As mamas of toddlers and preschoolers know, there are days when our little ones’ energy far exceeds our inspiration. On those days, here is a list of ten easy activities that use common toys and objects to keep your little one busy and entertained with little help from you. Enjoy!
1. Make an obstacle course: have your child roll on a carpet, crawl under a table, jump/step over obstacles, paddle through an inflatable pool filled with water, roll over a ball . . . let your imagination run free and use whatever you have handy.
2. Fingerpainting is always fun with the little ones, but make sure they are naked or wearing messy clothes, and plan the activity somewhere they can do no harm to furniture/walls. Give them some tools like bits of string, Q-tips, wooden spatulas, paintbrushes, etc.
3. Storytelling: need help finding your creative side? Dionna at Code Name: Mama offered some helpful tips to encourage storytelling skills, both for you and your child.
4. Puppet theater: don’t fret if you don’t have traditional puppets, just use bears and dolls or make cardboard characters (making and decorating your puppets is a fun, busy activity in itself). For the theater, you can cut out half the bottom of a big box, put the box on its side and hide behind it.
6. Playdough: Make your own playdough and have fun!
7. Sensory Activities: Fill an inflatable pool or large bucket with plastic balls, dried beans, or rice. Let your little one use spoons, cups, and other toys and tools to pour and play.
8. Drawing and coloring can never be underestimated. Have fun with artwork!
9. I find that my little girl can keep busy for quite a while with stickers (ok, I have to get them off the dog and my legs afterwards, but hey, whatever does the trick, right?!).
10. Building blocks are always fun. You can find a way to integrate them into imaginative play: build a bed for the doll, build a house/bridge/city for little people, etc.
More Activity Resources
Photo credit: annisat
Laura ‘Mamapoekie’ Schuerwegen is the expat mother of a very active two year old. She currently lives in Ivory Coast and blogs at Authentic Parenting.