Ok so I totally get it, these kids deserve a chance to enjoy their childhood the way we did - go to the beach, go for play dates, travel, go to park, zoo etc. However given the ongoing pandemic, we’ve been home bound and well isolated the past year. As Miss Shloka turns 2 this year, here’s a bunch of things we try at home to keep her busy and aid her development in the current scenario.
Yes, there are amazing toys out there but you don’t always need to buy stuff for the kids. I’m going to share a few things we do that you could also do without buying specific toys or tools -
- Walk the Line
First, place a line of masking tape on the floor. (If space permits, you can make a tape square instead.) Then, show your child how to carefully walk on the line, heel to toe, like you would on a balance beam. If you can, leave the tape line on the floor so your child can practice walking the line whenever they want.
Balancing on a log, curb, or balance beam are some other fun options. With regular practice, this activity will help your child gain focus, balance, and coordination.
2. Play Musical Instruments
Exploring musical instruments is a ton of fun for little ones! Look for toddler-friendly instruments your child can hit or shake, like a drum, xylophone, bells, or maracas. You can also get creative and make music using household objects, like pots and pans, metal spoons, or even DIY Shakers.
Toddlers need opportunities to climb on a regular basis. Outdoor and indoor climbers are an obvious option. Scaling the furniture can be fun too, if it works for your family. You can also encourage your child to safely practice climbing a step stool and then hold your hand while they jump off. Shloka LOVES her Pikler and it's been a life saver for us through the pandemic.
For a sensory seeker, you can make a DIY “crash mat” in a safe, carpeted room by piling cushions, bean bag chairs, blankets, and other squishy materials to create a pile for your child to jump in and climb on top of.
Dancing helps children learn to coordinate their body movements, navigate through space, and express themselves creatively. Moving around to music is also a lot of fun. So, try dancing to all kinds of music from around the world: Fast and slow, modern and classic, familiar and new. The Party Freeze Song is an amazing number that kids love.
Give your child opportunities to dance freely without any guidelines, and try following instructions while you dance sometimes, too. Dance with scarves, or instruments, or even your little one’s baby doll. Just get moving and have fun!
Pouring is a basic practical life skill that helps children build fine motor control and independence. To set up a simple pouring activity, put a small amount of water (coloured with food dye), uncooked rice, or dried beans in a clear small pitcher. Then, show your child how to carefully pour the pitcher’s contents into a second pitcher. This activity can be repeated as many times as your child wants.
It’s also a good idea to let your toddler practice pouring themselves a glass of water or milk from a small pitcher at mealtimes. Make sure to keep a sponge or cloth on hand nearby, so your child can wipe up any spills. Practice makes progress!
Shloka loves this. game we play while bathing - transferring water out of her tub haha - keeps her busy and me happy too...
6. Scooping & Transferring
This is another foundational practical life skill for toddlers. First, partially fill a small bowl with dried rice, oats, or other grains. Next to it, place another small bowl, leaving it empty. Then, show your child how to use a spoon to scoop the grains from the first bowl and carefully transfer them to the second bowl.
Note that some toddlers aren’t ready for sit-down activities like this yet. That’s totally okay! If your child isn’t interested — they won’t do the activity, or they dump out the materials — hold off for now. You can always try again later when your child is a little older.
Another one of our fave activities is scooping rainbow rice using our sensory tools.
7. Sweeping or Mopping
This is another everyday skill your toddler can work on at home. You can invite your child to help sweep or mop up when there’s a spill to take care of.
Naturally, a child-sized broom and mop are helpful to have on hand to make clean-up easier for your little one.
8. Hot & Cold Sensory Bottles
Exploring temperature is another fun way to refine your child’s senses. For this activity, simply fill one with ice water and another bottle with hot water. The hot water should, of course, still be comfortable for your child to handle. After safely securing the bottles, encourage your little one to touch, shake, and explore the hot and cold sensory bottles while you supervise.
How does each sensory bottle feel? How do they compare - ask your child questions - even if she or. he may not respond they're picking things up...
