A list of 14 ideas for fun and easy toddler activities. Stay at home toddler activities that are cheap or free with little or no mess.
Stuck at home and need ideas for toddler activities to entertain your young toddler? I’m a new stay-at-home mom and have been searching for ways to entertain my one-year-old toddler. Here are some of our favorite ways to pass the day by doing structured activities.
Most of these toddler activities are free or require things that you probably already have at home. If you don’t, i’ve shared some links to our favorite toys or activities that you can buy on Amazon.
If you are looking for more ways to entertain your baby or toddler you will love these posts:
- Best Toddler Learning Toys for 2-Year-Olds
- Fun Noodle Sensory Activity for Toddlers
- Toddler Sensory Activities My Kids are Loving
Puzzles can be a great, simple toddler activity. They are great for memory, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
I like to put all the puzzles away during play time and only bring them out as a special activity. My one year old still needs help doing puzzles anyways and this also means he will be excited and actually focus for a few minutes since this is a special toy.
2. Coloring Books
Coloring is a learned skill and its never too young to start practicing! My toddler started coloring around 18 months and its still one of his favorite things to do. I love the mess-free coloring books because they mean no marks on your furniture or walls!
3. Dry Noodle Play
This toddler activity is so easy to do with things you probably already have in your pantry or kitchen!
- Step 1: Fill up a medium-sized bowl with dried un-cooked pasta noodles.
- Step 2: Set up an empty bowl and give your toddler some measuring cups, cooking spoons, or soup spoons for them to transfer the noodles.
- Step 3: Show your toddler how to scoop and transfer the noodles from one bowl to the other and then how to pour the noodles back in the original bowl.
This is great for hand-eye coordination and my toddler always has so much fun playing with kitchen toys.
Cost: FREE (or cheap if you need to buy pasta)
4. Foil Wrapped Toys
- Step 1: Gather some small toys you already have laying around (I chose to use his set of animal figurines).
- Step 2: Next wrap each toy individually in foil. You will want to wrap them pretty tightly and use multiple layers if you have enough foil.
- Step 3: Then hand to your toddler and let them have fun unwrapping each toy. Also great for hand-eye coordination!
Cost: FREE (or cheap if you need to buy foil)
5. Straws in a Bottle
- Step 1: Find an empty water bottle or sports drink bottle.
- Step 2: Take 20-25 plastic straws and place them in the empty bottle.
- Step 3: Your toddler will have fun dumping them out and trying to get them back in through the bottle opening.
A larger bottle opening will make it a little easier, while a smaller one will make it a little more difficult. You may also need to cut the straws in half if they stick out the top.
I store this one in the closet and bring it out every few weeks. My toddler is now able to name each color straw as he puts it in so its also great for practicing colors.
Cost: FREE (or cheap if you need to buy straws)
6. Sticker Book
Stickers are a fun and easy way to practice fine motor skills. My toddler wasn’t able to peel the stickers until he was older than 2, but for younger toddlers its also fun just to hand them the stickers to place and play with.
We love bringing sticker books to restaurants or when traveling in the car or on a plane.
7. Help Empty/Load the Dishwasher
My toddler has loved learning how to help with chores around the house. His favorite thing to help with is definitely the dishwasher!
To unload the dishwasher he is able to take out the silverware and child-safe plates on the bottom rack and bring them over to the cabinet so I can put them away. When loading the dishwasher I hand him the silverware and he is able to put them in the silverware holder.
This does require some patience as he often times runs away some some of the utensils and starts playing with them in the other room. Either way its a safe activity that helps to keep him entertained!
8. Bathtub Paint
If you are too scared to let your young toddler paint at the kitchen table (like me!) consider letting them express their creativity in the bathtub with bathtub paint!
9. Toddler Flash Cards
A fun activity to help your toddler learn to identify, say, and even spell some common words. For an added fun bonus, cut a slit in a coffee can and have your toddler slide each card into the cut out. My toddler absolutely loves this game and can play it for 20-30 minutes!
10. Bath Time Toy Wash
Instead of normal bath toys, try letting your toddler take a bath with some of their favorite waterproof toys. My toddler loves to take a bath with his mega blocks or animal figurines.
We sometimes do this in the middle of the day so it doesn’t have to be during their normal bath time. As an extra bonus, some of his toys get an extra cleaning!
11. Read Books
We read a lot throughout the day, before nap time and before bed. But, I have also learned to have certain books put away that we only bring out as a special activity.
Sometimes I will sit with him during this special activity and ask him certain things about the book (e.g, point to the dog, what is that animal?, etc.) and other times I will sit him at the table and let him go through the books himself.
Some of my toddlers favorite books are:
12. Play Dough
Play-doh can be great for sensory play. Toddlers can squish, squeeze, and smush the play dough between their fingers and in their hands.
Play-doh comes in lots of fun colors so it is also great for learning colors and color resignation. If you get a fun play-doh set it can also include cutters to make different shapes and can help with learning and recognizing shapes.
13. Electronic Book
My toddler loves his electronic book and asks to read it all the time! It can be a great structured activity if I sit with him and help him identify and say different words and objects. There are also options to learn the words in Spanish and French.
14. Vacuum Together
My toddler will easily be entertained for 15-20 minutes while we vacuum together. Its also teaching him real-life skills; he will know what to do once he is old enough to use the real vacuum.
Thanks for stopping by! You might also love these posts for toddlers: