New Activity Ideas for Toddlers? I Have Some Too...

Updated on January 15, 2009
L.F. asks from Cartersville, GA
14 answers

I have an almost two year old and watch another 17 mo. old during the day. Since it's colder now, we get a little stir crazy at times! Just wondering if any of you moms have any ideas for things to do inside? It is a little crazy taking both out so I try to go to playgrounds (when it is nice outside) or do things inside. Also, my daughter's B-day is about a month away and was trying to think of fun activities to do at her party. She's still pretty little to do a lot of games but understands quite a bit. Any moms just had a two year old B-day party? I'll give a couple ideas also for playing in the Winter...I take off the crib mattress and remove the sheets. Then I tilt the mattress against the crib. They pretend it's a slide. I give them both a bath, this is swimming in the Winter. Also, we all go sit in the car and I put on the radio. They love the music and all the gadgets. This is fun for along time! I even bring a magazine to read. Hey whatever works, right? Hope these help and I would love other ideas as well!

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answers from Nashville on

I have always taken my children outside to play for at least a short time every day unless it was raining or they were sick. My mom told me when they were babies that fresh air and sunshine are good for them. When they were babies I used to just sit outside on the front porch with them. I think they nap better when they have been outside. I buy really warm coats and bundle them up with hats, scarves, and mittens. If it is really cold we stay outside until they tell me they are cold. Sometimes it is only 5 minutes. But that 5 minutes really seems to help keep them from going stir crazy. We also bought at least one riding toy per child that we never took outside so that they could ride around in the den like they were outside playing. That seemed to help too.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Parkersburg on

String Cheerios or Fruit Loops on shoe laces
Play with playdough - there are tons of good recipes on the web for making it at home - letting them help in the kitchen is fun too.
"Paint" with chocolate pudding or shaving cream. Begin introducing shapes, letters, numbers, patterns.
DANCE - get some upbeat music on (it doesn't have to be kid music) and dance - form a line, a circle, use towels, scarves or pillow cases.

Put cotton balls on a bed sheet or towel and make it "snow" to music.

Use cheap tissues and let them pull them out of the box (great for fine motor skills and eye/hand coordination) and make snow. Then have a snow ball fight, make snow angels, see if you can build a snowman, when your done "shovel" and throw them in a bag to be played again or in the trash if they are completely destroyed.

COLOR - have the children "draw" and tell you a story.

Sing - Twinkle Twinkle, I'm A Little Teapot, The Alphabet --- or make up songs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

You completely read my mind!!!

Here are some ideas from Parenting Magazine (Sept and Oct 2008 issues)that I have saved:

Obstacle Course: stack pillows to make mini mountains. Create a tunnel out of blankets and couch cushions. Then urge your crawler to scramble over and under to get to you on the other side of the room.

Pick a Picture: Tear out magazine photos of babies, food, animals, and anything else your toddler can identify. Help him decorate a sheet of poster board with the pictures and tape it to a wall. Cover his eyes, have him place his finger somewhere on the board, and when he opens his eyes, ask him to tell you what it is.

Bank on it: Cut a slot in a plastic container's lid, then count out loud as your child drops each baby-food jar lid through the hole. When she's done, let her empty out her homemade bank and start over again.

GROCERY STORE entertainment:
Color Scout
Choose a color for the day. Tell your child that her job is to watch and tell you every time you put something of that color in the cart.
Basket Case
Challenge your child to find another shopping cart with two items that are the same as two already in your cart.

Little Picasso
In the exam room, whip out a crayon so your child can draw on the paper covering the table. Older kids can play tic-tac-toe or hangman.
Sock Toss
Take your child's sock off and roll it into a ball (you'll have to take his shoes off for the weigh-in anyway). See if he can toss it so that it lands on a magazine placed a few feet away.
Grab three paper cups from the sink and turn them upside down. Hide the cotton ball under a cup, switch the cups around, and see if your child can guess where the ball is. Try it again, and then give him a chance to trick you.
Floss Art
At the dentist's, see if you can snagg your free dental floss before the exam. It's fun to arrange into different shapes and to figure out how to make animals or flowers.

