Toddlers love to try new things, but it is often difficult for parents to come up with ideas for activities to entertain them at home and they end up getting stuck in a rut, doing the same old activities with their children on a regular basis. Below are a few ideas to spark your imagination.

1)Make a rain stick

Most people will have wrapping paper in their house at some point and there is an easy and fun craft activity you can do with the empty tube, baking paper, rice and a couple of elastic bands – making a rain stick! An empty kitchen roll can be used to make a mini version.

First of all, let your toddler decorate the tube. This can be done by painting it, sticking things on it or even covering it in old wrapping paper. Next you will need to cut out two circles from the baking paper which are slightly wider than the end of the tube. Fix one of these circles to the end of the tube by securing it with an elastic band.

The next step is to add the ‘rain’. You can use rice, small pasta shapes, little shells or any other objects which could be used to make a satisfying rain sound. Once you have poured a handful of rice (or alternative) into the tube you need to seal the other end with the second baking paper circle and elastic band. The rain stick is finished – to work it tip it slowly backwards and forwards.

2)Pebble pets

For this activity you will need some paint, PVA glue and a pebble – technically this activity is not free as you will need to buy the paint, but I have included this activity in the article as most homes with young children already have poster paint and it is cheap.

The pebble needs to be fairly large and round. The simplest design is a ladybird, but your toddler can paint whatever takes their imagination. Mix a little PVA glue with red poster paint and completely cover the pebble. This will then need to be left for a couple of hours. Once it is completely dry your child can use black poster paint to add spots and a face. If your toddler is young or impatient you may wish to paint the initial layer without them and then give them it to decorate, so they are not frustrated while waiting for it to dry.

Instead of black poster paint you could instead use a black marker pen, if you have one, and googly eyes can add a fun touch.

3)Play dough

This can be made for free using ingredients found in most homes. Combine 1 cup of plain flour with half a cup of salt and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar in a saucepan. Mix it together over a low heat while gradually adding 1 cup of water. Remove from the heat once it has combined into a sticky ball. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours before allowing your toddler to play with it.


4)Blowing bubbles

Toddlers love bubbles and this activity is good for them too. In learning to hold the bubble wand correctly and blow bubbles they are learning about coordination and following simple instructions. It can also be a good physical activity if you blow the bubbles while your child jumps around trying to pop them.

You don’t need to go out and purchase bubble solution and a wand as they are very easy to make using items found around the home. Bubble solution can be made by mixing one cup of water with 4 tablespoons of washing up liquid (liquid detergent). Glycerine (2 tablespoons) can be added to make longer lasting bubbles but it is not a necessity. A simple bubble wand can be constructed by cutting the centre out of a plastic pot lid and attaching it to a straw with tape.

5)Treasure box

Putting together a treasure box doesn’t take long and need not cost you a penny. It is great for imaginative play, as I’m sure many parents have noticed that their child is often more interested in playing with every day household objects than their toys.

You will need a box or bag to store the objects in, for example a shoe box or empty and washed ice cream tub. Look for objects around the home which are child safe and which you do not mind your toddler playing with. Ideas include an unused make-up brush, a whisk, a wooden spoon, an empty toilet roll, unwanted jewellery and old mobile phone (battery taken out).You can also look outside for inspiration such as pine cones and feathers. Simple objects can keep a toddler entertained for many happy hours!

There are many sites devoted to toddler activities and these can be used to inspire you. Once you start trying new things with your toddler you will find that ideas for further activities start flowing much more easily.

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