Friday, May 18

Sixty-Eight Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

These are some of the special activities we use in our home with our wee ones when I need them in sight and occupied. Some of them are best done in a highchair and many of them need to be supervised. I keep most of these in a drawer out of reach until I need them, when I'm helping an older sibling with their lessons or doing housework.  Most everything is very inexpensive and easy to find if you don't already have them on hand.  You can view some of the supplies in the amazon widget in my sidebar. Hope they spark your creativity and resourcefulness for fun times with your preschoolers or toddlers!

1.Magnets and a metal board or cookie sheet
2.Watercolor books. If you can find the ones with the colored dots all over the picture, you've hit the jackpot.
3.Large wooden beads and a shoestring
4.Foam beads and a shoestring
5.A book of 1,000 stickers from the dollar store and a sheet of colored paper. Tell the kiddo to make you a story with the stickers.
6.Duplo Legos
7.Large K'nex
8.Board books
9.A washbasin of warm water, measuring cups and spoons set on a bath towel.  Water activities are our Addie's favorite.  She will scoop and pour till the cows come home.
10.A washbasin of water, eye-dropper and cup set on a bath towel.  Show the kiddo how to use the eye-dropper to move the water from the basin into the cup.
11.View finder and reels
12.Pipe cleaners and a colander.  Kiddo threads the pipe cleaners through the holes in the colander.
13.Gel markers and paper
14.Foam stickers and paper
15.Large piece puzzles like those from Melissa and Doug or Ravensburger
16.Wooden blocks
17.Cutting up soft foods like cheese or melon with a butter knife
18.Memory game
19.A locking lid rubbermaid container with sand and small sand toys
20.A casserole dish or plastic container filled partially with dried beans, small matchbox dump trucks and bulldozers
21.No-spill bubbles. I let Chase blow these in the kitchen because there is nothing in there that a little soapy water will hurt.
22.Shape Sorting Cube
23.Magnetic dress-up
24.Play dough, cookie cutters, mini rolling pins, etc.
25.Sidewalk chalk and a chalkboard or chalk wall
26.Driveway or sidewalk paint - mix one part cornstarch with one part water, stir and divide into a muffin tin and add a bit of food coloring to each. Use a small paintbrush to apply to driveway. It dries like chalk.
27.Chenille pom-poms or cottonballs, tweezers and a two bowls. Use the tweezers to move the pom-poms from the full bowl to the empty one.
28.Crayola Mess-free color wonder paints and paper
29.Washable finger paints and paper
30.Rubber ball and empty containers/water bottles from your recyclable bin. Go bowling. 31.Geometric stacker blocks
32.Jumbo crayons and paper
33.Old magazines or catalogs, safety scissors, scrap paper and a glue stick. Make a collage. 34.Sequence game for kids
35.Watercolor paints, water, paper, salt. Let your kiddos paint and saturate the paper and then sprinkle salt over it while still wet for a very cool effect.
36.Bean Bags and empty plastic containers from your recyclable bin. Toss the bags into the containers at different distances.
37.Goes together matching puzzle game. Each completed puzzle consists of just two pieces: a toothbrush and toothpaste, a farmer and a barn, a fork and spoon, etc.
38.Dried bean seed, paper towel, piece of yarn and plastic baggie. Wet the paper towel, ring it out and place the bean inside it with only a tiny portion of the bean showing. Place in a plastic baggie and hang in a sunny window. Beans are great for sprouting quickly and watching grow.
39.Rubber stamps, washable stamp pads and paper
40.Candyland game
41.Lacing Cards
42.Various flash cards: animals, shapes, colors
43.Richard Scarry Best First Book Ever
44.Go Fish card game
45.Old Maid card game
46.Rhyming puzzle, each completed puzzle consists of two pieces of pictures who rhyme
47.Online stories via
48.Kidsafe headphones, cd player and children's cds, story on cd, etc.
49.Pattern blocks and pattern cards
51.Wooden train set and trains
52.See Inside Your Body book
53.Seek and Find books
54.Kumon workbooks for toddlers
55.Big Preschool Workbook
56.Tubular pasta and a shoestring to string.
57.Animal counters and colored cups for sorting by number or color
58.White paper, colored water made with water and food coloring, a straw. Drip a bit of colored water on the paper and let your child blow it around and around through the straw. Repeat.
59. Food faces. Use raisins, apple slices, dried fruit, hot dog slices, cheese, anything you have on hand to make faces on a paper plate. Then eat!
60. Mosaic Picture. Mom or older sibling cuts squares of colored construction paper ahead of time. Child uses squares and a glue stick to make a collage picture on a new sheet of paper.
61. Empty egg carton, tweezers and feathers, pom-poms, or cottonballs for sorting.
62. Eye droppers, colored water made from water and food coloring, and a paper towel. Let your kiddo use the dropper to drop colored water on the paper towel and watch it spread.
63. Empty egg carton, spoon and colored glass rounds from the dollar store. Spoon glass rounds into the egg carton spaces.
64. Magnetic Letters, pieces of paper and a marker. Mom or older sibling writes simple words on the paper and the child copies them with the magnetic letters.
65. Connect Four game.
66. Toddlers love to color match and sort. Let them sort pasta by color/shape, m&m's, beads, crayons, anything you have on hand. You can provide them with bowls or egg cartons for their sorting, ask them to sort a certain number into each bin, etc.
67. Salt dough shapes, animals and ornaments
68. Fabric/ trim scraps and wooden clothespins that look like people.  A preschool age child can decorate and glue fabric onto his clothespin people and you can help draw eyes or add on googlie-eyes.  Yarn scraps make hair.

Any toddler activites you can think of to add to this list?


MrsRobinett said...

an excellent list! my son is only five months old, but already I'm trying to think of things like this for the future.

Anonymous said...

Hannah, I homeschool my 6 and 3 yr old boys. I have seriously considered putting my 3-yr-old (almost 4, same age as your Chase) into preschool because I just cannot keep up with his energy. He has a very small attention span, so different than my first son who is very introspective. By the end of the day I am totally worn out, exhausted. This list, oh my, this list is an absolute God-send for me. Thank you so, so much!! I'm going to copy it, get a bunch of cheap containers from the Dollar store and fill them with all these lovely ideas. I just cannot thank you enough for posting this!!!! thank you, thank you, thank you

Anita said...

Here is a post I did a while back...

I printed your suggestions out for my oldest daughter. She has four children four and under and needs all the ideas she can get!

Karen said...

Most of the activities on the list I have done with my children. The only thing that I could think of is a rice bucket with plastic cups, bottles, etc to put the rice in.

Sarah said...

Thanks for this, quite a few here we haven't tried, always great to have new ideas. On bad weather days my little ones like to play ' hang clothes on the line' just set up a washing line nice and low in the house, supply a pile of dolls/the babies clothes and pegs and away they go.. great for strengthening the pincer grip.

Tanya said...

Thank you so much for these ideas. My sweet baby boy just turned one, so he can't do most of these..but, I'll keep them in my back pocket for when he gets a bit bigger. We are struggling now with how to keep him occupied when we do schoolwork.

Kate @ Bliss and That said...

GREAT list!! Thank you!

Barbara said...

I love this list. When you're looking for a professional preschool Jersey City doesn't really have them... So I'm homeschooling!