Daytime Activities with Toddlers

Updated on December 31, 2010
S.B. asks from Encino, CA
14 answers

Hi Moms -
I have a two year old boy, and am about to become a SAHM. His current daytime schedule with his caregiver includes playtime and walks in the morning, nap, then park or playdate in the afternoon. I would love to mix it up a bit. Anyone have some good two-year old activities that can be done at home or on the cheap? I'm especially interested in incorporating more arts and crafts into his day. Thanks!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

These are some pretty awesome ideas! Thanks, everyone!

Featured Answers



answers from Killeen on

I like to take my son to the library when they have tot time! he really loves it and looks forward to it!! At home we play with his legos and his cars and he loves his alphie! he likes me reading to him his favorite books which are about trains and tractors!! Y'all will do great!! also there is eatable playdoh. i forgot what website it was on but i bet you could look it up on google!! have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Redding on

Arts and crafts are fun, but so is making forts out of boxes and blankets. Especially when the weather was awful out, my kids loved making forts.
We even draped blankets around the edges of the dining room table, put blankets and pillows in, pretended we were camping.
Another fun thing is having an indoor picnic.
I used to build a fire and get the house raging warm and the kids would run around in bathing suits and pretend it was summer.
They also loved playing store. We had play money and I would set things out for them to buy. Cans of soup, things like that. They loved pretending they were buying things and we took turns shopping. My son was fascinated with vacuum cleaners and we got him a toy one for Christmas. He "vacuumed" his little head off around the house.
Little kids have such great imaginations and it's fun when they are that age to let them play and pretend.
It's free! You can find a million things to do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Something my kiddos loved to do when they were toddlers (and I am sure still would) is a "paint bath." I fill plastic bowls with crayola washable finger paint, (or any washable non toxic paint really), strip em down naked and put em in the tub with the paint (no water). My kids would seriously spend over an hour painting the walls of the tub and then afterwards you just spray them (and the walls) down. Just make sure to put down a mat or don't let him stand as the paint gets slippery. We also love to do picnics, bake goodies, make crafts with stick on foam shapes, dance to music etc. Lucky you to be able to stay at home with him, your time with him will be so important :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

One of my first questions on mamapedia was similar. My niece had just come to live with us, so we were in the transition of becoming a two toddler home and I was going from being the bread winner to the SAHP again. Uvy, tricky times! What I've found is that ANYTHING can be a fun toddler activity. Let's unload the dish washer! Let's pick up toys! Let's put all the white dirty clothes into a basket! Let's dance, dance, dance! Who wants to put on funny hats and make faces!

Also, down time has been a life saver for me and them. After some time and a lot of practice, they've gotten to the point where they can (or I can let them) entertain themselves for twenty minutes to two hours. They will play with dolls, make "tea", pretend one is Mommy and the other baby, "fly" around the house, etc. Internal play is very good for their development and *absolutely essential* to my well being ;) We'll rotate between a more structured activity (going for a walk, eating lunch, doing an educational game) to them just playing by themselves. It's a balance that is really important, in my home.

Forts are fun, legos (just graduated to the middle size in our house!) are great and they got a doll house that keeps them entertained also. Another favorite is to put them in the kitchen (tiled) or the shower and let them play with water. At first, they were just dumping the water from tin to tin, but now they "go fishing".

*Washable* markers (I learned my lesson with the wrong kind of pen/marker), paper from the hardware store (cheap and comes in roles), paints, crayons, pencils and stickers are messy, but very fun. I draw pictures at the same time. Play doh is a mess, but also a favorite. We bring in forks, butter knifes and other common household objects to "sculpt" what we want. All I can say, is I'm glad my house isn't carpeted. My present to myself, once the kids are out of these years, is to buy myself a new, not nasty, rug.

We have to go outside every day (sick days are an exception) or my house becomes a mad house. Walks or the park...either works. We also recently got a membership to the Hands on Children's Museum. Totally worth it.

We get together with my Mom friends who have children around the same ages (or not, for that matter) for social stimulation. I have a good time gabbing with my girlfriend while our hoard hurricanes through the house. God bless child proofing.

We also do spend the nights with the same group of Mamas and kids. My SO works funky hours so it's wonderful to make dinner with another adult, feed the kids, get worn out, put the kids to bed and then stay up drinking wine and talking while the kids sleep. It's been a life saver.

Like I said, our transition was a little wonky at first. I had many a "oh my goodness, this is harder than I thought it would be"/I'm ripping out my hair moments. But now, things are in a groove and it's actually really fun. Like anything, it just took time and practice. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son loved standing on a chair at the kitchen sink with my tupperware having a blast playing in the water. I kept a towel on the floor and stayed by to be sure he didn't fall.

Reading time.


Stroller walk at the mall...... live in CA, probably can go outside all year! But my son loved the grocery basket, etc... Running errands can be fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

-Play doh is great, just don't leave him unattended. Get some children's scissors and glue sticks and let him cut and paste. Go to the library or aquatic centre. Bake his favourite cookies and let him 'help' - he can dump the measuring cups out into the bowl, mix a little, use cookie cutters.

I'm sure anything you do will be fun for him, especially if he's used to you being gone most of the day. Let him help while you do the stuff you need to get done around the house: laundry, dishes (he can play in the sink with a little water and soap - my girls LOVE to do this and call it 'giving their hands a bath').

