Hey mommas! I know this time has probably been a mix of emotions and experiences for us all in light of the coronavirus sweeping our globe. Many of us who are parents have found ourselves at home with our toddlers, school aged children, teenagers, and even college students and have been daily trying to figure out our new rhythm with everyone at home.
For me and my tribe of five, I’ve been at home with my 5 year old Elijah, 2 year old Sophia, and 10 month baby girl Hanna. Even while I am grieved over this pandemic, I have also found so much unexpected blessing in this midst of it. Being at home with my kids has given me an opportunity to become more creative and resourceful than ever before in my parenting. To keep my toddlers not fighting, not getting into things they shouldn’t (i.e. drawing on walls, finding my makeup, rearranging their bedroom furniture 😀 ), and off screens has been a challenge but one that has been so fun and worthwhile to meet.
I truly believe we’re all #inthistogether, so ideas that have been the biggest hits at my home before and during this time of quarantine, those shared in my moms group, and those I’ve been learning and researching I compiled here to be a helpful guide you can keep coming back to in this time.
50 Fun, Simple, & Educational Activities for Your Toddlers During Quarantine
- Baking Together. Kids love being in the kitchen with us! My 2 year old, Sophia, has become my ultimate kitchen helper. Anytime I start to cook and she excitedly runs over, grabbing a chair from the dining room to get to counter level with me and waits for me to give her first task whether it be cutting mushrooms with a butter knife for mushroom pot pie or dumping a cup of flour for banana bread muffins. This is the perfect time to make a simple, fun recipe like cookies, pancakes, or banana bread. (It also makes a delicious treat for the entire family that makes staying home even sweeter)
2. Nature Walks and Stroller Walks. Many of us have had to adjust our outside time from playgrounds which have been shut down in most emergency areas. Nature walks and stroller walks have been such a refreshing alternative for me and the kids to get some much needed fresh air. You can make it even more engaging by pointing out what you see, playing “I spy”, or asking them to find a particular item such as pine cones, or leaves.
3. Sensory Bins. With just a large container you already have in your home, some dry goods from your pantry and a few plastic spoons and toys, this can become an activity your little ones can enjoy long enough for mommy to get dinner done or simply sit and take a break. Black Milennial Moms just posted a new video where she created a sensory bin with cooked spaghetti with her son!
4. Water Colors. I had so much fun with this old time art class favorite with my 5 year old and 2 year old and it wasn’t as messy as I thought it would be. Grab some blank paper and put a few sheets down to cover any spills and let them create
5. Fingerpainting. Similar to watercolors, this arts & crafts let them just have fun and be creative. The Dollar Tree carries finger paint packs and canvasses that they can paint and can later become whimsical décor in the kids room or family room later.
6. Sticker activity books. Many stores have these from Costco, Walmart, Target, to the Dollar Tree. At first your little one may need help getting the stickers out but once they get the hang of it they’ll love placing the stickers throughout the books. Many sticker books now have themes and you can choose them based on your child’s greatest interest now (for Elijah and Sophia that would be animals and princesses).
7. Indoor Basketball. For this game, we simply place a basket or bin on the edge of the counter, table, or couch and take a soft ball and take turns trying to make a basket.
8. Playdough. Again, a simple activity that almost every child loves. To prevent it from getting in our carpets (and everywhere), I set my little ones at the dining table and have them play with it and try to create something on a piece of construction paper.
9. Bubbles. Whether you have a bubble machine or a simple bubble wand, you can take it outside and immediately make outdoor time more special.
10. Sidewalk chalk. We’ve been doing this almost everyday to start off our outside time. I’ll have the kids practice letters, or they’ll ask me to draw different animals or shapes and we’ll name them together.
11. Virtual Aquarium Tours. During this time of quarantine, the Georgia aquarium is live streaming many of their tanks such as their jelly fish, sea lions, and more. If your child loves animals like mine do, they’ll love this virtual field trip they can take from home.
12. Virtual PreSchool . Every weekday at 11 am on Facebook Live, Play to Learn Preschool teaches a “Virtual Preschool” lesson that comes with free printables you can print out beforehand to be ready for the lesson with your little one. Every week is a new theme and she comes ready with props, songs, puppets, and more to bring a real classroom experience to your kids.
13. Lighthouse Educational Resource Group. This is an incredible Facebook group I am apart of led by Natalie Burgess, a former UK educator that daily goes live to lead dance, music, and learning activities for children and sends out free activities for children from day care/pre school age all the way to school age. The founder, Natalie, also goes live throughout the week to share words of encouragement with the parents in the group. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, look no further. 🙂
14. Bible Adventure. This is my favorite kid’s show that teaches scriptures and Bible lessons for little ones. My 2 year old has already memorized 2 scriptures just from watching this. I’ll usually play one a day as I’m straightening up and I love that my children actually engage in the worship songs and bible memory verse time.
