Ask the Internet: Playtime for Toddlers Edition

by Ginger on April 5, 2011

in Oh Baby!

Alright, you guys know how this works. I ask you all a question and then in the comments you blow me away with your answers.

So today there’s only one question:

What are some of your favorite playtime ideas for toddlers?

Jackson has hit a stage where he’s not really into any of his books. He’s not into any of his toys. He doesn’t color. He’s not quite to imaginative play yet. We let him do his thing a lot of the time, where his thing is…getting the dog to chase him, throwing balls, trying to climb stuff, and (his favorite right now) putting stuff into other stuff. We’ve made him a couple of treasure boxes for him to do his putting into, which he loves.

But I’m looking for other awesome ideas of ways to engage his brain, because all of that up there only takes…30 minutes? Maybe an hour? So I’d love to have a little more in my arsenal to get him going–with or without us. But without, preferably, buying things. So come on moms and dads, hit me with your best toddler engaging play ideas.

[another] Ginger April 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Hmmm… I remember that age.
Does he have any small race cars? Mine love to play with and organize those and put them in boxes and take them out.
Watercolor painting?
Indoor golf? (sorry, you’d have to buy it but there’s a soft nerf version my boys love)
A large empty cardboard box is always fun
Sometimes I’ll pull a stool over to the sink and let him “do dishes” which is really just tupperware and soapy water. Yes, water gets everywhere but he has a blast.
To be honest I’m having trouble remembering what it was like before my boys had each other to play with!

I don’t feel like I was much help. Hopefully better answers come in!

Ginger April 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Ooh, the dishes might be great–he loves playing in water! (we have to fight to keep him out of the dogs water bowl…silly kiddo).

Nina April 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I let mine play in the sink too. HUGE mess, but sometimes it gives me a few minutes to get something else done. Or I let him into the pots and pans cupboard. Another huge mess. But he loves it! Or this one is the best – I pull the couch away from the wall – maybe 1.5 feet – and then he runs around it, or plays behind it, or hides his toys back there, or plays peekaboo.

Ginger April 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm

hmmm, I might be able to do the couch if I rearrange things a little. He does love to run around stuff…

Perpetual Breadcrumbs April 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm

What about a pillow/blanket fort or pit? Something he can safely jump into and crawl over/under/around/through? I don’t know if that’s as engaging as you’re looking for, but it would help him burn off some energy.

Also, a package of those cheap plastic cups are good for stacking, throwing, nesting, or knocking down.

Ginger April 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm

He doesn’t seem to get too into the fort right now, but the pit he might love. He likes jumping and crawling so that might be a good fit.
And I keep meaning to get those cups, they seem like a perfect thing for him…

clara April 5, 2011 at 9:01 pm

OMG I have such amnesia right now. OK OK OK.

I like the pillow fort idea. Or rearranging the furniture can sometimes make the wee ones happy. If you are not opposed to messes, mix cornstarch with water on a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) and make goop. Which is hard when you grab it and then softens when you let it go. Good philosophical lessons! But very messy!

How about playdough? Make your own http://www.naturemoms.com/play-dough-recipes.html I used the cooked flour recipe – advise against the edible ones as then the children get confused.

Ummm..dance party? Got any Beach Boys? Dance!

Dried beans, big plastic bin: sandbox! Might not work with the dog, though. Also, messy.

Bubble baths. Bubble blowing in the bubble bath. If you have a thrift store, you can probably get a bag of cheap toys for a buck or two. When he forgets them, take them back and put them in the donation box.

Come to New Westminster, BC, Canada for a playdate?

Ginger April 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

First chance I get for a playdate, I’m there!

Goop might be fun–he and N.C. could both play with that 🙂 And, duh, brilliant idea of going to a thrift store. I obviously don’t use that part of my brain well…

shasta April 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

I don’t know if your kitchen is off-limits, but if not, maybe you can designate a couple drawers or cabinets as his? Since Mittens figured out the drawer latch, we filled those drawers with bibs, dishtowels, and plastic measuring cups/funnels so that Mittens can play with that stuff. I just put it all back in the drawers at night so she can pull everything out the next day. I actually put all her toys away at night into various baskets/containers so she has to dig through them again to fit toys she wants.

shasta April 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

Oops, that’s *find* toys she wants, not fit.

Ginger April 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

We let him play with the cabinets right now–but I’m wondering if a drawer might be better…

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