The Toddler Years Bucket List – All The Most Fun Activities to Do with Toddlers before they’re Big Kids!
Here’s how to spend quality time with your toddler!
My youngest child turned two the week of writing this! In celebration of her birthday, and because I really want to make the best of this time, I created this list of fun activities for 1, 2 and 3 year olds. Sometimes you know you want to spend quality time with your toddler, but don’t really know how. Well, have no fear!
I present the Toddler Years Bucket List!
Having a toddler around is SO busy; I don’t want to spend the toddler years in a blur and miss the best parts of this cute and funny stage – I need this list! Many of these ideas for toddler activities come from when I asked readers about favorite fun activities for 2 year olds this summer. They gave me so many wonderful things to do with toddlers. I had no idea how HAPPY reading the responses would make me!
Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Just use it to get get re-inspired when you’re feeling exhausted by things like night wakings of your 1 year old, potty training your 2 year old, or the constant mess your 3 year old leaves in her wake. The quality time ideas on the list are the some of the most fun activities to do with toddlers. Many are simple toddler activities you can do at home and you don’t have to do them all – though I think you’ll treasure any you do. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I may receive compensation for purchases made through them.
The Toddler Year Must Do List – 50+ great ideas for how to spend quality time with your toddler
“My daughter particularly likes it went I pretend her nose makes different noises like beeping etc. Its so bonding and so fun” ~Mel, mom to a 2 year old
- “I spy” in the car or at the park
- Building towers and knocking them down
- Rolling along toy cars
- Movement Games
- Very Beginner Board Games
- Dress up
- Peek-a-boo, patty cake, hide and seek!
“Hide & seek in the house (which is really silly because it’s just basic hiding beside the bed post or behind the couch).” ~Katherine, mom to an 18 month old
- Pretend to be tigers and chase each other
- Pretend you can’t find their hands when you’re helping them get dressed
“Stomping in muddy puddles; making the most of the weather whatever it is!” ~ Lucy, mom to 3 year old
- Feeding the ducks, or chasing them…(no! don’t chase the ducks!)
- Feed a baby goat
- Fly a kite
- Walking in the rain
- Puddle splashing! Get some galoshes so you can play in the rain!
- Play outside in fresh snow. With the right gear, snow play is a blast.
“The look on my little one’s face every time he was in a toboggan was priceless!” ~Rhonda
- Hop over waves at the beach.
- Look for crabs in the rocks, starfish in the rock pools.
- Plant a spring flower to watch it grow.
- Pick fruit off of trees
- Watch a caterpillar become a butterfly
- Explore the forest, touching everything. (With obvious exceptions for oh, cactus or poison ivy naturally.)
- Play ‘look high/look low’ and see what types of creatures or plants they see.
- Run in the fields.
- Toss leaves
- Collect rocks.
“A daily afternoon pram walk, so we can talk about the gardens we see, trees, the clouds, we count the buses. We just connect, get some fresh air and if I’m lucky they have a nap ;-)” ~Caroline, mom to toddler
- Petting zoos
- A botanical garden
- An open gym day where your child can free play in the foam pit, the trampolines and the mats.
- A Children’s Museum
- Public library toddler reading time, or toddler activity hour
- Cousins, Grandparents, and Friends!
Sensory Play Activities
- Sand castles
- Playing with rice, beans or cornmeal
- Playing with those arts and crafts poms poms
- Anything messy.
- Mud pies, mud holes, mud body paint
- Give a hand or back massage with nice smelling lotion
- WATER! In the sink with containers, in the sprinkler, in a sand and water table.
- Pour and measure – add a drop of food color for fun.
- Squeeze wet sponges.
- Walk the neighborhood with a watering can and water the flowers you see.
- Long baths with their favorite bath toys, and not just for getting clean – enjoy creative bathtime play too.
- Simply getting outside to play
Find more of our favorite sensory activities for toddlers here.
Songs, Rhymes and Stories
- Read books together
- Explore Touch and feel board books
- Sing and dance
- Sing Songs with lots of movement, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, and “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.
- Have spur of the moment dance parties
“My kiddo and her young friends (18 months and 2 year olds) like to wiggle to music while wearing tutu’s.” ~Katherine
- Pretend cooking in a play kitchen
- Real cooking
- Make goop, gak or slime
- Baking cookies or mixing pancakes together
- Bake banana muffins
- Have a Tea Party
- Decorating cookies with lots of sprinkles that go everywhere!
When my daughter was a 3 year old she had 2 of her friends over and we made Valentine’s cookies–the floor was solid pink with sugar and sprinkles afterward! ~The Twisting Kaleidoscope
Arts and Crafts
- Finger painting
- Pudding Paint!
- Painting with brush – these natural paints even smell like fruits for a really fun sensory experience!
