Things to do with toddlers at home: 48 easy ideas with cardboard, pegs and tweezers

Things to do with toddlers at home that won't break the bank or your will to live

things to do with toddlers illustrated by Toddler playing with card board
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Things to do with toddlers can vary massively depending on the weather, your mood, and their mood. Sometimes the day looks like snacks, sofa, and shows on repeat, and that's okay. But for days where you have the energy, we've got your back.

Finding new and fun things to do with kids can sometimes be a challenge for parents. Especially when a rain day leaves you at a loss for fun indoor activities with kids or your monthly budget can't quite stretch to a family day out in the Midlands.

Editor's note

Please also know that you don't have to play all the time, you can be kind without always saying yes to the need to play. If you hate playing with your kid, know that this doesn't make you a bad parent and you're not alone in that feeling.

Susie Robbins, founder of Resolve to Play tells us; "[Toddler] Play supports the development of a very young child, typically aged 1-3yrs. The child is beginning to develop physically, gain their own interests and personality. At this stage, learning occurs in leaps and bounds, their brains really are sponges and they show a keenness to learn and do more, independently."

With that in mind, we've found 48 fun and budget-friendly ideas to keep you and your toddler busy. From fun games and kid-friendly exercises to easy craft for kids, we've pulled together a huge number of activities for toddlers that are easy to do and a few you can sit and supervise...

48 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. 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. Find a new park

Add a bit of mystery and 'working as a team' with your toddler with this idea. You can either Google a park near you that you've never been to, or you can live by the seat of your pants and just get in the car/on the bus and go. 

Getting out and about - no matter the weather - is one of the best things to do with toddlers. Time out in the air running, climbing and building will have such a positive impact on their mood and behaviour. Take a ball or a ride-along toy to keep it interesting.

3. Make a mask

A dinosaur mask is one of our fun things to do with toddlers

Credit: Future

Learn how to make a mask 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

4. 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 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.

5. Potato printing fun

Step 1 Cut a large potato in half. Wipe off the moisture on one half with some paper towel, then position a template – we used a skull, you can download and print your own - in the centre or have a go free-hand.

Step 2 Carefully cut, then cut around the sides of the potato and remove the unwanted parts, leaving a raised design, perfect for dipping in paint.

Step 3 Choose paper or fabric and start printing.

6. Baking

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.

7. 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 money for the ticket) before 'driving off' on your magical road-trip adventure. Take inspiration from kids favourite show, Bluey.

8. Face painting

A highlight of any kids party is the fabulous face-painting that takes place. Order your own cheap face-painting kit and try your hand at a flower, butterfly or terrifying tiger.

9. Separation game

MIxed smarties in a bowl

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls, add plastic tweezers to work on the fine motor development. 

10. Hop little bunnies

A fun sing-song game that is fun and will tire them out and you get to sit supervise, or sittervise as we all it, while they do it. Also, if you're little one goes to nursery they may recognise it. 

11. Sing-a-long

Teach your child simple favourite nursery rhymes like the wheels on the bus (with hand actions) or reach for a mainstream popular character, like Cocomelon for them to watch and move-along to - as long as they can see mummy or daddy joining in this can while away about 30 minutes.

12. Play pretend posties

There are two options here and no matter which one you go for you and your child can write on envelopes, stick on pretend stamps and have a whale of a time 'posting' them. 

  • Option one: Nice and easy, simply play characters and post letters through our own letterbox on your door.
  • Option two: Craft a letter box from a cereal box, paint it red. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes. 

13. Play follow the leader

Invite your toddler to copy everything you do, the sillier the better. Once they’ve got the idea, enjoy let them lead you.

  • Jump up and down
  • Pat your tummy
  • Sit down
  • Stand up
  • Walk up the stairs
  • Put your slippers on your head
  • Shout 'Moooooo'
  • Stick your tongue out
  • Pat your bum

14. 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.

