Toddlers are an active and busy lot. They are constantly moving, exploring, and creating a mini-tornado trail where ever they pass by. If you are looking for things to do with toddlers at home without the use of screens you are in the right place. These are the daily toddler activities we used throughout the toddler years to keep our toddler busy.
WHAT I DO WITH MY TODDLER ALL DAY: EASY DAILY TODDLER ACTIVITIES
Most of these activities are things to do with toddlers at home and don’t require you to buy special toys or tools. These encourage life skills development and creativity over mindless screen time. Don’t get me wrong, screen time when used correctly can actually benefit children and give parents a much-needed break on rough days. But mindless consumption of any kind of media especially for little children causes not only language development issues but also takes away from time that the child could have used to enhance motor skills. Skills that the child will develop only on practice and not by sitting hours at end every day watching cartoons on screen.
Keeping a 2-year-old busy at home is not that difficult if you start with age-appropriate chores for kids. Simple toddler chores like picking up toys after play and putting them back in the toy bin or helping with laundry are easy to start with. Make the task a game and watch how your toddler takes great interest in following along. In fact, toddler years are the best time to start involving children with chores, this is a time in childhood development when the child learns through mimicking the adult in his life. Make good use of this time and involve your child in as many age-appropriate chores as you can.
A great way to keep the toddler engaged on the side as you work from home or do your home chores is to set up a sensory bin. Check here for our favorite sensory bin ideas.
This one activity was my son’s most favorite type of play and still is! I could easily keep him busy with a rice bin and some construction toys for a good 30-40 minutes. The sensory play allowed him to create stories and play out these stories in pretend.
Fine motor Activities
Toddler years are the time to hone those pre-writing skills. Fine motor toys like beading, lacing, play-doh, cutting, and pasting, this learning resource toolset that we used with our sensory bins, manipulative toys all help keep the child busy and ensure the development of fine motor skills.
Even before your child has held a pencil he must know how to hang up laundry using pins, roll, and shape using play-doh, make simple crafts that involve tearing, cutting, and pasting paper. Dedicate some part of the day to fine motor activities. Keep these toys easily accessible to the child at eye level (Here are some toddler appropriate toy shelves) or do craft activities together during parent-child playtime.
Self-feeding and Preparing Own Snacks
Your child should start self-feeding by the time he reaches toddler years. If he is not there yet, help him feed by making mealtimes all about independence. Toddlers love to be in control. Serve small portions of finger-shaped foods on cute section plates. Make a big deal about the toddler sitting on his own little table and chair to feed. Sit along-side and eat together. Don’t bother with the messes right now, these are the years that build the foundation for future success with independent eating. Layout a splash mat on the floor for easy cleaning after meals and let the child have complete control of how he feeds himself and how much he eats.
As you practice independent eating also start with daily routines that encourage the toddler to make his own food. We started with evening snack time. Every afternoon at 4 our son would help me make a snack. As he got confident we added more variety to the types of snacks he tries making. Easy ideas of snacks you can help you toddler ages 2-3 make are peanut butter sandwiches, energy balls, smoothies, porridge, chop a fruit, yogurt fruit bowl. Here is why it is important to cook with toddlers and 3 easy recipes to make with your toddler today.
I have already spoken about the benefits of reading to your child in my previous post. The gist of it, the more you read to children the richer their vocabulary which helps them express better when communicating with you. Make reading a part of your routine, even reading 1-2 books a day is great and doesn’t take more than 15 minutes.
In our toddler schedule, we usually read a book or two in the morning just before breakfast and then as a part of our bedtime reads.
I like keeping books in different corners of the house beside a designated bookshelf. This has created an interest in reading from an early age. Books are placed in the living room on a low coffee table for morning reading, in his playroom in the bookshelf, and a few next to the bed for a night time read.
You don’t need a large library of books, but it does help to create a rotation. Every time we shuffle and bring out old books from the storage our son is lost in his books for hours. They feel brand new to him and create a sense of excitement about finding old favorites. Try a book rotation if you haven’t already.
