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Need activities for 2 year old (mechanical/explorer)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My oldest son just turned 2 and my baby is almost 9 months old. I am finding it very difficult to entertain the 2 year old. He doesn't show much iinterest in any of the (many) toys he has. He seems mostly interested in exploring and manipulating things around the house. Last month he was obsessed with playing in the car; this week he wants to climb on the counters and root around in all of the cabinets. His speech is coming along very slowly, so he isn't able to communicate much to us about different things he might like to do. He might say "car" or "walk", for example, but his language is very limited.

We can go out to the zoo, playground and do other outside things, but we also have plenty of at-home time to fill, especially for the summer. He often seems bored or antsy but doesn't usually initiate any kind of play himself (other than asking me for piggyback rides or to jump on the bed). I have tried so many different activities and as mentioned, he has tons of toys, but he only seems interested in rooting in my purse or kitchen cabinets at the moment, both of which are driving me crazy. I feel like I'm failing him, plus the day can get a little boring and stressful for me.

I would love to find activities that suit his interests (ie - exploring and manipulating things). Does anyone have any good resources (books, websites, etc) or personal experience to share? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
post #2 of 13
My dd will be 3 in Sept. She has been playing with her big sister's lego blocks. We have a big flat lego sheet that she sits and fills and then adds layers, calling it her "robot." She also LOVES cutting paper and will sit and cut paper w/ kiddie scissors for a long time. She also likes to string beads on hemp or pipe cleaners.
post #3 of 13
Maybe set up a water/sand box outside? He can drive trucks, or blocks, or stones or something through the sand, let it go through a colander, etc.

I'm trying to think of more things for our nearly 2 yo dd, also. My other dds are 6 and 8, so they're off playing w friends now and pretty much keep themselves occupied. I just don't know what to do w the baby! I'm subbing for more suggestions!

I've tried getting her to garden with me, but she just wants to run off.
post #4 of 13
My son will be 2 on the 10th of July. His younger brother is nine months old.

It's really hard to keep an explorer sort occupied while taking care of a younger sibling. What works here are blocks, music he can dance to, and a lot of patience. Oh, and a gigantic exercise ball for when things get slow.
post #5 of 13
Maybe take a trip to the hardware store (something I've been meaning to do myself) and pick up some things... different kinds of latches that you can attach to a board for him to play with, pipes that you can cut into pieces for him to connect/build with, etc. My DS really prefers 'real life' things to toys... also ask him to help with chores -- my 16mo likes doing things like washing the mirrored doors, putting dishes in the sink, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, etc. Maybe too you could put together a box of odds & ends for him to root around in -- old jewelry, kitchen items you aren't using, extra office supplies, etc.
post #6 of 13
DS (2yo) likes to play in the dirt outside (we have a small patch he's allowed to dig in), Legos, books, cars and trucks and chores (help water plants, "wash" windows, feed the dog, hang up laundry). Also, try to rotate toys. I pack all his toys in bins and bring a different bin out each week. I always leave his current favs. (car and trucks) out but the other ones I divide them between 3 bins and change them out. He's also been into cooking lately and can do things like pour the oil from the measuring cup into the bowl and stir. Or I'll give him his own bowl and spoon and a few ingredients to mix (note: this can be MESSY :-))
post #7 of 13
Your DS sounds a lot like mine My 2 yr old also doesn't talk much at all. He says uh-oh and thats about it. He is also into exploring. Blocks and cars are huge hits here. He loves playing outside and fencing in our back yard so he can safely play without me being there all the time (I check on him ever 10 minutes or so) was one of the best things we ever did.

Another thing I recently did was go to the thrift store/dollar store and bought a bunch of safe kitchen stuff for DS. He has really got into exploring the kitchen and it was driving me nuts! So, I cleared out a cupboard/drawer and gave him his own kitchen section to use. It has been a huge hit and made me one happy momma!

Lakeshore Learning has all sorts of manipulatives.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for your creative replies. These are all great ideas and I plan to try them all! I was at a friend's house today and she suggested: having toddler wash vegetables for salad, washing windows, painting on outside wall with washable paints, baking.
post #9 of 13
A new activity my toddler and I just add that has been a lot of fun is shadow chasing. He has just recently figured out he has a shadow but doesn't understand that his shadow moves with him. So, late afternoon I strap the ds2 in the ergo and ds1 and I go outside and chase our shadows. He has so much fun and I get some sunshine to help with my vit d. level
post #10 of 13
My 2 yr old and 3 yr old love to dig in the dirt, play with their water table and sometimes I fill the sink with their plastic dishes and let them wash dishes. They also like to build with their legos. Other than that, I am at a loss, too! I have such a hard time finding things to entertain them.
post #11 of 13
Our 2 year old likes: magnets, screwdrivers, flashlights, lego.
post #12 of 13
We cleared out a kitchen cabinet for DD, which she seems to like. She has some cleaning supply type things in there (her own dust pan & brush, a sprayer & rag, etc), and I rotate activities in there, too. Right now she has a little box with her scissors and some paper scraps (she loves cutting paper!), a beading activity (pipe cleaners & wooden beads) and a matching activity ( glued some cut out shapes onto cards, in different patterns, and she selects other cut outs to match them).

Other things that rotate in include sorting activities (e.g., different colored pom-poms that get placed into an egg-holder that have the bottoms colored to indicate which goes where), pouring (small measuring cups/pitchers with rice or beans - though only as much as I'm willing to have her spread everywhere!). I bought a cheap water-proof table cloth, and she is pretty good about putting that out for her activities, so even if she does make a mess, the clean-up generally isn't that bad (and most of the time I can get her to help).

We also have a small tub (a plastic "drink tub" I found at bed bath & beyond) that she just fits in & I can put pretty much anywhere, so she can play in the water while I do things in the kitchen, take it outside while doing yard work, etc. She LOVES "swimming." I will sometimes put a bucket/pot next to her, and then she will use a cup to pour water into it.

Another of her favorite activities is putting away her clothes. I put labels on her drawers (a picture and the word) so she knows what goes where, and just give her one thing at a time (and don't worry about whether it's folded, lol).

For mixing/stirring - DD wanted to stir something, and I wasn't sure what to give her (flour seemed too messy), but I happened to have an expired bag of ground flax seed which was perfect! Still can get messy if she starts wanting to pour it (she mixes it with water), but it's heavy enough that she has to try, KWIM? I wouldn't buy it specifically for that, but if I found some super-cheap nuts, I could probably get the same consistency in the food processor (we still have some of the flax left, so I haven't actually tried it, just an idea). Actually, acorns might work, too, and DD loves going out and hunting for things. Hmm...

Hopefully that will give you some ideas (and looking forward to hearing more about what others do)!
post #13 of 13
Subbing for ideas, too. DS's current favorite "toy" is a plastic spray bottle he stole from my mom's bathroom. He loves to take it apart (right down to unscrewing the nozzle and removing the washer -- choking hazard, I know! But I trust him not to put it in his mouth, and I watch him like a hawk JIC) and put it back together. He's obsessed with doing the same with his straw sippy cups and anything else he can get his hands on, so I'm trying to come up with more ideas for "puzzles" he can play with that are actually real items and not toys.
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