5 Indoor Toddler Activities
Things have been pretty busy over here, to say the least. For those of you that follow on Facebook, you may have seen that we bought a new house! And more recently, something equally exciting happened, we sold our current house!!! We go to settlement on BOTH houses May 19th, so to say that this mama has been a little distracted, is an understatement. I will be sharing so much more about our upcoming move in the weeks/months to come, but today I wanted to share a few of my favorite indoor toddler activities that help me keep my little ones entertained, while my head isn’t 100% in the parenting game.
My tots are two and five, and they are both starting to get pretty good at playing together and finding ways to entertain themselves, but any parent of little ones knows that even when they start “entertaining themselves,” you’re still only 15-30 minutes (if you are lucky) away from them being right back at your feet with that “what can we do?” angst in their eyes, so I try to keep a little arsenal of activities that I can whip out for them to play with, in order buy myself a little more time when I am in the middle of something that “just has to get done.”
In our house I usually refer to these as “cookie sheet activities.” Ever since my son was little, I have been sitting him down at our kitchen table with a cookie sheet and a pile of something that he can dig into, sometimes quite literally. These are activities that he can work on right at the table, the mess (in a fantasy world) is confined to the cookie sheet, and they require very little “help” from me. They are all great at sparking imagination, working on fine motor skills, AND most of them are supplies that you probably already have on hand!
This one absolutely tops our list. The first time that we tried this activity, it literally kept my son entertained for two hours. I was stunned, I took pictures, the excitement was shared on Facebook.
All that you need to set up a Beans Activity Tray, is a bag of dry beans, and some containers. I like to raid our recycling bin for containers. So far our favorites are coffee creamer bottles, Madela milk storage bottles, and empty egg cartons. It’s also fun if you have some tongs or a scoop to add to the mix.
We started out with just a bag of dry kidney beans and later added the small white beans, which now adds a fun sorting element to the activity.
I absolutely love an activity that is simple, only costs a few dollars, works on the fine motor skills, and the best part, keeps them entertained! I do have to recommend keeping a brush and dustpan nearby for beans that may wander. Make sure to have your little one help with that part too!
Cheerios are a great tool to use for activities, because lets face it, they are a toddler staple and always on hand…and on the floor, and at the bottom of the diaper bag.
We have tried a few different Cheerio activities.
They can practice stringing Cheerios onto a piece of yarn, or embroidery thread. They may need a plastic needle for this one, but if you have some type of plastic cording (that stuff we used to weave into keychains back in the day), then you can probably skip the needle. You can also tie a cheerio to one end of the string, to act as the knot. If they don’t want to wear the necklace, hang them outside for a bird feeder!
For littler guys, you can stick a piece of uncooked spaghetti in a lump of play-doh and they can see how high they can stack their Cheerios on it.
Another idea, is to write out letters, or their name, and let them line up the Cheerios to cover all the lines.
We came up with this activity after my mom bought a million bags of pink mini marshmallows on clearance after Valentine’s Day last year. You can only make so many pink rice krispie treats, so we took out a handful of toothpicks and started building. This activity was a lot of fun and can really spark the imagination, just be mindful of the age of your child and whether the toothpicks may be too sharp for them. You may need to cut the pointy tips off before starting. It was also fun to add some jumbo marshmallows in too!
I know, breaking out play-doh, is not exactly a genius idea, but sometimes all you need to do is add a new element, and something that they have played with a million times, can feel like a brand new toy. Instead of putting out all the of the extruders and molds, just give them a cookie sheet, a rolling-pin and some cookie cutters. Let them work on making play-doh cookies for a while.
Or just give them a few tubs of play-doh, and a string with the plastic needle. They can see what kind of shapes they can roll and string. If they really like this idea, you could try it with some clay that hardens and they can work on making their own jewelry. I really want to try this air dry modeling clay from Crayola, you don’t need to bake it or anything!
5. Letter Beads
Now this one may not be something that you already have lying around the house, but I am including it here because it is one that my son will usually specifically request, and it has been keeping him entertained for years. I bought a tub of letter beads from Goodwill a few years ago for $2, and it was brand new! We have gotten our money’s worth out of it a million times over.
It’s even more fun now that he is a little older and learning more words. He will string up different words/names or just spell them out on the cookie sheet. He also likes to make little piles all over the table, sorting the beads by letter or color. I somehow can’t find a picture of him playing with them, so I used Ellie as a stand-in. She had fun playing with the letters, but she still needed a little assistance in stringing the trickier ones. The container suggests ages 3+.
So that is my 5 Indoor Toddler Activities roundup, with a few bonus activities thrown in as well. You will have to use your discretion for which ones are age appropriate for your little ones. I keep most of these activities boxed up and put away. I feel like they hold their entertainment value because they are something that is not out and available for them to play with all the time. They are really the perfect thing when you are stuck inside on a rainy day or when you need them to play on their own for a little while. They do, of course, require supervision, but they are great because the kids can get really creative with them on their own, without much hands on involvement from you, win-win!
What are your favorite “rainy day activities?” Anybody else going to be rocking a play-doh necklace this Mother’s Day?