15. Giving their toys a “Bath”. This is another great sensory activity. You can take a bin, fill it with soapy water and a few plastic toys and let your toddler get their hands wet playing. This is great to set up in the yard, porch, or on the kitchen floor. You can also pull up a chair to the sink and let them play in the water if you’re sink is clear and you’re right there with them.
16. Helping with Yardwork. You may think your toddlers are too small for yard work, but you might be surprised how much they would enjoy helping with some of the outdoor chores of the house. Just this week we had our 2 and 5 year old helping us gather loose pine needles which they loved! It was fun for them and helped us get the pile cleared faster, it was a win-win! Some kid friendly yard project ideas: gathering leaves or pine needles, gathering pine cones for indoor décor, sweeping the stairs or porch.
17. Helping with Laundry. Another chore that children as young as 2 could help out with. For our little ones, I open the dryer and give them one or two clothes from the wash to put in as I put the clean, wet load in to dry. I then put on the right settings and pull one of them up to the machine to press the button to start. Even in small ways, they love being involved (and I get excited when I think about when they get older and they’ll already know how to do laundry 😀 ).
18. Helping with Washing Dishes. Most of us want to keep our house clean, but it can feel difficult when the kids seem to always want our attention. I’ve learned if I can give them another activity or allow them to help it becomes much easier to knock out those daily cleaning tasks like dishes. For dishes, as I load the dishwasher, after I rinse spoons, I’ll let them put it in the utensil tray.
19. Building with blocks. A simple activity I’m sure we all enjoyed as kids Take out the wooden block or bag of mega blocks I think every parent of a toddler has been gifted and create a new world with your toddler of towers and castles! You can also use this as a fun sorting game and ask your little one, Can you find all the red blocks? They’ll love finding it in the mix of colors and bringing it to you.
20. Playing pretend. Imaginitive play is so vital for our children! Playing pretend may seem silly, but children are actually learning through play and it develops their language and social and emotional skills. Let them borrow mommy’s sunglasses or daddy’s hat, pull out their stuffed animals, grab a wooden spoon from the kitchen even, and play pretend.
21. Number hopscotch. For this game, you can line up various numbers on the floor and call out a number to have your child jump to it. The game can go for as long as you like and you can make it into a race with siblings seeing who can jump to the number first.
22. Shape Match. For this game, you cut out 2 sets of 3-5 shapes (2 triangles, 2 squares, 2 circles for instance). 1 set of shapes you can post on the wall, and the second set you give to your child to match it. You can call out a shape and watch or help them place the shape correctly on the same shape.
23. Shape hopscotch. Similar to number hopscotch, you line up a few shapes on the ground and call out a shape and have your little one hop to the shape.
24. Number flashcards. You can make these at home or pick up a pack from the dollar tree and start with numbers 1-5, then move to 1-10, and so on.
25. Letter flashcards. Another great drill activity to do with children as young as 1 year old to school age. You can begin with lowercase letters and begin teaching sounds and move on to the letter names.
26. Shape flashcards. You can purchase these from your local dollar store, or if you’re like many of us trying to stay at home as much as possible, you can make these with paper, index cards, and marker. Just draw one shape on each page/index card (square, rectangle, triangle, circle, oval, etc) and show your child while saying the name. You’ll be amazed after a few minutes each day of learning flashcards how your child will learn their foundational learning skills from these sessions.
27. Tickle fights. Every toddler I’ve met loves tickle fights (with loved ones). I promise you if you’re kids are getting antsy or bored, start a spontaneous tickle fight and watch your home fill with laughter and joy :D.
28. Building a tent or fort. This is such a fun rainy day activity. You remember those living room tents and forts from your childhood? Simply take some sheets you’re not currently using and drape them over the couches or dining chairs facing one another to create a tent. You can put pillows inside and go inside with your kids to read a story, or play a pretend game like castle inside.
29. Racing outside. Even with social distancing, we can still go outside to our front yards or the street outside our homes and create fun for our family. Racing from one spot to another, the tree to the mail box, for instance, is such a fun way to get out and get moving!
30. Toddler Learning Folder. Jady A has become a trusted voice in homeschool education, her Youtube channel has countless simple and effective learning activities for parents homeschooling their little ones. One of her most popular resources has been the toddler learning folder. You can simple print it and laminate it and have a permanent interactive learning binder for your toddler.
31. Animal documentary. I love finding animal documentaries for the kids to watch on Netflix or Disney Plus. Of course like most families, we enjoy a kids movie all together once in awhile, but animal documentaries are a great educational alternative for the times you may need time to tackle something on your to do list, get dinner done, or simply need to sit down for a moment.
32. Dance party. Sophia and Elijah love these! We simply open youtube on the laptop and each child gets to pick their favorite song and we dance together as a family. It’s become our own music and movement time!
