Searching for things to do with toddlers? We've come up with 75 fun and budget-friendly ideas to keep you both busy.
Finding new and fun things to do with kids (opens in new tab) can often be a challenge for parents. Especially when a rain day leaves you at a loss for fun indoor activities with kids (opens in new tab) or your monthly budget can't quite stretch to a family day out in the Midlands (opens in new tab).
Weather and money need not get in the way of treasured time with your toddler though. As our list of 75 affordable and inspired ideas goes to show.
From fun games and kid-friendly exercises (opens in new tab) to easy craft for kids (opens in new tab), we've pulled together a huge number of activities for toddlers that are sure to liven up any afternoon....
75 fun things to do with toddlers:
1. Create with playdough
Little ones love getting their hands busy with play dough, making all kinds of fun shapes. Make your own with our easy play dough recipe (opens in new tab). Then give your toddler some shaped biscuit cutters and a rolling-pin and explain how to cut out ‘biscuits’. A garlic press is also a great tool for making squiggly bits.
2. Visit the park
One of the best things to do with toddlers is just to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air (weather permitting!) Take a ball or a ride-along toy. They might make a friend whilst you mingle with other mums too.
3. Go swimming
Now that swimming pools have re-opened (opens in new tab) you can take your tot for a swim and a kick. Lots of leisure centres have special children’s sessions too which have extra equipment such as floats, balls for fun water play.
4. Make a mask
Learn how to make a mask (opens in new tab) from a cheap paper plate. Or draw an animal’s face on card and cut holes for eyes. Cut out some ears and stick them on the top. Let your tot colour it, then attach a straw so they can hold it in front of their sweet faces
5. Indoor Cinema
One of our favourite things to do with toddlers is the at-home cinema experience. Turn your living room into a movie theatre and ‘invite’ their favourite dolls and teddies to take a seat. Stream a Disney+ family-friendly film (opens in new tab) and make sure to dim the lights and draw the curtains to create the right mood. Just like a regular cinema, charge a few pennies for admission and include a half time interval with a chance to buy popcorn or ice cream.
6. Printing fun
Slice some potatoes in half and cut stars and other shapes into each flat surface. Dip the potatoes into saucers of poster paint and let your toddler use them for printing.
7. Bake cakes
Fairy cakes are one of the simplest cakes kids can make. And toddlers will love stirring the mixture and decorating them once they’re ready. Whip them up with a few store cupboard basics and make sure to compliment your sous chef’s hard work.
8. Sand pit
If it’s a cold day, put some sand from the sand-pit in a washing-up bowl and hide mini treasures. A spoon makes a good-sized spade and a sieve is fun too.
9. Play buses
Line up chairs in pairs in your living room and fill the seats with dolls. One of you is the bus driver (who must take the passengers fee) before driving off on your magical road-trip adventure.
A highlight of any kids party is the fabulous face-painting that takes place. Order your own cheap face-painting kit (opens in new tab) and try your hand at a flower, butterfly or terrifying tiger.
11. Separate the smarties
Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls. And if they’re successful, reward them with the sweets.
12. Sleeping lions
A fun and rather quiet game you can take advantage of. Your child must lie still for as long as possible. Or if you’d rather add some music - try musical statues. When the music stops, they freeze.
13. Sing some nursery rhymes
Teach your child simple favourite nursery rhymes like the wheels on the bus (with hand actions) or put on Cocomelon’s fun Nursery Rhymes YouTube playlist (opens in new tab) for them to watch and move-along to.
14. Make a letterbox
This is one of our more inspired things to do with toddlers. Cover an old cereal box in red paint or paper. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes. Your child can write on the envelopes, stick on pretend stamps and post them.
15. Play ‘Follow my leader’
Your toddler has to copy everything you do. Jump up and down, pat your tummy, sit down, stand up, walk up stairs, put your slippers on your head. The sillier the better. Once they’ve got the idea, let them lead you.
16. Make your own bubbles
Kids of all ages love bubbles. Make your own mixture up with some warm water, washing-up liquid and sugar. Then get your toddler outside chasing them around the garden.
17. Blow up some balloons
Little ones can spend hours playing with balloons. Blow up a couple in different colours and watch them become engrossed in their balloon play.
18. Do some dusting
Kids really love to copy Mum doing chores. And this enthusiasm tends to dip as they age, so make the most of it whilst they’re young. (Just mind those expensive knick-knacks).
19. Sweat it out
Find a fun short workout on Youtube - like Joe Wicks’ 5 minute move - and copy along from the comfort of your own living room. Definitely one of our more active things to do with toddlers.
20. Throwback videos
Dig out your old home videos. They’ll love it if there are people they know and we promise it’s more fun than watching endless Peppa Pig episodes.
Ask a friend over. At this age children love to have a companion and are easier to entertain together.
