R has reached full blown toddler status and that means we are constantly looking for ways to keep her entertained to give us a breather and get some work done!! Today I’m rounding up some of our favorite indoor play activities for our toddler using household items we already owned! These are designed for kids under two to do at home and don’t involve soaking your floors in water or loads of food items!
P.S. I’m working on follow up posts to this one including one for toddler’s who eat everything and another for summer with water play! Make sure you follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss them!!
A quick note on keeping your toddler entertained and engaged: limit toys and rotate!
Around 1 R had started to collect a good amount of toys. We had all of them stored in a cabinet that should could access in our family room… only she stopped playing with them. Every day she’d go in the cabinet, pull them all out and then cry for attention. Finally we decided to montessori toys – meaning we only leave 1-5 toys out each day for her to play with. We rotate toys out and bring new ones in if she hasn’t played with an item for a few days.
Do the same with these activities. If one is holding her attention for days straight, keep going with it. If your toddler starts getting bored, don’t do it for 2-4 weeks then try re-introducing it again and use the other activities on this list in the meantime.
7 At Home Toddler Activities With Household Items You Already Own
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #1: Wall tunnels
For this you’ll need tubes (inner paper towel and toilet paper cardboard), masking tape, and somethings that fit in the rolls (poms poms, hair ties, etc.)
You’ll tape the cardboard tubes to the wall, and demonstrate putting the items inside.
Why I love this activity:
For littles, it helps them learn cause and effect, practice fine motor skills, and you can start making it more complex by teaching them colors. For instance you could put a green basket under one roll, a red basket under another, and then have them sort the items by dropping them in the right tube.
You can also make it more complex as they get older. You can have them build an entire tunnel system where they see how the item can drop between tubes to the ground. You could even have kids race and see whose item takes the longest to hit the ground (but it has to be in constant motion, if it gets stuck it’s an automatic loss).
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #2: What sticks to a cookie sheet?
For this indoor toddler play activity you’ll need a cookie sheet and then whatever you have on hand that’ll stick to it. Whether that’s magnets or masking tape, it’ll do the trick.
For magnets just let them stick on and move them around. You can join in the fun here too and hold the cookie sheet up like a storyboard and move the magnets around to tell a live action tale.
For masking or painters tape, you just put it on the cookie sheet. Leave a little end up or make a loop with the tape and have your toddler practice getting it off the sheet.
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #3: Slot box
For this you’ll need a canister with a lid (or a box that seals), a pair of scissors, and a deck of cards.
All you’re going to do is cut a slot for your toddler to place the cards in. Keep in mind the size of the cards and slot. I bought a deck of cards from the Dollar Tree that was too big for my canister. I was able to cut the lid big enough, but it was really hard for my toddler to get it in, thus making it not a good option for her to do alone.
However once you have the cards and slot the right size, this will keep your kid entertained for a while! We also have this toy that is the same concept but with balls.
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #4: DIY Tambourines and maracas
For this toddler activity you’ll need a couple of paper plates, tape, and some sort of dry good (beans, rice, etc.).
OPTIONAL: markers, glitter, etc. if you want your kid to decorate the outside of the plates.
All your going to do is put some of your dry goods inside a plate, place the other one on top, then tape them together so nothing falls out.
Why I love this: You can constantly reinvent it keeping it always new and exciting! The same concept can be done with a see through bottle and dried goods or different colored waters, etc.
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #5: Mancala
Another game I loved as a kid was mancala and you can begin introducing it to your toddler now using a cupcake tin and some items that fit in the openings.
Items you may want to use: tiny blocks, cotton balls (use food coloring to make them more interesting), pom poms, pieces of paper, food, etc.
Why I love this: You can constantly be re-imaging it. One day you could teach them counting by how many items are in each bucket. Another day you could cover the cupcake sheet with a piece of paper taped down and a little slit cut out over each opening and have them put their hand in to see what’s inside. You could ask them to sort by colors, shapes, and so much more. You can even sit back and see what they do on their own with it!
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #6: Pick up sticks!
Do you remember playing pick up sticks as a kid?! I loved it! You can set up a similar concept using a colander (or any holey basket) and pipecleaners and/or straws.
This will take some time for little toddlers to get the hang of, but let them learn how you thread the pipe cleaner or straw through the holes and see if they mimic you. If nothing else, my little 13 month old likes to pull out all the pipe cleaners and straws and collect them in another basket. Let your child lead this, but also demonstrate new ways to utilize it.
As kids get older, you can do a similar concept out of a LARGE box, pool noodles, and water balloons!
Toddler Indoor Play Activity #7: Sensory bags
Love the idea of sensory bins but don’t love the idea of all that mess? Go for a sensory bag instead by just mixing oil and water in a ziploc bag. BONUS: add some food coloring to make it more interesting. You could also add a few grains of rice or other items to make it more interesting as your kid gets older too.
What activities keep your toddler entertained?