Activities for Toddlers
Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Enjoy Life with Your Little One
by Susie Cortright
Have you ever bought your toddler an expensive new toy, only to discover that
he spends more time playing with the box it came in?
Toddlers have an amazing ability to sink into the simple things of life and
create worlds from their own imagination. At this magical age, virtually
everything is brand new, and we can relax and know that our interaction with our
young children, especially through simple, repetitive activities, is enhancing
their development and love of learning. The key is to keep it simple and spend
lots of time allowing them to explore at their own pace.
Here are some simple and inexpensive activities you can enjoy with your toddler:
Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
Toddlers love to be outside. Often, toddlers will want (and need) time to play
freely, but here are some ideas for those times when your toddler wants to
engage in play with you:
Blow bubbles. Toddlers love to chase and blow bubbles. They watch in awe as
nothing at all turns into something and is then carried away by the breeze.
Spillproof containers are perfect for toddlers, especially when they are off
chasing their bubble creations. Toddlers love it when you blow bubbles, too. Try
counting the bubbles or challenging your child to see how many she can catch.
Watch the clouds. Lie on your backs together and find shapes in the clouds.
Draw with sidewalk chalk. These thick chunks of chalk are perfect for little
hands, and they are well suited to the fine motor skills of a toddler, too.
Allow your child to create designs of his own creation. Or write his name in
block letters and invite him to color them in. You can also draw a wiggly line
down the sidewalk for your toddler to walk along. Or make up a story as you walk
along the sidewalk about a child who is out for an adventure in the world, and
illustrate different parts of your story as you go.
Take a walk in the wide, wide world. A simple walk in the neighborhood will give
your toddler an opportunity to become familiar with the world outside her home.
As she follows the same route over and over, she will begin to form a concept of
her neighborhood. In time, this will bring her comfort that comes from knowing
she is "almost home."
Toddlers also love to walk in the woods. All that nature has to offer, such as
rocks, sticks, and leaves, are marvelous entities to be held and explored. If
you take the time to allow a toddler to explore the woods, you are in for a
treat yourself (as well as a lesson in patience.) A toddler can watch a simple
stream for what can seem like hours. While you walk, put a piece of transparent
tape, sticky side out, loosely on your her wrist. When she finds small items to
document her journey, whether its flecks of mica, pretty leaves, or dried pine
needles, she can press them on her Nature Bracelet. When she returns home, seal
the goodies by placing another piece of tape on top.
Think like a kid. As you enjoy time with your toddler, try to imagine what
things look like from his point of view. Toddlers take delight in the simplest
things, especially if you do them again and again. For example, kids love to
simply count their footsteps up to five or ten, and then start again. They love
to say hello to the same dog (or the rosebush or the big rock or the open
meadow) that you pass on each walk. They love to try to hop over cracks in the
sidewalk. What did you love to do as a young child? If you can not remember, ask
your parents or other adults who spent time with you, and make a point to weave
those simple activities into life with your own toddler.
Indoor Activities for Toddlers
Read. Reading opens the imagination of a toddler and fosters a love for books,
which can propel him to success far into his school years. Read to your toddler
whenever you get the chance. Take weekly trips to the library to pick out new
books and audiobooks to enjoy. Introduce your child to the books you remember
from your own early childhood. And make sure your child sees you enjoying a good
book now and then, too.
Sing. Anytime a toddler can sing, concepts are likely to stick. Sing simple
songs such as the alphabet song, or silly songs you make up about the life you
live. Kids love having their own special songs, too. See if you can make up a
song to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, which features his name and
some of the things you love most about him.
Car Games and Activities for Toddlers
Magnetic Trays. You can use an old metal tray or purchase a ready made magnetic
tray at the toy store. With these trays, toddlers can play with alphabet and
number magnets, as well as paper magnetic dolls. Another great way to use a
magnetic tray is to print off pictures of family members and adhere them to
Travel Songs. Singing songs in the car is another great activity that passes the
time. Again, repetition is the key. Sing the same song each time you and your
toddler start off on a trip to the store, for example.
Story Starters. Start a story, and then ask your toddler or preschooler to fill
in the blanks here and there. For example, you might start with, "Once upon a
time there was a dog named: ____" (Ask the child for the name of the dog.). And
the dog went to the ____." This is great when you have a mix of ages, too. The
older children can create a very silly tale, and your child can make it even
sillier when it is his turn.
Do not be afraid to do the same thing twice. The key to educational games at
this age is in repetition. Young brains develop connections by doing, seeing,
and hearing something over and over again. That is why children want to watch
the same video, listen to the same song in the car, and go through the same
bedtime routine each night.
As parents, we sometimes worry about whether our toddlers are getting enough
attention, stimulation, and entertainment. Often, the games toddlers truly love
are the most simple and the least expensive, especially when taken at their
natural pace and shared with someone they love.
Susie Cortright has collected online coupon codes here:
including coupons for discount toddler gear, including shoes, clothing, toys,