18 Indoor Activities You Can Enjoy With Your Toddler at Home (And Have Fun!)
Remember those good ol’ days when your toddler was just a baby, and those activities with babies didn’t involve a tiny human bursting with energy running around your home, even on a rainy day?
Yeah. Those days are gone. But that’s not bad news - not even remotely. It just means you have a beautiful, healthy kid who’s growing and learning about the world.
Moreover, coming up with engaging and exciting activities for playing at home with toddlers won’t just help them learn; they will also help you bond and nurture a loving relationship with your little one.
At this time of age in your kid’s life, you are probably their best friend, and you are kind of, expected to play with and entertain them. On the other hand, you want to encourage your kid to play independently and not rely on others to have fun.
Therefore, there are a few things we should go over before we dive into things you can do when indoor activities for toddlers are the only option.
Should I be playing with my toddler all day?
No, absolutely not. There are several reasons why you should avoid playing with your toddler all day:
- You are risking codependency. Helping toddlers grow into self-reliant children is an essential part of child development. If you never have time apart, you will make the upcoming years much harder for you and your kid. You two will find spending time away from each other challenging once preschool or kindergarten starts. Moreover, your toddler won’t be so open to meeting their peers and building their social skills.
- You are risking burnout. Don’t forget about yourself, either. It’s exhausting running around and doing pretend play all day long. You need some alone time without toddler activities for your own sake. You need to ensure you are having a bit of “you” time here and there. After all, you won’t be able to take good care of your toddler if you are burned out.
- You are eliminating precious boredom from their day. Yes, you’ve read that right. Kids need to get bored from time to time. It is an important part of their early childhood education and development. Read more about the benefits of boredom for your child.
How many hours should you play with your toddler?
Playing with little ones for 5-10 minutes a day is enough, according to CDC. You must put effort into that playtime, show enthusiasm and follow your child’s lead but don’t let your kid boss you around. If you can do it longer without burning yourself out, go for it.
Also, don’t think you're doing something wrong if you’re not paying your full attention to their every whim. Kids can and should play independently (or with their siblings and playmates), so encourage them to do so. Your main job is to supervise their safety while they enjoy their games.
The next question comes naturally.
What games can I play with my toddler at home?
There’s lots of stuff you two can do together to keep yourselves busy. Search for hidden objects, jump, paint, dance, and sing; the sky is your limit (or, in this case, the ceiling).
The most important thing is that if you’re stuck at home, and have that valuable extra time to devote to your child’s indoor activities, try to make it as fun as possible for both of you.
Here are 23 games and learning activity ideas you can create and enjoy with your toddler at home.
1. Make face masks
Use paper or cards, adhesive tape, straws, crayons, or even watery paint. Cut out the animal's face shape and paint it together with your child. Even a simple design will do as long as you fill it out with exciting drawings and colors. Once you’re done, you can act out your favorite National Geographic documentary.
This activity will boost your kid’s creativity, and they’ll also learn about wildlife. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to the wildlife theme. Let your child pick what they like the most. Toddlers have the best ideas.
2. Paper ball shootout
Take some paper from your printer, a newspaper, or a magazine and crumble it to make a soft ball. Make sure you use enough to make a proper ball out of it. Arrange various targets around your house or shoot hoops with your toddler (for example, using a washing-up bowl as a hoop is a great idea).
It’s also super fun for adults and an excellent activity for developing your toddler’s motor skills. You won’t break anything in the house since the paper “ball” is light.
If you and your child are really ambitious, you can even practice counting by keeping score of your game. It all depends on your child's age, ability, and affinity.
Some children enjoy being competitive and 'winning' a game, while others don't like that sort of play. Let your child choose what the game will be like, and enjoy your paper ball fun.
3. Create a collage
You can print out some of your family photos or images of your toddler’s favorite cartoon characters. You can even cut out pictures from magazines. Use a double-sided tape glue stick, and have your kid arrange them however they like on a big piece of paper. This is a great way to train your kid’s focus and attention to detail.
4. Follow my leader
For this one, you’re going to need another playmate. It doesn't matter whether it’s another parent, a caregiver, another sibling, or a neighbor, as long as the children are having fun.
The rules are simple - One of you leads by doing all sorts of silly acts (jumping around, spinning, sticking their tongues out, etc.), and the others have to follow.
The traditional version of the game says the one who can’t follow what the leader does is out. Since you’re playing with a toddler, that’s not an option. Simply take turns in leading.
5. Stack objects
Use your toddler’s favorite building blocks or a toy like the Montessori Wooden Stones, and take turns stacking them on each other. See how far up you can go before a large piece of your construction falls apart.
