As a parent, you may find yourself struggling to strike a balance between keeping your toddler entertained and minimizing their screen time. With the increasing amount of screen time children are exposed to, it’s important to incorporate screen-free activities that engage their minds and bodies.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of 10 creative and educational activities that are perfect for keeping your toddler entertained and learning, without any screens.
From sensory bins to nature walks, arts and crafts to cooking together, you’ll learn how to help your little one develop crucial skills while having fun. Say goodbye to endless screen time and hello to hours of entertainment with your toddler!
Sensory bins play can be an invaluable tool for engaged learning and invaluable playtime for toddlers. Whether you fill it with soil and pebbles, green and blue rice, dried beans, or even sponges, sensory bins invite touch, testing, and exploring as toddlers learn about their senses and the world around them.
You’ll be astounded by the ways that your toddler will interact with and explore the different textures in your sensory bin. Sensory bins also unlock creativity and new physical abilities as toddlers become more adept at using their fingers, arms, and legs. Plus, they can be a great source of bonding time as you can join them in their adventure to explore the different materials in the bin.
You can find some sensory bins ideas here.
Another way to engage your toddler in screen-free activities is through make-believe play. This type of play allows your child to explore different roles and scenarios, learn problem-solving skills, and develop empathy for others. It also encourages creativity and imagination, which are essential for child development. Whether they’re pretending to be a doctor, firefighter, or chef, your child can have fun while learning important social and emotional skills.
Make-believe play can also give you a chance to bond with your child and participate in their imaginative world. Set up a pretend grocery store or a dress-up box and let your child’s creativity take the lead. You may be surprised at the scenarios they come up with!
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are a great way for your toddler to explore and express their creativity. Whether they are painting, coloring, or gluing things together, these activities can also help improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, they can be a fun way for you to bond with your child and make some memories.
One simple craft idea is to create a collage using items from around the house. Gather up old magazines, newspapers, and other materials and let your child cut out shapes and pictures to glue onto a piece of paper. You can also try making homemade playdough or slime together, which can be a sensory experience for your child.
After your child has had their fill of arts and crafts, take them outside for a nature walk. Not only can this be a calming and relaxing experience, but it also provides an opportunity for your child to learn about the natural world around them.
After completing a craft or sensory activity indoors, it’s always good to get some fresh air and take a walk outside. Nature walks are a great way to entertain your toddler while also allowing them to learn about the world around them. Encourage them to explore their surroundings by pointing out different plants and animals they may see. You can also collect items along the way, such as leaves or rocks, to use in future art projects or sensory play.
Nature walks can be a calming and peaceful experience for both you and your child. It’s a great way to unwind and connect with nature, even if it’s just in your own backyard. So, when you’re looking for ways to keep your toddler entertained and learning, don’t forget about the simple pleasure of a nature walk.
We love going to the park to see lakes, geese, ducks and all the things you can imagine. The twins love pointing at birds or hearing the birds sing! Its a really fun way to spend time together and definitely my top favorite screen free activity to do with my twins.
Music is a universal language that everyone can enjoy, including your toddler. It is an excellent activity that can ignite your little one’s creativity and imagination. It is a fun and interactive way for your child to learn about sounds and rhythms while improving their cognitive skills.
You don’t need fancy instruments to have music time with your toddler. Grab some pots and pans, wooden spoons, or even just your hands and make your own rhythm instruments. Encourage your child to experiment with different sounds and rhythms. You can play some fun songs, nursery rhymes, or your child’s favorite tunes and have a little dance party.
Music time is also an excellent opportunity to introduce your toddler to different genres of music. You can explore classical music, jazz, rock, and even international music. Teach your child about the different instruments and sounds they hear in each genre.
As your child gets older, you can introduce them to more complex musical activities, such as learning to play an instrument or singing in a choir. Music can be a lifelong love, and you can start cultivating it in your child from a young age.
Cooking is a great way to bond with your toddler and teach them valuable life skills like following directions, measuring ingredients, and practicing good hygiene. Start with simple recipes like mixing ingredients for cookies or making homemade pizza together. Not only will your child have a blast, but they’ll also learn practical skills that will benefit them for years to come.