Playdough is a phenomenal sensory activity. You can easily make your own DIY playdough at home or find high-quality handmade playdough for your little one online. When it’s time to play, your child can explore freely, using their hands to squish and roll the dough. Or you can offer your child additional materials to work with, like playdough tools, fresh herbs, stones, popsicle sticks, and more.
For an even richer sensory experience, try adding different colours and scents to your playdough using child-safe food colouring, spices, or essential oils.
Colouring is one of the simplest art activities you can set up for your toddler. It’s also one of the best. All you need is some plain white paper and a few crayons or coloured pencils or non toxic paints !
This is an easy and versatile art activity for little ones. Ideally, you’ll want to set up a simple collaging tray with a small jar of liquid glue, a paintbrush, and materials (paper scraps, feathers, foam shapes, etc.) Then, give your child a piece of paper and show them how to “paint” with the glue and stick the materials to the paper.
A two-year-old absolutely does not need to know how to write yet. But for some children, sitting down with a crayon and making Dadi or Nani's birthday card, for example, can be a meaningful way to develop pre-writing skills.
To encourage this type of play, give your child open-ended opportunities to work with different types of writing materials.
Here are a few ideas…
- Paper and crayons
- Chunky chalks and slates
- Sand tray (for tracing lines and shapes, not writing letters)
13. Read Stories
Reading with your little one is one of the best things you can do for their language development. So try to make story time a part of your everyday routine – fit it in whenever you can; there are no rules! To help encourage reading throughout the day, store a few high-quality picture books on a low shelf or book basket where your child can easily access them.
Look for short books with engaging illustrations and relatively few words per page. Rhymes and onomatopoeia make for fun reads, too. (Hint: Toddlers love books about other children – just like them – going about their everyday lives.)
Puzzles (and similar toys, like knobbed cylinders and shape sorters) are phenomenal learning materials. They help children build all kinds of skills, from fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills.
15. Sing Songs
Singing is another fun and easy language activity for little ones. And you can do it anywhere! Try classic nursery songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” newer faves like “Baby Shark,” . Here is our playlist just for you.
16. Opening & Closing
- To help your little one strengthen their fine motor skills, try creating an open and close basket. Simply gather a few household objects that open and close: Think a drawstring bag, coin pouch, recycled jar, ring box, and so on.
- Then place them in a basket for your child to explore. Let your child’s abilities and interest guide your selection of materials. To shake things up, you can even hide little toddler-safe treasures inside each container
- Most toddlers are fascinated by keys. If your child is too, you can set up a simple and engaging fine motor activity using an ordinary lock and key. Simply place the lock and corresponding key on a tray for your child to explore. (To keep your little one safe, it’s a good idea to tie a piece of yarn to the key.)
18 Counting Games
Learning to count by rote (“1, 2, 3, 4, 5…”) can wait. But counting games are a great option for little ones. So, try counting while you play movement games: Can you clap 10 times, jump up and down 5 times, and touch your toes 3 times? Sing counting songs, like “5 Little Monkeys,” and act out the actions. Or build a tower together and count how many blocks you used. How can you incorporate simple counting games into your everyday life?
19. Matching Matching is another important math skill for little ones. Luckily, there are tons of fun Montessori-inspired matching activities you can do at home! Like socks, shoes etc
20. Block Play Blocks are amazing and so versatile as learning materials for little ones. By playing with blocks, children develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills, strengthen their hand-eye coordination and motor skills, learn about geometry and other early math skills through hands-on exploration.
There’s no need to force any specific type of block play – simply follow your child’s lead. (Don’t have blocks at home? Classic wooden blocks, natural tree blocks, planks, cubes, and Magnatiles too ! We introduced Mega Blocks, Magna tiles and wooden blocks to Shloka and she just loves them all. Even wooden planks are amazing to start off ! Use good quality ones because they last forever and are safer for your kid.
21. Plant Care
Caring for plants is fun and helps children learn more about the physical characteristics and needs of plants. We get Shloka to water our plants daily. It teaches her empathy and care.
22. Pet Care
We bought Shloka a pet Goldfish, easy to maintain and a great way to talk to your child about caring, food, life.. We call her Fishy...
Simple enough to try these out right ?