Introduce these easy and fun developmental activities for toddlers that you can do anywhere.
Watch your child enjoy this activity using an adult paintbrush! Set a large piece of paper on the floor of your house or sidewalk. Show your child how to go back and forth on the paper using water. Your child may end up 'painting' more than the paper!
The habit of counting to children will begin to help them understand numbers when they are older. Whenever your child is going up or down the stairs, count each step. Your child will begin to absorb this language.
Children love their own space to play! Locate a large cardboard box. Turn it upside down and cut out a door and windows. Encourage your child to take favourite toys inside the house to play. Encourage your child to say, "Bye Bye" when going inside and,"Hello" when entering your space.
Shapes are fascinating to children! Show your child 2 rectangles, 2 squares, and 2 circles. Scatter the shapes on the floor in front of your child. Put one of the shapes in your hand and name the shape. Ask your child to find the other shape. If your child just wants to play with the shapes, that's fine! Try the activity later.
Children love to create a new colour! Let your child paint with red and white paint today. Watch your child's reaction when the colours merge, and you announce, "You made pink!"
Children this age love trains! This is a fun song about a train to sing with your child:
The train is rolling down the track,
Listen to the wheels go clickety-clack,
Over the bridge, around the bend,
Taking me for a ride.
Pretend you are a train moving around the house. Be creative with your movements as you turn on bends, go up hills, and blow your whistle.
Your child will develop eye/hand coordination with this fun stringing activity. Knot one end of the pipe cleaner. Show your child how to put the pipe cleaner in the hole of each bead. Let your child continue. Try not to interrupt your child's work.
Play-doh/clay provides opportunities to develop fine motor skills and creative play for your child. Show your child how to roll the dough into snakes. Make different sizes of snakes. Make the snake noise. Name the snakes: Mommy snake, daddy snake, baby snake, etc.
March and Sing
This classic song continues to be a favourite with children! March and sing this song with your child:
"HOT CROSS BUNS! HOT CROSS BUNS! ONE A PENNY, TWO A PENNY, HOT CROSS BUNS.
ONE FOR MOMMY, ONE FOR________(CHILD'S NAME). ONE A PENNY, TWO A PENNY, HOT CROSS BUNS."
Screwing Things Together
This fun activity will help develop fine motor skills. Locate a flashlight that screws together. Show your child how to screw the parts together. Show your child how to take them apart.
Play-doh/clay provides a wonderful opportunity for your child to develop hand muscles, which are important for fine motor. Working with play-doh/clay prepares your child's hands for writing. Give your child a rolling pin with the play-doh/clay and help with rolling the dough. Place plastic or wood figures in the dough.
Brain development is connected to movement. Be sure that you provide ample time and a place for your child to practice gross motor exercises. A safe place for climbing, running, jumping, and other gross motor activities is important. Look around your house and yard to identify places that provide opportunities for gross motor skills. Play Musical Chair with your child. Place a small chair in the middle of the room or in the yard. Play some fast dancing music for your child to run, jump, and dance around the chair. Mute the music periodically for your child to sit in the chair before resuming the exercise.
Paint With a Roller
This fun painting activity provides a wonderful gross motor opportunity for your child. Put a small amount of paint in a roller pan. Help your child put the paint roller in the paint and show your child how to roll the paint onto the paper. If this seems too messy, try having your child roll the sidewalk or garage floor with water today!
Children use their sense of touch when they feel inside the "Mystery Bag!" Place the shapes in front of your child, and name each one before putting them in the tote bag. Ask your child to put two hands in the bag and find the rectangle. Continue with the other shapes. When your child is finished, ask your child to return each shape to the bag. If your child gives you the wrong shape, thank your child for the shape given to you. Name each shape as it is given to you.
This pouring activity will develop your child's eye/hand coordination. Open the door of your dishwasher and have your child place a small pitcher and cups on top of the door. Show your child how to pour water from one container to another. Your child may want to serve you 'tea' at the small table.
This fun activity will help your child begin to understand counting concepts. Cut a slit in the lid of the container. Put 1 poker chip in the slit and say, "One." (Let your child hear the sound of each chip.) Continue until you get to 5. Empty the container and repeat the activity. Let your child drop the chips as you count. (Your child may only be interested in putting the chips in the container. That is fine!)
