Activities for Toddlers

Developmental play is fun for toddlers! Find creative games and activities to help you entertain and stimulate your 1½, to 3-year-old child. For more ideas, visit our searchable Activities Center.

12 Toddler Playtime Activities Using Common Household Items

Looking for some easy imagination playtime activities for your busybody toddler or preschooler? Just check your cabinets, toy box, or recycling bin for some new "toys" and supplies for playtime. All of these activities use basic household items to stimulate and entertain your tot for hours! read more

6 Homemade Playdough Recipes

Everyone seems to have a favorite playdough recipe, and many old favorites have been included here. Some require cooking and some don't; some are meant to be eaten and some are not. Choose the recipe that best suits your needs and the ingredients you have on hand. Store playdough in a covered container or Ziploc bag. If it sweats a little, just add more flour. For sensory variety, use playdough warm or cool as well as at room temperature. read more

Adopt a Tree

Adopt a TreeTime 20 to 30 minutes Materials TreeTape measurerPaperPencil Directions Find a tree that you both think is special and adopt it.Explore it by touch. Measure its circumference.Research its variety and particular needs for optimal growth, and devote some regular time to caring for it. Extensions read more

Adventure Walk

Adventure WalkTime 20 to 30 minutes Materials None Directions Why walk on the same old route when you can head out on an adventure designed by your child? Let your child give directions for the route and follow along agreeably. Extensions read more

All-About-Me Book

All-About-Me Book Activity for an individual child Age group: 18-40 months Duration of activity: 45 minutes Materials: Light-colored construction or bond paper Markers Magazines Scissors White craft glue Your child can create a lasting memory. He will enjoy "reading" it as much as he did creating it. You can bind the pages together with a stapler or by punching holes in the sides and attaching the pages with a yarn bow. read more

Animal Dress-Up

Animal Dress-UpMaterials Stuffed animals or dolls Christmas ribbon, bows, or fabric Directions read more

Animal Dress-Up

Animal Dress-UpTime 15 to 20 minutes Materials Some of your toddler's clothesLarge stuffed animals Directions To give dolls and stuffed animals a new look, dress them up in your toddler's clothes.Talk about how nice they look, and thank your toddler for helping out. Extensions read more

Apple Candlesticks

Apple CandlesticksTime 20 to 30 minutes Materials Paring knifePlastic wrapPotato peelerLemon juice2 Rome Beauty apples2 candles Directions read more

Apple Shake-Ups

Apple Shake-UpsThese treats aren't very nutritious, but toddlers will love to help make their own colorful snack. Materials Apple Knife Sugar Cinnamon Ziploc bag Directions read more

Apple Smile

Apple SmileMaterials Red apple (unpeeled) Peanut butter Miniature marshmallows Directions Cut a crisp apple into wedges. When laid on its side, each wedge should look like a lip. Spread one side of an apple wedge with peanut butter. Add three or four miniature marshmallow "teeth" along the edge. Spread another apple wedge with peanut butter. Place it on top of the marshmallows for a big, toothy grin. read more

Artwork Display

Artwork DisplayHere's a way to display your child's artwork on the refrigerator without having to cover it up with magnets to keep it there! Materials Wooden ruler (12-, 18-, or 24-inch) Magnet strip (same length as ruler) Glue gun Clothespins, spring-type (at least 2) Directions read more

Balloon Fun

Balloon FunTime 5 to 10 minutes Materials Package of balloons Directions This activity helps your child to explore force and motion. Inflate the balloons and tie them off with the string.Suspend them from the ceiling just low enough to be reached, and hit them gently with the palm of the hand. Extensions read more

Balloon Kites

Balloon KitesFlying a kite is difficult and frustrating for toddlers and preschoolers. These "kites" are guaranteed to fly, even on days with light wind. Materials Large, round helium balloons Kite string Paper streamers (optional) Directions read more

Balloon Magic

Balloon MagicTime 5 to 10 minutes Materials Balloons Directions read more

Bathtime Bubbles

Bathtime Bubbles Materials Bubble solution Bubble blower Directions Blow bubbles for your child while she sits in the bath. Have her try to catch them in her open hands or clap her hands together to pop them. read more