33. Story-time. Reading is so essential for our little one’s development. We’ve loved everything from board books, to books that teach self-esteem that have affirmations for children. We spread out storytime throughout the day during lunch time and bedtime, but any time is a great time to dive into a story together.
34. Line up a certain toy. This simple activity is great for a your little one if they like to line up their toys already. You can simply put masking tape along the floor and ask them to line up a particular toy: all of their dinosaurs, their animals, their blocks.
35. Practice tracing a letter. This is great to begin practicing those fine motor skills. You can write a large capitalized letter with dotted lines on a paper and have them trace it with a pencil. With practice before you know it they’ll be writing independently.
36. Sorting activities. Sorting is a great and needed pre math skill for our little ones to learn. You can use whatever you have at home for this. You can take pom poms, coins, different colored blocks, any two small objects and have your child separate the mixed pile into two separate piles.
37. Simon Says/ Mommy Says. This fun game helps teach toddlers that obedience can be fun. Have your children stand in a clear space in your living room or outside and you can call out commands starting with “Simon Says” or even “Mommy says”. For instance “Mommy says, hop on one leg!”. If you don’t say “Mommy/Simon says” before calling the command and they still do it, they’re out! Get ready for lots of laughs and movement with this one! For your older kids, they can take turns being “Simon” for the game.
38. Chores . Our toddlers want to help and are often more capable than we give them credit for. You can start chores with your little ones with small tasks like putting their toys away in a toy basket or bin and eventually making their bed (this clean up song by Anthony Broughton makes clean up that much more fun).
39. Helping wash the car. We may not be able to get our cars washed professionally now, but we can wash our cars at home. Make a family activity and let your little ones try wiping the bumper or car door with a sudsy sponge, they’ll love it!
40. Singing together. Singing lifts the spirits and will make your home feel so much more joyful, carefree, and warm. It may feel uncomfortable or silly at first but try adding nursery songs into the day maybe as you’re preparing lunch for your little one or waking them up after nap time. Some child favorites are The more we get together, the happier we’ll be, The itsy bitsy spider, The Alphabet Song, and This Little Light of Mine.
41. Head, shoulders, knees & toes. This is such a great song to help your toddler learn their body parts in a fun, rhythmic way.
42. Puppet show. You can create your own Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood experience with some DIY puppets at home. You can create your own puppets from a sock or can just use a stuffed animal and can put on a little skit with your kids.
43. Practicing phonics. Learning phonics is an awesome pre-reading skill. You can use this video or use your letter flashcards to practice the letter sounds. After individual letter sounds are mastered, your child can move on to common two letter sounds such as “at”.
44, Facetiming for a ‘virtual playdate’ or facetime a loved one. Almost every evening after the kids have brushed their teeth and put on PJs, we’ve been facetiming my mother to “say goodnight. It’s been a simple, sweet way to stay connected in this time of social distancing.
45. The Vaccuum “Shark” game. This one is.a Smith Kid original 😀 Whenever my husband and I vacuum the kids pretend the carpet is the ocean and the vacuum is a shark coming to get them. Lol we now play along and as we vacuum they try to come close and then run away as we continue.
46. Word matching. For this activity you can write 1-4 words and a sheet of paper of common household objects or toys that you have such as “spoon”, “book”, “car” and you place those objects next to the paper. You first show your child the object and show them the written word on the paper, then give them a chance and ask, can you find the word, “spoon”? At first your child likely will need your help with each one but eventually your little one will begin to remember and recognize the words.
47. Making slime together. You can make slime by mixing a few ingredients you may already have at home: glue (can be regular or glitter), contact lens solution, and baking soda! This is such a fun sensory activity for everyone.
48. Color flashcards. Again, you can make these or purchase them. Starting off with the primary colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) and eventually move to more complex ones such as gray, pink, violet, etc.
49. Puzzles. Another simple activity you can enjoy with your little one. For toddlers, wooden matching puzzles, especially those by Melissa & Doug are always a hit and are a great way to learn animals and letters.
50. Matching Activities. If you have double of anything in your home, you can create a fun and educational matching activity! You can also us
51. Potty Training! This one may surprise you, but this is actually a great time to begin Potty Training your little one during this season of quarantine! For my two year old we began potty training but paused when her little sister was born. Well with no where to go decided to pick it back up again lol. And I’m so glad we did. Within just the first week she had started to use the potty (with accidents). This is our second week and she’s getting more and more used to it. I’m confident by the end of quarantine she’ll be a fully potty trained toddler!
I hope these 50+ ideas help you in this season of quarantine. This won’t last always, but while it is, just know we are in this together! Here I’ve shared some ideas to keep our little ones engaged and learning, but I know there are so many others our there. What have you and your kids been loving to do in this time at home?
I would love to hear from and respond to you!
I’m sending so much love to you and your family during these times!
Always remember, God is (still) writing our stories, Page by Paige.