Children are interested in observing you as you drive them around. This is a good time to help your child understand traffic signs. Start with two signs, a stop sign and red/green light. Play with the vehicles and show your child when to stop and go. You can add more signs later.
Jars and Lids
Your child's fine motor development will help with writing skills later. This activity lets your child practice screwing lids on and off while developing hand muscles and eye/hand coordination. Place several empty baby food (or other) jars and lids in front of your child. Have your child practice opening and closing the jars.
Children love to experience nature! Show your child a tree in your yard. Talk about what the tree looks like in this season. Take a picture of your child next to the tree.
Set the Table
Children love to help around the house! Let your child set the table for dinner tonight. Put the placemat on the table. On the placemat, outline the plate, cup, fork, knife, and spoon with a permanent marker. Show your child how to match the place setting to the outlines and set the table.
This activity helps your child with number recognition. Draw a line down the centre of a paper plate. Draw another line across the paper plate, making 4 sections on the paper plate. Write the number 1 in one of the sections, number 2 in the next. Continue with writing the numbers 3 then 4 in the other sections. Hand your child a glue stick and a cup of raisins. Help your child count out the number of raisins to glue on each section of the plate. Help your child glue the raisins on the plate. Count the reasons with your child before displaying the plate for other family members to see.
Matching is a wonderful pre-reading skill for your child. Place one set of shapes in front of your child. Hold up the other set of shapes one by one and name each shape. See if your child can match the shapes.
Toddlers love knocking things over! Take a few of your empty cereal boxes and line them up on the floor. Push one at the end to show your toddler how they all fall down. Let your toddler try to do the same.
Understanding colour concepts can be learned through play. Locate 4 coloured blocks: red, yellow, green, blue. Put the red block in your child's hand. Say, "Red." Put the yellow block in your child's hand. Say, "Yellow." Put the two blocks together in front of your child. "May I have red?" Put out your hand and say, "Thank You." "May I have yellow?" Do the same with the remaining 2 blocks. Put the blocks in a basket and put it on your child's toy shelf. This activity is fun to repeat.
How Vehicles Move
Your child is observing various vehicles as you walk and drive around. This activity will help your child understand how these vehicles move. Download pictures of different vehicles, (train, plane, truck, boat, etc.) Describe where each vehicle moves. "The plane flies in the sky." "The truck drives on the road." "Children ride bicycles on the sidewalk." "Trains travel on railroad tracks."
Enjoy watching your child's creativity shine! Place 3 or more stampers along with 3 different coloured stamp pads in front of your child. Tape a large piece of paper on a table and observe as your child experiments. You may want to use the piece of artwork as your decorative tablecloth during mealtime today.
Animals and Their Homes
Language concepts are learned through play. This matching activity will help your child understand animals and their homes. Download/print pictures of fish/ water, frog/pond, lion/jungle, bear/cave. Play a matching game with your child. Scatter the pictures on the floor and match the 2 shows, "Fish live in water," "Frogs live in ponds," etc.
Fine motor skills develop as your child uses hand muscles playing in the sand. Fill a rectangular pan with sand and let your child practice writing letters and numbers with your help.
Young children enjoy replicas of the things they see in the real world. If your child watches the school bus every morning, your child will enjoy playing with a playschool bus. Your child may like toy cars and trucks. Begin to observe what your child is doing with these toys. Play is how your child makes sense of the world. It is an important part of brain development. You may notice that your child makes a sound when the bus door opens. This shows your child is absorbing audio clues in the environment. Encourage your child to imitate what they see, "What sound did the truck make?" "How did the garbage truck empty the can?"
Birthday Cake Dough
Play-Doh helps develop hand muscles, an important pre-writing skill. Put some play-doh on the child's table or high chair tray. Show your child how hands are used to push down the play-doh. Try making a birthday cake with your child out of play-doh. Form the cake and add small plastic letters, pike cleaners, birthday candles or golf tees. Sing Happy Birthday and pretend to blow out the candles!
Walk-in My Shoes
Have fun with your child with this fun activity that will challenge your child's balance. Gather a variety of shoes from the closets: boots, slippers, work shoes, etc. Watch your child walk around wearing the family shoes. Make sure your child has a clear space to walk and soft area in the event of a fall.