15. Balloon Keepy Uppy

Pink balloon with young girl playing with elderly people

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Little ones can spend hours playing with balloons. Blow up a couple in different colours and watch them become engrossed in their balloon play. Our family editor, Stephanie Lowe, tells us; "my son loved play 'eepy up" (keepy uppy) with the balloons. We'd clear space on in the living room with one rule, the balloon can't touch the floor. He played it for at least 40 minutes once."

16. Do some dusting

Kids really love to copy their parents doing chores and being part of the family - they love to help at this stage. And this enthusiasm tends to dip as they age, so make the most of it whilst they’re young.

17. 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, it will help with a smooth(ish) bedtime.

18. Play home videos

Kids love seeing old photos and films of themselves, it makes them feel like they belong and fit somewhere. So, dig out your old home videos - its also great for them seeing other members of the family. It's more fun than watching endless Peppa Pig episodes, we promise 

19. Playdate

Lean on other parents in your community, plan play dates and ask friends over. It's around the age three and up, children tend to play together a bit more. Rather than, children younger than that who tend to play alongside each other. Be ready to help navigate any disagreements between the little humans though and also be warned that sometimes playdates can last. Mum-of-Dionne tells us how one playdate went n for four hours, "I mean this in the nicest possible way but, they just wouldn't leave. Four hours they were at ours, four hours. Now I only ever go round to play dates or meet people at places. I learned my four hour lesson." 

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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...

23. Tape rescue

A photo posted by on

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.

24. Magic printing

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.

25. 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.

26. Hand prints

A close up of a toddler doing hand paint prints

Credit: Getty

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.

27. Wrapping paper

Get out your wrapping paper and let your tot go to town with is, crummpling it, ripping it, drawing on it. The more crinkly and sparkly, the longer it’ll keep them occupied.

28. 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.

29. Peg the socks

Get a bowl of socks a mix of colour and sizes, and your maiden out and let them hang and peg at will. Make sure you offer words of empowerment and encouragement about their focus and persistence, especially with tricky pegs. 

30. Storytime

Reading a book together is one of our things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Start your kid’s love of reading off from a young age. Sit down and read a few of their chosen favourites. Interact with the pages, and do funny voices to make it even more fun. Maybe even hand the reigns over and let them 'read' to you. It's amazing ow much kids take in, and will remember certain words from stories theylove and heard a lot of.

31. Go to the library

Another way to encourage kids reading is of course your local library. A never-ending supply of free books on thousands of shelves? It’s a sight that is sure to wow your little one. And signing them up with their own card and encouraging them to use and hand over the card themselves 

32. 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.

33. Pillow fort

A pillow fort is one of out things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Create a den in their bedroom or the living room with pillows and hide away from the world for an hour or so.

34. Lego bath

A daytime bath is fun because it's out of the norm, throw in some LEGO and watch them love the silliness of a daytime LEGO bath, so simple yet so effective. 

35. 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.

36. Youtube 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.

Mum-of-one, Steph tells us; "My son loved this dino stomp song on youtube, he followed all the moves perfectly. It was an easy and fun way to while away a half hour until bedtime."

37. 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.

38. 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 to enjoy.

39. Breakfast buffet

Young kids love role play, so set up all the breakfast items on the table. Call your child 'sir/madam' welcome them to your buffet and invite them to help themselves. 

To set your child up for success, only put out - in bowls - how much you want them to use. So like, a bowl for cereal, bowl with yoghurt in, jug with milk in, and set out a collection of different spoons. They will love the autonomy. And any spills, invite them to clean up with you - we all spill sometimes. 

40. Puddle hunting

A toddler jumping in puddles

Credit: Getty

If it’s been raining, pull on your wellies and rain-macs. Then head out for some serious puddle fun.

41. Egg box fun

A photo posted by on

There's about 10 things you can make with egg boxes. 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.

42. Play dress 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.

43. Play schools

A close-up of a child's homework

Credit: Getty

Play pretend schools is a great way to start modelling how nursery or school might look or feel. You can take it in turns as the teacher and conduct a lesson in front of teddies and toys. Worksheet Fun 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.

43. Get the tuff tray out

There's so much that can be done with a tuff tray

44. 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.

