Lessons for Toddlers

It took many years, but in time, I learned that the simple things are the things that matter most to a two year-old. Sure, the iPad and expensive toys can distract, but what they crave? Your time.

With four young children, time is what I have the least amount of and yet I know it is precious to each and every one of my girls. This became even more apparent this week when the two year old climbed up to our homeschooling super-desk for an impromptu lesson with me.

It reminded me of the time before I knew what to do with a two year-old. I was a new mother and used every distraction under the sun including fun trips to the aquarium, zoo, children’s museum and children’s play places to keep my toddler happy. It took a visit from my mother-in-law to learn that my toddler was happiest sliding pine straw through the cracks of our deck for an entire hour. She craved quality time, not distractions.

Here are some fun and inexpensive things to do with your toddler:

  1. Shaving Cream

Materials: Shaving cream from the dollar tree, a pan to draw letters, shapes and people in or a bucket to immerse toys in the shaving cream.

This is my least favorite activity because it is such a mess so not surprisingly it is also my girls’ favorite activity to do. That is why I almost always get the babysitter to do this activity with them๐Ÿ˜‚. It’s still quality time- just not with my sanity as the price.

2. Water Beads

I order these water beads from amazon. A little goes a LONG way. Soak them for a few hours and watch them grow! You can store them in Tupperware bins for future use but beware, they will mold after a while! We get spatulas, measuring cups, ice cube trays and sort them by size or color. The girls love the way they feel and bounce and regrow when you add more water.

3. Rice, Pasta & Corn

You can also fill those dollar tree storage bins with rice, corn or pasta. Play with it then put the lid back on to store for another time! We use the same utensils as with the water beads. Since my youngest has multiple food allergies, she is limited to just the pasta but she still has a ball ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Pipe Cleaners and Colanders

This is the simplest activity that has enamored my children for over an hour a time multiple times. Pipe cleaners from the dollar store + a colander = hours of fun. It is wonderful for their fine motor skills and requires little to no supervision from you. Winning!

4. Counting Bears

For the bargain price of $9 you can get yourself a set of counting bears that will entertain your toddler for hours. Elizabeth knows all of her colors and how to count to twenty thanks to these bears! You can get free counting bear mats at this site: This was one of our impromptu lessons this week. She loves the feel of them and loves to sort them. She also makes pyramid towers out of the cups. You can play games like “which cup is in the bear in” as well as create a domino line of bears sorted by color or pattered by color. The possibilities seem endless!

I could go on and on about the time spent with Elizabeth. We spend a LOT of time outside, collecting “cypress balls” from the cypress tree at the end of our street, making “pancakes” out of the rocks in our rock garden, and pushing her baby dolls in their strollers all over our neighborhood. We paint all of the time, read a gazillion books, do puzzles, dress up, play with barbies and play with a TON of play doh but I wanted to at least provide you with a few activities that you could set your toddler up with and leave them be while you teach, wash dishes, or take a break for yourself! I hope this gives you a few ideas :).

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