The Most Fun Things to do with Toddlers before they’re Big Kids!
(Well, OK- plenty of these are fun for big kids too, but you can start playing today…)
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My youngest child turned two this week! In celebration of her birthday, and because I really want to make the best of this time…
I present the Toddler Years Must Do List!
Having a toddler around is SO busy; I don’t want to spend the toddler years in a blur and miss the best parts of this cute and funny stage – I need this list!
Many of these ideas come from when I asked about your favorite toddler activities on facebook this summer.
I had no idea how HAPPY reading the responses would make me!
The Toddler Year Must Do List
Caveat!! Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Just use it to get get re-inspired when you’re feeling exhausted by things like potty training, constant mess and night wakings. The ideas on the list are the some of the most fun things about toddlerhood. You don’t have to do them all, but I think you’ll treasure any of these activities that you do.
My daughter particularly likes it went I pretend her nose makes different noises like beeping etc. Its so bonding and so fun” ~Mel
- “I spy” in the car or at the park
- Building towers and knocking them down
- Rolling along toy cars
- Dress up
- Peek-a-boo, patty cake, hide and seek!
Hide & seek in the house (which is really silly because it’s just basic hiding beside the bed post or behind the couch). ~Katherine
- Pretend to be tigers and chase each other
- Pretend you can’t find their hands when you’re helping them get dressed
Stomping in muddy puddles; making the most of the weather whatever it is! ~ Lucy
- Feeding the ducks, or chasing them…
- Feed a baby goat
- Fly a kite
- Walking in the rain…
- Puddle splashing!
- Play outside in fresh snow.
The look on my little one’s face every time he was in a toboggan was priceless! ~Rhonda
- Hop over waves at the beach.
- Look for crabs in the rocks, starfish in the rock pools.
- Plant a spring flower to watch it grow.
- Pick fruit off of trees
- Watch a caterpillar become a butterfly
- Explore the forest, touching everything.
- Play ‘ look high/look low’ and see what types of creatures or plants they see.
- Run in the fields.
- Toss leaves
- Collect rocks.
A daily afternoon pram walk, so we can talk about the gardens we see, trees, the clouds, we count the buses. We just connect, get some fresh air and if I’m lucky they have a nap ~Caroline
- Petting zoos
- A botanical garden
- An open gym day where your child can free play in the foam pit, the trampolines and the mats.
- A Children’s Museum
- Public library toddler reading time
- Cousins, Grandparents, and Friends!
- Sand castles
- Playing with rice, beans or cornmeal
- Playing with those arts and crafts poms poms
- Anything messy.
- Mud pies, mud holes, mud body paint
- WATER! In the sink with containers, in the sprinkler, in a sand and water table.
- Pour and measure – add a drop of food color for fun.
- Squeeze wet sponges.
- Walk the neighborhood with a watering can and “water” the flowers you see.
- Long baths – not just for getting clean
Songs, Rhymes and Stories
- Read books together
- Touch and feel board books
- Sing and dance
- Songs with lots of movement, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, and “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.
- Have spur of the moment dance parties
My kiddo and her young friends (16-24 months) like to wiggle to music while wearing tutu’s…~Katherine
- Pretend or real cooking
- Make goop, gak or slime
- Baking cookies or mixing pancakes together
- Bake banana muffins
- Have a Tea Party
- Decorating cookies with lots of sprinkles that go everywhere!
When my daughter was 3 she had 2 of her friends over and we made Valentine’s cookies–the floor was solid pink with sugar and sprinkles afterward! ~The Twisting Kaleidoscope
Arts and Crafts
- Finger painting
- Pudding Paint!
- Water coloring paint
- Sidewalk chalk scribbles
- Make handprint art – tracing, impressions in salt dough and paint handprints
- Blowing and catching bubbles
- Balloons and balls -Balloon baseball!
- Bikes, Trikes and Ride-on toys
- Knobbed Puzzles
- Do “chores” with Mama and Papa
- Push baby strollers or shopping carts
- Rough and tumble play
- Build “forts” out of boxes or couch cushions!
- Make blanket tents and tunnels
And of course: Tickle, snuggle, kiss, and have lots of playful physical interaction.
I adopted my boys as 21 and 23 month old boys… they are now 5.5 I would say ANY of the suggestions here, because kids just LOVE to play and experiment, but more important was the fact that I was down on the floor with them, making eye contact, laughing, sharing, and connecting with them. ~Margaret
This is YOUR list. Thank You. Thank you for all of your beautiful ideas, your adorable examples; and thank you for inspiring me and so many other moms to enjoy parenting our toddlers!
Have anything else to add??
Edited January 2013 – in response to a couple comments as well as my own misgivings, I have renamed this post – it was called the Toddler Years Bucket List, but I have reconsidered and changed it. I can’t change the fact that there are thousands of pins on Pinterest out there with the previous name, I apologize if you saw that and it offended you.
All my best,