- Do A Dot Art Markers
- Sidewalk chalk scribbles
- Stamping – we’ve enjoyed the stamping washable markers from Crayola since they can be used to stamp or draw, and these big letter stamps look neat for beginning letter recognition while enjoying art.
- Make handprint art – tracing, impressions in salt dough and paint handprints
- Blowing and catching bubbles
- Balloons and balls -Balloon baseball!
- Bikes, Trikes and Ride-on toys
- Knobbed Puzzles
- Do “chores” with Mama and Papa
- Push baby strollers, shopping carts or push toys
- Rough and tumble play
- Build “forts” out of boxes or couch cushions!
- Make blanket tents and tunnels
And of course: Hugs, snuggles, kisses, and have lots of playful physical interaction. So many of the most important things to do with toddlers are simple activities that take place in the home as part of day to day life.
“I adopted my boys as 21 and 23 month old boys… they are now 5.5 I would say ANY of the suggestions here, because kids just LOVE to play and experiment, but more important was the fact that I was down on the floor with them, making eye contact, laughing, sharing, and connecting with them.” ~Margaret
This is YOUR list. Thank You. Thank you for all of your beautiful ideas for how to spend quality time with your little one as well as your adorable examples. And thank you for inspiring me and so many other parents to enjoy activities, love and snuggles with our toddlers!
For more EASY and PRE-PLANNED ways to connect check out the Toddler and Preschooler Activity Plans from Hands on As We Grow! These are SOoooo useful. I wish I had them when my kids were littler.
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Sometimes I have those days where I feel like I don’t do enough, but my toddler is 22 months old.
We’ve already done everything that’s on this list! ??
So, seeing that kind of puts it into perspective for me. ? ??
Katie – yes! Hope that gives you a chance to take a breath and give yourself a pat on the back 🙂
Such a good list of activities to do with my two. I have a few more suggestions to add to the list:
Some of them are winter ones
Make up songs
Arts and crafts
Build a den (indoor activity)
Teach them about colors and numbers (educational activity)
Dance with them
Read them a simple story
Head over to a local library (winter only)
Enrol them in some sort of club or class
Have a ball game at a local park with a picnic (summer only)
Take a trip to London
Go swimming at a local pool
Organise a treasure hunt (rainy day activity)
Create music (dull day activity)
Visit your local pub (wet weather activity)
Print out coloring sheets (bad weather activity)
Watch a movie together at a cinema
See a concert out of doors
Most of these activities have worked for my children. You might want to try them out with your kids to see what they think of them.
Thanks for adding more ideas of things to do with toddlers Leah!
I love this list! Thanks for all the ideas!
I love your list it has some very good ideas that we will doing. I do want to point out a few things that parents might not know. Yes petting zoos are more likely to be enjoyed by toddlers and they are great fun. However they do come with some really harmful health risks to children under the age of five. Please check out the recommendations before taking your toddler to a petting zoo. The #1 concerning thing on this list was the trampoline. Please DO NOT take your toddler to a trampoline park. They do advertise “Toddler Time” and we are working to bring awareness of how dangerous they really are especially for children under the age of 6. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 24,318 children ages 2 to 5 suffered trampoline injuries serious enough to land them in the ER in 2014, and 42 % of those incidents included in broken bones. Please understand the risks you might be taking and make educated decisions. Some of us have learned these lessons the very hard way.
Very true… my now grown son walked under a trampoline when he was 3, while teens were jumping on it. There were supervising adults everywhere, but he managed to slip under anyhow. After a helicopter ride to a pediatric hospital and a cat scan, it was determined it just “rattled his cage.” I thank God that he wasn’t hurt severely ?? But I have been leery of trampolines and littles ever since.
Love these ideas! My daughter Lydia is 2! I’m so looking forward to the things we will do this summer. I plan to take her to our town splash pad (free) and get season passes to Darien Lake in order to try Hooks Lagoon. It will be fun to watch her enjoy these things and I can feel like a kid too! Thanks for sharing the great ideas. They are good reminders that we can make even chores fun, because for our little ones it might be something new. It’s all about the attitude we use when we pursue these activities 🙂
Did most if not all with my daughter and now watch her do them with my granddaughter, as I do too. Loved that your suggestions, all revolved around time spent together, not money.
What a great list. And I felt so happy that even though I work full time outside the home I have done so many of these?
Some of my baby boy’s greatest adventures are in our living room. It.s amazing how simple things that we find boring he’s discovering to be so interesting and playful (although i did have to get our glass table out of the living room for safety reasons:) ) but my favorite time with him is at evening, when i read to him Sleep well my baby, he gets this big bright eyes at first listening to me and than he slowly falls into sweet dreams, he’s just the cutest 🙂