18 Creative Things To Do With A Toddler At Home
Keeping a toddler entertained is no small task in general, but keeping one entertained AT HOME is an even bigger task! If you feel like your sanity is drifting away while your toddler claws at your legs begging for something new to do, you’re not alone. Days without some kind of agenda or structure to keep a toddler occupied at home can be downright exhausting.
Due to the state of the world right now and the orders in our local area, I’ve been at home for the last two months with two toddler girls, ages 1 and 3. It’s been a hard season and we’re all going stir crazy, anxious to resume some public or interactive activities again. The girls have grown bored with their toys and the structure-less days have not had a positive effect on their behavior and relationship with each other. However, I have found that planning activities to do with them helps to bring at least a little bit of intentionality and structure to the passing days. We have all functioned better when I’ve been able to provide an organized activity to fill at least part of the day.
In this post, I want to share with you some of the activities that we have done over the past two months to make the most of being at home each day. If you are looking for new ways to entertain a toddler at home for a morning, day, weekend, or weeks like us, it’s my hope that these ideas inspire you with some new activities to try.
My 3-year-old has wakened many mornings over the last couple of months asking, “What we do today?” It’s a hard question to answer when stuck in the confines of the home for an extended period of time, but the below activities have given me something to say in response! I hope they can help you too.
Activities For Toddlers To Do At Home
1. Sidewalk chalk
Obviously this is not a great idea for a rainy day, but if you want an activity that doesn’t require any preparation then sidewalk chalk is a great way to keep toddlers entertained! Sidewalk chalk is cheap and great for toddlers of all ages. Our youngest enjoys coloring on every surface she can find around the yard (the wooden deck, brick walkway, plastic riding toys, and more) and our older toddler has a great time writing letters and drawing imaginative pictures.
- Supplies Needed: Sidewalk chalk.
2. Finger paint
If you’re up for some mess and clean-up, finger painting with your toddlers is a really fun activity! Even the littlest ones can participate! If it’s nice outside you can minimize the mess by doing the painting at an outdoor table, but it’s a lot of fun inside as well – just spread some old newspaper on the floor. You can even make homemade finger paint with a few ingredients from the pantry if you’re in a pinch. (That’s what we did!)
- Supplies Needed: Finger paints and paper (I recommend using some specific finger painting paper).
3. Go for a walk
This activity is easy and requires no materials or prep at all! If you’re not stuck at home because it’s a cold or rainy day, taking toddlers for a walk can be a great way to entertain them! Our girls love picking up rocks, pointing out birds, finding every pipe along the street, and picking “weed flowers” when we go for walks. Sometimes they even push their doll strollers along with a favorite toy or ride in the stroller themselves. They don’t even mind when we walk the same path around the neighborhood over and over again!
- Supplies Needed: Walking shoes and a bit of energy!
4. Build a fort
Building a fort is a great way to entertain toddlers on a cold or rainy day. With a few bedsheets and some clothespins or good ties, a toddler can be entertained for most of the day. Our girls have enjoyed creating multiple room tents and calling the fort their house or castle. Our oldest toddler even has a fort around her bed that she’s been sleeping in for several weeks!
Don’t overthink it when creating a fort for toddlers. You can create a great fort just by pinning a few bedsheets to the back of some chairs!
- Supplies Needed: Bedsheets and clothespins. (You can just tie sheets instead of using clothespins, but it’s a lot easier if you have a few! You can also use magnetic bag clips in a pinch.)
5. Color a picture
Toddlers love to color! Even if they don’t understand the concept of coloring in the lines yet, a few crayons and some blank paper or coloring pages can go far to entertain. Our girls have been enjoying so much coloring that they’ve completed almost every coloring book that we have. To mix it up and make the coloring even more fun I started making them custom coloring pages full of objects they know and love.
Our oldest toddler gets restless in the morning waiting for me to get going and her sister to wake up, so I also started creating some of the custom coloring pages after she goes to bed each night and laying them out for her to enjoy first thing in the morning. They’ve been a big hit!
