motherhood, parenthood, toddlerhood

15 simple, free-ish ways to entertain a toddler [or at least mine]

My friend Tracy sends me activities to do with my toddler son from time to time, like this one, and it got me thinking today about the things my kiddo loves to do for hours on end, the small things that bring him joy and thought I’d share some here in case it sparks some ideas for you with yours.

  1. Gather into a pile, a variety of cushions and pillows for soft-swimming, hide and seek, stacking, sorting, and collapsing. 
  2. Find a nice strong stick and a great dirt spot for prehistoric stick figure renditions.
  3. Serving spoons and metal pots for a home-made heavy metal band.
  4. Re-usable grocery bags to let him go ‘shopping’ in the house [fair warning: you may or may not have assistance in ahem, restocking said items]
  5. Pull out the duster. With toddler present, dust a portion of a baseboard. Give toddler duster. Sit down and read a book for three hours.
  6. Fill a bucket and/or large plastic container with water, place outdoors with cups, marbles, straws etc and let him go to town [so much cheaper than a water table and the same pleasure].
  7. You could even go more fancy with the water activities like this.
  8. Make a bird salad together by pulling various leaves from various trees and fallen branches to create a bird salad in a special spot and check back the next day to see if the ‘birds’ have ‘eaten’ it. Even funner in the fall with the multicolored natural extravaganza.
  9. Stickers to put on book marks, coloring books, or as a way to learn body parts.
  10. A pile of shoes, grown up shirts and socks, of all heights, shapes, styles to pretend with.
  11. Gather all the dirty laundry, toss in the detergent, and let him ‘play basketball’ loading the washing machine for you. Dry time? Repeat.
  12. Gather pebbles and paint them. Later, sort by colors or size.
  13. Check the mail and hand him all unimportant ads and sealed envelopes for him to tear open and then take each one individually to the step-on trashcan to toss. Greatest pleasure ever.
  14. Heading to the two-story Target and going up and down the escalators and elevators.
  15. Visiting PetSmart to view dogs in doggy daycare who are absolutely thrilled [or barking and wagging to relay some sort of hysterical dire warning we can’t understand] and rush to the glass windows to watch him as he watches back. A great place to touch snakes, learn fish faces from the masters, and the original art of tweeting with parrots and all the other birds.

What activities do you do with your child? What activities does your child love to do?

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