Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Hands-on activities that will entertain your toddler and keep your sanity this winter.
#1- Animal Parade
Easy prep with no mess to clean up afterwards! Win win! The simplicity of this activity provides an opportunity for more creative, organic play. My little guy knew what to do immediately after I put the tape down. He quickly lined up all of his little animals all around the tape maze and then moved them into different spots once he was done. Again, super simple.. but it kept him busy for a while!! *Self high five*
Animal Figurines (Any brand works but these are some of our favorite little animals. 82 pieces)
Simply put the tape down in any shape you'd like. You can keep it as simple as straight lines or get creative.
Want to make this a more structured, learning activity? Create different shapes or letters and "quiz" your child.
Can you put all of the small animals inside the circle?
Can you put the sea animals inside the triangle?
Can you put the reptiles inside the square?
#2- Letter Hunt- Bean Sensory Bin
This activity is one my favorites! A great learning opportunity for your kiddo to practice identifying letters AND it's hands-on. I have a sensory bin with just beans put aside that we use for several different activities- it really comes in handy. The possibilities are endless!
Bean sensory bin (just fill a bin, bowl, etc with some dry beans! I mixed black and pinto beans)
Letters (We have a wooden alphabet puzzle, so I use the letters from that. This puzzle is very similar to ours. You can use foam letters, cut some out with construction paper; it doesn't matter!)
I told my son that I hid some letters in his bean bin and we needed to find them. I hid about 5-6 at a time. My son is super competitive so I turned it into a race after he understood the directions. "Ok Eli! We're missing the A. Let's see how fast you can find the A!!" Once he found it, I then had him put the letter back in its proper spot on the alphabet puzzle (2 different opportunities for letter recognition. Win win!) He had a blast! I first introduced this activity about a year ago (February 2020) and he was only 2. We were just in the beginning phases of learning our letters and this activity helped SO MUCH! Teaching the alphabet doesn't have to be boring. Add in some hands-on materials and put a competitive twist to it and I can guarantee your kiddo will have a blast while learning :)
#3- Animal Bath
Ok, so this one might seem a little too simple but it is a huge "mama sanity saver"! Trust me!
Dish soap (I used Dawn, but any brand works. Just as long as there's bubbles:)
Plastic animals (or dinos, insects, etc. Whatever your kiddo has!)
A bowl or some kind of large container
A scrub brush, sponge, etc.
A towel for cleanup
**I normally don't do this..but you may want to have a plastic shower curtain or something of that sort underneath the animal bath so water doesn't get all over your floor. Although, if you're like me, I consider it a good opportunity for my floors to get clean ;)
Just water and soap?? Yep, that's it! Little prep but HOURS of play! My little man would do this all day if I let him. Kids love water. I used a towel as a "drying area" for my son to put the animals he already bathed. I love this independent activity!
#4- Construction Play Sensory Bin
You've probably noticed by now that I LOVE sensory play. We have lots of sensory bins at our house. Sensory play is crucial for young kiddos. Hands-on, and promotes independent and creative play. Another thing.. sensory bins are SO easy and inexpensive to make! Being a SAHM and being a 1 income household, I'm all about inexpensive activities!!
This construction play sensory bin required a little bit more prep than the other bins I've put together, but it was so worth it. I wanted to make the pretend dirt edible, so I went with blending chocolate teddy grahams. You can also use cheerios, chocolate graham crackers or really anything else that would resemble dirt. I just had the teddy grahams in our house at the time.
A bin or container
Construction toys ( Here's a great option if you don't have any at home already)
Crushed up "dirt" (cheerios, graham crackers, etc)
#5- Canvas Name Painting
Oh is this craft so neat!! It turned out SO good and my son was so proud. Plus, it makes as cute decor to hang in their room!
Washable or acrylic paint
Canvas (you can get these at the Dollar Tree. I stock up every few months)
Palette (or plate) for your paint
Paint brush ( This is my favorite set for those little hands)
Simply use the painters tape to spell out your child's name. If your child has a long name, you may want to make the letters smaller or use a larger canvas. Make sure the whole canvas is painted. Once the paint is dry, peel off the tape and WA-LA! A beautiful masterpiece :)
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