Bathtub Finger Paints

Bathtub Finger Paints Activity for an individual child Age group: 18-40 months Duration of activity: 15 minutes Materials: 2 tablespoons liquid soap 1 tablespoon cornstarch Food coloring Most toddlers love to get messy. What better place for a messy activity than the bathtub? read more

Beach-Blanket Fun

Beach-Blanket FunTime 15 to 20 minutes Materials Large blanket or towel Directions Your toddler will enjoy feeling the pull of gravity from the middle of a large blanket that you drag slowly around the floor. Talk about what you are doing and how it feels as you go. Extensions read more

Beanbag Races

Beanbag RacesMaterials Beanbag Directions Place a beanbag on your child's back while she's in a crawling position. Have her crawl around the room until the beanbag falls off. Two toddlers will enjoy playing this game, with one crawling and the other picking up the beanbag when it falls. Older children can play with a friend or sibling, seeing who can keep the beanbag on her back the longest. read more

Bedtime Buddy

Bedtime BuddyMaterials Roll of drawing paper Pen or marker Old sheet Scissors Sewing machine or needle and thread Cotton batting Fabric paint Directions read more

Big Mouth Game

Big Mouth Game Materials Cardboard box Markers Scissors Newspaper or tissue paper for decorating Glue Tennis balls or a rolled-up pair of socks Directions read more

Bird in the Cage

Bird in the Cage Activity for an individual child Age group: 30-40 months Duration of activity: 1 hour Materials: read more

Block Printing

Block PrintingMaterials Small blocks of wood Rickrack Glue Liquid tempera paint in a shallow pan Paper Directions read more

Blown Pictures

Blown Pictures Activity for an individual child Age group: 18-40 months Duration of activity: 10 minutes Materials: Tempera paint Plastic spoons Light-colored construction or bond paper Plastic straws This is a fun way for your child to learn about the power of an invisible force such as the wind. read more

Body Parts Activity

Body Parts ActivityTime 5 to 10 minutes Materials Nose tissues Directions There are so many body parts and so many new words to learn, but this activity makes it fun. As you call out body parts (ears, eyes, nose, knees, back, etc.), put the tissues on that spot on your toddler. Extensions read more

Bottles and Lids

Bottles and Lids Materials Collection of bottles and lids of varying sizes Directions Save small plastic bottles with screw-type lids. Your toddler will have lots of fun matching lids to bottles, putting the lids on, taking the lids off, and starting all over again. A bottle collection is also great fun for the bath, or for water play outdoors. read more

Brush My Hair

Brush My HairTime 5 minutes Materials Hairbrush Directions Show your toddler how to brush your hair and express your enjoyment and appreciation with these early attempts to give you pleasure. Extensions Pull out a hand mirror and say, "See how pretty!"Add a short spray of cologne to each of your heads to make your hair smell nice.Go together in front of a mirror and admire the work. read more

Bubble Bottle

Bubble BottleMaterials Clean, empty 32-ounce soda bottle with cap Water Tempera paint 1/3 cup liquid detergent Directions read more

Bubble Fun

Bubble Fun Materials Plastic drinking straws Store-bought or homemade bubble solution Scissors Tape Directions Make a bubble wand by cutting two plastic drinking straws in half, then taping the four pieces together. Blowing through the straws will send lots of tiny bubbles in many directions. read more

Bubble Solutions

Bubble SolutionsThe following three bubble-solution recipes come from Science World in Vancouver, British Columbia. They say the following about glycerine: "Not all detergents require the addition of glycerine in order to make good soap solutions. Glycerine helps soap bubbles hold water and this helps to keep the bubbles from popping. Try a tablespoon or two for a small batch (we're not exact about it). Glycerine can be purchased at most pharmacies. You won't need much, so don't go buying caseloads." read more

Bubble Wrap Fun

Bubble Wrap Fun Activity for an individual child Age group: 18-40 months Duration of activity: 30 minutes Materials: Bubble wrap Tempera paint Save the bubble wrap that comes with packages. You can also buy quantities of it fairly cheaply. Bubble wrap, like any other plastic, can be fatal if your child uses it to cover his face. Always use with hands-on supervision. read more