At Home Toddler Activities that Work for Us, and Some that Don’t!


As this long and glorious summer draws to a close I thought I would share some of the activities that I did with Orla, my two and a half year old daughter, who doesn’t nap!

Without the usual schedule of toddler groups running throughout the week I had to be more proactive in how we spend our days. Days out are clearly a must, but even with extended tips to the park, woods and local farms you are still going to have plenty of time to occupy at home. Here are some of the things we got up to and how well they worked for us: 

Painting: Painting is a big hit in our house. We use cheap acrylic paint bottles from Wilkinsons, £1 a bottle and they last ages! My big tip with those is to mix each colour with white paint to make it more pastel. Then when your little one mixes them all together you don’t get a big brown smudge! We also use a cheap palette of water colour paints that are even less mess and are very easy to get out and pack away! 

Creative Painting: When we get bored of painting on paper, we have a couple of other painting activities that work well. We paint in the garden on to tin foil, and use leaves, pinecones, twigs and grass as brushes. That’s great for a sunny day! Other times I pour some blobs of paint on a paper, then cover it in clingfilm. Orla can then push the paint with her fingers and make vibrant patterns. This is a good one for showing how two colours mix together to make new colours. Note: she does always eventually pull the clingfilm off and dives in with her fingers, so this does get messy! 

Washing up Whilst one of us washes up, Orla has a table, a washing up bowl with some soapy water and some plastic cups to wash up too. This kept her occupied for ages and meant that we could get the washing up done without running back and forth to check on her in the other room. The biggest drawback from this is that by the end of the session Orla was soaked, even though she was wearing her messy apron, and the floor was wet too. But a bit of water is easily mopped up and a change of clothes soon solves the problem, so it is a drawback I can live with.

Baking: Scones and biscuits work well with my two year old. Anything that involves rubbing flour and butter together without fingers, stirring with the spoons, pouring chocolate chips into the mix…all good. My toddler is terrified by the sound of the mixer and hasn’t the patience for me to set up lots of ingredients so we stay clear of complicated recipes.

Digging: We don’t have a sand pit but Orla is very happy if you give her a trowel and send her to turn over some soil in a neglected rather empty flower bed…. This probably wouldn’t be a good idea if your flower beds are full and well kept though….so this one is just for lazy gardeners! 

Make a den: A big blanket, some pegs, fairy lights or any light up toy add extra sparkle, the favorite toys and then a tea party in your new house.  

Make a collage: Cut some pictures out of a magazine, pictures of anything. Give the kid a pritt stick and a piece of paper and let them stick the pictures on. I am now in the habit of cutting up magazines or leaflets that come through our door so that I have a stash of pictures ready to go. Also works if you just buy some stickers and let them decorate the back of one of their books.  

Activities that really did not work for us: 

Anything that involves fun with food colouringFood colouring only needs one or two drops to work but my girl likes to grab hold of little bottles when I am not looking and empty them everywhere. Nightmare to clean up and we all had sticky slightly-green hands afterwards! 

Sticking stars on a paper: We tried to do a night time picture with some little silver stars and glue. Orla tipped the tub out on to the carpet and even though it was months ago I am still finding stray stars all over the house.  

Help mummy clean the house: I try to involve her in what I am doing, I offer her cloths and feather dusters but she just says, ‘No Mummy, I just want to watch Fireman Sam”. The one task she will help me with is putting out clothes to dry. She passes me things from the basket to hang up. It’s only a little thing but I am determined to keep on tempting her into housework. She owes me for all those hours I spent picking stars out of the carpet! 


Well that’s my handy guide of toddler friendly and not so friendly at home activities. If you’ve got some good ones, let me know in the comments. 

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