45. Take a trip to the pet store

A close up of a hamster in a cage

Credit: Getty

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.

46. Mini beast hunt

A photo posted by on

Kids love bugs and all the fascinating facts 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.

47. Lift off

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WictAtBIU84

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.

48. 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...

For more ways to keep kids engaged take a look at these 72 activities to entertain kids and if its a wet day, these 40 amazing ideas for rainy days. Oh, and if it's party activities you're after check out our 22 kids' party games.

Things to do with toddlers can vary massively depending on the weather, your mood, and their mood. Sometimes the day looks like snacks, sofa, and shows on repeat, and that's okay. But for days where you have the energy, we've got your back.

Finding new and fun things to do with kids can sometimes be a challenge for parents. Especially when a rain day leaves you at a loss for fun indoor activities with kids or your monthly budget can't quite stretch to a family day out in the Midlands.

Editor's note

Please also know that you don't have to play all the time, you can be kind without always saying yes to the need to play. If you hate playing with your kid, know that this doesn't make you a bad parent and you're not alone in that feeling.

Susie Robbins, founder of Resolve to Play tells us; "[Toddler] Play supports the development of a very young child, typically aged 1-3yrs. The child is beginning to develop physically, gain their own interests and personality. At this stage, learning occurs in leaps and bounds, their brains really are sponges and they show a keenness to learn and do more, independently."

With that in mind, we've found 48 fun and budget-friendly ideas to keep you and your toddler busy. From fun games and kid-friendly exercises to easy craft for kids, we've pulled together a huge number of activities for toddlers that are easy to do and a few you can sit and supervise...

48 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. 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. Find a new park

Add a bit of mystery and 'working as a team' with your toddler with this idea. You can either Google a park near you that you've never been to, or you can live by the seat of your pants and just get in the car/on the bus and go. 

Getting out and about - no matter the weather - is one of the best things to do with toddlers. Time out in the air running, climbing and building will have such a positive impact on their mood and behaviour. Take a ball or a ride-along toy to keep it interesting.

3. Make a mask

A dinosaur mask is one of our fun things to do with toddlers

Credit: Future

Learn how to make a mask 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

4. 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 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.

5. Potato printing fun

Step 1 Cut a large potato in half. Wipe off the moisture on one half with some paper towel, then position a template – we used a skull, you can download and print your own - in the centre or have a go free-hand.

Step 2 Carefully cut, then cut around the sides of the potato and remove the unwanted parts, leaving a raised design, perfect for dipping in paint.

Step 3 Choose paper or fabric and start printing.

6. Baking

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.

7. 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 money for the ticket) before 'driving off' on your magical road-trip adventure. Take inspiration from kids favourite show, Bluey.

8. Face painting

A highlight of any kids party is the fabulous face-painting that takes place. Order your own cheap face-painting kit and try your hand at a flower, butterfly or terrifying tiger.

9. Separation game

MIxed smarties in a bowl

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls, add plastic tweezers to work on the fine motor development. 

10. Hop little bunnies

A fun sing-song game that is fun and will tire them out and you get to sit supervise, or sittervise as we all it, while they do it. Also, if you're little one goes to nursery they may recognise it. 

11. Sing-a-long

Teach your child simple favourite nursery rhymes like the wheels on the bus (with hand actions) or reach for a mainstream popular character, like Cocomelon for them to watch and move-along to - as long as they can see mummy or daddy joining in this can while away about 30 minutes.

12. Play pretend posties

There are two options here and no matter which one you go for you and your child can write on envelopes, stick on pretend stamps and have a whale of a time 'posting' them. 

  • Option one: Nice and easy, simply play characters and post letters through our own letterbox on your door.
  • Option two: Craft a letter box from a cereal box, paint it red. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes. 

13. Play follow the leader

Invite your toddler to copy everything you do, the sillier the better. Once they’ve got the idea, enjoy let them lead you.

  • Jump up and down
  • Pat your tummy
  • Sit down
  • Stand up
  • Walk up the stairs
  • Put your slippers on your head
  • Shout 'Moooooo'
  • Stick your tongue out
  • Pat your bum

14. 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.

