some days a lot of days when your toddler is flat out bored to death with his toys. He probably will start to whine, nag at you, and beg for the TV. I’ve been there! It makes the day frustrating when your toddler can’t occupy himself, so you go to play with him but he just isn’t interested.
These little-to-no prep activities are a great way to bond with your toddler, tire him out, spark creativity, and allow you to have a little bit of peace without having to switch on the television.
1. Bean scoop and dump
Pour dried beans in a container, give your toddler some cups and ladles, and watch her have a blast! I didn’t think my toddler would enjoy this activity until I tried it. She had the time of her life playing in beans!
2. Hide and Seek
Your little one will most likely hide in the same spot or show more than half his body sticking out from behind a pillow, but he will burn off energy and have loads of fun with you.
3. Dry Erase Marker on window or mirror
Set your toddler up in front of a sliding glass door or mirror with a few colored dry erase markers and a dry rag to wipe her work clean when she wants. She’ll love such a huge canvas to work with!
4. Flashlight fun
Black out the play room or wait until night to break out the flash lights. Play hide-and-seek, make shadow puppets, or just dance and have a great time!
5. Turn on Workout video
I didn’t know my toddler would be interested in workout videos until I turned on a pilates exercise one day and she followed along with me. Now I use it as a great way to distract her and burn off her energy.
6. Blow bubbles
If he can’t blow bubbles by himself yet, then a bubble gun or larger bubble wand that he can wave around will save you from getting light-headed blowing all those bubbles!
This classic game combines physical activity with creativity! Make squares with washi-tape on the carpet as an alternative to using sidewalk chalk.
8. Make Moon Sand
Moon sand is so easy to make and lots of fun! Combine 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup baby oil. Check out Little Learning Club for more details.
9. Clean the House
Hand your toddler a sponge, a spray bottle, and a dry rag, and watch him have the time of his life cleaning the floors! He’ll feel really proud for helping you out too.
10. Blow Up some Balloons
Kids go crazy for balloons! If you don’t believe me, blow up a few and watch your toddler go wild!
11. Dance Party
Holding a “dance party” is great way to burn off your toddler’s energy and your own (if you have any left). We have a dance session every single day in our home.
12. Treasure Hunt
Pour dry rice (or cereal) into a container and hide money, candy, or small objects within. Have your toddler dig around and discover the objects.
Don’t just limit your toddler to paper! Purchase wooden boxes and bird houses at the dollar store for your toddler to paint on.
14. Play Dress up with your clothes and accessories
Let your little one dress up in some of your scarves, clothes, and jewelry! My toddler always feels so special when I let her dress up in my stuff.
15. Take Photos around the house
This activity has recently become my toddler’s favorite. I give her my phone and she goes around the house taking pictures of absolutely everything. Then we sit down together and look over all the photos she took. She actually is getting quite good at taking them!
16. Play a Board Game
Hungry Hungry Hippos has recently become a HUGE hit in our home. I also recommend ThinkFun Roll and Play.
17. Thread cereal onto pipe cleaners
This is a simple activity that’s great for dexterity. If threading cereal is too hard, gather some cardboard tubes (cut from toilet paper rolls) to thread onto cord.
18. Cereal Crunch
When I discovered this idea over at Busy Toddlers, I thought: How brilliant! Pour old cereal and pasta into a large container, give your toddler a plastic hammer, and have him smash away!
Giving my tot a sheet of stickers to entertain her never fails. She quietly sits at the table peeling stickers off and putting them in her coloring book, on cardboard boxes, and sometimes on her baby brother! Purchase bubble stickers (they are slightly raised) so your toddler can grab them effortlessly.
20. Bake or cook together
Whenever my toddler is bored and cranky, I ask her to help me out in the kitchen. It’s a great way to teach about different foods, practice cutting veggies or fruit, and encourages your picky toddler to eat.
21. Shape sort household objects
Susie, over at Busy Toddler, shows a great way to keep your toddler occupied with this simple learning activity. Grab some tape to create a circle, square, and triangle right on the floor, collect household objects in different shapes, then have your toddler try to sort them.
22. Monster Print out activity
I absolutely love this activity. It’s simple to print out and a quiet activity for your child to do when you want some peace. Download it here.
23. Bowling with Plastic cups
Set up plastic cups as the “bowling pins”, give your toddler a ball, and teach him to bowl!
24. Music Hunt
A fun, easy game I made up with my toddler. Send your toddler into another room for a minute while you hide your phone with soft music playing on it (you can also use this cute portable Bluetooth speaker that we love), then hide your phone and have your toddler try to find where the music is coming from. Sometimes I like to hide a little piece of candy with the phone as a prize.
25. Spaghetti play
Cook up a pack of spaghetti, let it cool and dump it in a large container. Give your toddler tongs, a pasta scoop, and some forks to play in the noodles. Not only is this great sensory play for your little one, it’s also a great way to get your toddler to eat!
26. Build a fort
We love to drape blankets over the kitchen table, throw some pillows underneath, snuggle together, and read. Or pretend you’re lions in a little den.
27. Cardboard ramp over the stairs
Take a large piece of cardboard cut from a box, place it over the stairs (keep it in place by putting heavy objects on the sides at the top), and roll balls or slide books down the ramp.
28. Water Play
Fill a bunch of containers with water and give your toddler a few sponges and dishes to wash. Fun for outdoors or inside (just make sure to put down towels)!
29. Bubble Whisk
This will be messy so it’s best done outside on the grass. Fill a large container with water and dish soap, hand your toddler a whisk and encourage him to stir, stir, stir until bubbles form and get everywhere! Head over to Emma Owl to see this activity in action.
30. Ice Cube Play
Dump a bunch of ice cubes into a container, give your toddler some tongs, and have her try to pick up each cube and place it into another container. Another great ice activity involves freezing coins or rocks in ice, giving your tot a plastic or wooden hammer, and letting her smash the cubes until she frees the object inside.
Thanks for reading! Have other fun activities in mind? Let me know all about them below 🙂