Hear The Sound
Children's sense of hearing helps them differentiate sounds. Sit across from your child when you do this activity. Take photos of 3 instrument you have, (xylophone, drum, keyboard, etc.) Place the photos in front of your child. Demonstrate the sound of each instrument before placing it in the tote bag. Place your hand inside the tote bag and make the sound of one of the instruments. Ask your child to find the photo of the object that made the sound. Continue with the other instruments.
Clap hands with your child as you recite this poem! The verses may seem silly to you, but children love to hear and feel the rhythm of poems! Rhyming is an important pre-reading skill. "PEASE PORRIDGE HOT, PEASE PORRIDGE COLD, PEASE PORRIDGE IN THE POT NINE DAYS OLD. SOME LIKE IT HOT; SOME LIKE IT COLD, SOME LIKE IT IN THE POT NINE DAYS OLD."
Scrub a Rock
Scrubbing will help develop your child's upper body strength and eye/hand coordination. Some children scrub for long periods of time. Show your child how to put the scrub brush in the soapy water and scrub a muddy rock. How long did your child spend scrubbing the rock?
Children this age enjoy experiencing the results of their actions. Place a large lightweight rubber or plastic ball on the floor. Show your child how to swing a bat and hit the ball. Enjoy watching your child learn a new skill today!
Throw the Ball
This fun activity will help develop eye/hand coordination for your child. Select a ball that fits in your child's hand and have your child throw it into a basket. Have your child stand in front of the basket at first. See how far away you can move the basket.
Children's sense of hearing helps them learn. This activity will help your child hear different sounds that come from instruments. Make a sound with each instrument: bell, rhythm sticks, and drum. Put the other set of instruments under the blanket. Play one of the instruments. Have your child feel for the instrument that you just played.
Your child will love watching balls roll down tubes! Place the tubes against a cushion. Put the cushion on a slant up against the sofa. Take the basket of small balls and show your child how to put them one by one inside the tube. It should be interesting to see which ball travels the fastest.
This activity may take some time for your child to do. Ask your child to bring you the basket of diapers when your child needs a clean diaper. (This could give you a clue as to when to begin potty training.)
Children learn through the sense of touch. Today they will feel and better understand 'sticky.' Cut a piece of clear contact paper at least 2' long. Remove the backing and tape the contact paper, sticky side up, to the floor or carpeting, (after testing it on the floor). You may want to do place the paper on a cement floor. Your child may just stand on the paper. Your child may run, jump, and dance on it. What does your child do?
The Farmer in the Dell
The song, "The Farmer in the Dell," has been enjoyed by children for generations. Try 'tweaking' the words and sing when you want to encourage your child to put toys away.
"The Farmer in the Dell, The Farmer in the Dell,
Hi Ho a Derry-O
The Farmer in the Dell.
The books go on the shelf; the books go on the shelf
Hi Ho a Derry-O, the books go on the shelf.
The blocks go in the bin," etc.
Dust Pan and Broom
Children love to help around the house! Show your child how to use a small dustpan and broom for cleaning off crumbs on the small table. Have a waste can close by to dispose of the crumbs. Keep these handy for your child to use. The earlier house chores are introduced to your child, the more likely they will be accepted and become a habit.
Enjoy being creative with your child today. Pour some washable paint in a bowl. Take a fruit or vegetable, cut it in half, and dip it in the bowl. "Stamp" the fruit or vegetable on a large sheet of paper to create a fun craft. Print the name of the fruit or vegetable under each painting.
Clean Up, Clean Up
There are times that toys are strewn throughout the house, and it's time to 'Clean Up.' Try the lyrics to the tune:
"Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up.
Clean Up, Clean Up, Put Your Things Away."
Set a handheld timer in the room and see if the room is cleaned up before the timer sounds.
Language concepts are learned through play. Weather permitting, take your child outside to your garden to find some insects. Name each insect as you search under the soil, rocks, etc. When you come in, download pictures of the insects you observed in the garden and talk about the ones you saw today. You may want to make an "Insect Book" placing a photo on the left page and the name of the insect on the right page.