Cooking together can also be a fun and creative way to introduce your toddler to new foods and flavors. Encourage your child to help you choose the ingredients and come up with new recipe ideas. Who knows, your little one might just discover a love for cooking that sticks with them for life.
One of my twins loves to help in the kitchen. He is so curious and interested when it comes to cooking.
Coloring and Drawing
After spending some time in the kitchen with your little one, it’s important to shift gears and engage in some quiet, introspective activities. Coloring and drawing are perfect activities for winding down and allowing your child to explore their creative side. Not only is coloring and drawing a fun way to pass the time, but it can also be a valuable learning experience.
For younger toddlers, coloring helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Choose large, simple coloring books with easy-to-color illustrations or print off coloring pages online. Let your child choose their own colors and encourage them to experiment with different combinations.
For older toddlers, drawing is a great way to encourage creativity and self-expression. Provide your child with a blank piece of paper and some crayons, markers, or colored pencils and let their imagination run wild. Encourage them to create a picture of something they saw earlier in the day or something they imagine.
One of my favorite for the twins is this washable finger paint. It makes cleaning up so easy and they really enjoy playing with it.
Building with blocks is a classic activity that’s both fun and educational for your toddler. Playing with blocks helps develop their hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and creativity. It’s also an excellent way to introduce basic concepts like shapes, colors, and spatial awareness.
Start by providing your toddler with a variety of blocks made from different materials and in different shapes and sizes. They can build towers, bridges, houses, and even use their imagination to create something entirely new.
As your child works on their building project, take the opportunity to engage with them. Ask them questions about what they’re building, and encourage them to describe their creation. This helps develop their language skills and strengthens the bond between you and your child.
Building with blocks is an open-ended activity that can keep your toddler entertained for hours. After they’ve finished, be sure to take a photo and display it proudly for all to see.
Our favorite is legos! One of the twins is so creative when it comes to playing with the legos and I am amazed of some of the things his little mind can build.
Some of our favorite Lego Sets are linked here.
Reading to your toddler is an excellent way to keep them entertained while also promoting learning. Not only does reading help develop speech and vocabulary, but it also fosters imagination and creativity. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to bond with your little one.
Choose books that are age-appropriate and engaging, with colorful illustrations and easy-to-follow stories. You can also make it interactive by asking your child questions about the pictures or characters. It’s okay if your toddler gets distracted or wants to flip ahead – the important thing is to make reading time a positive experience.
Indoor Obstacle Course
With the winter months approaching, it’s important to keep our little ones active and engaged indoors. An indoor obstacle course is not only a great way to keep your toddler entertained and learning, but it can also help with their physical development.
You don’t need a lot of space or equipment to create an obstacle course. You can use household items such as pillows, chairs, and blankets to create different challenges. For example, use pillows to create a path for your toddler to crawl over or under. Use chairs to set up a tunnel or an archway to crawl through. Use blankets to create a fort or a tent for your toddler to crawl into.
In addition to physical development, an indoor obstacle course can also help with cognitive and social skills. Encourage your toddler to problem solve by figuring out how to navigate through the challenges. You can also create a cooperative obstacle course where you and your toddler work together to complete the challenges.
An indoor obstacle course can be a fun and creative way to keep your toddler entertained and learning. And the best part is, you can modify the course as your toddler grows and their skills develop. So, let’s get moving and have some fun!
Our favorite way to build indoor obstacles is with this play couch. This couch comes especially useful during the winter months where spending time outdoors is limited.
In today’s screen-dominated world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a parent trying to balance your child’s entertainment and learning with screen time limitations. However, with these 10 screen-free activities, you can keep your toddler engaged, entertained, and learning all at once. Sensory bins, make-believe play, building blocks, and reading time are just a few of the engaging activities that can help your child learn crucial skills.
So, let’s say goodbye to endless screen time and hello to hours of fun and learning with our little ones! Which one will you be trying? Let me know in the comments below!