15. Balloon Keepy Uppy

Pink balloon with young girl playing with elderly people

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Little ones can spend hours playing with balloons. Blow up a couple in different colours and watch them become engrossed in their balloon play. Our family editor, Stephanie Lowe, tells us; "my son loved play 'eepy up" (keepy uppy) with the balloons. We'd clear space on in the living room with one rule, the balloon can't touch the floor. He played it for at least 40 minutes once."

16. Do some dusting

Kids really love to copy their parents doing chores and being part of the family - they love to help at this stage. And this enthusiasm tends to dip as they age, so make the most of it whilst they’re young.

17. 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, it will help with a smooth(ish) bedtime.

18. Play home videos

Kids love seeing old photos and films of themselves, it makes them feel like they belong and fit somewhere. So, dig out your old home videos - its also great for them seeing other members of the family. It's more fun than watching endless Peppa Pig episodes, we promise 

19. Playdate

Lean on other parents in your community, plan play dates and ask friends over. It's around the age three and up, children tend to play together a bit more. Rather than, children younger than that who tend to play alongside each other. Be ready to help navigate any disagreements between the little humans though and also be warned that sometimes playdates can last. Mum-of-Dionne tells us how one playdate went n for four hours, "I mean this in the nicest possible way but, they just wouldn't leave. Four hours they were at ours, four hours. Now I only ever go round to play dates or meet people at places. I learned my four hour lesson." 

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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...

23. Tape rescue

A photo posted by on

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.

24. Magic printing

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.

25. 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.

26. Hand prints

A close up of a toddler doing hand paint prints

Credit: Getty

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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. Peg the line

Let your tot help with the washing. Explain how to sort the colours from the whites, and then stuff them in the machine together.

30. Storytime

Reading a book together is one of our things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Start your kid’s love of reading off from a young age. Sit down and read a few of their chosen favourites. Interact with the pages, and do funny voices to make it even more fun. Maybe even hand the reigns over and let them 'read' to you. It's amazing ow much kids take in, and will remember certain words from stories theylove and heard a lot of.

31. Go to the library

Another way to encourage kids reading is of course your local library. A never-ending supply of free books on thousands of shelves? It’s a sight that is sure to wow your little one. And signing them up with their own card and encouraging them to use and hand over the card themselves 

32. 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.

33. Pillow fort

A pillow fort is one of out things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Create a den in their bedroom or the living room with pillows and hide away from the world for an hour or so.

34. Lego bath

A daytime bath is fun because it's out of the norm, throw in some LEGO and watch them love the silliness of a daytime LEGO bath, so simple yet so effective. 

35. 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.

36. Youtube 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.

Mum-of-one, Steph tells us; "My son loved this dino stomp song on youtube, he followed all the moves perfectly. It was an easy and fun way to while away a half hour until bedtime."

37. 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.

38. 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 to enjoy.

39. Breakfast buffet

Young kids love role play, so set up all the breakfast items on the table. Call your child 'sir/madam' welcome them to your buffet and invite them to help themselves. 

To set your child up for success, only put out - in bowls - how much you want them to use. So like, a bowl for cereal, bowl with yoghurt in, jug with milk in, and set out a collection of different spoons. They will love the autonomy. And any spills, invite them to clean up with you - we all spill sometimes. 

40. Puddle hunting

A toddler jumping in puddles

Credit: Getty

If it’s been raining, pull on your wellies and rain-macs. Then head out for some serious puddle fun.

41. Egg box fun

A photo posted by on

There's about 10 things you can make with egg boxes. 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.

42. Play dress 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.

43. Play schools

A close-up of a child's homework

Credit: Getty

Play pretend schools is a great way to start modelling how nursery or school might look or feel. You can take it in turns as the teacher and conduct a lesson in front of teddies and toys. Worksheet Fun 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.

43. Get the tuff tray out

There's so much that can be done with a tuff tray

44. 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.

45. Take a trip to the pet store

A close up of a hamster in a cage

Credit: Getty

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.

