Sometimes entertaining a toddler is hard work. After all, they are curious little creatures who roam around your house, putting their hands in and on anything they can find. That’s why parents find themselves in the position of performing tricks to distract them from what they aren’t supposed to be doing, to something that they can be doing. It isn’t always easy, especially on days with low energy. Take some notes, because we will give you some awesome indoor and outdoor ideas for your job as a master toddler entertainer.
Not a lot of parents think that gardening can be an interesting activity for toddlers. It’s very simple and all you need to do is start your kids off garden planning in the fall with a few tips. Just get a small shovel, a packet of seeds, and some watering cans. As you dig up the small hole with your toddler to hide those seeds, talk to them about plants, and how they take time to grow. Also, explain that plants need air, sun, and water. They will have a blast watering the seeds. After all, this time it’s actually allowed to spill water. This activity improves fine-motor development; picking those small tiny seeds with those little fingers isn’t so easy. Your toddler will also learn about patience through the mini science lesson you demonstrated.
Hide and seek
Just a little game of hide and seek can actually improve social and basic cognitive skills. Your toddler definitely gets their brain working as they try to figure out how to hide. Take turns hiding and it will be a blast. This game works best in your backyard. Don’t try hiding and seeking in a large crowded park.
This activity is perfect when you have a slide in the park. Have your toddler stand at the end of the slide as you roll a medium size ball down to them. They will love the idea that a ball is sliding, and they will giggle as they try to catch it. Their job is to catch the ball before it drops on the ground, then bring it to you to repeat. Just watch out for other tiny slide users waiting in line and you’re good to go.
Catch the bubbles
Using a simple bubble making loop, or a bubble gun is enough to make this activity a blast. Challenge your toddler to catch or pop as many bubbles as they can. They will be running around exercising their gross motor skill and enhance their vision with all the object tracking that they have to do while popping those bubbles. For some reason, bubbles are very entertaining for toddlers.
You don’t need a large park sized sandbox for that one, just a small rectangular box will do. Place that sand-filled box in the middle of your yard, and hide a lot of your toddler’s toys in there. Tell your toddler the number of hidden objects in there, and have fun counting as he gets those toys out. Toddlers love sand; they love how it feels, and you might even catch them trying to taste it. If you’re lucky they will be too distracted in finding their toys to do that.
Do you have a bunch of cardboard boxes lying around unused? Well, bring them out. Today, they can be buildings in a city or kitchen appliances; a pretend stove and oven is the cutest toy for toddlers. Better yet, why don’t you have a shark attack? Carve your box into the shape of a shark’s mouth and your toddler can feed it with anything they can find. How about an airport or a giant car garage. Get your creativity out and watch those little eyes light up. When you are ready to do a little bit more cleaning, cover your floor with trash bags and have your toddler give those buildings a coat of paint with a large paint brush. Finger painting will be fun too.
Fill out a small zip-lock bag with lotion or hair-gel. Add a bunch of animals, colourful beads, or any fun little objects. Those funny-looking plastic eyes would be perfect in this bag. Lock the bag tight, and give it to your toddler to squeeze and feel the hidden objects. This is a mess-free activity unless your toddler learns how to open zip-lock bags!
Get small cotton balls or colourful pom-poms. Have your toddler put them in the opening of the bottle. This is also an eye-hand coordination exercise. It’s also great for those fine-motor skills. Coloured straws will be fun to use as well. Have your toddler put as many straws as they can in each bottle.
Muffin tin sorting
These small muffin tins work great when you want to teach your toddler colour sorting. Get some pom-poms of different colours and sort away. Say the name of each colour as you show your toddler how to put the pom-poms in the muffin tin. Your toddler will get his fine-motor exercise, and learn colours in no time.
Get three baskets of different sizes; small, medium, and large. Also, take a few small balls (softballs work great here). Arrange your baskets in a line, and have your toddler try to throw the balls in any of them. Use this time to teach numbers, colours, and sizes. This activity is a plus for gross-motors, eye-hand coordination, and size identification. With older kids, it’s fun to label the baskets with points. For example, small basketballs are 15 each, medium ones are 10, and only a 5 for the large one.
There you have it, with just these simple ideas you can turn any boring day into a super fun giggle fest. You will be surprised by how many toddlers are entertained with the simplest of things. Not to mention they’re highly educational and benefit your toddler’s development. It doesn’t have to be costly, complicated, or hard to plan.