These 23 toddler activities will give you a little break without leaving that guilty feeling that comes with just handing them a screen!
Whether you have an 18 month old, a 2 year old, or a preschool age child, there are so many fun activities to discover on this list of toddler activities!
I have been having a heck of a time keeping my little one away from screens recently. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just so exhausted from 17 months of non-stop breastfeeding and night-time wake ups, but whatever it is, I’ve found myself giving in to a tremendous amount of screen time.
Resolving to do better, I started brainstorming for some toddler activities that don’t involve screens so that he can have fun, but I can get some downtime!
I ended up with quite a long list! So here are a few of my favorite idea so far!
Easy Toddler Activities without Screens
Here are 23 simple and fun toddler activities for you to try! Many (if not all) of the supplies are general household items, so you can probably make most of these activities right now!
Contact Paper Activities
Whoever first thought of using contact paper to keep a toddler entertained was a genius! I’m going to go through a roll a week at this rate!
There are many different activities you can do with your toddler and a roll of contact paper, here are a few of our favorites!
1. Family Tree: This was our favorite activity with contact paper! We made a large tree and glued photos of our family members to each leaf. I let our son place the leaves on the tree as he said each person’s name.
It was a great name learning activity since we have a large family! Each person has 3 photos, so we had a lot of chances to say each name.
2. Sticky Wall: This is the easiest contact paper activity ever! Just tape some contact paper to the wall, sticky side out, then gather up all the little child safe items from around your house.
Pom poms, pipe cleaner, tinsel, pieces of colored paper cut into different shapes, and so on… let your child have free-reign to create a masterpiece with all the pieces by sticking them to the contact paper.
3. Story Board: This one takes a little more effort, but you can draw or print the characters from your child’s favorite show or book, then cut them out and let your child create a scene on the contact paper.
An adult can peel the pieces up and move the characters around as the story progresses. Be aware that a child attempting to remove the paper may rip it (and be very sad).
Toddler Activities Using Common Items
Don’t worry about special toys, crafting supplies, or other things… these activities can be made using just what you have on hand!
4. Paper Chains: Have you ever made paper chains? It’s a wonderful old-fashioning activity that can be used to decorate during any holiday!
We’ve made these paper chains in red and pink for Valentine’s Day, in green and yellow for St. Patrick’s Day, and in green and red for Christmas!
Teaching your child to make paper chains helps with patterns and fine motor skills as they choose the correct next color and guide it through the previous circle.
5. Paper Plate Toss: If you keep paper plates on hand, grab a few of them and let your child color them until they get tired. Then turn the colorful plates into a game!
You can do this in a few different ways.
First, you can glue a paper towel tube to a plate for a stand, then cut the center of the colored plates away to create ring toss game.
Second, for an even easier option, just use the plates like Frisbees! This is surprisingly entertaining for kids. Especially if you let them toss the plates inside.
This will likely add an element of excitement since they are probably not allowed to throw things in the house usually!
6. Masking Tape Car Tracks: This is a great toddler activity if you have a little one that loves trains, cars, or trucks!
Just take a roll of masking tape and create two lines that are about 3 inches apart. Take the lines in twists and turns all around the living room, on the floor, up and on the couch, and wherever you are able!
Make the track as large are you can to keep them busy for as long as possible.
Then sit back and relax while they have a blast taking their vehicles all along this new route.
7. Ice Cube Treasure Hunt: Perfect for hot weather, this giant ice cube is dual purpose fun! We would do this in the kitchen or bathtub, but this may be an outside game for you…
First, get a large Tupperware container and fill it about 1/3 of the way with water. Let it freeze, then place a few water-safe small toys, rocks, and other items on top of the ice.
Fill the container up another 1/3 and repeat the process once more until the container is full.
Freeze for at least 8 hours then bust it out when you need a good solid hour of fun!
Give your child a small hammer or even a spoon (that they can wack the ice with) and let them go to town while breaking open the ice to retrieve their prizes!
This works best with a few new toys in the mix so your kids are excited to get their new items!
8. Hands-On “I Spy” Game: Help your child relax with this simple toy. Easy to make and has two “difficulty” levels for kids of all ages!
Just fill a bottle with rice and a few small items or candy. Then let your child shake and tip the bottle to find everything inside!
This is a very quick game to put together and will generally hold their attention for at least 15 minutes. Winning!
9. Cardboard Tube Drop Game: If you have a bunch of toilet paper or paper towel tubs, you can easily make this toddler game!
Just create a series of chutes by taping the tubes together, then taping them to the wall.
From there, give your child a bowl full of pom poms and let them drop them down the various chutes!
Place a bowl under each drop point to keep them from rolling all over the room.
Why not squeeze in a little learning with your play? These simple activities will help learn fundamental skills without even knowing they are learning!
Related: Is you child ready for Kindergarten? Get the free Kindergarten skill checklist!
10. Color Graphing Game: All you need for this activity is a piece of posterboard, some crayons or markers, and a box full of colorful toys!
You can use Legos, Matchbox cars, colored blocks, or like we have, Thomas and Friends trains!
Get the full details of how we play this game here: Color Graphing Early Math Skills Game
11. Edible Slime: A wonderful early science project! Watch as solid gummy bears turn into stretchy, sticky slime! Perfect for younger children who might put the slime in their mouths.
Sensory Bag Activities
There are all sorts of sensory bags you can make, but here are two of our favorite variations!
12. Fall Sensory Bag: This is a pretty simple sensory bag idea, just fill your bag with water and some food coloring, then add some fake fall leaves and a bit of fall glitter.
Easy, seasonal, and super fun!
13. Shaving Cream Sensory Bag: Ready to play in 3 minutes, I bet you have everything you need for this fun and squishy activity! Just place some shaving cream and food coloring into the bag and tape the edges well (read why here).
Let your child squish and squeeze the bag until the food coloring is all mixed in and the shaving cream is uniform! Easy and fun!
14. Magnetic Polka Dots Sensory Bag: This is a fabulous early science activity for toddlers! Place colorful magnets in the bag and then give your child a magnet wand to move the pieces around!
A few notes about this project: I would double bag this to avoid the bag breaking with the friction of moving the magnets around. Even still, you might place this bag on a baking sheet, just in case!
Second, be sure to get a magnet wand, don’t give your toddler a small magnet piece to chase the other magnets. This is a safety issue to avoid them swallowing a magnet!
Even More Fun Toddler Activities
Looking for even more activities for your toddler or 2 year old? Here are some additional activities that are perfect for toddlers or preschool ages kids!