Finding unique and creative activities for toddlers at home can sometimes be difficult and challenging. However, it can be done!There are so many fun ways to engage and play with babies and toddlers using only the items you would already have around the house. So maybe you are a grandparents with few to no toys laying around, another caregiver that wasn’t ready to take on the challenge of entertaining little ones, or maybe you’re a parent looking for new toddler activities without having to buy toys… here are some fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
The other aspect of this round-up that I love is that all of the ideas are eco-friendly and not wasteful. Instead of using up resources, these activities are accomplished with non-disposable supplies. So step away from those foam art kits and leave behind all the coffee filters and art supplies that can never be used again. Make household items fun games and WHO KNOWS what your imaginative toddler might come up with on their own!Thanks for visiting the sites of my fellow bloggers and for supporting us by making any purchases through my or their affiliate links!
Activities from the Kitchen
- Our favorite item found in the kitchen is hands-down our set of condiment cups and bowls. We use them for EVERYTHING. We have used them to make finger cymbals, shakers, sorting cups, stacking cups, and more. We have one ounce, 2.5 ounce, and 5 ounce versions. They make great bowls and cups for my toddler and they are always scattered around the house because she has been playing with them. For more on how we have used them, check out this post on fine motor skills, this one on music development in babies, or this FB thread on the topic.
- My Creative Days used a variety of kitchen utensils to make some beautiful child-led art.
- Play with a colander like Craftulate did for a classic idea that never gets old! Great for fine motor development. Consider using ribbon, shoe laces, or other household items if you don’t have pipe cleaners on hand.
- Though this one is actually used with paper towels, I thought it would still be a great activity with a white wash cloth or kitchen towel. The Outlaw Mom has a fun activity ontie-dye paper towels. This is a wonderful way to explore simple science and art concepts like absorption and color mixing.
- Use whisks with bells to make your own simple maracas and other homemade musical instruments.
- Mother’s Messy Madness has a cute and easy idea to make some salad spinner art. I don’t know what toddler wouldn’t absolutely love to be in on creating a masterpiece like this!
- Living Montessori Now put together a really cute kitchen treasure basket for babies. This is a great idea for the 6-9 month range when they are exploring and you need to cook!
Ideas Outside and Using Things from the Garage
- Inspiration Laboratories has a couple of fun ways to use a flashlight! One is all about exploring color with water and CDs, the other is about exploring and playing with shadows!
- Play Flashlight Seek & Find like this simple and fun game from Toddler Approved.
- For those nice days outside, create a simple bucket and rope contraption like Happy Hooligans for lots of open-ended play.
- Hands On As We Grow has a great idea to make Towel Fort out of beach towels.
- Adventures of Adam shows how a beaded jump rope can make an easy fine motor counting activity.
- We played with a hose, plastic bottle, old bottle caps, kitchen gadgets, and a big tub when in need of some water play but when we didn’t have a kiddie pool or toys to go with it. It turned into a great time playing a classic sink/float preschool science activity. [Please note I used a hole punch on the plastic bottle for bigger holes so it wouldn’t have so much force coming out of the bottle to scare her. As we got used to it, the holes could be made smaller with something like an ice pick].
- Nuts and Bolts can even be fun toys (of course under supervision and of the appropriate size). Picklebums used them for printing and painting and Hands On As We Grow used them as a fine motor activity.
Exploring play with items from the Living Room & Bedrooms
- Use Pillows to build gross motor skills. School Time Snippets crawls and climbs on them, and we use them as lava rocks!
- Don’t have blocks? No problem! Kids Activities Blog has a great idea to stack and build with CD and DVD cases!
- Speaking of DVD cases, Creative Play Central has a great idea to use extra ones to make easy, portable whiteboards.
- Bandannas are great for making a blindfold game or for weaving in laundry baskets.
- Put together a dress-up chest with your craziest clothes and accessories. Gets some simple and fun dress-up ideas from Nurturestore.
- Wallets and hotel cards and fake credit cards can make a great pretend play activity and also works on fine motor skills.
Activities for Toddlers from items in the Bathroom
- Pull out those combs and old make-up brushes for some unique art. Craftulate has a great idea to use combs for painting a fun texture. Teach Me Mommy got creative too, and painted with all different sorts of make-up brushes and tools.
- Create a unique sensory experience with hair rollers. Whether it’s the prickly plastic kind like seen on the Imagination Tree, the squishy wire kind, or the soft spongy ones, they are all sure to make for a fun time!
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What great activities for toddlers at home do you have using non-disposable household items?
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!