Toddlers love any opportunity to spend quality time with mom or dad. Simple games provide great stimulation for toddlers and support a toddler’s growth by providing developmentally appropriate activities.
Despite toddlers having a short attention span, they are easily entertained by simple games. They also love the one-on-one time with mom or dad. Here are 10 simple games to play with toddlers for some quality time together.
Where’s The Baby?
Young toddlers are beginning to understand that objects still exist even if they cannot see them. While your toddler is watching, hide a baby doll under a blanket, under a pillow, or behind something. Ask your toddler where the baby went and watch his excitement as he finds the baby doll. This game is similar to hide and seek and toddlers will love the interaction and the feeling of success each time they find the baby doll.
Make Some Noise
Toddlers love to make some noise, especially if they are using things that are not designed as musical instruments. Save some empty oatmeal containers or other food boxes and set them up in a circle around your toddler. Old pots and pans can be turned upside down and used together with other materials or alone. Show your toddler how to use his hands or a wooden spoon to make some noise by banging the food containers or pots. This is a great activity to keep your toddler busy while preparing dinner.
Bowling for Bottles
Young toddlers are still developing their large motor skills, but empty soda bottles make great bowling pins for a simple game of bowling. Set up 3 or 4 empty soda bottles, making sure the caps are removed as they are a choking hazard. Then give your toddler a large ball and show your toddler how to use both hands to roll the ball towards the soda bottles. Your toddler will be delighted to watch the bottles tip over.
Stack the Blocks
Most toddlers love to stack blocks and it is an important developmental skill. Use a few cardboard boxes as blocks to show your toddler how to make a tower. In the beginning, your toddler may mostly enjoy knocking over the towers you build but after watching you several times she will learn to build her own towers.
Build a Cave
Hiding in a homemade cave, especially with mom or dad, can be a lot of fun for a toddler. Throw a blanket over the kitchen table or push two couches together and cover them with a sheet. Eat a simple snack inside your cave with your toddler or bring in a few special toys.
Dance Like A Rock Star
Toddlers love to express themselves through movement. Put on some fast music and dance around the room with your toddler. Get down on your knees and dance so that you are at your toddler’s level. This way he can look at you face to face. Your toddler will love the chance to wiggle around and get some energy out.
Set Up An Obstacle Course
Toddlers have way more energy to burn than us, so you can put this to some good use. Plus your toddler will sleep better at night if he does this activity. A fun and fairly easy obstacle course is a way to let your toddler use that energy and also learn to follow directions.
Simple Painting Games For Toddlers
Most children like to paint, but when they are very young, it is important that painting activities are safe for them. There are many options and activities for children to enjoy painting, learning how to write their names in paint, or mixing and making colors. Share painting activities with your children or students and watch just how creative your tot can be!
Painting with paintbrushes helps develop a toddler’s fine motor development. It is best to use a variety of paints and brushes of different sizes. Have your children mix up colored drink powders with water and use paintbrushes, paint cups, and watercolor paper or card stock. For watercolors, offer a few different food coloring containers, plastic cups, water, paintbrushes, and paper. Only add enough food coloring to the water in the plastic cups to tint it. Then have the children paint pictures of animals or practice writing their names on the paper with a paintbrush. Have children create a rainbow with a paintbrush, paper, water, and non-toxic paints.
Have toddlers use yogurt or pudding as finger paint, with a paper plate or piece of paper. They can get really creative using their food as a medium! Another finger painting game requires a T-shirt, non-toxic fabric paint, and a fabric marker. But first, a piece of cardboard goes inside the shirt to keep it from sticking together while the children paint on the front of the shirt. For a third finger painting option, have children dip their thumbs into paint and leave several fingerprints in a circle pattern on a piece of paper. After the paint dries, you can add finishing details such as the center of a flower, leaves, and stems.
Cut up sponges into different shapes such as triangles, stars or circles then have your toddler dip the sponges into non-toxic paint and press them onto paper to make different shapes. Or cut up a sponge into several pieces and dip it into the paint. Then put the sponges into a plastic bag that can zip shut along with a piece of paper. Your toddler can squish the bag to make different shapes on the paper with the sponge pieces. Finally, in the fall, take a walk with your child and make a game of picking up colorful leaves to take home. Your toddler can then make trees on a piece of paper by sponge painting the leaves with non-toxic paint.
Since toddlers like to put things in their mouths, use non-toxic paint or safe alternatives to paint that will not be harmful if eaten. Even when using paints that are safe for toddlers, supervise young children to keep them focused on the game. To minimize the mess, set up the messier games outdoors. Have children wear old clothes when painting or use plastic aprons available at arts and crafts stores to protect clothes. Cover up any surfaces with plastic or newspaper to prevent staining.
Toddlers do not require expensive toys or complicated games to be entertained. Simple interactions that provide quality time with mom and dad are often the best. Your toddler will learn so much from even the most basic activities and will love the time spent with you.