Development

9 Fun Activities To Do With Your Toddler

by Kiindred, posted 19th June, 2018

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Entertaining toddlers can be hard at the best of times! They are natural little explorers, with a hunger for learning – and will crave your attention whenever you are around. It can be hard to keep up with the entertainment and we all need a little inspo sometimes. Let’s face it – there is only so much drawing, lego and play-dough one can do.

We’ve compiled a list of our top 9 activities that can be easily done at home and help to build important developmental skills. Let us know what you think!

Activity 1. SENSORY PLAY

Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your toddlers senses i.e touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Sensory activities are great for exploration and naturally encourage children to play, create and investigate.

A ‘sensory tub’ can be something as simple as a container filled with sand, uncooked rice and play animals, or as creative as coloured water, ice cubes and a selection of ocean themed bath toys. You might be thinking –  rice? My child will either try to eat it or make a complete mess! But with a little guidance and some clear instructions, your little one might surprise you. If you’re still worried about mess though, you can use a protective sheet underneath the tub or even take it outdoors.

The options for choosing a theme are endless and will further increase the opportunity for imagination and learning – dinosaurs, farm, ocean or even a construction site. For your sensory bin base, textured items that make a nice sound when you run your fingers through them are just what you’re looking for. Rice and dry pasta are two popular options, and coffee beans are great for a construction site.

What you’ll need

  • A shallow cardboard box, foil roasting pan or Tupperware container
  • Stimulating textures such as sand, lentils, cold or warm water
  • A selection of toys of your choice to place inside the tub
  • Tools such as tongs, scoops or measuring cups

*Be sure that whatever you choose to fill your tub with is age appropriate

Development

  • Critical thinking by making observations and conclusions as they scoop, pour and measure
  • Fine motor skills as your child manipulates tongs and other small items in the tub
  • Hours of open play and learning


Activity 2. BUILD A CUBBY

Let your inner child run wild and help your little one to construct a cubby house out of pillows, a sheet, or even purchase a teepee. This is a great opportunity to take time out and simply be with your toddler. They will enjoy you hiding out with them in the ‘cave’ whether it’s to tell stories, read a book or play musical instruments together.

As they get older, they will start to play in a more creative way and may be ready for some independent play time. Stay close in the beginning, but let them play on their own once you have established a safe environment. Solo / free play is important, as it provides a variety of learning opportunities, whilst allowing your little one to establish their own personality.

What you’ll need

  • Pillows
  • Sheet
  • Reading Books
  • Musical Intruments

Development

  • Imagination
  • Exploring an environment at their own pace
  • Cause and effect, learning from mistakes
  • Self-esteem and independence


Activity 3. BATH ART

Sometimes getting your toddler into the bath can be a real challenge – but not if they have something to look forward to! Why not use this opportunity to introduce toys and creative play, which will also help to redirect their feelings about hopping in to ‘wash the day away’. Start with some water crayons and let them make a mess as they learn to draw – letting their imaginations run wild.

What you’ll need

  • Water crayons
  • Toys for creative play

Development

  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Imagination


Activity 4. JAM SESSIONS

Engaging in musical activities at an early age has been proven to assist in learning techniques when your little one reaches school age. Start with a little lesson in rhythm, by taking a tin or drum – hand over a maraca and start making tunes together.

Music is important for their physical, emotional and intellectual development. Not only does it incorporate language and sound, it may also encourage them to dance and feel the music, stimulating many areas of the brain and body.

What you’ll need

  • Tin
  • Maraca or rice / dried lentils in a tupperware container for a homemade musical instrument

Development

  • Fine motor skills
  • Self expression and creativity
  • Concentration and multi-tasking
  • Strengthening of memory and emotional intelligence


Activity 5. SHAPE & COLOUR SORTING

Some toddlers will naturally start to sort colours on their own without being taught. For others, you can start introduce the concept of identifying colours and their names around the home. You can do this by simply asking your child to help you sort socks by colours whilst you fold the laundry. You can then move on to presenting different coloured objects, and asking your toddler to group them together in piles of ‘red’ or ‘green’.

