If you are the parent of a toddler, you know how busy they are. Running from one thing to the next, getting into things, and making messes. Your toddler wants attention and to be entertained, the rest of your family wants dinner, and you, well, you would just be happy to take a 20-minute shower. It may seem impossible to get dinner made, the bathroom cleaned or take a shower with a toddler, unless they are asleep, but it’s not! Here are some things you can prepare for your toddler to do that will guarantee you at least a few minutes of sanity (and maybe even a shower). Plus, you can make and do these activities with things you already have in your kitchen!
- Fruit Loop Sorting
Materials: muffin tin, fruit loops (or other colorful objects that your child won’t choke on) and colored circles.
Take colored cardstock or paper, and cut one of each color (red, blue, green, yellow, orange & purple) into two circles (a large circle paper punch is easiest) that will fit in the bottom of the muffin tin. Tape each circle in the bottom of your muffin tin. Give your toddler fruit loops on a plate and the muffin tin, and let them sort them by color. You may have to show them how to do it at first, but once they get the hang of it, they will love it. This activity helps with colors and fine motor skills, and your kid can have a yummy snack when they’re done.
- Cereal Jewelry
Materials: fruit loops, cheerios, or any other cereal or snack food with a hole in the middle and yarn. Cut a piece of yarn long enough to fit loosely around your child’s neck (like a necklace). Give them the cereal in a plastic cup or bowl, and show them how to string them onto the yarn. Tie it when they are done. This makes a great snack for a movie, or the car, and helps with those fine motor skills.
- Pudding Paint
Materials: chocolate pudding (already made and ready to go) & plain white cardstock.
This activity is a little messier, so you’ll want your child in their high chair for this one. Take off all their clothes, put the paper on the high chair tray (you may want to tape it down), and put a spoon full of pudding on the paper. Encourage your child to finger-paint with the pudding, and admire their artwork! This activity is a great way to introduce your child to finger-painting, without worrying about them eating the paint. Your kid will need a shower after this, so it’s best as an early morning or evening activity.
- Water Play
Materials: Tupperware, plastic spoons and measuring cups
Set your kid up on the kitchen floor (or anywhere else where there’s a hard floor that will dry easily) and give them some Tupperware with a little water in it. Show them how to use the spoons and measuring cups to mix and pour the water from one container to the other. For extra fun, give them a couple bath toys and add a couple drops of food coloring.
If your toddler is still in the eating everything stage, homemade, non-toxic play-doh is best. You can find plenty of recipes online. Give your toddler one color of play-doh (so they don’t mix all the colors together), some cookie cutters and rolling pins, and let them play, play, play. For little ones, the high chair or booster seat is the best place to play. Rolling and using cookie cutters are great fine motor skills.
- Snow in the Bathtub
If your kid loves playing in the snow, and you don’t, use a sand pail to gather up some snow. Pour it into the bathtub with some toys (sand toys are fun for this), and let your kids play until it melts. Once it melts, your kid will get wet, so you may want to put them in snow clothes, just a diaper, or a swim suit. Add some food coloring for extra fun (don’t worry, it will wash right out of the bathtub). If you live somewhere that doesn’t snow, you can order fake snow online. It’s a powder that you add water to, and it looks and feels like real snow. Bonus; it doesn’t melt!
- Pipe Cleaner Can
Materials: Empty Pringles or Oatmeal can, different colored pipe cleaners, and a drill (or something else sharp enough to poke holes into the lid)
Poke or drill holes in the lid big enough for the pipe cleaners to fit it. Give your kid the pipe cleaners and can, and show them how to put them in. After they get them all done, they will wonder how to get them out. Once they get the hang of it, they will love putting them in and taking them out over and over again. This activity is great for fine motor skills.
- Feed the Monster
Materials: Recycled milk caps, and an empty plastic wipes container
This one is simple. Save all your milk caps, and an empty plastic wipes container. Let your kid practice putting the lids in the container. For added fun, you can put googly eyes and paper teeth on the box so it looks like a monster, and put papers under the caps with different shapes or colors on them, and your toddler can feed the monster the shape or color that you call out.
Next time your toddler is driving you crazy, or you just need a few minutes to cook dinner, take a shower, or just go to the bathroom alone, try some of these tips. The easiest thing is to get all the stuff ready ahead of time, then when you’re in a pinch, you will have them all on hand. That way, you can go seamlessly from one activity to the next when your child gets bored. These activities are great for toddler play dates, too!
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