With a household of excitable toddlers, there’s no end of internet searching to make sure everyone is entertained and happy throughout the weekends and holidays. It’s a daunting, but exciting prospect for activities that require adult interaction, to imaginative and independent play.
As it turns out, there’s no need to spend a fortune on toys and exhausting days out (although these are great for treats and special occasions). Here’s a selection of easy-to-prepare ideas that will keep your toddlers entertained for hours.
Cardboard boxes (who knew!)
- Filling and emptying activities: the smaller boxes (shoe boxes) become containers for filling and emptying with toys, balls and shoes, strangely.
- Stacking and destroying: piling the multitude of boxes on top of one another became a fabulous challenge, followed by the shrieks of laughter when the boxes are knocked down.
- Peek-a-boo: larger boxes become hiding places (with a little lifting help from grown-ups). Lots of time spent lifting and lowering the lid, shouting peek-a-boo or noises to that effect.
- For older toddlers, extend the play by creating imaginative role play areas; shops and puppet theatres are a keen favourite. The children can help paint and decorate them before playing.
Disposable paper cups, toilet rolls and a bit of imagination
- Drop and roll: cut a ball-sized hole from the side of a toilet roll and glue the base to some flat card. Watch as your younger toddler puts the ball in the top and watches it roll from the side, so they can catch it and start all over again.
- Stacker cups: stack them up and knock them down or cut small slits to help slot the rolls and cups together, and watch older toddlers build a vertical maze of cups and loo rolls.
- Crazy glasses and binoculars: with a little sting and paint, cups and rolls can be transformed into explorers’ binoculars, ready to discover the great outdoors.
- Printing: For the more artistic toddler, use different sized cups, loo rolls and other solid shapes (beakers, plastic bottle tops or bottoms) and create some incredible art work by dipping them in paint (this is great for outdoor play!).
Milk and water bottles, scissors and water
- Without even trying, there’s already a water play opportunity here, whether that’s in the bath, at a sink, with a bucket on the balcony, or in the paddling pool in the garden. Pouring, splashing and moving water through containers is great fun. Puncture holes in the side of the bottles to watch the water cascade out in fantastic patterns.
- Fill, fill, fill: use sand, compost, rice, oats… anything you have lying around. Your toddlers may well get this in their mouths but make sure you have water on hand to rinse it out. Use spoons and other kitchen equipment to empty and refill, mix and match.
- Shake, rattle and roll: dried beans, sequins and even small pebbles make a great sound when they’re locked inside a plastic bottle. Make a shaker and there’s the start of a toddler band. Also, use sticks or spoons to create a drum kit!
These are just a few easy-to-access ideas using everyday household items, that stimulate the senses and the imagination without leaving the house. Get creative!