You’ve played with the Legos. You’ve banged on the pots and pans. You’ve been to the playground. And now you are fresh out of ideas. Here, seven easy, brain-stimulating activities to do with your toddler, using stuff you probably already have lying around the house.
7 Easy (and Brain-Stimulating) Activities for Toddlers
Of course finger paints are a great way for your toddler to express herself. But if you’ve got a kid who puts everything in her mouth, here’s a nifty alternative: Mix a little food coloring (or natural food pigments) into small bowls of yogurt and let her “paint” (and eat) away. Use Greek yogurt for some extra protein.
Plastic Cup Bowling
Got a kid who loves throwing things? Put that energy to good use by grabbing some plastic cups and ball-pit balls and setting up a mini “bowling alley” in your hallway.
Cardboard Box Castles
Who needs a Barbie dream house when you’ve got…cardboard? Teach your little one how to follow instruction by creating a cardboard castle (or house or garage or grocery store) together. Decorate it with glitter and drawings, and put all the stuffed animals to bed inside it.
Make Your Own Water Table
Fill up a kiddy pool or the bathtub with a few inches of water, then toss in cups, water bottles, squirt bottles, straws and colanders for your child to play with. This sensory explosion will teach them about cause and effect and will keep the mess contained.
We all know toddlers love sorting, but a basic grouping activity can be even better for getting them to hone their math and organizational skills. Find colorful and disparate shaped objects in your home (buttons, paperclips, cotton balls) and put them in a box. Have your child sort them into similar groups while teaching them counting, colors and shapes.
RELATED: 8 Ways to Get Your Kids to Actually Do Their Chores
If you’ve ever accidentally left your handbag on the coffee table unattended, then you know how easy it is for your toddler to open it up and start eating all your lipstick. Offer up a sanctioned activity by filling an empty bag you’ve got lying around with kid-friendly versions of everything in your real purse—we’re talking old punch cards from the salad place and expired AAA cards you’ve been meaning to throw out. Add in some keys and a scarf, and he’ll stay occupied long enough for you to hide the stuff you don’t want him to play with.
Write A Story
Everyday interactions with your child can have a huge impact on their emotional development. The more you talk, play and emote with them, the better. Find out the depths of their creativity by writing a personalized story. Ask them for character names, locations and situations and write it all down to read back to them before nap time. It’s like a toddler version of Mad Libs!