Encourage your little ones to explore just how physics works but don't let them get too disappointed when their construction falls apart. This will teach your toddlers patience and perseverance.
6. Follow the line
Use some tape (preferably colored or even masking tape) and stick it on the floor. Create all sorts of pathways, like zig-zag, curvy, skip every other step, and so on. The goal is to have your toddler follow that path as accurately as possible by putting one foot in front of the other. It's one of the best indoor activities for toddlers on a rainy day when they still want to be active and have fun.
7. Pom poms
Take a few plastic bottles and cut holes in them. Give your toddlers differently colored cotton balls or pom poms and invite them to sort them by color through those cut-out holes. This is a great example of fine motor activity and excellent training in color recognition.
This may not sound like much, but have you ever seen a toddler totally immersed in sensory play? It is amazingly cute. Expect that very effect when watching your child have fun with this game.
8. Hidden objects
This is one of those toddler activities you can enjoy even if you don't have any supplies and need to develop an engaging play. Take an item your child finds attractive and hide it around the house. Have your toddler look for it, but give them clues.
One thing you should always keep in mind is their safety once they start searching. When choosing items for kids to hide, maybe their favorite toy is not the best option if they’re unwilling to part with it. Also, small toys may not be the best option for younger toddlers because they may be unable to find them and enjoy the game.
9. Musical bumps
This can turn into a full-blown dance party. Play music and have your phone or remote ready to stop the music at any time. Suppose you can get another kid to play together so you can only play and pause music - even better. The idea is to encourage them to dance around as long as the music is playing. The children race to sit on the floor the fastest as soon as the music stops.
10. Read a book together
If you are both ready to get some downtime and are done with the active things, sit down with your kid and read stories together. Or even better, grab an interactive book like the Montessori Story Book. There’s loads of fun stuff to do with it, and practice fine motor skills while playing with it.
11. Rescue animals
Toddlers love animals. Especially their toy animals. Tape or stick some animal (or car) toys to the wall or a cardboard box, and have your toddler slowly peel off the tape, trying to rescue their favorite toy. This activity will help your toddler develop fine motor skills and build finger muscles.
12. Clean or cook together
Here’s a wildcard. It seems like a bad idea, but it’s not. Everyone likes to feel important and useful, toddlers included. Give them a simple job, like wiping a single square foot of your floor, and they’ll be delighted. You can even get them a smaller broom and show them how to dust.
Preparing a simple dough and grabbing those fun cookie cutters is an excellent idea if you are prepared for messy play with your child. Older toddlers will be delighted to see their dough baked and eaten. This will give them a sense of accomplishment and a very tangible result from their play.
13. Playdough time
You can grab a pack at the store or make playdough yourself. Shape it, knead it, and get your little one's creative juices going. All kids love playdough activities. Once you’re done, display your child's sculptures for everyone to see
14. Guess the toy
Get your kid's favorite five toys and wrap them in some wrapping paper. Whatever you’ve got at hand works. Hand them over to your toddler individually and see if they can guess which is which. This can become a great fine motor activity if your toddler peels off the tape carefully while unwrapping it.
15. Simon says
The good old classic. It’s suitable for all ages, especially toddlers who love active play. All you need to do is give instructions that your toddler can quickly understand and follow. Take turns and see what your kid’s got in store for you.
16. Make a cardboard box train
Get that old shoe box, cardboard rolls, toilet paper rolls, and everything else that can become a wagon. Use cardboard box packaging that toothpaste or deodorants come in. There’s a lot of other stuff that comes in similar, smaller cardboard boxes.
Connect those “wagons” with a knitting thread and make your toddler a train they can play with. Let your child paint it if they want to have an additional busy time with their new toy.
17. Hide and seek
It’s a long-time favorite of numerous generations, toddlers included. Take turns hiding around the house looking for each other. Hide under the blanket, and once your toddler finds you - it’s cuddle time. Encourage your child to explore new places to hide and get creative.
18. Solve puzzles
This is the type of pastime a person can start while their child is still a toddler and continue doing until they’re gray and old. However, when your toddler first gets into puzzles, you should start with something simple, like the Montessori Happy Puzzles.
Once your kids are older, you can explore 3D puzzles that are just brilliant and play with them together. If your child lets you, of course.
Besides these play ideas with your child, remember there's nothing wrong with simply offering kids educative toys to play with and have fun on their own. Remember that your toddler has much more energy for play than you do.
Pace yourself but make sure you two fill your day with quality time and that your toddler learns something new in your every play session. If you have any further questions or suggestions on how to play with toddlers at home, write to us at email@example.com.
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