Easy & Fun Toddler Activities – with potential developmental benefits discussed
Here’s a few things the Little Lovely and I did that were easy to create and do, and were high in the entertainment department!
1. Monster slotting game
Developmental elements: Gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, curiosity, imagination, creativity (you can decorate the monster together)
For the older toddler – introducing colours, colour sorting, categories, numbers, anything you want really to “feed” the monster (e.g. stick numbers, letters, animals etc on the bottle lids)
1) Take an old plastic container
2) Cut a slot in the top
3) I covered the edges of the slot with masking tape to ensure any sharp edges were covered up
4) I cut up some old stickers to use as eyes – but add any decoration
5) I used plastic bottle tops from milk/drinks as counters to slot
What to feed your Monster with:
We added some food stickers to the bottle lids. We stuck them on together (aged 20 months when we did this) and talked about the foods. I used different coloured tops and mostly matched these to the food colours. See picture of the “food” we fed the monster with.
And that’s it really! For more pictures of the slotter in use, see the full story here.
This colour matching activity was very quick to set up. I used it with my Little Lovely when he was a baby, but it was probably more suited to a young toddler. I think we started to learn colours around 16-18 months.
Developmental aspects: Use this as a learning exercise with younger infants to talk about the colours and demonstrate (model) sorting them → Learning through observation (vicarious learning), and also the social and fun aspects of doing it this way are important.
Motor skill development, sensory play (items have different textures and functions), exploration, learning about colours.
Materials: I used things I had about the house for this. The items are sitting on two pieces of baby clothing (blue vest and green jumper), and a pink toy.
3. pom-pom activities: sorting colours, slotting and dropping
Sorting: On a similar note to the above activity – we have also matched pom pom colours. Use coloured pots or containers to help sort.
Slotting: I made a hole in the top and sides of an old shoe box. My little lovely really enjoyed posting the pom poms inside the box then taking the lid off to discover what was inside, then starting over again. Be mindful of choking hazards.
Use a cardboard tube, this one is from kitchen towel.
I taped it to the side of a footstool then put a little plastic lid underneath to stop the ball from rolling off. I used a ping pong ball but pompoms might be better as they wouldn’t roll off (please be mindful of small pompoms and toddlers putting in their mouth).
No action slots here but my toddler enjoyed dropping the ball down over and over again
At 18-24 months toddlers develop the ability to kick and/or throw a ball. I noticed LL kicking before 18 months but probably noticed throwing around 20 months.
Developmental benefits: Cause and effect (I did X action and the ball moved), coordination, social, physical benefits.
Benefits for parent: social, getting out and about, learning about child’s interests and self expression.
5. More slotting games:
1) Easy Slotting Game: Here’s a bigger version of a slotting game
(pictured)- for younger toddlers – with a bigger slot and lids to post.
I used an old yoghurt bucket (giant yoghurt container), made a wide slot in the lid and covered the edges of the slot with masking tape to ensure no sharp edges. I used jar lids as the counters to slot – these are much bigger than the milk bottle tops used in the monster feeder.
Developmental elements: Gross and fine motor skills. Hand-eye coordination
2) And a slightly finer slotting game – Straw Slotter:
Using another yoghurt pot and straws to slot.
Requires finer motor skills and ability to poke the straws through smaller holes.
Same method to make this – I made some holes in the lid and covered edges with tape
Presented toddler with straws, demonstrated how to slot one, and off he went
My toddler is bus-obsessed but also likes cars and trains. We stop off to watch them sometimes at a train bridge and occasionally get a wave or horn blow from the driver! It’s free, and he really likes it.
Developmental benefits: Umm, there probably are some but mainly it’s just fun. Social activity – creates opportunities for discussion, later memories, expression, developing interests.
Colouring, drawing, painting – any art you fancy. We really enjoyed colouring on this opened up cardboard box – large scale!