Quick Activities for Toddlers

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READING TIME: 4 min.

I am a stay at home mom, and I’ll be honest; I’m struggling. At each stage my son has been in I feel like it’s the hardest yet, and I eagerly (and sadly) anticipate the next stage of his life.

If only he could do . . .

I can’t wait until he . . .  

My life would be so much easier if he could just . . . 

I’m such a terrible mom feeling this way because I know I should cherish each stage that he’s in, but it’s so hard because (I have another confession) I’m approaching my second trimester and can barely take care of myself. For the last 8 weeks, I’ve had zero energy. Zero motivation. Zero appetite. Yet somehow I’m supposed to be that happy-go-lucky, excited, youthful mom who wants nothing more than to run around, do cartwheels, and play with my 15 month old because that’s who he wants me to be. He doesn’t care that I’m 13 weeks pregnant or that being out in 100 degree heat is nauseating to his mama. All he wants is to be entertained!

 At the beginning of my pregnancy, I started to see this trend coming and was quick to take him to the Children’ Museum and the Indoor Safari Park. It was great to find places where he could play and let out his energy while Mommy got some rest, but before long I realized I couldn’t keep this up. 1) Each visit was $10 and that can add up quickly. 2) I was afraid he’d get bored of these places as frequently as we were visiting, and I didn’t want that to happen!

With the ridiculous Texas weather only getting hotter, our outside time was getting more limited. Toys were losing their excitement as quickly as they were being bought. And I’ll admit, the t.v. was being used way more frequently than I would have liked. I decided if I couldn’t be the fun, active mom I knew I could be, than I was going to at least provide him with entertainment that wasn’t “plugging him in.”

I quickly turned to Pinterest and began a search for creative and crafty activities for toddlers. Surprisingly, I found A LOT of websites and blogs with great ideas, but none were developmentally appropriate for my little one. Most were great for ages 2 and up, but were lacking for a 15-18 month old.

Well, thanks to the help of friends with expert experience, a few genius websites, and experimenting a little on my own, I’ve come up with a list of toddler-friendly activities that are engaging and work on age-appropriate skills, so if you find yourself in the same situation as me where you just don’t know what to do with your little one, here are some great activities you can pull out of your closet and have them work on independently!

Each of these activities have been tested by my 15 month old, and I was amazed at how long he was kept happy. As always, remember that every child is different and what entertains my little one might not work for you; however, always give it a try! I was VERY surprised by what what he loved when I thought “yeah, right.”

Also, each activity was purchased at my local dollar store and/or Hobby Lobby, so the initial cost is minimal!

  • Foam Sticker Fun: Purchase large foam stickers and stick to paper. (Make sure supervise to avoid stickers in unwanted places.) Foam stickers usually will peel and stick off of most anything unlike regular stickers.
  • Colored Cubes: Add food coloring to ice cube trays, freeze over night, and add them to a baby pool or bath tub.
  • Pom Pom Drop: Poke large holes in a food-storage container and move pom poms from ice tray or muffin tin into container. For added fun, use different sized pom poms and different sized holes!
  • Styrofoam Stick: Using either golf tees, party stir sticks, or craft sticks, stick into a Styrofoam block or shape. (Apparently stabbing is a lot of fun, so make it safe!)
  • Family Photos: Print photos of family members and attach a felt backing to stick to felt board or attach a magnet for magnet board.
  • Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle: Pile pipe cleaners on the floor and one by one stick them into an empty water bottle.
  • Impromptu Sand Box: Dump sand into a foil pan and play! Add river rocks or shells and use a back scratcher or fork for real entertainment
  • Easy Felt Play: Instead of printing off silhouettes and cutting felt pieces from scratch, purchase felt pages with animal patterns and cut out the animals for felt board or just random play.
  • Reverse Stick: Apply contact paper to a cookie sheet sticky side up. Place objects on the contact paper, and stick and unstick away.

For more great toddler friendly activities, try the following amazing websites:

The Activity Mom

Play at Home Mom, LLC

Engaging Toddler Activities

Do you have some favorite, hands-on activities you do with your toddler? Share, and help us moms who lack creative abilities! 

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From a fourth grade teaching career in Richardson to managing a letterpress studio in the Design District of Dallas, Krystal finally found her calling with the not-so-simple life of motherhood. She’s been married for her best friend and husband, Tim, for 15 years and enjoys spending time with her sons, Mark (born March 2011), Zachary (born January 2013), Nathan (born October 2015), and Jake (born July 2018). When not devoting her time to Dallas Moms Blog and her family, she enjoys eating cheaply and traveling often!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Great list! I’ve tried the colored ice cube thing outside in his sensory table and I think I enjoyed it more than him. They melted so fast, it might work better inside. I’ll have to try the sand in a small bin, I’m always dreading filling up the sensory table with sand cause it’s so much work. This sounds much easier!

    • I found a perfect sized jar of sand at the dollar store near the artificial flowers. It was the perfect size for a pie pan, and when he dumped it over afterwards, I wasn’t upset because it was only $1! 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing! I have a fourteen month old and I’m 23 weeks pregnant do I can relate to your exhaustion.

    I can’t wait to try some of these suggestions.

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