Modern Art
When your child gets antsy from coloring the kids' menu, use the crayons to make rubbings of the things you have on hand--a fork, a penny, a rough table surface. Just put a paper menu over each item, rub with the side of the crayon, and watch the textures appear, in color!
A Sweet Deal
Arrange the silverware in a tic-tac-toe grid and use packages of sugar (white) and artifician sweetener (pink) as X's and O's.
Who's Next?
Guess who's going to walk past your table next. Will he be wearing a hat? Something red? Or maybe a beard? See how many correct guesses you can make as a group.

Post you pic
Have your child draw a picture. Put it in an enbelope that you've addressed to yourself (or Grandma), then have him stamp it and mail it before you leave.
Number Hunters
If your post office has personal mailboxes near the line, read a numer from one of the boxes and see if your child can find it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Not sure where you live, but I'm in Asheville, NC and we've done the following indoor activities here:
- Open toddler gym time. Many gymnastics studios have these. The one we go to is only $5 per child for 45 mins of gym time, and it's a walk-in program they have 3-4 days a week in the a.m. It's fabulous.
- Visit the indoor play area at the mall. We do this sometimes when we're running errands and need to burn off energy.
- Check out your community center for indoor toddler play time. We had this in Seattle before we moved and went 1-2 times each week. It was only $2 there (no RSVP needed), and I read that they're going to start that program again here in Asheville so I expect it may be availble where you are too. This is great because you can meet a friend with their kids and talk while the kids play.
- Make a point to go on a walk, to the park or out in the front/back yard to play if the weather's reasonable. We play in our yard if it's extra cold instead of the park so we can only be outside for a short period of time.
- We do the indoor obstacle courses that someone else mentioned too and my son loves it as long as there's a platform to jump from and something to crawl under. :)
- Swim lessons at the YWCA (indoor, heated pool - 1 hour each week and it's not too expensive as far as classes go, plus I think it's really beneficial). You could also just go to the family pool time for indoor swimming by yourselves, but that might be hard with two kids. (If you're a member you usually have access to daycare at the Y during your activities/workout.)
- Children's museum. The Health Adventure is our children's museum and an annual pass is very reasonable (I think it's around $75 for a family pass). These places never get old to the kids and if you can budget the annual pass it's a great fall-back. In Seattle we had an annual zoo membership and they had an indoor toddler play area that we visited a lot in the winter too.

We also love "If you're happy and you know it...." for hand clapping, feet stomping, jumping, spinning, etc. indoors. My two-year-old requests the song and even helps to choose what we're going to do as the song goes along. We just got a small basketball goal that can be used indoors, and our son plays in a sand table outdoors in the winter (just stick gloves on them).

I nearly son just turned two and we just did a little party and invited a couple of his friends over, got out an indoor tent and a few other toys and had snacks, cake and presents. He wasn't really old enough to be "into" it yet and I figured he'd most want to see his best buddies for a while. He's in daycare/school 3xweek too so we took treats on his b-day and they celebrated with him.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

If you are a mom who doesn't like playdoh, paint, or messy activities put the children in high chairs so the mess is contained. I have children who are older but one of their friends comes over and still likes to play with playdough as a middle schooler as she wasn't allowed to do messy things at home when she was little. Many churches have playgroups in their gyms once a week or so. They are open to the public and it is a great way to let little ones get some exercise, work on motor skills and gain social skills.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

There are 2 books just chock full of ideas. They are around $10 each and are designed for the age of your child. The first one is, "The Toddler's Busy Book" and the second one is, "The Preschooler's Busy Book", by Trish Kuffner. They are laid out very easily and do not require that you read them all the way through. You can go to the index and pick activities sorted by holiday, by age, by skills level, by what the activity teaches (early math, phonics, reading, etc..), by weather or in the kitchen, etc... I personally have the Prechooler's one, and it is a superb help to me for ideas since my 4-year-old LOVES crafts and I run out of ideas fast. I can also get supplies for the crafts at Dollar Tree, and my own kitchen. There is a great tool at the beginning of the book that lists staples to keep and things to buy. Each book claims 365 activities, and both actually deliver that, and then some!

