12 Toddler Activities for When You’re Stuck at Home

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We’re living in some stressful times.

Times that most of us didn’t expect.

Many of us have had our daily routines turned on their heads by this pandemic. And we’re finding ourselves spending a lot more time in our homes and with our loved ones.

Being stuck at home can be hard on all of us (even us introverts), but in my experience its going to be especially difficult on the children.

Like my 18 month-old.

He is incredibly active, an avid explorer, and not fond of containment.

In times like this, us parents need to get creative. So here are some fun toddler activities we’ll be exploring over the next couple of days, weeks, or however long we’ll be practicing social distancing.

Nature Walk

I don’t know about your kids, but there is no way that my son would manage to stay inside for 2 plus weeks. Five minutes after coming in the house he’ll pointing to the door emphatically requesting to go “ow-side” on a regular day.

Because being outside is good for him (and because our health requires social distancing as well as other normal healthy things like activity and self-care), we’ll be going for walks in non-crowded areas a lot, I suspect.

Since he loves looking for things and identifying new items in the world around him we normally do 2 different versions of a nature walk. And so can you.

You can either print a chart with a variety of different items found in nature (like rocks and leaves) and have your child help you to find the items on the chart.

Or you can collect different items they find in nature in a pail. As they pick up the different items you can tell the name of the item.

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Baking

Obviously, at 18 months my son is not the perfect cooking companion, but he’s learning a bit. He loves to help stir and helping to pour things (such as blueberries into muffin mix).

It’s a great chance to help him build his esteem by helping out in a structured and managed way.

Plus, its fun watching him eat items he helped to prepare. Whether or not he can quite grasp the fact that the food is a result of the mixing and pouring he was helping with 40 minutes earlier.

Coloring

We currently have a huge roll of craft paper that we used as décor for a baby shower a couple of months ago.

Periodically I like to roll a big sheet of it across a place in our house (such as the corner of our dining room) and tape it down with painters tape. He knows its there for coloring and we can have time set aside specifically for coloring on it or he can go over to it periodically and ask for crayons to add to his design.

Since we won’t be having guests in the house and we’ll be cooped up for quiet a while, I suspect this most recent sheet will be sitting out for a while.

And it’s a lot of fun watching it go from a blank canvas to a giant work of scribbled art.

Painting

Thankfully, the weather has been (seemingly) getting progressively warmer recently. So unless we end up with another cold front moving through we’ll be taking our painting outside.

You can lay down a large piece of paper (such as the one we’ve used for coloring) and break out the finger paints. Another fun thing you can do is to use the items collected during your nature walk and paint them!

Playdoh

My son likes playdoh, but he doesn’t enjoy playing with it independently for very long.

Though this pandemic really sucks, it’s a good opportunity for us to sit down and really play with our kids.

My son will play with anything much longer when I sit down and play with him than he will when he’s playing all by himself.

Bowling

If you have some plastic or paper cups or other paper/plastic cups or bowls you can stack them in a pyramid.

Chances are that pyramid won’t last long. I know it wouldn’t when my son spots it.

Depending on your child’s interest level and abilities you can either show them how to throw/roll a ball to knock everything down or they can just run into it to knock it down.

Destruction always makes my son laugh.

Not sure if I should be worried about that… haha.

Talk about the ultimate toddler activity.

Reading

Create a big snuggly pile of blankets and pillows and a stack of books. Spend some time reading their favorite books (or maybe even order some new ones for some variety).

Even if you kid wants to walk off and play, hearing you read to them while they wander is not only good for them, but it is also a way to continue to interact with them.

Toddler activities
Laughing little child, blonde artistic toddler girl painting with colorful finger paints indoors at bright room at home or kindergarten. Focus on messy hands

Sorting colors

You can either purchase something like pom poms or counting bears, or just collect items from around the house (pants, cups, socks, blocks, soda cans, bottles of lotion, etc.) and throw them in a big pile. Once they’re all together you can show your kid how to put them into piles by color.

If you think it would be more helpful for your toddler, for this activity you can even label a piece of paper with the name of the color written in the corresponding color down so they can stack the colors accordingly.

This is a great opportunity to reinforce some language as well, as each time they pick up an item you can say the color and what the name of the item is. For example, “good job! Those are blue pants!”

Working on prepping the garden

As spring is nearing, my husband has been trying to grow some plants for a garden. While there is much that our son is not able to help with, after the Hubster has chopped up the ground, my son is loving to “help” by using his own little shovel to splatter some of the dirt around.

He’s happy to take any opportunity to be just like his daddy.

Dancing

As far as toddler activities go, dance parties are big in our house.

Like BIG.

And for better or for worse, we have an Alexa and so does his daycare. So he’ll frequently yell out “ALEXA!” when things get too quiet or he wants to dance in circles until he’s dizzy.

Chalk

Get outside and color on the ground with some chalk! There’s something about drawing on a different surface that my son really loves.

Scavenger walk
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Q-Tips in empty spice jars or in a colander

If you have empty spice jars (like McCormick, that have several holes for the spices to come out rather than all at once) you can give your child some q-tips (under supervision, of course) to try to thread into the little holes.

If you don’t have any spice jars you can do the same thing with a colander, if the holes are large enough.

This toddler activity is fun, but it also increases their dexterity as they learn to control the q-tip in order to get it into a small space.

Hide and seek with toys they love

My son has some animals that he loves. Hiding them (in semi-obvious places) is a fun way for him to learn reasoning and it seems to help with his language development because when he finds the animal he typically tries to say the name of the item he found.

For example, I’ll hide his lion and then I ask him, “where’s the lion?” He’ll start looking (and I’ll help) all the while we’ll be saying things like “let’s find the lion! Where did he go?” By the time he finds the lion he’s so excited and practically yells his version on the lion.

It’s a work in progress.

You may also want to check out:

Toddler Experiences
New Experiences to Have With your Toddler
Self-Care
15 Ways to Practice Self-Care With Limited Time
Toddler daycare lunch
Daycare Lunch Ideas for Toddlers