- Supplies Needed: Crayons and blank or coloring paper. (You can download and print my free alphabet coloring pages here!)
6. Make something from a cardboard box
Cardboard boxes can become so many different things to entertain a toddler! We have been making A LOT of cardboard box creations with all of the delivery items we’ve been getting recently. Our girls have loved each and every one! There’s no limit to what you can craft from a cardboard box with a box cutter (or scissors) and some good tape, but here are a few of the things we have built over the last couple of months:
A Matchbox car mat with roads and buildings.
A two-room house.
Our own board game (you can read the instructions for this one in my post here.)
- Supplies Needed: Cardboard boxes, a box cutter (or sharp scissors), packing tape (or another strong tape that adheres to cardboard).
7. Bake something new
Toddlers often love to help in the kitchen. It makes them feel grown-up and offers all kinds of fun sensory experience. I’m not great at involving the girls in things in the kitchen, but when I do they love it! You can create some really fun memories and pass a lot of time with a toddler baking together. Bake a snack that they love so that they can enjoy the pride of eating their work when you are done or bake something to give as a gift so they can enjoy blessing someone else!
(If you want a “baking” idea for your toddler to help with and enjoy eating themselves, read my recipe for no-bake toddler oatmeal bites! It requires only four basic ingredients and your toddler can have a lot of fun helping to roll the “goo” into a bunch of tiny balls when you make it.)
- Supplies Needed: Baking ingredients.
8. Ride bikes, scooters, or riding toys
Again, this activity isn’t great for a cold or rainy day. However, if the weather is nice toddlers can have hours of fun playing on outdoor riding toys like a toddler bike or tricycle, scooter, or push riding toys. Our girls have taken theirs on walks and have also just enjoyed riding them on the back deck and up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. They also have a lot of fun taking an assortment of toys and stuffed animals for rides on the toys while they push.
- Supplies Needed: A toddler bike or tricycle, scooter, or a fun riding toy.
9. Play a board game
This may not be a great idea for really young toddlers, but there are some board games that are really great for 3-year-olds! Our 3-year-old has been enjoying many games of Candy Land and Chutes And Ladders over the last couple of months. Candy Land is especially great for toddlers because the whole game operates on a color code rather than numbers or counting, so it’s really easy for little ones to understand! We also created our own board game that is easy to play and a lot of fun. (You can read the details about that game in my post here.)
- Supplies Needed: A board game (like Candy Land or Chutes And Ladders). You can also create your own board game with a little bit of cardboard, some markers, and tape! Read my instructions for that here.
10. Read books
Reading books may seem like a simple activity, but it’s one that toddlers really love! Our girls love “reading” by themselves and having us read to them. In the past, we stocked up on new books every week or two at the library (it’s a great place to get books free of charge if you’re able to go!) Our library has been closed over the last few months but the girls have still been enjoying the books that they own and some that have been lent to them.
- Supplies Needed: Children’s books!
11. Make a cut and paste craft
This is another activity that isn’t great for the real young toddlers, but older toddlers can have a lot of fun with it! For most toddlers, the privilege of using scissors and glue is probably new. Therefore, cutting ANYTHING out on their own and gluing it to ANYTHING is an amazingly entertaining activity. I recently purchased a little blunt toddler scissors and a glue stick for our 3-year-old and she has been having a blast cutting out tiny shreds of paper and rubbing them on the glue stick to adhere to another piece of paper.
- Supplies Needed: Toddler scissors, glue stick, and paper.
12. Paint rocks
This is an activity that we have not actually done yet, but I included it on the list simply because I think it would be a lot of fun and we hope to try it soon! Our toddlers are fascinated with nature and love to pick up and collect rocks. I think painting fun colors, pictures, shapes, or faces onto rocks would be hugely entertaining for them.
- Supplies Needed: Rocks, paint, and a brush.