46. Mini beast hunt

A photo posted by on

Kids love bugs and all the fascinating facts 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.

47. Lift off

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WictAtBIU84

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.

48. Shell craft

This one can double up as a beach adventure if you don't already have a bucket of shells somewhere? Now's your chance to use them and get crafty with shell boxes and necklaces galore...

For more ways to keep kids engaged take a look at these 72 activities to entertain kids and if its a wet day, these 40 amazing ideas for rainy days. Oh, and if it's party activities you're after check out our 22 kids' party games.

Things to do with toddlers can vary massively depending on the weather, your mood, and their mood. Sometimes the day looks like snacks, sofa, and shows on repeat, and that's okay. But for days where you have the energy, we've got your back.

Finding new and fun things to do with kids can sometimes be a challenge for parents. Especially when a rain day leaves you at a loss for fun indoor activities with kids or your monthly budget can't quite stretch to a family day out in the Midlands.

Editor's note

Please also know that you don't have to play all the time, you can be kind without always saying yes to the need to play. If you hate playing with your kid, know that this doesn't make you a bad parent and you're not alone in that feeling.

Susie Robbins, founder of Resolve to Play tells us; "[Toddler] Play supports the development of a very young child, typically aged 1-3yrs. The child is beginning to develop physically, gain their own interests and personality. At this stage, learning occurs in leaps and bounds, their brains really are sponges and they show a keenness to learn and do more, independently."

With that in mind, we've found 48 fun and budget-friendly ideas to keep you and your toddler busy. From fun games and kid-friendly exercises to easy craft for kids, we've pulled together a huge number of activities for toddlers that are easy to do and a few you can sit and supervise...

48 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. 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. Find a new park

Add a bit of mystery and 'working as a team' with your toddler with this idea. You can either Google a park near you that you've never been to, or you can live by the seat of your pants and just get in the car/on the bus and go. 

Getting out and about - no matter the weather - is one of the best things to do with toddlers. Time out in the air running, climbing and building will have such a positive impact on their mood and behaviour. Take a ball or a ride-along toy to keep it interesting.

3. Make a mask

A dinosaur mask is one of our fun things to do with toddlers

Credit: Future

Learn how to make a mask 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

4. 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 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.

5. Potato printing fun

Step 1 Cut a large potato in half. Wipe off the moisture on one half with some paper towel, then position a template – we used a skull, you can download and print your own - in the centre or have a go free-hand.

Step 2 Carefully cut, then cut around the sides of the potato and remove the unwanted parts, leaving a raised design, perfect for dipping in paint.

Step 3 Choose paper or fabric and start printing.

6. Baking

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.

7. 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 money for the ticket) before 'driving off' on your magical road-trip adventure. Take inspiration from kids favourite show, Bluey.

8. Face painting

A highlight of any kids party is the fabulous face-painting that takes place. Order your own cheap face-painting kit and try your hand at a flower, butterfly or terrifying tiger.

9. Separation game

MIxed smarties in a bowl

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls, add plastic tweezers to work on the fine motor development. 

10. Hop little bunnies

A fun sing-song game that is fun and will tire them out and you get to sit supervise, or sittervise as we all it, while they do it. Also, if you're little one goes to nursery they may recognise it. 

11. Sing-a-long

Teach your child simple favourite nursery rhymes like the wheels on the bus (with hand actions) or reach for a mainstream popular character, like Cocomelon for them to watch and move-along to - as long as they can see mummy or daddy joining in this can while away about 30 minutes.

12. Play pretend posties

There are two options here and no matter which one you go for you and your child can write on envelopes, stick on pretend stamps and have a whale of a time 'posting' them. 

  • Option one: Nice and easy, simply play characters and post letters through our own letterbox on your door.
  • Option two: Craft a letter box from a cereal box, paint it red. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes. 

13. Play follow the leader

Invite your toddler to copy everything you do, the sillier the better. Once they’ve got the idea, enjoy let them lead you.

