I started writing this post before COVID-19 hit. Being part of the two under two club quickly put me in the category of “Mamas Frantically Searching For Ways to Keep Tiny Humans Occupied.” Certainly, once Q (our second) came along, we had some good rhythms with E. But I really did not want to go crazy with screen time in my efforts to keep E occupied (call me old school, but it is one area I just didn’t, and don’t, want to give in to). So the last 12 months or so truly have been trials and errors of different activities that bring peace, joy, or at least one trip to the bathroom alone. But, like most of us, once quarantine became our reality, I headed back to the internet to find even more things to do or try at home.
I’ve always been a huge fan of independent play. I cannot stress enough how much teaching (yes, I had to teach) the girls to be okay with independent play has saved our home and my sanity. But even though they both now do so well on their own, there are still plenty of hours that need to be filled. Because they’re only 21 months apart, we’ve also now hit that sweet spot where Q really is almost capable of most things E can do (or it’s easy to make an 18-month old version and a 3 year old version).
We’ve done over half of the activities in the following list. The stained glass painting I just learned about (and love it) so we’re going to try it this week during quarantine. I think I’ve finally got a pretty good gauge on what my toddlers are capable of and this really is an “easy, probably have the materials already, don’t make a huge mess, maybe they’ll learn something” list of things to try.
10 At Home Activities to Do With Your Toddler
Fruit Loop Rainbows & Fruit Loop Necklaces: I combined these two together because they use such similar materials. We have made fruit loop necklaces on airplanes many times! If you do go ahead and try the cereal necklace, make sure you tape up the ends of the yarn or string well. This will make sure the fruit loops don’t fall off and that those little fingers are able to thread them on. Also, this one gets extra points for the ability to teach counting, colors, and sorting.
Homemade Drop Box: I saw this months ago while I was searching for things to do for Q and never got to try it. But I love it! We all have so many different wipes and lids – this seems like such an easy activity that uses things already lying around your house. I always love activities that work on those motor skills and milestones we all worry about so much!
Water Mixing: We have done this with E many times and she loves it. It’s been more and more fun as she’s gotten older and wanted to experiment (and learn) more about what happens when you mix colors. I also love this one because it uses things we truly do have laying around (cups, ice cube trays, medicine syringes, water, food coloring.
Sensory Bins: If you haven’t started one of these, you really should. We have used ours to “wash” dirty animals, paint things, to play with colored rice, to play with water beads, to bring the snow inside during the Winter. Measuring cups, water, strainers, toys, sand. The opportunities with these really are endless. With a bit of supervision, this has been a great activity for both of the girls at the same time. If you’re feeling super industrious, you can make your own colored rice. I’ve used this “recipe” in the past.
Stained Glass Painting: Like I mentioned above, we haven’t tried this yet, but we will within the next few days. A friend just did this with her littles and the pictures and end product really were so great. Since we seem to have an endless supply of walls to paint in our house (aka we have two kids and no time for house projects), we have plenty of the painter’s tape you need!
Bread Painting: Sweet. Simple. Easy to see up. And good for so many ages. I appreciate that her “recipe” is okay to eat too.
Cosmic Kids Yoga: Like millions of us, we discovered cosmic kids yoga during quarantine. It has been such a hit. E loves that the yoga is set to movies – truly, I can’t think of a better idea.
ABC Sticky Note Matching: I think I made this one up (probably not true, but I really can’t remember where I got the idea). We’ve done it to learn colors, shapes, numbers, letters. I really don’t see why we can’t keep doing this one for years to come. I set the whole thing up with a posterboard, sticky notes, and a Sharpie. I like mixing the sticky notes up and putting them all over the house so they have to move their bodies as well as use their brains.
Sticker Line Up: If you aren’t following Busytoddler yet, you should be. She is the queen of all kinds of projects to keep your kids busy. This one, much like the ABC Sticky Note Matching, really does utilize what’s in your house already. It’s also so easy to set up and keeps them occupied for a good amount of time.
Dino Dig: I can’t wait to try this one in the summer. I’ve seen quite a few mamas try this – it looks like you really can freeze nearly anything. Toys, flowers, poms, pinecones, etc. I love the idea of freezing different things (plus adding food coloring) to teach texture and shapes too. When you set them up to “dig in,” don’t forget to give them some tools (things to pour water over the ice, toy hammers, etc.). And I do love this dino set for a true prehistoric dig.
What do you think? Any go-to activities y’all love or want to try in your own homes? If there is one thing that has been so sweet in this season of quarantine, it is that so many women and men are sharing their rhythms, routines, and talents with each other. I’ve loved seeing what so many others are doing to stay sane and keep their children occupied – and I also work hard to remember that some of the things that work well for others won’t work in my home. And that’s okay.
Hopefully, at least one of these activities can bring some peace or joy to your home.