By Asha

April 27th, 2020
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Right now, I am working from home. It is quite the balancing act trying to get all of my work hours in while also caring for (and entertaining) my children. My four-year-old daughter does a really nice job of playing on her own but my 18-month-old son is a busy boy and needs a lot of encouragement to sit and play. I wanted to share some activities that have worked well to keep my toddler’s attention, so I could get some work done.

Hopefully there will be some new ideas that you are able to try with your toddler. Additionally, all of these activities are easy to set up, use minimal supplies and supplies that you likely already have at home.

#1. Q-Tip Push. Just poke a pencil through the bottom ‘bumps’ on an egg carton and show your little one how to push a q-tip into the holes. It held my little guy’s attention longer than I figured it would!

#2. Painting With Water. I taped the construction paper down on the table so it wouldn’t move. Two paint brushes for him to pick from seemed to make it extra fun. It was also great because he did this activity in the morning and then the paper dried and he did it again in the afternoon. It was perfect because he was right next to me at the table while I was working on my laptop!

#3. Mess-Free Painting. This one required a little more set up than most of the others. I laid down plastic wrap on the hardwood floor in the kitchen, taped it down then put a piece of yardstick down and added some dots of paint (next time I would do a few more dots so he could get more colors to mix). Finally I put another layer of plastic wrap over the top and taped it down well. My son had a blast pushing on the paint with his fingers and also walking across it. My 4-year-old daughter enjoyed this activity too!

#4. Loaf Pan Guitar. Just a few rubber bands wrapped around a loaf pan. Different size rubber bands make different sounds. This didn’t keep him busy for a long period of time at once however he kept coming back to it throughout the day.

#5. Action Figure & Animal Rescue. I used painter’s tape to secure some of our action figures and animals (think Happy Meal Toys) to a heavy sheet pan. If painter’s tape is too easy for your little one you could also use a different kind of tape. If multiple pieces of tape are too hard you could also make it easier by only using one piece of tape.

#6. Ribbon Pull. I had my husband pop some holes in the top of a clean plastic peanut butter jar lid, then I cut ribbons of different lengths and tied a knot on one end, threaded it through the hole and tied a knot on the other end. I then screwed the lid on with all the long ribbon ends in the jar. Little man really enjoyed this activity. After he had them all pulled out he would hand the jar to me and I would take the lid off, pull them back down into the jar and he could start all over again.

#7. Easter Egg Rescue. You could also use other items such as matchbox cars, small balls, Happy Meal Toys, etc. I gave my son a few plastic spoons and a label and this kept him busy quite a while. Sometimes he would reach in with his hands too. It was just a large box with the flaps taped up and painters tape across the top to make it more difficult. If you are not using something that is round and spoons don’t work well you could also try to give your child tongs to do the “rescuing”.

#8. Painting With Water: Cotton Ball & Q-Tips. This is along the lines of activity number one, except this time I gave my son three sheets of construction paper and taped them to the floor. I then gave him a small container of water and a couple cotton balls and q-tips. This activity held his attention for quite a while. He made prints with his fingers on the paper too. Again, he played with this activity in the morning and then again in the afternoon once the papers had dried.

#9. Ice Cube Scoop. Here I threw a bath towel down on the kitchen floor (note he’s on the kitchen floor for all of these because I generally work on my laptop on the kitchen table and I need to be able to work and keep an eye on him) then I placed some warm water in a heavy duty baking dish and a bunch of ice cubes in another dish. I gave my son two plastic spoons and let him scoop the ice cubes back and forth. He was busy with this activity for almost a half hour. It was awesome!

#10. Jello Dig. This was messy, but boy did he have fun! The night before, I made jello and submerged some plastic shapes/cookie cutters in it and popped it in the fridge. In the morning, I set it out on a clean old bath towel and let him dig! This one ended up with a bath, by far our messiest activity, but one of his favorites. He also enjoyed licking the Jello off of the shapes!

#11. Pipe Cleaner Pull. Super simple. I put pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander. You can bend the ends down to make it more difficult for your child to remove to leave them straight for littler ones. This is another activity that he surmised me on the amount of time he spent entertained!

That’s all for today, but keep your eyes peeled for another toddler activity ideas post in future months because I have another six or so weeks of working from home ahead of me and I have more ideas to try!

In the comments please let me know if you tried any of these activities with your little one(s) and how they liked them!

Be Well!



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This post currently has 6 responses.

  • Dana Rodriguez

    You are so creative. These are so easy and sure looks like he had fun!

  • Sandy Pincombe

    What great ideas for toddlers. I have two grandsons who are 2 and 10 months and these ideas would be perfect for them!

  • monique s

    These are great and love that they are simple and low cost too.

  • Sarah L

    Some great looking activities. It’s always interesting which ones hold their attention the longest.

  • Sue E

    I just had to pin this and share on Facebook and Twitter! These are really simple, but at the same time, clever ideas! Toddlers have a short attention span. Plus your little girl doesn’t want to play with her little brother all the time. After all, she has dolls to dress, fix their hair and just play was her toys. Water is really a fun time for most kids and cheap. I would give my kids a plastic spoon and pots and pans & let them go to town on them. I also did the ice cube 🧊 thing. I had to watch so they didn’t choke on them. I am apprehensive about the Q-tip toy. I used to play the Bozo Bucket game with them or they played by themselves. I had a cloth ball and sometimes used my cloth tomato 🍅 pin cushion (with no pins of course) and got a couple of plastic bowls or buckets and watch them try and throw the balls in the containers. Good times/memories! Your little guy is so adorable and what a smile 😍 Thank you for sharing!!

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