  • Jump up and down
  • Pat your tummy
  • Sit down
  • Stand up
  • Walk up the stairs
  • Put your slippers on your head
  • Shout 'Moooooo'
  • Stick your tongue out
  • Pat your bum

14. 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.

15. Balloon Keepy Uppy

Pink balloon with young girl playing with elderly people

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Little ones can spend hours playing with balloons. Blow up a couple in different colours and watch them become engrossed in their balloon play. Our family editor, Stephanie Lowe, tells us; "my son loved play 'eepy up" (keepy uppy) with the balloons. We'd clear space on in the living room with one rule, the balloon can't touch the floor. He played it for at least 40 minutes once."

16. Do some dusting

Kids really love to copy their parents doing chores and being part of the family - they love to help at this stage. And this enthusiasm tends to dip as they age, so make the most of it whilst they’re young.

17. 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, it will help with a smooth(ish) bedtime.

18. Play home videos

Kids love seeing old photos and films of themselves, it makes them feel like they belong and fit somewhere. So, dig out your old home videos - its also great for them seeing other members of the family. It's more fun than watching endless Peppa Pig episodes, we promise 

19. Playdate

Lean on other parents in your community, plan play dates and ask friends over. It's around the age three and up, children tend to play together a bit more. Rather than, children younger than that who tend to play alongside each other. Be ready to help navigate any disagreements between the little humans though and also be warned that sometimes playdates can last. Mum-of-Dionne tells us how one playdate went n for four hours, "I mean this in the nicest possible way but, they just wouldn't leave. Four hours they were at ours, four hours. Now I only ever go round to play dates or meet people at places. I learned my four hour lesson." 

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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...

23. Tape rescue

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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.

24. Magic printing

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.

25. 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.

26. Hand prints

A close up of a toddler doing hand paint prints

Credit: Getty

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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. Peg the line

Let your tot help with the washing. Explain how to sort the colours from the whites, and then stuff them in the machine together.

30. Storytime

Reading a book together is one of our things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Start your kid’s love of reading off from a young age. Sit down and read a few of their chosen favourites. Interact with the pages, and do funny voices to make it even more fun. Maybe even hand the reigns over and let them 'read' to you. It's amazing ow much kids take in, and will remember certain words from stories theylove and heard a lot of.

31. Go to the library

Another way to encourage kids reading is of course your local library. A never-ending supply of free books on thousands of shelves? It’s a sight that is sure to wow your little one. And signing them up with their own card and encouraging them to use and hand over the card themselves 

32. 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.

33. Pillow fort

A pillow fort is one of out things to do with toddlers

Credit: Getty

Create a den in their bedroom or the living room with pillows and hide away from the world for an hour or so.

34. Lego bath

A daytime bath is fun because it's out of the norm, throw in some LEGO and watch them love the silliness of a daytime LEGO bath, so simple yet so effective. 

35. 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.

36. Youtube 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.

Mum-of-one, Steph tells us; "My son loved this dino stomp song on youtube, he followed all the moves perfectly. It was an easy and fun way to while away a half hour until bedtime."

37. 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.

38. 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 to enjoy.

39. Breakfast buffet

Young kids love role play, so set up all the breakfast items on the table. Call your child 'sir/madam' welcome them to your buffet and invite them to help themselves. 

To set your child up for success, only put out - in bowls - how much you want them to use. So like, a bowl for cereal, bowl with yoghurt in, jug with milk in, and set out a collection of different spoons. They will love the autonomy. And any spills, invite them to clean up with you - we all spill sometimes. 

40. Puddle hunting

A toddler jumping in puddles

Credit: Getty

If it’s been raining, pull on your wellies and rain-macs. Then head out for some serious puddle fun.

41. Egg box fun

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There's about 10 things you can make with egg boxes. 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.

42. Play dress 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.

43. Play schools

A close-up of a child's homework

Credit: Getty

Play pretend schools is a great way to start modelling how nursery or school might look or feel. You can take it in turns as the teacher and conduct a lesson in front of teddies and toys. Worksheet Fun 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.

43. Get the tuff tray out

There's so much that can be done with a tuff tray

44. 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.

45. Take a trip to the pet store