Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, playing is the best way to help your child learn. Games will help them become social and enjoy the company of other children and adults, as well as providing solitary entertainment. Don’t be surprised if the game you are playing with your toddler morphs into something completely different from what you started out with. Young children are full of energy and don’t always have the best attention span. The key to engaging your toddler is to be open to new ideas and directions and let them explore. Be patient, energized, and creative. Let’s explore some fun indoor activities for toddlers, and ways to get them outside!
Nursery Rhymes, Storytelling, and Theatrics
A great way to bond with your child and get them to learn is to read them books and sing them nursery rhymes and lullabies. Read their favorites and let your toddler chime in and take over a specific part of the story to act out, and encourage them to read and sing along with you. Inspire fun and awaken their creativity by improving tales and adding twists to existing stories. Let your toddler take charge of a story and ask them questions. Be a good audience member; clap and ask for more. Play dress up and act like your favorite characters!
Pack a picnic and take your child’s dolls and toys on an adventure to the park, or stay in and make a fort in the living room and camp out, or set up a tea party or exclusive toy story gala in your dining room. Let your child show you how they like to play with their toys.
Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag
Make a bird feeder with your little one and teach them about the indigenous birds in your locale. You can fill a hummingbird feeder too and bird-watch from your outdoors or window.
Bubbles and Bubbles and Bubbles and Bubbles
Blow bubbles indoors or outdoors. Get a large bucket and a big bubble dispenser and play in the grass. Have your little one chase the bubbles in the grass and pop them. Have fun as you take turns blowing and chasing. This one never gets old.
Pieces of the Puzzle
Exercise your child’s brain and problem-solving skills and get them to work on a good puzzle with you. Make sure the pieces are big and safe for their age group.
Shake Your Groove Thing
Play music and show your kids some dance moves or invent some together. Use musical instruments like shakers, tambourines, claves, bongos, and other noisemakers; get your child used to playing along and making rhythms. Add a game of “Freeze” to the music — turn it off randomly and have them freeze in their position or give them different poses to hold, then turn the music back on.
ABC It’s Easy as 1-2-3
Play games indoors, outdoors, or even in the car that help your child recite and remember all the letters in the alphabet and practice counting. Line up their animals and stuffed toys in alphabetical order and count them out loud.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite
It can be difficult for a toddler to fly a kite on their own, so consider holding it with them, or try tying a helium balloon to the string and letting them fly the balloon. When they are older, they will be able to handle a real kite on their own with the practice.
If weather permits, one of the most fun outdoor activities you can do with your toddler is let them run through the sprinklers. You can even create a spray with your hose or add a water slide on the grass. Get the pets involved to and let your child play with the family dog. Add some water balloons and super soakers to the mix and you’re sure to have a fun time!
Beanbag toss, ring toss, and throwing the ball are all fun games you can teach your toddler. This will help them with body awareness, balance, and motor coordination. Get them something soft, like Nerf equipment, to start with.
Chalk It Up to Fun
Go outside and draw a bunch of large rectangles on the ground, give your toddler and their friends some chalk, and let them draw pictures in the boxes. Play a good old-fashioned game of hopscotch, connect the dots, or foursquare, and add some jacks into the mix.
Toddlers love puppets. Make your own at home using a sock, a glue gun, and materials from the arts and crafts store. Build a stage in your living room and put on a puppet show of a favorite children’s story like the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and act out the characters, changing voices and puppets to match the story.
Hide and Seek
Toddler-style hide and seek can be very different from what you remember from your childhood. Play along if your child finds a place that is totally obvious to you. Also, set limits or keep it to certain rooms, and lock doors so they don’t get into any dangerous places. They are still young, and what seems like a good hiding spot to them may be a dangerous situation they’ve squeezed themselves into.
Add a little sparkle to your lives and encourage your child’s artistic flair. Go to the supply store, get some glitter, stickers, paints, stamps, beads, and more, and plan out some crafts you can do indoors with your little one. Make sure your child knows not to touch their eyes when they have paint, sand, or glitter on their fingers and have the proper cleanup materials (wet sponges, towels, etc.) close by. Watch your mini Georgia O’Keeffe or Picasso create masterpieces. Hang up their favorites and show them off to friends and family. Be proud of your child’s efforts!
Do a Little Turn on the Catwalk
Put out a suitcase of old clothes or costumes for your child to piece together their own outfits and have them model the items on a pretend runway. Announce their latest fashions as they walk down.
Build a Fort
Next time you have a cardboard box, cut an opening and let your child build a little house or set up a tent out of it. Put together some chairs and pillows or couch cushions and build a fort or teepee with a sheet. Bring toys and dolls inside and a flashlight for storytelling.