I need some toddler activity and toy ideas! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll start out by saying I feel like I'm heading down a path right now that I do not want to take- too much tv!

I am exhausted both from pregnancy and because of chronic fatigue. I feel like I am constantly in a fog and have very little energy for entertaining DS.

I feel like there are things to do with him all day that I'm missing out on because of my foggy brain.

What sort of activities/games do your toddlers do? Any favorite toys?

 

DS loves Thomas and has a large collection of tracks and trains, which keeps him occupied a decent amount, but I feel like he's getting a little bored with it.

I'd love to get him in to waldorf a bit, or incorporate more outside activities (he says he wants to go inside the second we go out).

 

Please help me come up with some things he can do, both independently and with me.


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#2 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 05:15 PM
 
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Indoors: play dough, dominoes, building towers with wood and cardboard blocks, building tents with sheets, water play at sink using various spoons/containers/extra set aside for this purpose, Legos, indoor swing, indoor balance bike, chalk in chalkboard wall, Lincoln logs.

Outdoors: sidewalk chalk, pedal bike, tricycle, water hose, slip and slide, sandbox, swing set, play rake/shovel/hoe, clothesline cut into 6-8 foot pieces for twisting and tying, little pool.

Wow, that's a lot. Didn't know my kid did that much stuff independently!

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#3 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 05:59 PM
 
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mud. my kids will play for hours in the mud... sand boxes are a good second. walk around the neighborhood.
 


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#4 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 07:58 PM
 
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Inside jigsaw puzzles are a big hit right now. I have a set of 4 puzzles, 12 piece each on thin plywood (Melissa &Doug I think) of farm animals and DD will often do them multiple times in one sitting. She needed help initially but now has the pig assembled unassisted in a couple of minutes. They keep her engaged, I just need to remind her to clean up after she's done.

Outside, I pack a bag and take her to the nearby park with a wading pool and splash pad and she happily plays there for hours with a little plastic bucket. I can mostly watch from the sidelines and rarely need to intervene. I'm 38.5 weeks with baby #2 so I definitely feel the need to have her engaged without a ton of effort in this heat.
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#5 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 08:32 PM
 
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I take it he's just over 2?  That was a VERY hard period for independent play for us, but I know we had success with playing in the sink with lots of cups and pitchers and stuff.  A water table outside would work great for this, too, or just a basin of water set up on a table if you don't feel like buying a new toy.  We also spent a lot of time at the playground last summer, where watching other kids tended to keep my DD busy.  If your local mall has an indoor play area, it would have the benefit of air conditioning.

 

Otherwise, we had some success with lift-the-flap type books that she could look at by herself, and kid's CD's and stories on CD help to keep her occupied a bit.  If you feel like you've done too much actual TV but are really just not able to do much more, you could try to find some Scholastic Books on DVD, or try the Barnes and Noble online storytime.  Yes, it's still screen time, but it's a little different in my mind than regular shows. 

 

Oh - tic tac toe!  I remember playing it with sidewalk chalk last summer. 

 

Anything new and exciting that isn't actually a toy.  My DD really likes to play with my kitchen scale, flashlights/headlamp, handsoap, string...

 

(sorry for the poorly organized post.  It's really past my bedtime.)

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#6 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 09:03 PM
 
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My almost 2-year-old doesn't do too much independent play yet but she seems to be getting more intersted in her toys and occupies herself a bit more with them.  Some toys & home activities that are somewhat independent: her music instrument (egg shakers, maracas, Little Tikes tap-a-tune piano), toys that play music (a book of songs that has buttons that plays Itsy Bitsy Spider and a few other songs, drawing on construction paper with markers, Little People princesess & the princess castle, play food & her kitchen set.

 

Together we blow bubbles outside & I let her water the plants from a small plastic cup I keep refilling from a large pitcher. 

 

We bake too.  When I notice our day getting off on a bad foot, we bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies to turn the mood around.  I use the mini-chocolate chips & make half a batch, I measure the ingrediants & let my daughter dump them in the bowl, I let her stir with a giant spoon, taste the batter & reserve a few chocolate bit for her to eat while the cookies bake.  They cook in less than 10 minutes so you can taste the cookies before the child has forgotten about them.

 

To get out of the house and get interaction with other kids (and moms) we'll go to storytime at Barnes & Noble and our library, popular local playgrounds, the mall indoor playground & the local childrens museum (we have an annual pass).  I still follow her around the playground to help her out, play with her and keep a close eye on her, but at the other places I can generally sit on the sidelines with other moms while she does her thing.

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#7 of 15 Old 07-16-2013, 09:23 PM
 
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When I was pregnant and had toddlers we played a lot of house and doctor, both games where I could lay around. wink1.gif listening to books on cd was fun too.

Today they had something brilliant at the zoo - buckets of water with different sized paintbrushes in them. My three kids (21 mos, 5, 7) all LOVED this and I decided this is something we need to have at home. They can simply 'paint' rocks, bricks, the sidewalk, etc.
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#8 of 15 Old 07-17-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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It is great that you are looking for alternatives to tv.  I am sorry you are going through a difficult time with fatigue and pregnancy.  My husband and I are becoming experts at finding ways to entertain and tire out our grandchildren , aged 4 and 18 months, without exhausting ourselves!

 

Do persevere with the outdoors as it will do you good as well as your son. Is there a playground nearby? Give him a little spade and find a place he can dig. Start a small garden, in pots if you have no garden. Observe ants and birds, feed birds and ducks. Encourage him to collect different leaves. After rain, puddles are great fun to splash in. Blowing bubbles is a hit too. Teach him to kick a ball to a wall so that it bounces back.

