Need to fill a long afternoon with your toddler? Keep them happy and entertained with some of these favorites.
1. Go Shopping
Salvage a few items from your recycling bin – empty cans (washed out), empty boxes, etc. Set up a store on the dining room table and let your toddler go shopping for groceries. Keep an eye out for a pint-sized shopping cart that you can get pretty inexpensively and let them take care of the shopping.
2. Fort Playtime
Pull the couch cushions off and set up a fort. Let your child man their stations with stuffed animals and other “friends”. Watch out for random marshmallow attacks!
Use that collection of 2 liters and set up a bowling alley. Put a small amount of beans in the bottom of each bottle for weight, and then give your child a bean bag to “bowl”. (Don’t have a bean bag? A tennis ball in a sock works well too!)
4. Tower Power
Give your toddler a bowl of marshmallows – and have them start stacking. Use the mallows as blocks and see what masterpiece your child can come up with. (For even more fun, get colored marshmallows or different sizes.)
5. Cold as Ice
Using a large plastic tub, put small toys, racecars, etc in the bottom. Fill it with water and freeze until solid. Take it outside on a hot day and let your child have fun “melting” the ice block to free the toys.
Set up an obstacle course through the house. Use tape in a hallway to create “fences”, cushions can become tunnels, rugs can become dangerous quicksand. Let your child try to make it through the obstacle course (after you’ve gone through it a couple times to make sure it’s “safe” of courseJ).
7. Working Man
Set up a build site with Styrofoam sheets, golf tees and plastic hammers (all available at dollar stores). Let your child pound some “nails” (golf tees) into the Styrofoam. There’s nothing like working up a sweat doing manual labor – your construction worker may need a big Sippy cup of chocolate milk when he’s done!
8. Go to the Movies
Use a cardboard box and help your child make a cardboard car that they can sit in. Add details like wheels (small paper plates on the sides) a steering wheel – use your imagination! Set up in front of the TV and show one of their favorite films – you just made a drive in theater! Serve popcorn or another favorite snack.
9. I Spy
Make a set of binoculars out of toilet paper tubes. Head off into the neighborhood for a game of I Spy with the binoculars; see who can find the most interesting things.
10. Nothin’ but Net
Set up an empty garbage can on a coffee table, or other low table. Have your child help you wad up newspaper into balls. Take turns shooting on the basket – how many baskets can you make in ten seconds?
Playing games with your toddler doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Keep things interesting by rotating activities. Your child will love spending time with you, and you will love the active time not spent in front of the TV.