These are my 30 of the easiest and fun activities for a toddler to do at home either in the garden or inside. This post will help give you ideas and fun things to try with your little ones. They can be altered and changed easily to fit many if not all situations. So let’s go…
1) Rainbow rice
This is a super easy activity that needs barely any prep. Basically, it’s just rice that has been dyed by the food colouring. With this activity, it can be extended very easily. One way you can alter the play is by theming the rice colours. For example, for the Chinese new year, I did some red-coloured rice with gold glitter as well as cut out drawings of the animal of the year and added some chopsticks, spoons, and small containers. Another way you can alter this play you could use many different colours and pour it on to a large flat surface (such as a tuft tray) then the children can use their fingers or other tools to draw pictures, practise shapes, letters, and numbers, etc. This activity does need prep as it takes around 24 hours to dry so bear that in mind. Add a cup of uncooked rice to a zip lock bag (can be an old washed jar), then add a few drops of food colouring as well as a teaspoon of white vinegar. Close the bag/jar and shake it around a bit, add more food colouring if needed to get the colour you desire. Once it has all been mixed around pour the rice out and lay it flat on a tray or plate and leave it to dry for around 24 hours.
You need- Rice, food colouring, and white vinegar.
2) Food Mixing
Food mixing is the simplest thing that children really enjoy. All you need is a mixing bowl, a few spoons, forks, and any foods that you have spare. Such as pasta, flour, cereal, eggs, spices, anything that you feel you can add. Once you have all of the things you need to lay them all out on the table and let your child add and mix the ingredients. This is a messy activity but is best when your child has the freedom to explore the foods and mixing on their own but whilst ensuring that the child doesn’t eat the mixtures. You can alter this by adding and taking away different ingredients and changing or adding more tools, such as sieves, funnels, whisk, etc.
You need-mixing bowl, a few spoons, forks, any food-such as pasta, flour, cereal, eggs, spices
3) Tape car track
For this, all you need is tape and toy cars. This can be any tape apart from clear tape such as sellotape and as long as it sticks to the floor. Children love this activity and it’s super easy to set up and leave down without making too much mess. As long as your floor has been swept before the tape goes down it will be easy to leave for a few days whilst the child/children are playing with it. Do it in any pattern that suits your layout. You can alter this by adding more elements to it such as adding traffic lights, farms to drive past, train tracks, etc.
You need- Tape and toy cars
4) Pom Pom drop
For a pompom drop, all you need is a few empty kitchen/toilet rolls, tape, and pompoms. Tape the rolls to the wall in different patterns that will allow the pom poms to drop through. That’s all the prep you need, so it’s another super quick and easy activity to set up that will entertain your child for an afternoon/morning or more. The child will discover different ways to get the pom poms to the ground by dropping them in each tube. This can be altered and extended in many different ways. One way it can be altered is by giving your child the rolls to decorate beforehand and this will involve them from the start making it a fun and enjoyable experience. Another way to alter it is by putting cups/bowls on the floor where the pompoms will land, filled with different things such as one with flour, one with water, one with ice or jelly, etc. Another example is by changing the pom poms out with other small items as well.
You need- Pompoms, empty kitchen/toilet rolls, and tape.
5) Paper Car tunnels
To do this you will need paper/card, tape, and toy cars or trains. Stick the one shorter end on the ground and bend the paper to make a tunnel shape and stick the other side down too, it might need to be folded on the parts that are stuck down. And that is
it. Super simple tunnels that will keep your child entertained. You can alter this by again adding things around the tunnels like traffic lights, train tracks but also by adding this into the tape car track. Decorating the paper before sticking it down is also a fun activity.
You need- Paper/card, tape and toy cars.
6) Cheerio spaghetti
For this activity you need cheerios (or hoop type cereal), spaghetti, and something to hold the spaghetti in place, I like to use play dough in a ball to stick it on the table with the spaghetti sticking out. Once you have these, put the cereal in a cup or bowl and let your child thread the cereal on the spaghetti. The spaghetti might snap depending on how heavy-handed the child is but this is fine if it snaps just add-in back in the playdough and it is then just a smaller piece to thread on to (it is handy to have spare spaghetti ready if needed). This activity does not need any prep as long as you have everything needed. This can be altered by adding bigger hooped items such as hula hoops.
You need- dry spaghetti, hoop cereals, and something to hold spaghetti in place (playdough).
