10 Easy and Cheap Activities to Keep your Toddler Busy!
If you are currently thinking, how am I going to entertain this toddler all day? You have come to the right place! Trust me, I use to be stuck in your situation far too often. I finally realized that our house is filled with so many resources to make playtime fun and engaging! I have put together a list of 10 fun and easy activities that will entertain your toddler all day long. Once your child gets bored of one you can go right into the next one!
Importance of Playtime
Playtime is extremely important for maximizing a child’s development. It allows their creative side to shine through, which in turn helps with physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Not only does it promote healthy development, but it also encourages a strong bond between you and your child. People are often convinced into thinking their child needs this toy or that toy, but this shouldn’t be the case. The resources in and around your home are amazing, if not better!
Why You Don’t Need Expensive Toys
When I first had my son, I looked into all the different developmentally friendly toys. Play kit subscriptions kept popping up first and I almost had a heart attack when I saw that a Lovery subscription was 80 dollars every 2 months. As I reflected back on my own childhood, I realized that my fondest memories were doing homemade activities with my mother. I realized that this was how I wanted to raise my children – letting them learn through play with simple homemade activities.
I hope you can find some inspiration through these 10 activities to make playtime with your little one easier and more enjoyable!
10 Fun and Easy Activities for Toddlers
Activity 1: Noodle Bin
A noodle bin is the easiest way to keep your toddler happy and entertained! All you need is a bin (a pot will work just as well, if not better!), some dry pasta noodles, and either a plastic cup or measuring cups. You can even add more kitchen utensils like funnels or big spoons to keep them entertained longer.
This sensory activity has so many benefits for young children. The scooping, pouring, and stirring actions involved allow your child to strength and improve their fine motor skills. while the use of kitchen utensils help to improve their understanding of concepts like volume and measurements. This is just one type of sensory bin, but it is very effective as a playtime activity!
Activity 2: Color Bins
Color bins is another super easy activity that you and your child can enjoy together. Find a couple empty bins in your house (kitchen pots work as well) and label them different colors. I typically do 3 or 4 different colors at a time. Once you have your pots ready, you and your toddler can go searching around your house collecting different colored toys to put in each bin. For example, a toy car that is blue will go in the blue bin.
This activity is amazing for kids who are still learning their colors. It’s also a great opportunity to boost their vocabulary as you and your child will be speaking about all of the different items in your house!
*Quick tip for parents teaching their kids colors ~ When speaking to your child about colors, try and use phrases like “the car is blue” rather than “the blue car”. Scientific research has proven that saying the color after the noun makes kids learn their colors significantly faster!
Activity 3: Stacking Cups
If you have some spare plastic cups around the house, then this is the perfect activity for you and your child. Just grabs some cups and start stacking! This is a super easy alternative if you do not have building blocks in your home.
This simple activity provides awesome benefits for your child. It helps them develop hand-eye coordination and improve their motor skills. It also forces your child to be more aware and focused as they have to give all their attention to the cup tower in order to not let it fall down.
Activity 4: Sock and Pot Throw
You guessed it, another activity involving a kitchen pot! I use the pot as a “basket” and a rolled up sock as the “ball”. Socks are a lot softer than a ball for younger children. Once you have it set up, you and your child can practice throwing the ball into the basket. As they improve, you can increase the distance and perhaps give them a real ball!
I really like this activity because it helps with their aiming skills and it teaches them how to control their body movements in order to hit the desired target. It is also super fun to celebrate when they get the ball in the basket!
Activity 5: Colorful Paper Airplanes
This is a super simple activity that kids love to do! First just grab a plain white sheet of paper and let your child draw on it however they wish (most toddlers just scribble!). Next, use that piece of paper and make a paper airplane! What kid doesn’t love a good paper airplane, am I right?
This is a great activity to teach your child how to follow direction while also allowing for a little creativity. You could also find a YouTube video and do simple origomi activities together too!
Activity 6: Rocks 1, 2, 3s
This activity takes a little bit of preparation, but all the supplies should be in or around your house! First, grab a couple pieces of paper and draw one big number on each sheet. Second, go outside with your toddler and have them collect all of their favorite rocks. Finally, have your child place the rocks down exactly where you drew the big number!
This is a great activity to get your child outdoors, interact with their environment, and learn their 1, 2, 3s in a very fun and informal way! This is especially great when you have a lot of time on your hands and you’re not sure what to do!
Activity 7: Fort Building
I know this may seem a little obvious but I feel like fort building is a very underused activity! So, grab all the blankets, pillows, and chairs in your house and start building a mega-fort right in your living room! Once it’s complete, grab a flashlight and a good children’s book and spend some quality bonding time with your little one.
I love forts for developmental reasons. Fort building is essential for cognitive development. It allows children to plan and problem solve, it exercises their imagination, and is great tool for social and language development as they have to cooperate and communicate with those they are building with. To be honest, I still love building forts even in my adult years!
Activity 8: Cereal Box Puzzle
Puzzles are a great activity for toddlers. Since we are trying to keep these activities cheap, I have found the perfect solution. Take an old box of cereal and cut out the front panel of the box so you have a flat sheet of cardboard. Turn it over and using a sharpie draw out your puzzle pieces (can just be straight lines, but make sure there are about 10 pieces). Using scissors, cut along your lines so you have your pieces ready. Now, you and your toddler can solve the puzzle together!
Puzzles are an excellent activity because they help with fine motor skills, problem solving, critical thinking, and hand eye coordination. I especially love this activity because puzzles tend to be expensive and this is a very cheap alternative!
Activity 9: Anything Painter’s Tape
Painter’s tape has to be one of the greatest inventions. My son loves playing with it, and it’s not damaging to the walls or floor. Once you have it, you can literally do anything!
Some of my favorites things to do are make shapes, letters, and numbers on the floor. On the flip side. if your toddler just wants to play with the tape you can just stick it on the ground and have them pull it up – my son loves doing this!
Activity 10: Water Sensory Bin
This is a great activity to do outside during the warmer months as it can get a little messy. Once again, find a couple bins (or kitchen pots!) and fill them with water. Then, find some safe kitchen utensils (plastic cups, measuring cups, wooden spoon, funnels, etc.) and just give your toddler the freedom to play!
Sensory play has amazing benefits for child development and arousal regulation. This type of play can calm a hyperactive child, or stimulate a sluggish child. Where I worked as a registered nurse, we had a sensory room for both kids and adults and it worked wonders!
I hope you and your toddler find joy and happiness using some of these cheap playtime ideas together! Whether you’re using the sensory bins, or making homemade puzzles, I am certain you will be able to keep your toddler entertained all day long! Leave a comment below on which activity you enjoyed the most!