13. Write & illustrate your own book
Reading books is a lot of fun for toddlers, but MAKING books is a whole different kind of fun. If you want to foster a love of reading in your toddlers and involve them in a really fun craft, make a picture book with them! I did this a couple of times with my girls and the homemade books are still among their most treasured to read. I simply cut out several identical squares of paper, drew basic images on them with a black marker, and let the kids color each picture in. I then made a double-wide cover so that it enclosed the pages from the front and the back and assemble all of the pages together inside it with packing tape. I thoroughly coated the front and back then with a full layer of packing tape to give it a little bit more durability.
I had our oldest daughter dictate the book’s story to me as a wrote each page and drew the picture outlines. When it was done and compiled she was then able to read the story that she “wrote” and flip through all of the pictures that she had helped to color. Creating and reading the book brought hours of entertainment!
- Supplies Needed: Paper, a black marker, crayons, and tape (I recommend packing tape).
14. Make jewelry with cereal or beads
Toddler girls are fascinated with jewelry so what better way to entertain them then by making some? Younger toddlers may find this too difficult, but stringing beads or cereal together to make a necklace or bracelet can be a lot of fun for older ones. Our 3 year old loves to put plastic beads on a string to make jewelry for herself and her sister. I usually just tape a piece of scotch tape around the end of the string that she is stringing with to help her stick it through the beads more easily.
To make extra-fun edible jewelry with your toddler, have them put Cheerios or Fruit Loops on their string to wear as a necklace or bracelet!
- Supplies Needed: String, scissors, and beads or cereal (Cheerios or Fruit Loops work great).
15. Make paper beads
If you want to go one step further than just having your toddler string beads or cereal onto a necklace or bracelet, try having them CREATE the beads that they use! Our girls had a great time doing this, and even our 1-year-old was able to participate! You can read the full instructions for how to create paper beads with your toddlers here.
- Supplies Needed: Paper, scissors, crayons, Modge Podge or Elmer’s glue, wax paper, a paintbrush, and string.
16. Create a silly video
Toddlers are often fascinated by home videos of themselves. We haven’t done this one in a planned way, but if you’re looking for something fun to do that requires little planning or supplies, try making a silly video with your toddler! You can do something as simple as taking a few minutes of video on your phone while they showcase a talent or, if you have a little bit of video editing expertise, take segments of video to piece together into a story. You can then edit the story together into an “episode” of a show featuring your toddler for them to watch back.
Supplies Needed: A smartphone with video capabilities.
17. Play With Playdough
It’s a bit on the messier side, but toddlers love to touch, feel, and create with playdough. Whether it’s simply mashing all of the colors together or creating imaginary foods, objects, or places, playdough can be a lot of fun! You can even have your toddlers help you to make homemade playdough to play with. Our girls love using basic cookie cutters and kitchen supplies with their playdough (though I have to watch that our youngest doesn’t eat it all!).
- Supplies Needed: Play-Doh and accessories. (Regular kitchen supplies that are safe for kids make great playdough accessories and you can make your own playdough with a few simple ingredients following my instructions here.)
18. Have a dance party
Toddlers love to move! If you’re stuck at home, especially on a cold or rainy day, having a dance party is a great way to get your toddler expending some energy in a constructive way. Our girls often love to dance around the house, especially if we turn the music up loud and join them. Having a dance party is extremely easy and leads to lots of laughter and energy burned!
- Supplies Needed: A device to play music!
If you’re looking for new ways to entertain a toddler while stuck at home, I hope that these ideas are helpful! Many toddlers are quite good at entertaining themselves with various toys or exploration, but I have found days at home to be much more fun and drama-free with some constructive activities to do.
If you didn’t see the links within the suggestions above be sure to check out my toddler activity posts on making homemade paper beads for kids, creating your own silly board game for toddlers, putting together no-bake toddler oatmeal bites, downloading free alphabet coloring pages, and making homemade playdough!