7) Cheerio caterpillars
Another activity that can be done with cheerios or other hoops like cereal is making caterpillars. For this activity, you need pipe cleaners, hoop cereals, and a pen or googly eyes. The child can thread the hoop cereal on the pipe cleaners and then add eyes to it to make it look like a caterpillar. These can wiggle and move when there aren’t too many hoops on it so it can become a moveable toy to play with at the table. This can be altered by seeing what other creatures you can make and also by making a ‘farm’ for these creatures to play in.
You need- Pipe cleaners, hoop cereals, and a pen or googly eyes.
8) Homemade moons sand
For homemade moon sand, you need 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of oil (baby oil is great). Mix these together well and that’s it!! Children will love this activity and you can store it after use. To alter this add food colouring to change the colours, add cookie cutters, tools, and anything you would like.
You need- Flour and oil.
9) Puzzle hunt in rice/sand
This is a great activity for children that enjoy puzzles. It is enjoyable as well as educational. For this, you need a large box/container, rice or sand, and a puzzle. Fill the box with rice or sand and hide the puzzle pieces in it. The children hunt in the rice or sand for the puzzle pieces so that they can finish the puzzle. There is no prep need for this activity as long as you have everything needed. It can be altered by adding another puzzle so the child will have to figure out which puzzle the peace belongs to. It can also be changed to add other small toys that the child can find when looking for the puzzle pieces. Once the child has made the puzzle they often want to start over again or just play with toys in the container. This is a great way to keep children busy whilst you are busy too.
You need- Large container, rice or sand, and a puzzle.
10) Jelly toys
For this activity, you need a large bowl or small pots/shapes, a jelly mix, kids tools/cutlery, and some small waterproof toys. You do need prep for this and I would suggest overnight but it can be 3-4 hours (just as long as the jelly has set). All you need to do is make the jelly and put a few toys in the jelly to set. Once set put the jelly on a tray or plate for the child with the tools or cutlery and this will keep children entertained as well as helping teach them how to use cutlery. This activity can be altered by changing the toys, adding different coloured jelly, and using different tools.
You need- Jelly mix, large bowl, children’s cutlery, and small waterproof toys.
11) Homemade playdough
For this activity, all you need is 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cups of salt, 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, 2 cups lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil/coconut oil and food colouring. Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar together and then add the water and oil, if your only making one colour add the food colouring if not wait till a later step. Now you’re going to put this all in a pan and cook on medium heat and constantly stir. Stirring until the dough has thickened up and forms into a ball. Remove it from the heat and then place it on a tray/plate to cool down. When slightly cooled knead it together until its smooth. So if you are making more than one colour separate the dough into balls, however many colours you want, and add the drops to the balls. Before mixing the colouring in you need to either put it in a zip lock bag or wear gloves as it might stain your hands when it’s not fully mixed in. Now that it’s been mixed in its ready to play with! You can alter this by adding more colours, cookie cutters, tools, and even glitter and sequins.
You need- flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, oil, food colouring, and zip lock bags or gloves.
12) Wash the farm
For this activity you need some toy animals, a few sponges, washing up liquid/soap, a big bowl and some water (warm is best). Gather your toy animals and get them a little dirty, either get the child to play with the toys in the garden or just rub them around in a little mud. Then fill the bowl with water and washing up liquid/soap. From there let the child/children wash the animals in the water with the sponges. Children love cleaning the toys and playing with them in the water, you might find that they want to clean other toys too. To alter this activity you could set up a mud
farm tuft tray first for them to play in and then after clean the animals.
You need- Waterproof toy animals, sponges, washing up liquid/soap, a big bowl/container, and some water.
13) Ice toys
All you need for this activity are ice trays, small waterproof toys, and children’s tools/cutlery. You would need to prep this activity either for a few hours or overnight. Which involves adding small toys to the ice tray with water and put it in the freezer. When getting this activity ready for the children it is a great idea to put out a few cups or bowls either empty or one or two with cold and warm water in. As well as the tools that they can use to break the ice cubes. This activity lasts for a while as even when the ice has melted it is still fun to play in the water. To alter this activity you can add different things to the ice trays instead of toys such as bird seeds and other small items, you can also use food colouring in the water to make the ice coloured.
You need- Ice tray, small waterproof toys, and children’s tools/cutlery.
14) Dinosaurs prints
For this activity, all you need is paper, paint, and toy dinosaurs. This activity does not need any prep as long as you have the toys and paint already. For this, the children just walk the dinosaurs through the paint on the paper and make prints. To alter this activity you can add more or different toy animals, and also if wanted change the paper to a picture or something such as farm, jungle so that the children are walking the animals through their habitat. You could also cut out the footprints and make a trail around the house/garden.