 

Indoors, I find playdough and waterplay in the bath are activities that require least effort when I am tired and can entertain for long periods. Collections of small toys, farm animals and dinosaurs, keep my two occupied for a long time even when they are playing solo. I love hearing them talk as they play and I love that they are learning to entertain themselves with their imaginations.  The little one loves her 'kitchen" and play food too.

 

Sharing books is the best thing you can do together. Also drawing and painting together, finding some way he can help with meal preparation, listening and responding to music ie clapping, singing, dancing, or just keeping the beat. 

 

Best wishes for your new baby.

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#9 of 15 Old 07-19-2013, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sere234 View Post

Indoors: play dough, dominoes, building towers with wood and cardboard blocks, building tents with sheets, water play at sink using various spoons/containers/extra set aside for this purpose, Legos, indoor swing, indoor balance bike, chalk in chalkboard wall, Lincoln logs.

Outdoors: sidewalk chalk, pedal bike, tricycle, water hose, slip and slide, sandbox, swing set, play rake/shovel/hoe, clothesline cut into 6-8 foot pieces for twisting and tying, little pool.

Wow, that's a lot. Didn't know my kid did that much stuff independently!

 

These are perfect, thank you! It sounds like you've got a builder too!


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#10 of 15 Old 07-19-2013, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forestmushroom View Post

mud. my kids will play for hours in the mud... sand boxes are a good second. walk around the neighborhood.
 

I would love if I could get him to play in the dirt/mud, I think he'd have a lot of fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skycheattraffic View Post

Inside jigsaw puzzles are a big hit right now. I have a set of 4 puzzles, 12 piece each on thin plywood (Melissa &Doug I think) of farm animals and DD will often do them multiple times in one sitting. She needed help initially but now has the pig assembled unassisted in a couple of minutes. They keep her engaged, I just need to remind her to clean up after she's done.

Jigsaw puzzles are a great idea! DS outgrew the basic toddler ones (single pieces over matching shape) ages ago, but I forgot to get him some more complex puzzles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

I take it he's just over 2?  That was a VERY hard period for independent play for us, but I know we had success with playing in the sink with lots of cups and pitchers and stuff.  A water table outside would work great for this, too, or just a basin of water set up on a table if you don't feel like buying a new toy. 

I think a lot of the difficulty in playing alone right now if from the excessive television. He seems to need to be entertained more, as opposed to discovering things alone. I do think he would benefit from some water play, but he overturns his water table and tubs outside... the sink might work better for us right now! lol.gif

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Originally Posted by Gracecody View Post

Today they had something brilliant at the zoo - buckets of water with different sized paintbrushes in them. My three kids (21 mos, 5, 7) all LOVED this and I decided this is something we need to have at home. They can simply 'paint' rocks, bricks, the sidewalk, etc.

This sounds great! I'll have to give this a try right away!


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#11 of 15 Old 07-19-2013, 07:55 PM
 
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One of DD's favourites is a bucket of "stuff". In the house I have an old pot that I poured some cheap dried peas into. I give her an old set of measuring cups and she loves scooping, transferring, sticking her hands in it, etc. They don't always stay in the pot but mostly... For outside I've done the same thing with a bucket of water and the measuring cups again, great on warm days. When I garden she likes to do something similar with the gravel rocks in our backyard - she collects them in a little bucket, carries it around, arranges them in another place in some very-important-to-her configuration. I guess these are all takes on the idea of a sensory table.

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#12 of 15 Old 07-23-2013, 03:26 PM
 
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Gracecody, thanks for the painting with water suggestion!  We did that today and my son loved it.  Of course, it was SO hot here that we couldn't bear to be outside for more than half an hour or so, even though I put up a beach umbrella for shade.  You can see how red his face is...but he loved it!

 

 

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#13 of 15 Old 07-24-2013, 02:40 AM
 
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My 2-year-old DD loves to sweep when we're outside with a little broom. She loves to play in the sink in the bathroom when i'm in there. She also loves tossing balls around and playing with stickers. Dolls are also a big hit, she's a stereotypical girl lol.
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#14 of 15 Old 07-24-2013, 01:49 PM
 
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Yay, glad to hear it! It's been hot like that here, too. I loathe being hot when pregnant, suffered through that with two September babies. My kids have painted the whole yard with water at this point and fir whatever reason especially love painting the trees. Hilarious.
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#15 of 15 Old 07-26-2013, 05:38 PM
 
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Mamapigeon- just wanted to chime in to say that all kids are different and some play indepently earlier/ more than others. We do very minimal screen time and my son sounds a lot like yours. My son is about to turn 3 and we have really worked on independent play the past year as he previously wanted someone there by his side EVERY MOMENT. Which can be exhausting. I am also due with #2 in September so I am trying to get him more used to periods of playing alone. It has definitely gotten better as he's gotten older.

A lot of these suggestions are great and things that we do, too. I have found that he is often occupied with "helping" me and doing life skills activities such as sweeping, dusting, washing with a damp sponge, etc. he loves these activities. If you search busy bags online there are some great ideas for creating toddler activities such as stringing beads on pipe cleaners or making a felt board. I have also found that Montessori activities for toddlers can be easy to replicate and good for building independence and concentration such as pouring water from a pitcher into a cup, transferring rice/beans/ pompoms with hands/spoon/ tweezers from one dish to another. These can also be found online.
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