Children love to play with "family figures." Put the play family members in a basket. Sit with your child and take out one member at a time. Example: "This is Daddy. He is going to work. Good-bye Daddy". Pretend with the other figures that are in the basket. You and your child may want to build a 'house' out of blocks for the 'family.' Sit back and enjoy watching your child play with the people!
Listening skills are learned through play. Locate 3 noise items, (whistle, cymbals, tambourine, etc.) and cover them with a blanket on the floor. As your child watches, remove the blanket and make a noise with one of the items. Repeat with the other ones. Cover the items again, then lift the edge of the blanket facing you and make noise using one of the items. See if your child can locate which item made the noise.
This simple science experiment is easy to do and needs only a straw and some water. Place some drops of water on your child's high chair tray. Blow through a straw and watch with your child as the water moves around the tray. Does your child want to try doing this?
Paint with Water
Your child may enjoy creating some designs in the balcony or outdoor. Put a few inches of water in a bucket. Hand your child a thick paintbrush and demonstrate how to dip the brush then 'paint'. Watch your child enjoy being creative and delighting in the work of art.
Children love to hear you sing silly songs! Make up a song about animal sounds. Enjoy singing this fun song, "Clap your hands and sing like a bird. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. Touch your head and moo like a cow", etc. It may have you both laughing!
Colour Marker Art
You can have fun with this activity at a low easel, on the floor, or on the driveway. Begin with two colours. (You can offer more colours in the future.) Let your child create with these markers. Your child may need some assistance at first with this activity.
Stop and Go
Introduce the words 'Stop' and 'Go' to your child while driving your car. When you come to a red light, say "Red light Stop". When you come to green light, say "Greenlight Go." When your child is older and verbal, don't be surprised if your child tells you when to Stop and Go!
Children love to draw with chalk! Let your child draw on the sidewalk or driveway, (weather permitting), or inside on your basement or garage floors. Encourage circular motions when drawing with chalk. This is a pre-writing skill that will be needed when older.
This activity will encourage your child's creativity through the use of crayons. At this age, it is fine for your child to grip the crayon with their entire hand using a 'fist' position. Your child will progress to learn to hold a crayon using the pincer grasp between the ages of 2-4. For now, focus on encouraging creativity. Put 6 regular sized (small) crayons in a container. Let your child sit at a small table and colour with the crayons.
Create a path of pillows and cushions in a trail that zig-zags on the floor of your child's playroom. Encourage your child to follow the course by crawling or walking (with your help), along the path.
Motor development is important at this age. Provide a riding toy your child can push with his/her feet. Be sure the toy is sturdy and safe for your child to ride. Your child is developing gross motor skills as well as balance and coordination.
Your child will be challenged when walking between the rungs of a ladder. Lay a wooden ladder across the floor. Demonstrate how to walk from one end of the ladder to the other. Encourage your child to do the same. If this is too frustrating for your child, try it later.
Children love to explore and experiment with paints! Put the paper on a table. Choose two colours, such as yellow and red. Enjoy watching your child paint and create the colour orange. "You made an orange!"
Pop the Bubbles
Your child will delight in watching you blow bubbles! Encourage your child to pop them as they are blown. Create a space where you can make many bubbles. Enjoy watching your child visually track the bubbles and delight when the bubbles pop! Sing: "Here we go around the bubbles today, the bubbles today, and the bubbles today. Here we go around the bubbles today. Pop goes the bubbles!"
Music and Movement
Children love to hear you sing songs and do the different movements to the song with you. Try this one!
"DID YOU EVER SEE A LASSIE, A LASSIE, A LASSIE, DID YOU EVER SEE A LASSIE GO THIS WAY AND THAT?
GO THIS WAY AND THAT WAY, GO THIS WAY AND THAT WAY,
DID YOU EVER SEE A LASSIE, GO THIS WAY AND THAT."
Do a movement while singing the song. Change the movements as you add verses.
Children can learn about their bodies with this fun activity. Once your child can point to body parts, try adding others that may be unfamiliar: neck, shoulder, elbow, back, wrist, bottom, leg, calf, ankle, heel, toe, foot, shin, knee, thigh, fingernail, hip, navel, waist, stomach, chest, etc. Sing the song "Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes" as you touch each body part.