You need- Toy dinosaurs, paper, and paint.
15) Shape matching
This activity is also super easy to set up and do. All you need is chalk, floor/board to draw on (chalk does come off super easy), and different items around the room. To set it up you need to find some different shaped items from around the room and draw round them with chalk next, put the items back in their place and the children have to figure out what shapes match the drawing and they do this by putting the items on to the chalk drawing to see if it matches or not. This activity can be altered by adding the colours of the items to make it easier, leaving the items out with others as well for the children to test out, as well as adding more difficult items.
You need- Chalk, a suitable floor/board to draw on, and any items you can find that have unique or different shapes.
16) Chalk floor/fence
For this activity, all you need is chalk and a floor/fence (outside is
best). This activity the children can draw and colour and then wash it off with water when they are finished but also once it has dried they can start all over again. This activity is very enjoyable for children’s especially on a sunny day if they have the water out to play with too. This activity also doesn’t need any prep. It can be altered by adding more chalks and colours to the activity and also add watering cans the children can use to pour down on the drawings as well as adding sponges and washing up liquid.
You need- Chalk and a fence/floor.
17) Water beads
Water beads are a super fun thing for children to play with. They are really easy to set up but do need 24 hours prep before the activity. The beads need to soak in water for 24 hours. This activity can be done in many different ways, one by just giving the children the beads in a bowl to play with. But you can alter this by adding cups, spoons, and funnels for the children to play with the water beads in and pour them from each cup.
You need- Water beads (can be found on Amazon, eBay, and many online stores as well as toy shops) and water.
18) Water tray
Water trays are another super fun and easy activity. All that is needed is a big bowl or multiple cups, spoons, pots, etc and water. Add water to the bowl/cups and let your child explore pouring and moving the water, they will get wet but that’s ok just have a towel to hand when needed. To add to this activity you can add waterproof toys, toy kitchen equipment, and sponges (to ‘wash-up’). You can also add food colouring and small items such as toys etc.
You need- Water and bowls/cups.
Children love posting items through holes and this is a simple activity to entertain the children. For this activity, all you need is a box (cardboard) and card/cardboard. You need to cut out a rectangle shape hole in the box to make a slot to post in and then cut the card to smaller rectangles (ensuring they are smaller than the hole in the box) and that’s it. But if you want to make this more enjoyable try getting the child/children to decorate the box, such as painting, colouring, and glueing things on. You can also help them decorate the card (letters). Another way to adapt this is by trying different shapes or adding more boxes to post in. When adding more postboxes a good game for the children would be colour sorting so if you made your box red and the others blue, green, and yellow for example, you could make the letters in the matching colour. This will help the children match the colours. Another thing to add is the word of the colour such as adding ‘yellow’ to the yellow card, this will help the children start to recognize letters and words.
You need- Card and a cardboard box.
20) Shaving foam building
This activity is another simple one but this can get messy. All you need is toy building blocks and shaving foam. This activity is building a wall (house, castle, or anything) and using shaving foam as cement for in between the blocks. This activity needs supervision and possibly help when using the can of shaving foam. To alter this activity you could try and build a little village and add people, animals, and cars. Another way you can adapt this is by adding letters or numbers on to the blocks and then using the blocks in order. This helps your child learn as well as have fun.
You need- Building blocks and shaving foam.
21) Pasta painting
This activity can be done in many different ways. This activity doesn’t need any prep as long as you have everything needed which is paint and pasta. The first way is by painting hard
pasta shells (any type of pasta) and them once dry making pictures with them. Another way to alter this activity is by painting with the pasta such as dipping it in paint and rolling/stamping it on paper. This is a fun way to change up painting with brushes. Another way you can do this is by half cooking spaghetti and dipping it in the paint and sliding it along the paper to make string shapes.
You need- Pasta and paint.
22) Nature tray
For this activity, all you need is anything you can find in the garden, on a walk or at the park such as leaves, pine cones, pebbles, sticks, flowers, and even mud. Put all of these things either in a tuft tray, shallow box or just on the floor for the children to play with. This doesn’t need much prep if you let the children help find the bits needed (Warning they will get dirty). Then let your children play and explore the different things they found. To alter this activity you can get them to find all of the different things themselves. Add different toys and other bits like water to keep the activity fresh and entertaining.
You need- Anything you can find in the garden (sticks, leaves, mud, etc).