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Blowing bubbles outside when it's cold is fun because they freeze and you can hold them and watch them shatter instead of pop...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wheeling on

I first thought you were going to say that you made a 'tent' of the crib sheet. That's always a fun thing for kids. Use chairs, the crib, or whatever to hold up the 'tent' of sheets or blankets.

Another thought: Put a little pudding in a large ziplock bag and squeeze most of the air out of it and let them 'fingerpaint'. Then add another color of pudding and let them 'mix' it into swirls until it's blended.

P.S. They may each need their OWN bag to avoid competition over it! LOL

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Make a Rice table. (Like a water table)
Have containers and spoons & measuring cups etc. Then just vacuum when they are done!

You can get huge sacs of rice for really cheap at sam's or Costco etc...


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

1. fill a swimming pool full of plastic balls
2. put a plastic table cloth on the floor and strip them down to diaper and let them "finger paint"
3. Put a tent up inside the house and have a camp in
4. let them help make a cake/cookies/etc

Hope these help!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

Read to them - that is generally more of a quiet activity (also necessary at times ;-)(, however there are really neat books that invite the kids to be active. The two we loved most were Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley, and when they were a little bit older one that went through the whole alphabet with various activities animals do, with photos, and also a photo for each activity for a kid doing something similar. The title seems to escape me right now and it is on loan to friends. Anyway, both of these books (and there must others, similar) encourage the kids to act out some of the things that you read about. And you can always let them clap their hands a bit longer or have do different patterns, or when they stomp their feet stomp slowly, then stomp faster, then really fast, then stomp like a chicken might do, and then like an elephant, etc. That way it can occupy quite a bit of time...

Another thing that my boys like to do was to enact a story from a picture book. A favorite was the three billy goats gruff, our piano bench was the bridge, and one was on top and the other below and they went through the lines.

I also tried to take this kids out every day, even if it was very cold, or wet. And if they were really stir craze we ran around the house, or from point A to point B as fast as they can, three times. That warmed them up, and it got rid of some of that pent up energy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

My children loved story time at the library. Ours did a different class for each age group once a week. Depends on how good your librarian is, but ours did a mix of stories, and activity songs that the kids could stand up and do in place. Then we each checked out a book to read until the story time the next week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

I couldn't do it and went back to work. Here are some of the things I tried. We went to a part-time preschool during the morning hours. We joined a local play group that met once a week. We went to the science museum once a week. We joined a mom's club at the mall and went to the library story time. At home, I would make obstacle courses with the furniture, have puzzle time, coloring time, and play dough time. It was incredibly hard and it was never enough.



answers from Nashville on

Indoor activities.... my 3 yr old could spend hours on painting, coloring, stickers (which go onto her drawings), play-dough, and dress up (I make sure to have several dresses, tierras, shoes, ect for her so it never gets old... garage sales, second hand stores, and of course Target all help out). I also have a collection of books to include (interactive books) and puzzles. The dollar/ sale section in Target/ Walmart are fabulous for things like this. Computer games will help capture the attention also, like Dora the Explorer, which are like 20.00 and hook up iinto the TV. Do you have a local Discovery Center? Well worth the membership dues when you consider you can go whenever the mood or weather strikes, for 1 hour or 5. I would look into parents day at out at your church/community, pt preschool or something to that effect just for stimulation. I've noticed the interaction with other kids is fabulous and makes the time with my daughter more enjoyable... and she is less bored. As for birthday parties, try a theme. Girls... princess with dress up time; have them come dressed up, and let them make their own tieras around your kitchen table w/ supplies you provide (inlist the help of other moms). Boys...likewise for pirates. I tend to believe in saving up and letting somone else do the work so it's less stressful (Chucky Cheese, jukmp zone, ect...). Hope this helps!!!

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