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6 Simple and Genius At-Home Toddler Activities

Photo by: iStock

There are only so many times you can read the same book or play with the same building blocks before even your child starts going a little stir crazy. To help you mix things up at home, consider one of these simple and genius activities designed specifically for toddlers. Not only are they pure fun, they can also help with developmental skills. Sounds like a win-win if you ask us!

Water Painting
Water painting is essentially mess free and will keep your child entertained. In addition, it helps foster creativity and can even help with their motor skill development. “Give your child a bucket of water and a clean paint brush and ask him or her to ‘paint’ something for you,” advised Holly Klaassen, founder of The Fussy Baby Site. “This works best outside. Encourage your child to ‘paint’ your fence, the side of your house, or even just some rocks. This will help build your child’s confidence as he or she ‘helps’ you, while also keeping your child happy and entertained.”

Cardboard Box Painting
If your child is ready to graduate to real paint, they’ll love this one. “Get a cardboard box big enough for your toddler to move around in, give him a paint brush and some washable kid’s paint, and let him go!” said Klaassen. “This will give your child the opportunity to be creative, while keeping the mess contained to the inside of the box. Afterwards, simply pop your child in the bathtub and recycle the box.”

Craft your own DIY book of ABCs using your own pictures, suggested Leslie Zaikis, the director of special projects at Chatbooks. These could be pictures from a vacation, from around the house, or even around the neighborhood. Organize them online via a book printing service, then read through it with your child.

“This DIY book of ABCs is a great way to engage your little ones with photos of themselves, all while learning the alphabet,” said Zaikis. “For your own spin, try including personal notes like ‘X is for XOXO, we love you, Hannah!’” She also suggested making easy letter associations. “Sure, F is for Flamingo, but who has pics of that? How about F is for ‘fun times’? Don’t overthink it or stress about the letters. Use whatever photos you want. They don’t have to match exactly, and it’ll give kids the chance to use their imaginations when picking out what in the image starts with the selected letter.”

Color Sorting Scavenger Hunt
This is an excellent activity for helping your child distinguish between colors. It also keeps them alert and focused, and is a ton of fun! For this activity, Jenn Salsich, founder of the Simply On Eden blog and mother of three, said she’ll begin by using a piece of colored paper and talking about the color with her children.

“We will then search the house for items that match that color. As the child learns their colors, we will add more than one color at a time,” she said. “This can be a particularly engaging activity for a few children working together, or for one child, when they are in a sensitive period for sorting and order.”

Go Fishing
You don’t have to literally head to the pond for this activity, which is sure to be a hit with your kids. “You can fill the bathtub and pretend it is the lake or the ocean. You can gather sticks from outside to use as your fishing rods and you can put random toys in the tub as the fish. You could even use Tupperware as the body of water or even as your ‘net,’” writes Nicole Merritt, founder of jthreeNMe, on her blog. “You can also put gummy worms on the end of your rod and pretend that you are eating the bait. There are so many ways to make this activity fun and it is one I can’t imagine a toddler boy not enjoying.”

Nature Name Tracing
You can head into the backyard and surrounding for this one, or even the park. Alternatively, collect the items yourself — or while out on a walk with your children — and then do the activity at home later. “[For this activity], I will write their name out in big letters on a piece of paper or with chalk,” said Salsich. “Then we will use leaves, branches and other natural items we find to essentially trace the name. This is beneficial for their name recognition, early reading and both gross and fine motor development.”

Wendy Rose Gould is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers women’s lifestyle topics for numerous digital publications, including InStyle, xoVain, Refinery29, Revelist, PopSugar and ModCloth. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or at

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