I am always looking for non-tablet/ non-TV activities to keep Nicolas entertained and exploring his world. When I find a good activity that keeps his attention for a while I add it to my list of toddler activities. I try to keep a list of these activities and rotate through them on a regular basis. Below are four toddler tested and approved activities that keep Nicolas busy for up to 30 minutes at a time.
1. Discovery Drawer
Lately Nicolas has been going through a phase where he likes to go through drawers. And by ‘go through’ I mean pull everything out, examine it, and throw it on the floor. 😂 Instead of rearranging my kitchen storage or putting locks on the drawers, I designated one special drawer in the kitchen as Nicolas’ discovery drawer. I put items in the drawer that are toddler friendly (choose items that will be safe for your child) and rotate different items in and out of the drawer when I think about it. When he gets “grabby” I redirect him to his drawer and let him pull out and play with the items in it. Some items I rotate in and out of his drawer include cotton balls, chenille stems (pipe cleaners), clothes pins, popsicle sticks, wooden or plastic spoons, paper, old magazines, measuring cups, a deck of cards, small toys I find on the floor or under the couch, ribbon, string, and plastic containers with twisty or pop off lids and a few objects inside.
2. Driving Toy Cars through Paint
Ok, this one takes a little bravery, but it’s always well worth the effort, and disaster has never resulted. 🤞🏾 Nicolas loves driving his toy cars through paint, and when it’s warm outside we take this activity outside to the back yard which makes it less scary. Pro tip: I tape paper to his table to keep it from sliding off and making a mess. Also, I have the sink ready with warm soapy water when we begin this activity. We head straight to the sink (or to the paddling pool if we’re outside) to clean up when he’s done.
3. Sensory Play in Water (Seasonal Variations)
- We’re lucky to have an alley that runs behind our house which is perfect for riding bikes, trikes, and anything with wheels on it. And when it rains some pretty decent puddles form in it. Occasionally we’ll go outside and play in them.
Kitchen Sink Play
- Playing in the kitchen sink is good for colder months, but we do this in the summer too, or when I don’t feel like going outside. Tip: Put a towel on the floor and drape one over the counter if you’re concerned about water getting every where. Telling Nicolas that he’ll have to drain the water out of the sink if too much ends up on the floor also keeps him from making too big of a mess.
- …a summer time classic. In these pictures, Nicolas was content to play with a soap dispenser he caught me throwing into the recycle bin. He had fun making the water squirt out as he ‘cleaned’ his car.
- We’re still looking for a good quality bubble blower machine, but bubbles blown manually or by a machine are always a favorite for Nicolas.
4. Rolling Dough
Nicolas likes to help in the kitchen, and I try to find ways to include him in the meal prep. But when it becomes a safety issue I have him play with play dough on the kitchen counter while I finish up the meal. I give him some tools (rolling pin, spoons, cups, cookie cutters) to use as he plays. Sometimes we use Play-Doh, but I have a home made play dough recipe too. Leave a comment below if you’d like the home made play dough recipe. And I’d love to know what activities keep your toddler entertained too!