Busy Activities for Toddlers

Busy Activities for Toddlers | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Bringing home a new baby meant trying to figure out how to entertain my 4 year old on a whole new level. My son likes activities where he gets to figure things out or make a little bit of a mess, so coloring is usually out unless paint is involved. The goal was to continue to limit screen time, which can be difficult when you are stuck under a new baby practically all day, baby wearing is a life saver for sure! Anyway, here are the activities I have found to give me the most time and have provided him with the most entertainment. I did not start giving him activities to do until after the new baby was about 4-6 weeks old, so my first piece of advice is: don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t get down on yourself if this is a season filled with a little extra screen time.

Supplies you need for all activities listed: 

  • Round stickers, and stock up because they are cheap and are the activity gift that keeps on giving! You can use them for letter, number, shape, and color recognition.
  • Sensory bin full of beans, rice, shredded paper, sand, or other sensory items. For the bin you can buy a 28 quart, or larger, bin from Target, assuming they aren’t all sold out. Lately everyone seems to be buying bins for storage, and I’m guessing activities for their kids. Don’t fret if the bins are sold out, you could use a 9×13 baking pan or even a random bucket that’s large enough and deep enough to keep sensory items in.
  • Letters, you can use letters from puzzles or even magnets. No need to buy special items here.
  • Food coloring
  • Tupperware, silicone cups, muffin tins, ice cube trays or other little bowls for your child to play with (preferably plastic or silicone).
  • Squeeze bottles. Here you can use peri bottles, old dish soap bottles, empty shampoo and conditioner bottles, or even spray bottles.
  • Sand or garden toys with shovels, scoops, etc., or grab a few things from the drawer like measuring cups.
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Tiny toys to hide.

Sticker Letter Recognition

  • Write one letter on each sticker. 
  • Write each letter of your child’s name on separate pieces of paper and hang up on a wall.
  • Let your child match the sticker letters to the pieces of paper on the wall, this can be a great way for your child to start working on learning their name.

Name Dig

Sensory bins are great because you can use them for so many different things. Want to keep your kid busy for an hour? Throw some toys in the bean bin for them to uncover. I have a bunch of beans in a storage bin that I hide letters, toys, or puzzle pieces in. He usually does the matching activity a few times and then gets his construction toys out to play with the beans. Be warned, there will be a few beans that escape if construction toys come out. 

  • Fill container with beans or sensory item of your choice. 
  • Hide letters of their name in the bin.
  • Write their name on a piece of paper, leave outside the bin.
  • Let them dig out the letters and match the letters to the paper. You can put multiple duplicate letters in here as well as letters that are not in their name. 

When the name activities get old, bring out the water and food coloring! These activities can be done in or outside (now that it’s warming up) and are great for color recognition.

Baking Soda Color Magic

  • Lay out silicone cups, ice cube tray, or muffin tin.
  • Put a dot of food coloring on the bottom of each container.
  • Cover with a spoonful of baking soda.
  • Put vinegar in a something (like a cup) your child can use to dump into each container to uncover the color.
  • Once all of the colors have been discovered, you can dump the excess vinegar out of the containers and let them continue playing with the bubbling colors until all of the baking soda is gone. It’ll seem like magic to them!

Color Mixing Station 

  • Lay out silicone cups, ice cube tray, or muffin tin.
  • Fill squeeze or spray bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring.
  • Let your child squeeze the different colors into the containers you laid out, you can teach them about mixing colors.
  • BONUS! At the end of this activity you can get out some little toys to freeze in an ice cube tray using this colorful water. The next day, they can use toy tools or water to excavate and “save” their frozen toys!

I’m all about the easy activities, and these are simple to set up the day prior or even in the moment. The best part is that they shouldn’t require you to do too much “add to cart” action.

Two of my favorite accounts to follow on Instagram are @thebusytoddler and @abcdeelearning for more inspiration! Now it’s your turn, let us know some of your favorite toddler activities in the comments!

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