Sorting by colour encourages fine motor skills and also helps your toddler to take into account how things are different, yet alike. Sorting is a skill that will help your toddler in many areas of life, from maths to simply being able to identify a square from a circle. When your toddler can identify shapes and colours, you’re also helping to teach them the names of these objects. By teaching the action of sorting, you will also help your toddler use important logical skills required for problem solving. Once your little one starts to understand shapes and colours, they will then find it much easier to identify letters and numbers too.

What you’ll need

  • Shape sorting box or block shapes
  • Objects in different colours – you can even use cut up paper for this
  • Containers to place each object in when sorting

Development

  • Fine motor skills
  • Problem solving
  • Language learning
  • Requesting & naming
  • Cognitive skills


Activity 6. ROLL & HOP SHAPE GAME

This game requires a little extra preparation, and is fantastic for learning shapes and getting your toddler moving.

Draw (or print) and cut out images of different shapes and stick them to a cube. Use painters tape to stick the corresponding shape onto the ground. Have your child roll the dice and then hop on the matching shape! This is an activity that both toddlers and older children will enjoy – it’s perfect for the whole family.

What you’ll need

  • Painters tape
  • A large cube
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Marker

Development

  • Gross motor skills (running & walking)
  • Language
  • Socialising
  • Concentration & multitasking

Child Behaviour Expert Stephanie Wicker, suggests introducing these 3 activities for helping to instil resilience in your toddler from an early age.


Activity 7. THE FEELINGS GAME

This game requires a little extra preparation, which is half the fun! Using paper and a pencil, draw faces that represent a range of different emotions and then stick them onto popsicle sticks. Sit in a circle together and initiate a family conversation where everyone takes a turn by sharing a short story i.e 1-2 sentences.

Everyone (including parents), will then choose a popsicle expression to determine how they must have felt based on their story. There are no right or wrong answers!

What you’ll need

  • Drawn faces that show different emotions (multiple for each child)
  • Paper to draw your characters
  • Glue / Sticky tape
  • Popsicle sticks

Development

  • Empathy and expression of emotions

* When your child is able to define another’s emotions, they will have a better chance at building relationships with their peers and overall empathy


Activity 8. LOVE POINTS

You will need to get creative and find (or make) up some ‘love points’ – this can be anything from a cut out cardboard heart, to a drawing of a smiley face or even a simple chart to add ticks too – whatever you so choose! Initiate the game first by saying something like ‘today I gave your Daddy a hug, so I’ve earned a love point.. what have you done today to earn a love point?’.

This demonstrates a kind and considerate action that is worthy of earning a ‘love point’ and will start the process of your child wanting to earn love points themselves!

It is important to note that we don’t ‘deduct’ love points for bad behaviour. The purpose of this activity is to encourage and reward positive behaviours.

What you’ll need

  • A jar to keep your love points in
  • A motivating item such as glitter hearts for those feeling especially creative
  • Alternatively, a pencil and paper for tracking ticks!

Development

  • Building relationships and socialising
  • Showing love to each other without motive
  • Using visual cues to remind us to show love to each other is a natural, fun way to invite empathy into your home


Activity 9. THE EMPATHY BLANKET

In order for this activity to be truly effective, there are two things you need to establish first. Your child needs to have experienced ownership. This is important because it is impossible to share unless you first experience the ability to say ‘no’. Make sure your child has the opportunity to say ‘no’, if they don’t want to share their special items.

Set up an ownership box and get your child to bring something from it to the rug. Everyone will then sit down with their items, you will set a timer for two minutes, and the sharing begins! Before long, your child will start doing this on their own – these are activities that they will take to daycare, school and beyond.

What you’ll need

  • Blanket or beach towel
  • A special item from each child

Development

  • Coping with interacting with other children
  • Learning how to share
  • Empowering your child to experience sharing on their own terms

You can get access to more of Child Behaviour Expert, Stephanie Wicker’s fun activities and practical tips in The Kiindred Expert Series.