Challenge your child with this fun activity! Put stones/coins in one container on your child's left side with a scoop. Show your child how to transfer the stones/coins to the container on the right side with the scoop. It's fine if some stones/coins drop in the process. This fun activity promotes eye/hand coordination, an important developmental skill. Repeat the activity if your child continues to be interested.
Rhythm and Movement
Children love to hear your voice! Try making up a song for your child today. Remember, your child doesn't care about the quality of your voice or what you sing. Your child simply loves to hear you sing! Sing this simple tune with your child, using his/her name: "Timmy claps with two hands, two hands, two hands. Timmy claps with two hands all day long. Timmy moves just one foot, one foot", etc.
Star of the Movie
Children may enjoy hearing their voice and seeing themselves when they are much older. Make a video of your child on your iPad. Begin in the morning when your child awakes and continue throughout the day. The video/ DVD will be a priceless keepsake for all of you.
Children love to see family photos! Select some of your favourite photos and laminate them. Have your child help you punch a hole in each photo and place them in a ring holder. Your child will love taking these along in the car or have available in the playroom. Help your child to point to each family member as you name each one.
Your child loves copying you. Seat your child facing you on the floor. Clap your hands 3 times, then repeat. Now sing to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus," saying your child's name.
Marie's little hands go clap, clap clap,
clap, clap, clap
clap, clap, clap
You move your little hands
and go clap, clap, clap,
clap your little hands.
Repeat for waving: Marie's little hand waves bye, bye, bye.
Your child will soon clap and wave along with you.
Feed the Pets
Have your child assist you with feeding any pets you have in the house. Including scooping the food from the bag, pouring the food into the dish and putting the clip back on the bag. Your child will learn fine motor skills and begin to learn responsibility.
Making healthy food choices is an important habit to form. Before you take your child to the grocery store, download 2 pictures of fruits and 2 pictures of vegetables from your computer. Let your child pick out two of the same fruits and two vegetables while grocery shopping. This is just the beginning of helping your child make wise choices about food.
Have some fun today playing the 'Sticker Game!' Put a red sticker on each of your child's hands. Identify the colour. Put a yellow one on each leg and do the same thing. Repeat with a blue one on each foot. Take them off and put them on you (same colours, same places). Ask your child to point to red... blue.... and yellow. (If you think your child isn't ready for this activity, try it at a later time.)
Today's activity will help your child understand size discrimination. Locate objects in your home that stack easily (unbreakable measuring cups, mixing bowls, etc.). If you purchase a nesting toy from a store, it usually comes with 10 objects. To begin the activity, take the largest, medium-sized, and smallest objects and place them in front of your child. Show your child how to put one container at a time inside the largest container.
Children love to role play whatever you are doing. Collect small boxes that food comes in and stuff them with wadded up paper to help keep their shapes. Tape each box closed. You may want to give your child a low cabinet to keep the boxes. Begin by stacking the boxes on the floor, then see if your child is interested in imitating you in the kitchen. Your child may want to build a tower with the boxes or simply place them in and out of the cabinet.
Introduce counting concepts to your child with this fun activity! Put two containers in front of your child. Put one object in the first container. Say "One". Put two objects in the second container. Count, "One, Two". Repeat this activity.
Children learn through their sense of touch. If it is a pleasant day, take your child outside and use one of the wonderful bubble toys! Watch your child's expression as you create bubbles for your child to crawl or run through, to touch, and to pop! Blowing bubbles can happen inside as well. Try blowing bubbles above your child's head. See if your child can burst the bubbles with a cardboard tube, (from a roll of toilet tissue).
Children love to pretend! Remove the top and bottom of the box, leaving the 4 sides. Decorate the box with your child. Cut holes in the sides of the box large enough for your child's hands. Have your child step in the box, put the hands in the holes, and pretend to drive the car!
Scrub the Sidewalk
Letting your child draw on the sidewalk, balcony or on the floor is fun and helps develop gross motor skills. Help your child hold the chalk properly. Have your child hold the chalk with the pointer finger and chalk resting on the thumb and middle fingers. After drawing with the sidewalk chalk, show your child how to scrub the sidewalk with a scrub brush.
