I have an almost 4-year-old and an almost 1-year-old, so I’m currently going to be in toddler-activity mode for quite some time. We try to vary the activities to keep things exciting, but here are 3 of my favorite activities repeatedly played at our house.
Note that I did not come up with these all on my own—it takes a village, people, and I am only so creative!
Toddler-Approved Chalk Paint
This is the current all-time favorite. If this were toddler TRL, Carson Daly would be sick of this activity coming in most requested. I also like this one because it keeps my toddler occupied the longest, and we’re outside with little cleanup.
What you need
- A small plastic container that holds about a cup of water
- Food coloring
- Cheap paintbrushes (we bought something like a 30 pack from Menards for a few dollars)
I make a big batch in a blender and then pour into individual cups.
I usually do about 2 cups of water and 1 cup of corn starch and blend until completely mixed, and this fills 4 little containers for us. You can easily double, triple, half this. Mainly keep the 2:1 ratio. I like the blender because it really mixes everything into one milky consistency. I also am not a patient stirrer, so that would make a big mess for me. You do you!
Add 4-5 drops of food coloring to each container and pour in the cornstarch mixture. Play around with this—sometimes, my colors don’t come through as much, so I add more. This can be a fun science activity to show how red and blue food coloring make purple! My 3-year-old is newly into mixing colors.
Add a paintbrush and paint! When it’s wet, it looks like they just used water, but it dries more of a chalky color.
Leave the mess outside for the rain (note that it may take more than 1 rain to get this off). Clothes are usually easy to clean depending on the food coloring—it’s also usually a bath night for us anyway.
What am I doing while my daughter paints? Usually sitting on a lawn chair drinking tea.
Magnatiles on the Garage
This is a new fun one, but it was a hit at our household. It’s exactly what the title says. Bring your magnatiles outside and stick them to the garage! I like this a lot because it gets us outside, and the weather is perfect right now! So again, I set up my lawn chair and sip my tea, watching my daughter create some really cool 3-D shapes sticking out of the garage door.
Don’t have magnatiles (or any of the other similar brands of toys). Grab any magnets and stick them on there. If you were worried that your toddler was over those letter magnets, think again once you put them on the garage door!
This is so fun to play with and can be really soothing. Something about scooping rice and the plinky noise of falling is satisfying to me. It’s also a wonderful medium to use for sensory bins.
Here’s what you need
- Food coloring
- White Vinegar
- Sandwich or quart-sized zipper bags
- Parchment paper
- Plastic Tub with lid (for storing the rice when you’re done to play again later)
- New sand toys/measuring cups/bowls
- Plastic tablecloth
Add 1 cup of rice, ½ tsp vinegar, and a couple of drops of your food coloring to a zipper bag. Make sure it’s sealed and shake until rice is completely covered. My 3-year-old loves the shaking part! Once your rice is completely covered, open the bag a lay down on a layer or parchment paper (sometimes I put the parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Repeat for as many colors of rice you want to make!
Put in a plastic tub and set down on a plastic table cloth (optional but makes clean up a bit easier). Give your child new sand toys, throw in some dino figures, measuring cups, scoops, whatever to play with in the rice. This one keeps my toddler entertained for quite some time—enough time for me to enjoy my hot cup of tea!
I do this one inside, and clean up isn’t too bad—yes, I have to vacuum up some rice sometimes, but it’s pretty simple. Rice is also relatively cheap, so if I have to add a few cups of rice every year to my bin, I’m good with that! Note that if your toddler is still in the “everything goes in my mouth” stage, then you should obviously watch them or wait to do this activity. Rice can be a choking hazard.