Whether the sun has got his hat on or the rain is pouring down, entertaining a toddler can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Not everyone (us!) has the imagination to come up with engaging activities all the time, so, with a bit of googling, we set about creating a little list of things we could do with our tots.
We came up with the idea of putting all the activities into a jar, blue paper for rainy day activities and yellow for the sunny ones! When you’re feeling stuck for ideas, simply reach for the jar and ask your child to pull out a colour depending on the weather. Our activities are listed below – we picked ones suited to our 1 and 2 year old children.
Sunny Day Activities:
1. Rainbow bubble foam
Simply put 2 tbsp washing up liquid, 1/4 cup water and some drops of food colouring into a mixer (or you could whisk them) and collect the colourful bubbles as they’re created! Pile into a box or bucket and play away (NB remember food colouring stains clothes so this is a good nappy/nuddy activity!)
2. Balloons with water
Who doesn’t love a water balloon? Fill with water, tie up and roll or bounce around the garden until they pop.
3. Toy treasure hunt
Hide toys around the garden – we found trains worked really well – and ask your toddler if they can find them.
4. Moon sand
Create this wonderfully textural “sand” by mixing 4 cups of flour with 1/2 cup of (any) oil. We added glitter for extra sparkles.
5. Nature picture
Go on a hunt round the garden or park and pick up leaves, sticks and flowers. You can then use them to create a beautiful picture when you get home.
6. Coloured ice cubes
mix food colouring with water and freeze. Let your toddler make a painting with the ice or just enjoy the sensation of melting them and mixing them up. Again, remember that food colouring stains clothes!
7. Bug hunt
Get outside and find lots of creepy crawlies to play with. Kids are fascinated by bugs, you’ll just find you say “ooh, don’t squash him!” a lot…
8.Mud pie kitchen
Not one for those who don’t like mess, but a great way for children to explore their love of muck in a more controlled way. Ish. Strip them down to their nappies and give them some compost, containers and water.
9. Teddy bears picnic
If you go down to the woods today…
10. Washing line play
Set up a mini washing line and give your little one some pegs, socks, pants and anything else little enough for them to hang up on the line. Cute.
11. Water tray
Use a large plastic container (preferably without too high a side) and fill it with warm water. Kids will love playing with buckets, cups, balls and so on. Ours spent a lot of time simply emptying the water!
12. Paint with water
Simple yet effective! Give your child a bucket of water, a paint brush and let them paint the pavement. They can paint round their hands and feet too.
13. Frozen toys
This takes a little advance preparation, but is a great sensory experience for kids. Freeze small toys in ice cube trays and let your child pour warm water onto them to defrost. This one isn’t suitable for small tots, due to the choking risk.
Rainy Day Activities:
14. Fruit and Veg stamps
Use up nearly old potatoes by carving shapes into them. Then let your toddler loose with the stamp and paint and use it to create interesting patterns. Other fruit and veggies work well for stamping, such as cauliflower, apple and aubergine.
15. Zip lock bag painting
This mess-free activity is a great way to explore paint without the clearing up. Squeeze paint into a zip lock bag and tape this to a window. Let your child move the paint around and create patterns against the glass. You could even try putting a few colours in one bag and see what happens.
16. Cardboard tube and pom poms
Make a maze of connecting tubes on your wall by attaching cardboard tubes with Washi tape (it doesn’t mark the wall). Toddlers will love feeding pom poms into the top and catching them at the bottom.
17. Baby doll bath times
Give dolly a rub a dub in an old baby bath or big plastic container. This is a great activity, particularly if your child is a bit bath averse! You can snip a small sponge from a new kitchen scrubber and add bubble bath too.
18. Painting with shaving foam
Spray some shaving foam on a tray and use different instruments (or fingers) to draw shapes into it. Once you’ve finished your pictures you can start again by wiping the shaving foam off.
19. Masking tape painting
Before you give your little one the paintbrush, use masking tape to mark off lines, write words or create shapes on your paper. Then once all the painting is done and dry, peel off the masking tape for a cool effect.
20. Make your own crayons
A great way to use up all those broken crayons that might end up in the bin. Place your broken crayons into a silicon baking mould and cook for 10 minutes on 225c (or until they have melted). Once cooked, remove from mould and leave to cool.
21. Play doh
Its a staple, but it still keeps kids occupied for ages, which makes it a winner! Its so easy to make from scratch – check out this great recipe from the imagination tree.
22. Cornstarch, water and colouring
When you add small amounts of water to cornflour, wonderful things happen. It goes all sort of…wet and dry at the same time. Add a blob of food colouring and you’ve got yourself a great sensory activity.
23. Build a den
Who doesn’t love a good den-making session. Pull out as many sheets and blankets as possible and get constructing. It’s a great place for reading, storytelling and cuddling.
24. Make biscuits
Get your toddler to be your little helper in the kitchen while you make some yummy treats (to eat in your den). They can get involved with mixing and adding ingredients in.
25. Colour hunt round the house
Pick a colour, give your child a basket and ask them to find as many small objects as he or she can in that colour. A really great way to get them to learn colours.
26. Play cooking or shops
Pretend play is brilliant for toddlers, they just want to be little adults! Get the pretend food out or even just cereal boxes and let their (and your) imagination take over.
27. Make toilet roll monsters
Use an empty toilet/kitchen roll and your imagination to create monsters to play with. You’ll need a few craft supplies such as pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, feathers and tissue paper for your child to stick on, or simply use colouring pens if you don’t have these things to hand. If your child is old enough you can get creative cutting bits out to stick on.
28. Make a crown
Measure your child’s head. Draw a crown template onto card to the same size. Lay the template flat out and let your child decorate it. You could use glitter, colouring pens, pom poms, stickers, felt or coloured card. Once they’ve finished, sellotape the crown together and let the pretend play commence.
29. Pasta Jewellery
To turn your pasta into rainbow colours you need food colouring, a resealable food bag, and hand sanitiser (with alcohol in). Put the pasta, hand sanitiser (3 squirts) and food colouring (enough to cover the pasta) into the bag and gently massage the colour into the pasta. Leave the pasta in the bag for half an hour then remove and place on a baking tray to dry. You can then use the pasta to thread onto string and make colourful jewellery.
30. Make your own band
Get the saucepans, wooden spoons, tins and anything Little Button can safety bang on, or with, and let the music begin. You can also put rice or pasta into an empty plastic bottle to create a shaker.
What are your favourite sunny and rainy-day activities to do with your toddlers? Please share in the comments… we need all the inspiration we can get!
Laura & Tia x