Find the Shapes
Children learn through their sense of touch. This activity will help your child understand different shapes by the feel. Hide the shapes in the container of dried beans. Encourage your child to put two hands in and find the shape. Name the shape when your child pulls it out. The second time around, ask your child to put two hands in and find the cone, cube, etc.
Scrub Your Tray
Tired of cleaning up your child's tray after mealtime? Let your child try assisting you! Hand your child a cloth-like yours and begin to scrub the tray together. (This activity will most probably be a messy but hopefully a fun one.)
Stair climbing is an important first step for other kinds of climbing your child will do. (Gates are essential for when you aren't able to be present.) It is important that you are directly behind your child when practising the skill of climbing stairs. When it is time for your child to go back down the stairs, try to have your child go down on the tummy feet first. If your child is able to reach and use the handrail, frequently practice walking down with your child.
A sandbox is a wonderful place for children to play. Provide scoops, buckets, dump trucks, and other safe toys. Your child will enjoy feeling and touching sand! Let your child mix sand and water. (Sandboxes need to be covered when not in use.) A nice wooden cover with a heavy rock will take care of the sandbox when it is not in use.
Having your child be safe on the stairs is important! Spend time going up and downstairs with your child. It is important to be with your child. You could practice counting numbers or saying an alphabet letter as you climb each step.
As your child tries new solid foods, give your child the opportunity to play with food textures. Put frozen peas on the high chair tray. Put plain yoghurt on the tray. Let your child play with the food. Add cut-up cooked carrots and mashed potatoes. The food will probably end up in the mouth! This is a friendly way to introduce solid foods.
Hide and Seek
Play this fun 'Hide and Seek' game with your child. Take a favourite toy and hide it behind an object. Clap your hands when your child gets closer.
Empty and Full
Language concepts are fun to learn through play. Today's activity will help your child understand the concept of 'empty' and 'full.' Fill one clear container with pom-poms or other objects. Secure the lid. Leave the other one empty. Secure the lid. Show the two containers to your child, naming them 'empty' and 'full.' Play the "Empty and Full game" with your child to reinforce the concept. Hide the full container. Ask your child to find it. Do the same with the empty one. Use these words often during the day. Reinforcing language concepts is important for your child.
Sock balls are ideal for young children because they're soft and easy to grip. Collect clean pairs of socks and roll them into tight balls. Set a laundry basket in the middle of the room and fill it with the socks. Roll the sock balls to your child then demonstrate how to throw the balls back into the laundry basket. If this seems too difficult, simply have your child stand by the basket and drop the balls.
Pop the Bubbles
Children learn by using their sense of touch. Your child will love this activity! Unroll a piece of bubble wrap on the floor and tape to the floor. Play some lively music. Let your child run back and forth and dance on the bubble wrap. Your child will delight in the sounds! (Remember to remove the wrap after enjoying the activity.)
My Family Book
Your child will love to look through this keepsake album of the family. Take pictures of each family member doing something special. Look through and 'read' the book to your child. Example: "This is Jack. He is in school." Remember to put the photo on the left and the text on the right. (This is how your child will read.)
Clear the floor and flip on the music. Hold your child close as you move to the rhythm of the music. Surprise your child by clicking the 'mute' button on the remote to stop the music and "freeze" in place. You may find you and your child giggling with this fun activity.
Children love to help you around the house! Let your child know how pleased you are when your child cleans the table. Show your child how to scrub a small table. Use a small bush with a handle. Use baby bath soap and a small container of water. Show your child how to make circular motions on the table. Show your child how to dry the table. Let your child spend a long time with this activity. Making circular motions is preparing your child to write. Tell your child how proud you are after the table has been cleaned!
Mop and Sing
Children love to help around the house at this age! Engage your child in activities that are fun and also help you! Take one of the handle parts off of your mop and let your child "swiff" the floor as you sing this song to the tune of "London Bridge":
"Make the mop go back and forth,back and forth, back and forth.
Make the mop go back and forth,all day long."
Create a finger puppet with your child, using a permanent marker to draw funny faces on a pair of discarded socks. Use the heel of the sock to draw the mouth and the toe of the sock to draw the nose, Draw eyes on the top of the sock where your foot goes. Now, talk with your child using finger motions.
Read your child a book with your fingers.
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