Looking for toddler activities that will keep your one or two-year-old busy for more than a minute? Try these!
So. You have a toddler? I’ve got one myself.
Aside from the hanging-on-my-legs-crying-when-I’m-making-dinner thing, I just love having a one-year-old. Our little girl is a busy 16-month old with a small vocabulary (mostly “yeah” and “NO!”) and lot of enthusiasm. As the youngest of five, she has a big audience. All of us marvel at the new things she’s learning every day!
I’m a big believer in doing learning activities at home with your kids. And it’s not hard to find resources!
The Target Dollar Spot is a great place to find free flashcards. I’ve found alphabet cards, number, and animal cards. Have you ever tried them with your 1-year-old?
Then there are all the themed worksheet packs you can find online — for free! How does your 2-year-old like them?
Toddlers won’t sit for the wrong activities.
Most likely, your toddler isn’t crazy about flashcards and worksheets. He might toss the flashcards, scribble where he’s supposed to draw a circle, or just fuss until you let him down to play.
I often get e-mails from enthusiastic parents wondering how to get their toddlers to do learning activities with them. They’re a little exasperated because their toddler won’t sit still and just focus. But by resisting flashcards and worksheets, their toddlers are doing exactly what they should be.
The best toddler activities
So if flashcards and worksheets are the wrong way to go, what’s left?
The single best thing you can do for your child to prepare him to be a reader is to read to him. I know this sounds too easy, but it’s a fact.
What if your child won’t listen to books? Bring the books to him. Read while he’s snacking in the high chair or splashing in the tub. He may not pay attention to the pictures yet, but stick with it. One day he won’t be able to get enough!
Tips for reading to squirmy toddlers
Sometimes it takes longer than you’d like to get your toddler to love books. Here are my top four shortcuts. Read these kinds of books to your toddler, and before you know it he’ll be bringing books to you.
- Read books that you can sing.
- Read nursery rhymes.
- Enjoy rhyming books.
- Read books with real photographs.
2. Go SIMPLE.
There’s no path to frustration like setting up an elaborate play activity for your toddler and watching him spend two minutes on it. If you do simple activities, you won’t be tired out before you begin. And you just might find your child likes the simple ones best!
The classic pom-pom drop is a great one for toddlers who no longer put things in their mouth. I still remember how delighted my one-year-old was (he’s 3 now) when watching the fuzzy little balls fall through the tube.
3. LOW MESS is best.
You may have a higher tolerance for mess than I do, but here’s the deal. We’ve got five kids. I have enough messes. I just don’t have the energy to get out the mop after my kids have some fun. Here’s my general rule: Activities have to be such that my toddler will do them for a longer amount of time than it takes me to clean them up.
Just this morning before church I put some cornmeal on a baking sheet, strapped my toddler into her high chair, and pulled her up to the table. This was a seriously focused little girl. She played with the cornmeal a good fifteen minutes, and two minutes with the vacuum was all it took to clean up the mess. (Keep in mind that I sat right next to her to make sure she didn’t dump the tray on the floor.)
4. Take it OUTSIDE.
If it’s the right time of year, get outdoors. It’s amazing what fresh air can do for a toddler’s mood (Mom or Dad’s, too!). Last summer I gave my 2 1/2 year old a bucket of water and a container of dish soap. He was busy for forty-five minutes. Now that’s focus.
5. MIX IT UP.
Your toddler may be the type who isn’t interested in sitting at the table – but give him a big backyard, and he’s busy for an hour. Or maybe you have a quieter toddler who enjoys fine motor activities like paging through books and putting coins in a bank. Whatever your child’s interests, give him the opportunity to try all of these activities:
- Fine motor (using the hands)
- Gross motor (using the whole body)
- Crafts & art projects
- Sensory (engaging the senses)
“WAIT,” you say. “I STILL DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.”
I’m actually right there with you. Because while I can think up an original phonics game or write a sight word book, I often look at my toddler and draw a complete blank. She’s fussing and wants my attention, but what do we do?
THESE ARE JUST PLAIN AWESOME.
For years, I’ve been following the brilliant Jamie of the blog Hands On As We Grow. She has a gift for thinking of simple, no-fuss activities that kids love. And now she’s packaged them into e-books just perfect for busy parents who need a little help planning out these simple, low-mess, creative activities.
For each week she’s got seven simple activities right there for you. The supply list is right on the side. These activities are so simple and appealing, you’ll actually DO them.
PLUS, each book comes with go-to activities for those times when you don’t have the supplies or just need something else to do.
THE BEST PART?
These books are like a little push to keep you accountable. Because we all have great intentions, but life gets in the way. For me, life is laundry, meal prep, and older siblings. With these e-books I can do a simple activity with my toddler every day. Even though I’m not up to date on her baby book, I’m making time just for her.
I’m loving that with my bundle pack I have activities for one-year-olds, two-year-olds, and preschoolers. (In fact each of the pictured activities in this post comes right from a toddler e-book!)
You can get an e-book for just a particular age, or buy the bundle pack of four books to save big.
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