Toddler Activities

Posted by  | Sunday, March 7, 2010  at 10:02 PM  
This week we're going to be sharing ideas for activities to do with your toddler! We realized (today!) that toddler no longer means most of our oldest children (Samuel, Will, Laney, Meredith and Lydia) but our younger ones. I know that I immediately thought of activities I do with Will when I first read this week's topic. But instead, we'll save those for a later week on preschool activities!

That being said, I have been spending a lot of time on preschool activities for Will. Right now, it consists of about an hour at the kitchen table at least three times per week. The problem is that I still have two toddlers running around the house! (Adeline is two on Wednesday and Ava - the girl I keep - turned 2 in January.) Most of my activities are things to keep them busy at the table. These also work to have everyone seated while I fix lunch!

I have been AMAZED at some of the activities I created for Will that the girls are able to do. Especially Ava! Here are some foam lacing beads that also double for sorting by color and/or shape. Will loves to do this with some salad tongs for extra motor skill practice. I gave them to Ava one day and got her started....

Went back to help Will and the next thing I knew she was DONE sorting by color! You can see in these pictures the trays I use for our table activities. These were 3.99 at Michaels (in the kiddie paint aisle, near the Crayola products) and are a lifesaver! None of our small objects - beads, crayons, craft supplies, puzzle pieces - roll off the table!

Adeline didn't do so great at sorting, but she sure had a blast filling the cups and dumping them again.

This was an activity I made for all three kids and again was shocked when Ava completed it the first time I gave it to her! I bought the cheapest cookie sheets I could find at Walmart (3 pack for 3.97 I think). I made a chart with all the uppercase letters (only first half shown above). Laid the chart on a cookie sheet and gave them magnetic fridge letters to match to the paper! I was careful to pick a font that closely resembled the font of the fridge letters. You can see how well Ava did - only some of the letters are backwards!

Another favorite toddler activity is dress-up. This is kind of a DUH one though. But I had the picture so I thought I'd share!

Even my toddlers like simple crafts. Their absolute FAVORITE activity right now is to put stickers on a piece of paper. I've found that if you remove the extra sticker parts from around the stickers - they can more easily get the stickers off the paper. Does that make any sense? Do you want a picture of this?? I cut up sticker sheets and the girls will stay busy for 10-15 minutes putting stickers on a piece of paper! They also enjoyed gluing the cotton balls on the snowmen you see above.
We even painted ornaments at Christmas! I just hovered over them with a wet rag ready to wipe up messes. (It was acrylic paint!)

This is our aquadoodle and the girls love it! Will does too - but this day he wasn't here so they got their own time with it. It's like painting with water. You can make a cheap aquadoodle by using water and paintbrushes on a chalkboard. (Saw this at our favorite museum!)

Other activities we do (but I have no pictures of):

-going to storytime at the library (ours has a "rhyme time" for 2 and unders!)
-stamps (just use washable ink - they love these!)
-bean bag games
-looking at pictures of babies in my parenting magazines
-cutting out and making collage of those babies (I cut - they glue.)
-playing in a tub of dried beans (don't use kidney beans)
-sidewalk chalk outside
-sidewalk chalk on dark colored construction paper if rainy outside!
-pony beads on pipe cleaners - can make a bracelet (probably older toddlers - I didn't try this with the girls until they were about 20 months or so)
-stringing pasta

NOTE: Almost every activity listed is a "table time" activity where my kids are supervised the entire time. Lots of choking hazards, but I lay down the ground rules about not putting items in their mouth. But I wouldn't recommend pony beads for a toddler without supervision, of course.

A couple of other resources for toddler activities:


KC said...

Why not kidney beans?

Christina said...

I read somewhere that they are actually poisonous and can cause some major GI issues if ingested raw (or even undercooked). It only takes 4-5 beans in adults. Here's an article to explain the chemical they have that makes you sick:

I never would have known this if I didn't read it off a preschool blog!!

Shannon said...

I had the same question - that's crazy! Glad you mentioned it!

Leah said...

Great ideas! My problem is that my 17 month old son thinks that if he sits at the table he should be eating:-) Any ideas for how to help him through that?

KC said...

Yeah, my son is 16 mos and I have NO idea how to get him to actually DO these activities! Right now he just has free play all day b/c I don't know how to get him to do anything else. It has been fine so far, but he is getting to the point where he is bored and it results in bad behavior. I want to have a little more structure in his schedule than just naps and meals, but I have no idea how to get him to do anything else.

Christina said...

Leah - that never occurred to me, but I could see where some kids might get confused!! I think that I've been putting my kids at the table for a long time during that time just before Daddy comes home and while I'm cooking dinner. Even before I had organized activities - we'd do lots of puzzles and stuff. I would just keep trying - he'll figure it out!

Kim - I think free play and reading are plenty for a 16 month old!! They learn so much from that there is really no need for anything else! And if you did want to start table time activities - just keep them simple and short. Just to get him used to sitting at the table with you for "learning" type games. And really that is all we really do is games! Rarely does even Will do a "worksheet" in the traditional sense.

Miranda said...

Oh I love it!! Thanks for sharing Christina. I am ALWAYS looking for new ideas to keep Miller entertained :)

Terra Jones said...

KC - My guys are like that as well - table = food...and there's much screaming if food isn't involved, lol. We ended up getting a little table to do activities at (light enough to be moved into the kitchen if it's a super messy activity) It has a drawer in the middle, bottom, so it can double as storage as well. Being consignment/yard sale season, you could probably find something super cheap.

Or if nothing else, just on the floor, on a towel or blanket! :)

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