Would you like to sit by me? I have an activity for you!
Magic words for my two year old daughter.
“Yesh Mama! Tibity!” She’ll say.
Five ideas for “Sit By Me” Toddler Activities
These are the kinds of things I’ll get out for my toddler when I’m trying to get something done with my other kids and we’re all sitting at the same table. They are quiet, quick to grab, not TOO messy and don’t require lots of supervision.
Make marks on a piece of paper and show your toddler how to cover them with stickers.
Rip and Tear!
Give pieces of paper and a bucket and show your toddler how to rip off pieces and put them all in the bucket. I cut mine into strips to make them more tempting to tear up.
Now you’ve got a bucket of paper bits, contact paper is in order! Tape down a piece of contact paper sticky side up. Show your toddler how paper pieces stick to the contact paper and let them take it from there.
After a quick contact paper art piece we grabbed this collection of boxes for a mini treasure hunt. Use any random assortment of Things That Open. In the smallest bin or bag put something like cotton balls and a few “treasures.” Put all of these containers together and let your toddler figure out how they open as they search for the treasure inside. Once they get at it you can ask them to put it into the different boxes, hide it for you and so on.
Mix it All Up
Once you’ve exhausted your supply of quiet toddler activities what can you do? Mix it all up! At the end of this play session (during which I was doing a writing lesson with her big brother) I re-taped the contact paper and asked her if the cotton balls would stick to it too. Then I handed her a pen to see if she wanted to draw on her masterpiece. This gave my older son and I long enough to finish up what we were doing before my toddler reclaimed my attention.
Tips for Toddler Play When You’ve Got Something Else To Do
- It is helpful to have an easy to access collection of items that are interesting to toddlers. We have a toddler activity cupboard that I keep stocked with things like recyclables, bins and boxes.
- Sensory play – things that excite the sense of smell, touch, hearing, tend to be the most engaging. However…
- Choose items which are pretty easy to clean up when you know you won’t be giving your full attention to the toddler’s play. This is why I gave her cotton balls with treasures in them rather than beans for instance. They still have an interesting sensory feel, but won’t spread so far when dropped.
- To stretch out the activity, give out new material bit by bit, allowing your toddler to fully explore new items before adding on.
- Don’t feel guilty about not always being fully engaged with your toddler while he plays. Sometimes it’s very good for him to have a time of exploring by himself. He will feel excited by the discoveries he makes on his own and will gradually learn the important skill of entertaining himself.
Does your toddler have a favorite activity for independent play? Let us know in the comments, we can all use more ideas!