I can never have enough toddler activities planned beforehand. My daughter is not yet very independent when it comes to playing by herself. She needs to spend enough quality time to feel reassured. If I am around she is soothed and doesn’t easily get distracted from what she is doing. A good sleep, filled up tummy and Mummy is all she needs to be on her best self.
But “Mummy” can’t always be around her line of vision. I am sure many stay-at-home and working mothers/fathers go through this issue. Even if your child is independent, I am sure there are days when you really need to come up with something to keep the little one busy.
So this article is for parents, relatives and caretakers to probably remind or to introduce you to some easy toddler activities. To keep them busy while you can sneak away or sit beside them doing your thing.
Please do note that some of these activities might already be very obvious to you. But there is also a possibility that one of these activities might be new to you. So with that thought lets dive right in.
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I believe that to make our kids responsible and successful in terms of happiness and life generally, it is important that they know how to do at the least simple house-hold chores like cleaning up after themselves and putting away stuff to where they belong.
And how do we cultivate such attitudes? By involving them and allowing them to have fun while learning. I know we still can’t predict the future, but let us concentrate on the present and feel proud that our little ones are learning important life skills. I will probably write an in-depth article about inculcating such values in the future so please stick around.
Cleaning up the mess
Kids don’t learn without making a mess of things. As we know, it takes time to build strength in their muscles, but if you are going to wait till they have great motor coordination before teaching them to clean up after themselves, then we know that is not going to happen that easily.
In this picture, my daughter is trying to pick up the biscuit that she crumbled in a frenzy. She did not do a good job, not even an ok job, but she knows what is expected of her if she dirties a place and she somewhat looks forward to the cleaning process. I don’t interfere when she is cleaning, I simply observe unless she gets frustrated and asks for help in an agitated voice.
This falls under toddler activities for me because it is fun for her to create the mess and then the cleaning up is equally interesting for her. If we see from her point of view, it is fun even if it is a lot of work for us later. I get a solid 10-15 mins of work time when she is busy “cleaning” up her mess.
Cutting vegetables and fruits/Kneading the dough
I am sure many households have this toy. I recently invested in a good sturdy wooden version of this toy. These toys are Montessori prescribed toys for toddlers. But I am not talking only about cutting up these plastic or wooden toys, I am talking about involving your 1-year-old in your daily cooking routine.
If they can stand over a stool or sit at your level, and observe what you are doing in the kitchen while cooking, not only will they be more willing to try out new foods but also will be amazingly engaged. She has her very own spoon and cutting board space to cut up and sample some mushy vegetables. If I don’t have a fruit or vegetable which can be cut with a spoon then I give her samples from my cutting board.
We cook together daily religiously. On days she is not cutting up she will be assisting me with crushing garlic or ginger or she has her small ball of dough to roll out on her board/plate. This activity is NOT Gender-specific. Every adult needs to know to fend for themselves. So teach this valuable lesson to them if you haven’t already started.
Feeding the birds
Every morning, afternoon and evening its a scene from the movie “Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge” in our home. This is one of my daughter’s favourite fun toddler activity, to feed the daily visiting pigeons. She pinches out a few grains at a time and throws it on the floor. Then she waits for the birds to show up and eat it.
We all know it is important to teach values like compassion and respect to our kids. And these kinds of toddler activities are a great way to impart these lessons implicitly to them.
King Kong and the cup castle
This is one of the simpler toddler activities, where I collect all her paper cups and stack them up and she loves to tip it over. We play this game for a very long time and then, in the end, she has to put each cup within another cup and create a single cup chain to store it away for later playtime.
The tipping over of cups is for fun and the stacking them back part is to build motor and cognitive skills in her. There are so many games to invent with the cups. You can play dropping the ball in the cup, painting the cup a certain colour and then they have to pick up the right coloured cup when you say the name of the colour.
For this activity, I have taped some old paper to her table, poured some water in her cup and gave her 2 Q-tips. This activity keeps her engrossed for a very long time. You might have to keep the paper stack and Q-tips ready at hand. You will be surprised how involved your little one will be.
This activity is very easy to setup. It is an extension to the previous post about teaching alphabets to 1.5-year-olds. All you need is a cupcake baking tin or any small cups. Just make sure that you label your cups properly. some paper, kid-safe scissors and a sketch pen.
- Cut the paper into small strips and write a certain alphabet in it
- Then you show them the little strip of papers, with a certain alphabet written on it and ask them to identify the alphabet
- Once the alphabet is correctly identified, they have to put the piece of the paper in the correct cup or hole
This game concentrates on 2 important skills here
- Their recognition of the taught alphabets
- Understanding the concept of sorting of the same items in one place
If you are interested in learning more about age-appropriate activities to do at home with your little ones then I would recommend this book.
Also, I love this post by Cynical Parent, she has a bundle load of ideas for activities for a 1-year-old.