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

At the daycare my son goes to, they do construction paper & glue stick pics, and of course crayons & coloring books (if you're looking for coloring books, check our your local $1 store). You can get crafty stuff in the $1/bargain section at Target, Michael's & JoAnn's (like stickers, self-sticking doo-dads, ribbon, feathers, etc.)

They also do stamps--the caregiver has some self-inking little stamps that the kids love.

We created an indoor "sandbox" with an old cardboard box & lid, and I bought 2 or 3 really big bags of cheap rice. I let the kiddo play in it like he would in a sand box, in the kitchen where I can easily sweep up afterward (and I get him to "help" sometimes with sweeping).

You could do in indoor garden with them, maybe?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Collecting leaves, finger painting, hopscotch, chalk play outside, making forts in the living room, story times at local bookstores and/or libraries(most libraries will have arts and crafts time too), check out museums on free days(I'm not sure if there are any in your area but it is worth checking out), joining a local moms group(check so your kiddo can play with other kiddos his age, there are a ton of ideas on this website:

That's all I can think of right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Our favorite activity is a walk in the rain and splashing in the puddles. Of coarse I'm in OR and you are in CA. The news says CA has been getting lots of rain you could invest in rain boots, rain coat, and an umbrella.



answers from Honolulu on

Kids usually like structure, and I found it pretty useful, too with my kids. They get kinda confused and crazy if there is too much difference from day to day. You will figure out a good structure that works for you. You also need to factor in the time to run errands, go shopping, post office, dry cleaners, etc. And all of that takes WAYYYY more time with a toddler in tow. I usually did an outside activity for my kids in the morning to get us up and out of the house, then ran an errand, and they would fall asleep on the way home (you also have to figure out eating... they are hungry every 2 hours or so!) Anyway, I guess I'm saying that your days will fill up, but they will be in slow motion, because what you could do by yourself in 10 minutes becomes an hour long exercise! As for arts and crafts, you will probably be way more into it than him. You will spend 30 minutes setting up an activity that he will be interested in for 10 minutes, and make a huge mess that will take you another 45 minutes to clean up! Find a good playgroup that will have activities like painting, gluing, playdoh, bubbles, etc set up for the group and then you won't have to deal with it all in your house!! Enjoy your time with your son! It is an adjustment for both of you, but it is really, really worth it.


answers from San Diego on

You can join a bunch of crafty Mom blog newsletters where you will get lots of ideas sent to your email address. I would also definitely subscribe to the FamilyFun magazine by Disney - lots and lots of good arts & crafts ideas. Also Parenting magazine has good activity ideas.

I try to do an arts & crafts project weekly with my son - it's our saturday morning ritual. Nothing beats Mod Podge! Glitter Mod Podge, regular Mod your pasta jars, remove the labels and Mod Podge tissue paper or free printables you find online onto the jars to make luminaries. Start creating a fun scrapbook with Mod Podge and pictures from old magazines. We even Mod Podged a pumpkin for Halloween with tissue paper. My son LOOOOVES it! Another fun thing that may help you clean, I break out the foam paint brushes and a bucket or bowl of eco-friendly soap and water and we "paint" the kitchen table, the counters, anything that needs a little cleaning. Our kitchen table is perfect because it's not sealed yet, so it looks like we're actually painting. Indoor sandbox - use oatmeal and a big plastic bin, when done, just put the lid back on the box. Outdoors - a scavenger hunt.

Have fun!


answers from Houston on

This "Busy Book" series by Trish Kiffner has tons of fun ideas for the arts/crafts, there is one for toddlers, preschoolers and older kids too:

Also, most libraries have free storytime once a week usually around 10 am. Get a local parenting magazine, they usually always have free craft/event days. We like to go to Chick-fil-a on their activity days too.



answers from San Diego on

All the indoor/at home activities already mentioned here are great! But my kids prefer to be outside and so do I. So we spend a lot of time at the parks, beaches, museums, and other kid play areas. My kids really like the zoo and other animal places. Since we live in San Diego our zoo pass covers the zoo and wild animal park and parking for $95 for a family of 4. Sea World was about $120 for a family of 4. When our Sea World pass expired, we added the Legoland passes. We also added the Escondido Childrens Museum pass and upgraded to the premium pass for $125 for a family of 4 that also gets us into kids museums throughout the country. Both my kids (DS age 5 and DD age 3) LOVE going to the kids museums! They get to do all kinds of projects...and the best part for me is no clean up at home :).

My kids have always loved going on walks and hikes...we started doing this with them when they were infants. I would just carry them in the Maya Wrap or push them in the stroller. When they started to walk we would let them explore everything they could get their hands on. At age 2, your son will have a blast picking up all kinds of fun stuff that you can take home and use for your art projects.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello, HappyMama - love your name!!! I have an at-home preschool and here are some of my favorite books: Art Across the Alphabet (Kelly Justus Campbell), and these three, all by MaryAnn Kohl: Preschool Art (It's the process not the product), The Big Messy (But Easy To Clean Up) Art Book, and Mudworks (Creative Clay, Dough & Modeling Experiences). We have so much fun just being messy! And this is a really great way to sit and chat with your son, increasing his vocabulary, and gives you both a chance to relax and play and create with gooshy stuff! Fun for both of you! B. PS Remember to just keep it simple.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions