With all the extra time we have at home with shelter in place, it can be harder than ever to come up with new ways to entertain your toddlers. So we’re here to help!
If you’re wondering how to keep toddlers busy, here are 4 fun activity ideas.
1. Build a Tent
Using pillows and blankets, help your child build a tent or fort. Or, depending on how old they are, you can let them make one on their own! Pillow forts allow kids to play pretend and provides a good opportunity for exploring their imaginations.
Be sure that the blankets and pillows used are light enough so as not to trap your child if they fall on them.
The style of pillow fort we always used to make when I was young was pulling up the two sofa pads and draping the blanket we kept over the back of the sofa over these “walls,” while placing cushions on the hard body of the sofa as a floor. It was the perfect den to watch morning cartoons in.
Another common building method used for cozy indoor tents is draping a blanket over two kitchen chairs. This presents the engineering problem for your toddler of how to harness the blanket to the tops of the chairs. Do you tie it? Will you use a belt or a ribbon? Could you tuck the blanket into gaps in the chair? How long does this design last? A fort built using this design will never end up the same way twice, and that’s part of the fun.
If you have a particularly large blanket, it’s possible to make a striking tent or teepee. Gather a few brooms or mops, at minimum three or four. Then, bind them together near the top, with string or an elastic band. You may have to then pull them apart so that the structure can stand on its own. The result should resemble a campfire. After doing this, wrap a blanket around this scaffolding to complete the tepee, leaving the top part sticking out. Try to tuck the top in, or use more string or another elastic band. Just make sure they “tent poles” are secured so they don’t fall over.
2. Create an Obstacle Course
Children love to move around, especially at home. So, why not create an obstacle course for them to run through? Now, the best place for an obstacle course would likely be in the living room (or any room in the home that’s spacious).
Just use painter’s tape or masking tape on the floor to form the route, and then place cushions around to create obstacles. Or, if you don’t have painter’s tape, you can put a piece of masking tape, yarn, or any other object at the “start” and the finish.” And don’t forget the checkpoints: baskets or boxes. You can even use paper towel rolls, cups, a wagon, or pillows at different stops.
For safety reasons, you should plan how your child should interact with each obstacle. If your child speeds through the obstacle course and they run and step on a cushion, they could easily slip and fall, so make sure precautions and rules are in place. Should they step over an object, walk on it, or walk around it? Should they stop and jump three times or do a 10-second dance? You get to decide.
One idea is for your toddler to pick up stuffed animals as they go around, rescuing them and placing them in a box at the end. Or, you could have shorter patches or dots of masking tape on the ground, and have your child hop from one to the other.
Another idea is to have a variety of toys in the obstacle course, like a jack-in-the-box or a spinner. Your child can then stop for a short time to play with each one during the circuit. Whatever you choose to do, make sure the furniture nearby affords enough space for your toddler to safely move around in the way they need to complete the course.
Be sure to give your child a high five once they’ve completed the course.
3. Hold a Color-and-Shape Hunt
Toddlers love to find things. So, challenge them to find everything in a specific place in the house that’s a certain shape, like a circle or a rectangle. You can either have them bring you the objects or take you around and point out objects as they find them. Next, change it up and ask them to find everything that’s a certain color, like red or blue. Then, keep going until you run out of ideas. When it’s over, have them put all the items back if they took any out, and then say “Good job!”
Your toddler could put every object in a box or container as they find it, and keep going until the container is full. Or, they could put everything back after bringing it out as they find it.
You can play this more active version of “eye spy” with your pantry, your library, or even your sock or birthday card collection. You could really play this game with just about anything, in any room of the house. And it has the added bonus of being educational and teaching early learning skills.
For older kids, this game will lead to some interesting discussions about whether an object is blue or green, or whether an object like a pebble will still technically classify as a circle. You can start to introduce 3D shapes, or broaden their vocabulary and challenge them by asking them to find something turquoise, for example, or a cube. But for toddlers, you can stick to asking for a blue square.
4. Laundry Basket or Box Fun
Not using a laundry basket at the moment? See what fun adventures your child might have with it—like sailing a boat, being a turtle, or driving a car, etc. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure that you do not use a mesh laundry basket for this activity.
Or maybe you have a spare cardboard box lying around from a delivery? Your toddler can decorate and paint it or just climb into it and sit. As a recyclable object, it doesn’t matter too much what happens to it. As with the laundry basket, imagining that the box or basket is a car is classic. You can even help them turn it into a rocket ship or a robot.
And whether you have multiple boxes or laundry baskets, you can join in the fun, too. Grown-ups make the best post-laundry tortoises and bus drivers or space exploration captains. It’s a great way to keep toddlers busy while also entertaining adults.
Just bear in mind that your child may come to want to do this after every wash or postal delivery, dumping the contents of the container in preparation for play time.
After reading through these simple ideas, not only will you have good ideas on how to keep your child busy, but you’ll also know how to keep your child safe as they play. Keep this list handy, and feel free to use it to create a better playtime session for your child.
Which one of these activities is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more ideas on how to keep toddlers and kids busy? Check out these creative activities to spark kids’ imaginations.
About the Author
Ashley Halsey writes for Nursing Assignments, Gumessays.com. As a professional writer at Research Papers UK, she has been involved in many projects throughout the country. In her spare time, she likes to travel, read, attend business training sessions, and spend time with her two children.