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Here are some of our favorite books for toddlers
One On One Time With Parents
Which brings me to the most important part of our day, one-on-one time. Being a work from home mom it can be hard balancing both home and work. We have designated points of the day that are meant for one-on-one mommy-son time and when daddy is home he too gets his time with our son.
Only when we fill our children’s emotional cup can they be happy and settled in the routine. Children need a lot of time with their caregivers. They look at time spent together with their parents as a representation of love. So make it a point to first give your child a good 30 minutes to an hour each day. Dedicate this time to reading books, playing silly games, talking, singing, and dancing anything you enjoy. There should be no phone calls or messages to be looked at during one-on-one time. This simple act of dedicated time will work wonders for your relationship with your child.
As you spend this uninterrupted time with your child you get to know him better and learn more about his unique character traits. This bonding will help you come up with creative and unique solutions tailored to your child every time there is a challenge you face with your child. I have personally experienced this. Knowing about our son and his characteristics help me create solutions that are appropriate for him in times of need. This, in turn, makes our trust bond, even more, stronger and helps him feel heard, more in tune with his needs and express better.
Use one-on-one time to really observe your child and then let him lead you on how you need to support him as a parent. Every child is unique and gaining insight into your childs behavior helps a long way.
Have you ever watched how little people play outside? It’s the most amazing sight to behold.
Outdoor play is important so the child gets time to spend in nature, develop gross motor skills and learn to interact with nature and life around him.
Young children also need to spend time in the sun so they avoid the risk of developing myopia or nearsightedness. Running, jumping, and playing outdoors keeps children in better moods and reduces stress levels.
With busier lives these days parents find it harder to find the time to take children to the local park, I find scheduling an hour or two into our routine useful. When its part of the daily routine it’s easier to get done. If you are a working parent rope in help from grandparents or your baby sitter to take the kids out for play. Gives you a breather too.
Independent Play : Quiet time
Once our son started skipping naps, we found it harder to keep up with his constant energy. I need some downtime in the day for myself. That’s when we started Quiet time. It started with 15 minutes of quiet independent play. As he has grown older these 15 minutes have increased to an average of 30 minutes a day of quiet time, sometimes even an hour depending on what he plays.
We encourage our son to sit in his playroom or next to my work station with a few activities that he likes. Somedays, he solves puzzles, other days he does some art and craft activities, coloring pages or flips through his flap books.
A benefit to Quiet time that I noticed other than the uninterrupted time for myself is that my son started to focus for longer periods of time on self created activities. As days passed into months now he looks at quiet time as a time he uses to create. He can be found busy creating crafts with whatever materials he finds in his craft boxes. This has led to some interesting learnings and discoveries too. Here are a few of his Quiet Time creations.
Music and Dance
The best way to keep a child busy is to play some music in the background. It doesn’t necessarily have to be nursery rhymes. We sometimes play music from our own playlist. Music keeps children calm and in a happy mood. Who doesn’t feel good when music is playing? And when you have some time throw in a dance party to the mix, toddlers especially love this.
I already spoke about how we use Quiet time as one point of the day to do some art activities. For younger toddlers keep it simple, maybe some natural finger paints and paper and let the child create his own designs. As they grow older you can try using different tools in art, like thread painting, fork painting, use vegetable peels and slices to create a nature scene.
Layout newspapers or a splash mat to catch any messes, but let the kids have a go and get their hands dirty, it is good for sensory development.
Thats how we spend our days with our toddler. I get asked about learning activities for toddlers, but honestly, your child is learning through living. You don’t need special educational toys or activities at this age. Just have fun with your child, talk with him, tell him stories, read a variety of books, listen to different types of music from classical to children’s nursery rhymes, go out on nature walks. The more such enriching experiences your child has the more he naturally and easily learns about life.
There is much to be learned from you first even before books and schools. So take the time to engage with your child and the rest will fall into place on its own.