22. Cardboard Box
Find an old shoe box or give your discarded big boxy packaging to your child. It may seem simple but they’ll find many a use for it - be it a hat, a drum or even a hiding place.
23. Dinky dishwasher
If you’ve got a lot of washing up to do. Get out a plastic tea-set, a bowl of soapy water and a tea-towel to put it all on. Then let them wash up on the kitchen floor whilst you do yours.
24. Hide and seek
Play hide-and-seek and count to ten, taking it in turns to count and hide. We’d recommend you pretend to be a bit short-sighted when it’s your turn to do the seeking though...
25. Tape rescue
Follow Susie Allison’s lead and create a tape rescue tray. Simply use the back of a baking tray and stick objects down (which are easily removable) with tape. Their curiosity coupled with the texture of the tape will keep them amused for ten minutes or so. It’s a great high chair activity too.
26. Magic Painting
Draw a simple design on paper with a white candle or crayon. Make up watery paint in a strong colour and let your tot paint the paper to reveal the lovely designs – they’ll be amazed.
27. Where’s teddy?
This is one of the simplest things to do with toddlers. Play hunt the teddy. Take it in turns to hide it around the house.
28. Hand prints
Make up thick poster paint, then paint your toddler’s hands. Get he or she to make handprints all over some paper. When they’re dry you can hang it up or make a special birthday card for someone.
29. Wrapping paper
While you’re wrapping presents, let your tot play with some shiny paper – the more crinkly and sparkly, the longer it’ll keep them occupied.
30. Memory game
Put 20 household objects on a tray. Show them to your child for 2 minutes, then hide them. See how many they can remember.
31. Keeper cam
There’s no need to trek toddlers to the zoo with plenty of fun animal content online. Check out London ZSL’s virtual zoo (opens in new tab) which gives a behind the scenes look at the animals and their enclosures.
32. Put a wash on
Let your tot help with the washing. Explain how to sort the colours from the whites, and then stuff them in the machine together.
33. Bedroom art
Make some streamers or decorations that they can proudly hang up in their bedroom. Paper chains are easy to make – all you need is some glue and coloured paper. Or make stars and other crazy shapes and stick them to some string for a makeshift mobile.
Start your kid’s love of reading off from a young age. Sit down and read a few of their chosen favourites. Doing funny voices will make it even more fun.
35. Go to the library
Another way to encourage kids reading is of course the library. A never-ending supply of free books on thousands of shelves? It’s a sight that is sure to wow your little one.
36. Throwback toys
Dig out a basket of old ‘baby’ toys. Your tot will be keen to play with them, as they will not have seen them for a while.
37. Pillow fort
Create a den in their bedroom or the living room with pillows and hide away from the world for an hour or so.
38. Paddling pool
Swap the swimming pool for a fun paddle in your own back yard. Fill a paddling pool (opens in new tab) up with water and watch them splash around for hours.
39. Magic wands
Learn how to make rainbow magic wands (opens in new tab) with your little one and watch them waltz around the house creating their own magic.
40. Pom Pom Drop
We love this fun and cheap game to keep toddlers happy. Recycle your toilet rolls by having your child decorate them and stick them to their wall in a crazy obstacle course design. Give them a couple of pom poms and have them navigate the course for hours of tunnel fun.
41. Dance Party
Put on some music and have a dance. Get up off the sofa and join in the dance, offering them some moves to copy. This is one of those things to do with toddlers that you can both enjoy.
42. Traffic Lights game
Play traffic lights. You’re the policeman and they’re the car. When you shout ‘red’, they have to stop; ‘green’ means go.
43. Toy tea party
Have a dolls’ tea party. Use a picnic rug and real food. Think a cute afternoon tea (opens in new tab) set-up like cucumber sandwiches, cakes and cups of squash.
44. Dinner ready
Lay the table together – yes, it’s a chore for you but it’ll be more enjoyable if your little one helps you.
45. Pasta bracelets
This is arguably one of our cheapest things to do with toddlers. Thread tubes of pasta on to lengths of string and create some abstract pasta jewellery to gift to friends and family.
46. Puppet play
Create some fun sock puppets and then if you’re up to the challenge try making your own puppet theatre (opens in new tab) from scratch.
47. Ice Cream parlour
Have an ice cream ‘factory’. Put a scoop of ice cream in a bowl and let her choose a topping from a variety of things set out. Or if you’re feeling really hands-on, make your own vanilla ice cream (opens in new tab) to enjoy.
48. Circuit challenge
Make a homemade obstacle course in the living room or garden. Use chairs to crawl under, ropes to jump over, balls to dribble or throw into a bucket – use your imagination.
49. Puddle play
If it’s been raining, pull on your wellies and rain-macs. Then head out for some serious puddle fun.
