Parents wear many hats, from chauffeur to chef to entertainment director. Spicing up your repertoire of toddler activities keeps your 2-year-old from creating her own fun, in the form of crayon artwork on the walls or disassembled electronics. The best activities hold an active 2-year-old’s attention and include a learning component, whether it’s learning how the world works or just teaching her how to share.
The idea of setting a toddler loose with anything messy makes some parents cringe, but materials like shaving cream, wet sand and finger paint turn play time into a sensory experience for your little one. Activity ideas include painting with pudding or finger paint, making mud pies, playing with small toys in a tub of shaving cream and splashing around in tubs of water. Moving playtime outdoors means less mess ends up on your floors and may help you relax a little.
You can strip down your toddler so his clothes aren’t ruined and hose him down afterward to remove any goop. If your toddler enjoys water play, turn cleanup into another play session with lots of fun toys in the bathtub.
Put on your creative thinking cap for a pretend play session that will entertain your 2-year-old. Most toddlers love putting on dress-up clothes and creating a whole world based on their imaginations. You don’t need to spend a small fortune on dress-up gear. Grab things from around the house like old hats, costume jewelry, empty food containers and old dishes to use as props for pretend play. Make your own props with recycled materials, like a cardboard shield covered with aluminum foil or a stick with a hardened clay star at the end for a fairy wand.
Whip up a castle or tent by draping a sheet over some chairs. Turn a large cardboard box into a play kitchen. Let your toddler flex her own creative muscles, but play along with her to show her it’s okay to act silly and have a big imagination.
Leaving a 2-year-old child to explore on his own is a recipe for disaster, but exploring together allows you to shape his curiosity and nudge him toward some great learning opportunities. A controlled environment for exploration sets boundaries and keeps your toddler from hurting himself. For example, under your supervision, let him walk around a fenced backyard with a magnifying glass and a bucket to collect treasures. He won’t end up in the middle of the street thanks to the fence and your watchful eyes, but he has some freedom to roam the yard.
Simply slowing down during your everyday activities opens up many exploration opportunities. For example, instead of rushing home on your next errand, walk slowly, breathe in the aromas in the neighborhood, bend down to investigate a clump of seeds and count the different sounds you hear.
Entertaining your 2-year-old child on your own sometimes feels isolating. A playgroup gives your toddler a chance to practice all those social skills she’s developing, like learning to share and take turns. The parents actually get to see other adults and carry on a conversation about something other than the cast of “Sesame Street.” Groups vary in structure but usually meet up at parks and other children’s entertainment hotspots. The added bonus is all that play with her peers is likely to knock your toddler out cold when nap time rolls around.