23) Obstacle course
This is a super easy activity that can be adapted and altered often to keep it ‘new’. All that is needed is anything within the house or garden already such as pillows, a slide (if you have one), building blocks, children’s cones, etc. It can be done within the house or outside and done in any order. Make sure the children know where the start and finishing lines are and then make an order of things throughout the space such as four pillows on the floor in a line and then explaining to the children that the pillows are to jump from one to the other or to jump over whatever ‘rule’ suits you. You can get things for them to crawl under, run around, etc. You will find that the children often want to get involved when building the course. To alter this activity you can make ‘rules’ such as slither around this object, hop from here to there, walk backwards, etc. This will help their balancing and listening skills as they might need to listen a little more to know what movement they are going to do. Once they have completed the course once or twice the children might be wanting to change the design, this is a good time to let them be free and pick and choose what goes where, etc, this helps build their imagination.
You need- Anything that the children can run around, jump on, crawl under, etc.
24) Paint toy stamping/food
Paint stamping is such a fun and easy way to adapt to normal painting. For this activity, you need some paints, paper, and different objects such as waterproof toys, or foods that can be stamped. Allow the child to dip the toys etc in the paint and make a picture from the shapes that they make. One way you can alter this activity is by cutting a shape in the foods such as cutting shapes into a potato. Children love using different things. Another way to alter this is once the picture is dry adding pen/pencil drawing on the different shapes and see what you can make with these, (this works best when the paint is a light colour).
You need- Paint, paper, and waterproof toys/food items (potatoes, carrots, etc).
25) Stickers on names
This is a super simple task that will keep children entertained for a while. All you need is paper, a pencil and small stickers (circle ones work best). Then all you need to do is write their name in fairly big letters and then get the children to follow the lines with the stickers. This will help them get to know their name and letters in a fun and exciting way. One way this can be altered is by doing the alphabet or numbers.
You need- Paper, a pencil, and small stickers.
26) Busy board
A busy board is a large rectangle board of wood with lots of different household items glued/screwed on to. This can be things from light switches (not wired), handles, locks, and keys (ensure that the keys can be put in the locks but not able to remove from the board as this is a large choking hazard), bolts, pipes, buttons, trolly wheels, etc. Anything from a hardware shop that looks fun to play with. This activity does need a lot of prep but once it has been made it can be kept for a very long time. These can also be brought if craft isn’t your thing.
You need- A large board, household items, glue, and screws.
This can be anything. Children love baking anything so you can use what you have in the house already. Cookies, cakes, flapjacks, cornflake cakes, etc. For this, you need to prep and ensure that you have the ingredients and that’s all. Children love helping and mixing foods. This can be altered by changing the recipes to try baking many different things.
You need- Baking equipment and ingredients.
28) Draw/make toys
This is such a fun and everlasting activity that children love to do. You need cardboard/paper, pens/crayons/paint, scissors, and whatever other art items that you want to add. This is a great activity to do with a storybook. Find a story with simple characters and read it and then draw the characters and cut them out. Let the children decorate and make the characters. Next, read the story with the toys that they made and they will be so interested in the story. You can alter this by making any toys with the children.
You need- Art supplies, paper/card, and pens/pencils.
29) Painted stones
This is a super simple activity. All you need is stones and paint. Firstly ensure that the stones are all washed and clean. And then let your child/children freely paint the stones. To alter this, a great thing to do when painting the stones is painting emotions on the stones yourself and let your child do the same in their own version. After you can use these emotion stones to help the children express themselves and learn about emotions.
You need- Paint and stones.
30) Cup bowling
This is a quick easy game that can be done and tidied quickly. All you need is a minimum of 6 plastic cups (the more the better) and a ball. Make a tower with these cups and the children will have so much fun rolling and throwing the ball at the cups to knock them over. This can be altered by adding rules in the game, changing the size of the cups or balls, moving them further back from the children.
You need- 6 cups and a ball.
I hope you enjoy these activities and let me know how you get on and what works best. Also if you have any of your own ideas I would love to know!! Keep an eye on my blog as I will be posting all about activities and fun for children to have.
Tuff tray- This is a tuff tray and you can use them for ANYTHING!!! I use mine nearly every day. It keeps the mess in one place a little bit more, fill it with sand, water, paint, stones or just use it as a workspace for the children to draw on or in. they are super easy to clean and fairly simple to store (the back of a cupboard is where mine goes). They can be found online if you type in tuff trays, Amazon sells a couple of different sizes and colours. But if you want a simple saving as I did, I went to a tool shop and brought a cement mixing tray for half the price. The cement mixing trays are the exact same thing!
Happy playing 😀