50. Make a fan
One of our easiest things to do with toddlers is this DIY fan task. Ask your child to cover a piece of paper with colourful patterns, then help them fold it to make a fan and flutter away.
51. Play a board game
Board games are something to get the whole family involved. Something like snakes and ladders will be easy enough for your little one to play as well.
52. Egg box fun
There's about 10 things you can make with egg boxes (opens in new tab). From a keepsake box to a bright green crocodile or a handy pot for cress. So be sure to store a few, ready for the next rainy day.
53. Play dolls’ hospitals
Grab the dollies and give them some extra special care and attention. Just add loo-paper bandages and a few plasters and play along.
54. Play dressing-up.
Have a rummage around in your wardrobe and have a laugh trying on different ‘looks’. Old hats, scarves, shoes, beads, shirts and any other cast-offs will do.
Give your toddler a head start with their ABC learning and play pretend schools. You can take it in turns as the teacher and conduct a lesson in front of teddies and toys. Worksheet Fun (opens in new tab) has lots of free, ready to download ABC worksheets that your little one can try too. Just be sure to have stickers to hand to reward all their hard work.
56. Make a paper hat
Everyone's always got a spare newspaper or magazine lying around that can be put to good use. Help them learn how to make a paper hat (opens in new tab) in a few easy steps and watch them run around the house showing off their latest accessory.
57. Comic fun
Take your child for a walk to your local newsagent and have them choose a comic. They’re a great treat packed with puzzles and tasks and sometimes a small toy that will keep them occupied for hours.
58. Potion magic
Your little one will be mesmerised by this seriously cool colour-changing potion trick. Just line up a few glasses, gather the store cupboard ingredients and make sure your toddler utters a magical 'abracadabra' before the potion change takes place.
59. Make an alphabet scrapbook
This is one of our easiest things to do with toddlers that also helps with them get to grips with their ABC. Simply tear out photos from magazines for each letter of the alphabet and place in piles or stick on collages for each letter.
60. Bead fun
Peg boards or ‘Hamma’ beads keep little fingers occupied for hours at this age. Just keep an eye to make sure none of them make their way into any mouths.
61. Gardening fun
Make a garden in a seed tray. Fill it with soil and add plant cut-offs and flowers. A small container lined with foil and filled with water makes a pond.
62. Go for a drive and add games
If travelling to relatives, be sure to have some tried and tested car games for kids (opens in new tab) in your back pocket. Eye spy is an easy one to get them started - challenge them to spotting a red car, bike, sheep etc.
63. Bedroom blast
Put on some lively music and tidy their bedroom together – it makes the process much more fun. And a clean sparkly room is enough to make any parent smile.
64. Take a trip to the pet store
If your toddler is a tiny animal lover then why not take them for a trip to the pet store? Get up and close with some beautiful bunnies, hamsters, cats, dogs and goldfish. And remember there’s no pressure to leave with one.
65. Play catch
Grab a tennis ball, stand apart and play a game of catch. The beauty of this game is that you can play it both inside and out.
66. Make a photo album together
Find some sweet family shots and a notebook and help your toddler glue the pictures in.
67. Mini beast hunt
Kids love bugs and all the fascinating facts (opens in new tab) about them - so a mini beast hunt is one of the best things to do with toddlers. Draw up a sheet with easy-to-follow drawings like the play_at_home_mammas on Instagram. Then get them out the house and exploring.
68. Granny knows best
If round at Granny’s, get her to sing songs and play games from when she was young. They may seem outdated to you, but your toddler won’t know the difference.
69. Tiny challenge
See how many small objects you can fit into a matchbox. We think you'll both you and your toddler will be pleasantly surprised by this one.
3,2,1.... Grab a toilet roll and transform it into a fun, bright and colourful rocket. This is a great activity for toddlers which will lead to hours of space adventures.
You can easily bring the bowling alley to your back yard with this genius DIY bowling hack by Mommy Mouse Clubhouse (opens in new tab). Finally a purpose for those left over plastic water bottles! Just add a number to each bottle, grab a ball and you're good to go.
72. Make a bird-feeder
Learn how to make a bird-feeder (opens in new tab) and get your toddler to join in on the fun. They'll love looking out the window and counting the birds arriving for their tasty tea.
73. Go for a bike ride
It's an essential skill that will lead them places in life (quite literally!). Start their cycling skills off early and get them out on their trike.
74. Send a letter
Help your toddler write a letter or send a special drawing to a relative. Because it’s one thing to make a phone call, but it’s something else to send something personal. Plus, an old-fashioned paper reply is sure to make their day.
75. Shell craft
What parent hasn't got buckets of shells stored somewhere from all those seaside trips? Get crafty with them and create shell boxes and necklaces galore...
Emily Stedman is the News Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things royal, entertainment, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things celebrity and royal, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.
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