Running out of ideas of things to do with toddlers? Sometimes we get into a slump as kids grow and need to come up with new activities for toddlers as they grow.
These toddler and mom-approved things to do with toddlers at home will stimulate their developing bodies and brains so they will learn as they play (and mama can get a bit of peace too). Though we can’t vouch for the cleanliness of each activity… some of them might get a bit messy.
(FYI. Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.)
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about these. I didn’t know if they would really hold my toddlers’ attention too long, but these babies are ingenious. Plus they are super awesome for baby and toddler development.
Most of our kids engage in plenty of sensory play by doing things like playing in sandbox or water table. Sensory bins are a way to bring the same concept inside and a fun thing to do with toddlers.
What is a sensory bin?
It’s a container you fill with materials and objects to stimulate your child’s senses, and many times the contents of the bin are a specific theme.
What do you fill a sensory bin with?
Basically, anything that is safe and fun for the child. You can get as creative as you want. Typically though, it is filled with a material like sand, rice, small rocks, beads, or some sort of fine material kids can scoop and run through their hands.
Once the box is filled with something like sand or rocks, you add other objects, usually with a theme, to add contrast and interest to the bin.
So, for example, you might start with sand and then add seashells and other nautical themed objects like a mermaid or ocean diver for kids to play within the sand.
Since this is a sensory box, you can also go the extra mile and add scents to the bin with something like child-friendly like a few drops of essential oils (lavender is usually a safe bet, but do your own research).
Why is sensory play important for development?
The senses are how we explore our world and learn, and this is even more true for babies and toddlers who are just starting to tune in to the world around them. According to experts, it can help build nerve connections in the brain, encourage motor skills, encourage problem-solving, and more!
Just like sensory bins, it took me seeing to believing in these incredibly simple toys. A lot of the homeschool and at-home preschool blogs and YouTube channels I watch recommend playsilks, but I just didn’t know if they’d be worth the investment and one of the things to do with toddlers we would love.
Playsilks that are actually made out of silk can get super pricey. So I decided to start out with a cheaper fabric to see if they were used before diving into a bigger investment. I now know they are totally worth the money, and I’ll be getting my kids real silk playsilks in more sizes, colors, and patterns for Christmas.
What are playsilks and how do you use them?
They are just pieces of fabric, generally silk, in a variety of colors and patterns.
Kids of all ages can play with them, and their uses will vary depending on the age and development of the children. My twin toddlers use them to play peekabo, or just run around letting them blow behind them like a kite, enjoying the feel of them.
My 4-year-old daughter will wear them as a cape, a baby blanket, and many children use them to create scenes for pretend play.
This is going to include a few ideas about what to do outside with the kids. I take them out basically any chance I can. Not only is the fresh air great for them, but it’s awesome for my well-being a mood too.
So many of us are vitamin D deficient because of where we live and not getting into the sun enough, since sunlight exposure is one of the ways we get our daily dose of vitamin D. Getting outdoors can be super helpful in ensuring that we are getting plenty, which can prevent tons of things, even depression.
Here are the ways I get my kids outside, besides just playing in the backyard.
This goes hand-in-hand with the sensory play, but I have my kids help me with gardening as much as I can. My 4-year-old helps pull weeds, and while my twin toddlers don’t help, they still “help.”
Everyone gets a little exercise plus sun, and our landscaping looks a bit better plus we now have a small container vegetable garden!
Shortly after I had my daughter, I found Hike it Baby, which is an amazing group to get you and the kids out of the house and into nature.
We try to get out to one hike or shorter walk a week, though sometimes we got a few times a week and then can’t make one for a month at a time. When we aren’t able to get out to the hikes, we at least all load up in the stroller and do a good family walk to two around our neighborhood.
(See below for my fav strollers for walking.)
This is mostly just a summer activity, but you don’t need a pool to get some outdoor splashtime in. Unless you live in a huge city, chances are you can find a creek in your area that is suitable for your kids to do some wading.
My little Max likes to plop down at the edge of the creek and play with rocks. Most of the time I do this with our hiking group, but sometimes the hubby and I strap the twins on in our baby carriers and head out as a family to our favorite local swimming hole.
My kids love to help with cooking. I wrote all about teaching your kids to cook here, and I can’t recommend it enough. There is a way to get all ages involved, even if it means it takes longer and is a bit messier.
There are so many benefits to teaching kids to cook, and the memories you have by your successful and failed attempts together are priceless.
Read to your toddlers
This sounds like such an obvious recommendation. We are inundated with the mandate to read to our kids, but the truth is that we didn’t for a long time.
Yeah, that makes me sound like a terrible mom, but the truth is that my kids just weren’t that interested. My daughter has only now that she is 4 years old became more interested in sitting down and reading a book together. She mostly just liked roughly turning pages without even looking at the pictures as a toddler.
So to be honest, it didn’t cross my mind for a while that my twins might be different. But oh boy they are different.
From about 18 months old they have been OBSESSED with books. And they are actively engaged in them, not just randomly flipping pages and trying to destroy them as my daughter did. So when I need to find things to do with toddlers, this is one of my go-to’s to pass a bit of time.
I wish I would have made more of a point of reading to them a little earlier because of their obvious fascination with books, but I don’t regret NOT reading to my daughter more. She is quite precocious with her language and is already teaching herself to read. It just wasn’t her thing, while it IS my twin’s thing.
So this is a friendly reminder to give the reading to your kids another shot if they previously didn’t enjoy it. You never know.
Open the Kitchen Cabinets
My kids, like most kids, play with the most random stuff.
They love to pull out the tupperware lids and run around playing peekabo with them. My one twin had a month when he was completely enraptured by the butterfly cookie cutter he found in one lower cabinet.
The world is fascinating to a baby just starting to explore. What we find to be mundane is magic to them.
So go ahead and let their imaginations run wild with whatever safe random stuff you have around your house. Let them dive into a junk drawer or that baking drawer you never get around to using because you just end up making boxed stuff anyway.
One on hand, toddlers are hard to keep entertained for too long, but if you find the right activities, they will stay focused and have fun for hours!
Test out these things to do with toddlers, and let us know if they helped!
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