers.

Toddler in a pile of board books

Brain-Building Learning Games for Toddlers

Your little one probably isn’t quite ready for board games with lots of rules. Try these basic learning games that help your toddler make brain-building connections. These examples are simple activities that older siblings may enjoy playing with the younger kids.

Basket Toss

Use a laundry basket and balled up socks to create a tossing game that improves coordination.

Bean Bag Balance

Show your toddler how to balance bean bags on the back of their hand, their elbow, top of their foot or her head.

In and Out

This one is a great activity for curious toddlers. Give your toddler some kid-friendly general use items, like cleaned-out bottles in a variety of sizes with the caps removed. Offer a small box to let him load and unload.

One of my toddler’s favorite things to do is empty and reload the kitchen drawer that holds her sipper cups and flatware.

Sing Along

Encourage toddlers to learn lyrics and sing along to a rhythm. You’re going to have to sing along yourself to facilitate this!

Alphabet Blocks

A simple set of alphabet letter wooden blocks can be a great learning tool and toy. Children can use the blocks to stack and play. Parents can set up the blocks in alphabetical order to teach the ABC song. Eventually, your child will be putting the letters in order by themselves!

Animals Acting

Encourage pretend play along with sounds that animals make by imagining you, older siblings, and your toddler are different animals. Take turns trying to guess farm animals, undersea creatures, pets, and zoo critters.

Fidget Box

A fidget box includes a variety of small toys in various textures and different colors for sensory play. Items in a sensory bin could be pom poms, Pop-It, squishy toys, plush, and slinkies.

Ensure that everything in the box are appropriate for the toddler age group, are ideal for small hands, and don’t include any choking hazards.

Toddler Imaginative Play Ideas

Sometimes when I’m home with my toddler, I’m just trying to figure out small bits of activity in between stopping tantrums! Having play ideas that are calming and entertaining is perfect.

Water Play

There’s just something about playing in water that’s both fun and relaxing for toddlers. If you don’t have an outdoor water table, a dishwashing tub or the bathtub works too. Squirt in bath bubbles for added joy!

This activity will take your full attention, as toddlers should not play around water alone.

Indoor Tent

Set up an easy “tent” by draping a towel over two chairs or angling pillows to create a crawl space. Don’t be surprised if destroying the tent each time you set it up becomes the game!

Cardboard Box

It’s true, sometimes the box that the toy comes in is more exciting to kids than then actual toy! Cardboard boxes can be used in a variety of ways, depending upon the size.

Allow toddlers to decorate a plain box with crayons or stickers. Create a plush toy bed with a shoebox or a rocket ship out of a larger sized box.

Baby Doll

Show your toddler how to cuddle and take care of a baby, including putting the baby to sleep, feeding and changing a diaper. After playing baby dolls, your toddler may want to pretend that they are the baby!

Toddler girl holds a baby doll

Which Classic Toys are Best for Toddlers?

These play ideas include several toy suggestions. These aren’t one-and-done toys. Having these toys are home will spark imagination for the toddler years, and future years to come. Invest in high quality classic toys that your child will play with daily.

Classic toys let toddlers play creatively and in their own unique way. No worries if you’re toddler is using the toy in a different way (ie: having a car fly in the air instead of roll on the ground). This just means their imagination is at work!

Wooden Blocks are a must-have in every child’s toy collection. I’d recommend choosing a set that includes several shapes for variety in play.

Stacking Cubes are used to build skyscrapers, hold items inside, or nest into each other. Look for sturdy cardboard that are safe when knocked over.

Vehicles in a variety of different shapes and sizes are perfect for little hands to maneuver. With younger toddlers, look for toy cars in a softer materials. Older kids can handle wooden cars or die-cast vehicles.

Encourage your child to set up car ramps using pieces of cardboard. Determine which cars are the fastest at the end. Delineate roads with blocks, sticks, or the designs on a rug.

Silky Play Scarves, including these from Sarah’s Silks can be used in a variety of ways, including dress-up.

Stacking Cups can be made to build a tower or to hold other toys. This silicone variety is soft and easy to clean.

Little girl playing with race car track

Outdoor Playtime for Toddlers

Spending time outside is important when it comes to a toddler’s learning experience. Outdoor activities can take place at the local park or playground, in your own backyard, or on a patio or balcony.

Disappearing Sidewalk Art

Sidewalk Chalk – Decorate the sidewalk with colorful chalk. Then have toddlers use a spray bottle to wash away the artwork.

Sponge Stamping – Soak sponges of various sizes with water and show your toddler how to stamp them on the ground outside to leave a wet impression.

Water Paint – Use a paint brush and bucket of water to draw designs on the sidewalk. Depending upon the weather, the sun will dry the water and the artwork will disappear before your eyes!

Finger Paint Art

Tape a large piece of plain white paper to the sidewalk. Fill the openings of an empty egg carton with non-toxic finger paint and let your toddler get creative!

Bubbles

A classic! Blowing bubbles teaches toddlers fine motor skills to dip the wand, as well as breath control to blow the bubble gently.

RELATED: Ideal for older children, try these 65+ Things to Do at Home with Kids.

Finger Painting with Pudding

If your toddler keeps trying to lick off the paint, try using pudding to paint with instead. I set this up outside where I can rinse off the concrete when my daughter is done painting.

Sand Play

Let the grains of sand fall through toddler fingers and enjoy building Kinetic Sand castles before knocking them down! Use old food storage containers in various sizes as sand molds. Drive cars through the sand after making mountains. Purchase a big plastic storage tub with a lid to store the sand, molds, and toys inside.

Scavenger Hunt

Create scavenger hunt checklists based on your favorite outdoor locations, including the backyard or park. Write down the items to find on a list that is read to your child. Or consider drawing the item on the list so that your younger toddlers can hunt for the items on their own.

Ideas could include finding different objects and outdoor items, like pinecones, rocks, or clover. Your scavenger hunt could also be specific to the area you’re visiting, like spotting the, “Blue swing” on the playground or the “Tree with yellow flowers”.

Restful Activities Before Naptime or Bed

As much as they might protest, a proper rest and nap time is so important. Not only for your toddler but for you as well! Toddlers that have a nap schedule just seem to have better nighttime sleeping habits too.

End Playtime by Keeping to a Routine

Start by cleaning up toys, indicating to your toddler that playtime is over. Since I weaned my toddler, I’ll now offer a sipper cup of milk or formula and she’ll sit on my lap. While I read a few books, she drinks.

Minimize Stimulation

Once I feel your child starting to relax, segue into singing some of your toddler’s favorite songs.

For toddlers that are resistant to lying down in a crib, try going for a walk in the stroller instead.

Toddler reading a book at naptime surrounded by plush dolls

Subscribe to Mom Rewritten Newsletter

* indicates required



Email Format

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.