Keeping your toddler busy when you are stuck at home can be a challenge. I selected these indoor activities for toddlers specifically because they are simple, easy, and quick to put together. Use them on rainy days, when it’s too cold or hot outside, or even when you are just too tired to get out!
We live in a small apartment with no yard so I have lots of experience with indoor activities for kids. Every parent knows how hard it is to keep a toddler occupied for even a few minutes, no need to spend 30 minutes designing a complicated activity! I always felt if I could keep my toddler busy for at least 10 minutes, it was a lucky day. Some of these ideas may even give you a chance to drink a cup of tea.
Some of these ideas are self-explanatory, but you can always CLICK on any of the ORANGE LINKS below to find out more.
Active Indoor Activities for Toddlers:
The under 3 crowd needs lots of active play time. Living in an apartment, I’ve found lots of ways to make active play work. Some may seem a bit unconventional to you, but we don’t have a large (or any) play room so we have to be flexible.
- Prop up a baking sheet on a stack of books and roll toy cars or round blocks down it.
- Outline a rectangle on the floor with masking tape and have kids jump in and out of it, bounce balls in it, zoom their toy cars in it, fill it with blocks, etc. It’s quite surprising how entertaining a simple tape shape can be!
- Bounce ping pong balls around the house. Really!
- Play indoor balloon tennis with paper plate paddles.
- Do you have a piece of styrofoam left over from packaging? Pound in golf tees with a toy hammer, or poke toothpicks into it.
- Put on some music and dance with scarves.
- Set up towers of empty plastic containers or cups and bowl them down!
- Cut a hole in the top of a tall cardboard box and drop blocks or other toys into it.
- Use plastic yogurt lids as frisbees. Seriously! My kids loved it when I let them do this. Little kids love to throw things and the lids won’t damage anyone or anything. You can still let your kids do this while teaching them it’s not appropriate to throw whatever they want, whenever they want to!
Art and Craft Activities for Toddlers:
All of these are so easy to set up and don’t require much clean up, either. Clean up, however, is a great way to keep little ones occupied. Toddlers love to help.
- Paint on the windows! Washable tempera paint is perfect for this. You can add a little squirt of dish soap to make clean up even easier. Your child can even wash the windows after everyone has has had a chance to admire his artwork.
- Let the smallest toddlers create easy, super simple collages.
- Spread big paper across the floor to draw from a new perspective.
- Set up an invitation to paint on the wall (really!).
- Cut out magazine pictures of your toddler’s favorite subjects (diggers, dinosaurs, etc.). They can use a glue stick to apply them to paper, or why not let them exercise their muscles and squirt glue all over the paper.
- Learn about coloring mixing and squirt two different colors in a plastic baggie. Your child can smoosh it around to create a new color without getting messy!
- Make play dough. This skin therapy play dough recipe is awesome and wonderful for mom’s winter hands, too!
- Do you have a chalkboard? Paint on it with water.
- Make colored cellophane “glasses” and explore the house with a new view!
Fine Motor and Sensory Activities:
Toddlers love to work on their fine motor skills. It’s so fascinating to see them concentrating so hard. They are learning so much, too!
- Create sensory paper out of sticky paper and differently textured materials.
- Set up the easiest color sorting activity ever.
- Drop popsicle sticks, pom poms or bottle caps into a yogurt container with slits in the top.
- Thread cheerios on a pipe cleaner and then set it outside for the birds!
- Pour bean or rice on a tray and add construction toys.
- Use egg cartons for sorting items such as pom poms by color or quantity.
- Engage in a little free play with egg cartons, paper rolls and pom poms.
- Give your toddler a spare wallet filled with old credit cards and business cards. They love to put them in and pull them out of the pockets.
- Punch holes in an index card and have your toddler poke pipe cleaners through it.
- Poke toothpicks through the holes in a colander.
- Use tongs or kid chopsticks to transfer items such as pom poms or small blocks to a muffin tin. Older kids can even try beans.
- Make a toddler-friendly lacing bead activity out of ribbon and cut up paper roll.
- Repurpose games, like Boggle or Scrabble for fine motor play.
Water Play Activities for Toddlers:
It seems like my toddlers never got bored of water play! Even now, at the ages of 5 and 9, they still love it. It definitely deserves its own category!
- Give the toys bubble bath in a shallow bucket. Provide a sponge or a small brush to make it extra fun.
- Blow drops of water across wax paper with a straw.
- Sit them down on a towel and let them play with water, cups and spoons. Simple but very effective!
- Play with baking soda and vinegar. Place a series of cups on the floor filled with a bit of baking soda. Give your toddler a bowl of baking soda and let them spoon it into the cups. Watch their joyous reaction!
- Scooping! Place a bunch of small toys in a large bucket and give your child a big kitchen spoon to scoop them from one container to another. For added fun, fill the toy bucket with water and use a slotted spoon.
- If you want to get fancy, check out this awesome collection of sensory sink ideas.
Quiet Activities for Toddlers:
A lot of the above ideas will keep your toddler quietly busy, too.
- Reading aloud is a great sanity saver and toddlers often like to look at books on their own. Try one of these multicultural books for babies and toddlers, my favorite toddler books, or my 8 essential board books.
- Turning and shaking this glittery ball sensory bottle will provide a quiet distraction.
- During nap time, set up an unusual play prompt with blocks and their favorite toys to provide an easy way to tame the post-nap crankies.
- Use office supply stickers to create a toddler dot to dot.
Many of these ideas, and more, can be found on my giant list of indoor activities for kids. How do you entertain your toddlers?