The activities below are the Top 10 Developmental Activities for toddlers aged 2-3.5 at home! The skills that match each activity are based off of the Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) Toddler program implemented in many Ontario Day Cares.
Make sure to check out all of the original links for great resources and more adaptations to fit your lifestyle!
- Activity: Shape Sort
How-To: Use tape to create basic shapes on the ground and have your child round up items in the house that match the shapes. Then, have your kiddo sort through the items and place them inside the corresponding shapes! For example, tape a square, rectangle and circle on the ground and suggest to your kiddo that the post-it notes match the square, the television remote matches the rectangle and the cup matches the circle!
Skill Development: Cognitive – Sorting: In developing cognitive sorting skills, children learn to differentiate between objects based on an array of qualities. In this activity, children learn to discriminate like and unlike objects based on their shapes.
2. Activity: Stringing Cheerios
How-To: Grab a piece of string (or a pipe cleaner if you have it handy, they’re a little sturdier for tiny human hands) and a couple of cheerios or other bead-like cereal! Have your kiddo feed the string (or pipe cleaner) through the cereal and continue this until you have a chain!
Skill Development: Physical – Fine Motor Coordination: In developing fine motor coordination, children are learning to manipulate small objects and transfer them through various states! They learn about size, shape, weight and other factors of small objects.
3. Activity: Colour Match
How-To: Place coloured construction paper on a surface; about four different colours if you can. Then, have your kiddo roam around the house to find objects that match the colours of the paper! Have them place each object onto the corresponding colour. With the younger kiddos, bring out Lego pieces, play dough or toy cars that have distinct colours! Once they get the hang of that, expand onto more generalized household items like napkins, coasters and cups!
Skill Development: Cognitive – Sorting: In developing cognitive sorting skills, children learn to differentiate between objects based on an array of qualities. In this activity, children are learning to discriminate objects based on their colours and match them to the colour represented through the paper.
4. Activity: Letter Hunt
How-To: Tape pieces of paper with letters around an area in your home. You can run this activity one of two ways. One; you can tell your kiddo to find a letter somewhere in the house, when they find it, they can bring it back to you! Two; you can have your kiddo go out and find any letter they can, when they find a letter, they bring it back and tell you which letter it is! (For extra fun, you can try using both upper and lowercase letters. However, start with uppercase letters first as most children have an easier time identifying.)
Skill Development: Spatial Problem Solving: In searching for something, children begin to better understand their environment and spatial awareness, allowing for a stronger understanding of depth. Visual Exploration: In searching for an object, children also begin to develop focus and patience. They are encouraged to surpass the desire for immediate gratification and challenge themselves to continue extend their focus beyond the right now.
5. Activity: Scissor Skills
How-To: Take a piece of paper and, using a solid black marker, draw thick lines in different directions! You can draw different shapes, designs and patterns too! Have your kiddo cut along the lines using safety scissors. As your kiddo gets a little more advanced, begin to draw more complicated lines like zigzags and swirls!
Skill Development: Fine motor – Coordination: In this activity, children are harnessing their ability to manipulate small objects and regulate their fine motor skills. Cognitive – Cause and Effect: Children are repeating actions to produce outcomes, in this, they are learning that some actions cause predicted outcomes whereas others produce random outcomes.
More information: https://www.pre-kpages.com/teach-scissor-cutting-skills/
6. Activity: Name and Hop
How-To: Start by drawing a few shapes on the floor in tape or outside on the sidewalk with chalk. These shapes should be basic to start but gradually get more complicated. Have your kiddo hop into each shape and, as they land, name what shape they landed on! For an extra challenge, call out the names of the shapes beforehand and have your kiddo hop into the corresponding shape!
Skill Development: Physical – Jumping: Encouraging children to jump and play allows for environmental exploration and development of gross motor skills. Cognitive – Representation: When children can make association between word and imagery, they are beginning to develop their cognitive skills that allow for representation and word association.
More information: https://creativefamilyfun.net/go-outside-shape-hopscotc/
7. Activity: Emotion Stones
How-To: Take a couple of stones that (varying in sizes) and, with the help of your kiddo, paint on different emotive facial features! Try out eyes, noses, different smiles and frowns. Make sure that each stone is a different feature (you’re not painting entire faces on each stone; rather, the stones make up a face when put together). Then, have your kiddo take a few of the stones and make different facial expressions. Ask them to describe the face they created and what kind of feelings it represents! For an extra challenge, ask them to create a face that matches how they’re feeling!
Skill Development: Emotional – Expression of Feelings: In their emotional development, children are learning to identify and regulate their emotions. This skill transfers into their ability to vocalize their emotions, allowing for further self-regulation and communication later on.
More information: https://whereimaginationgrows.com/emotions-story-stones-for-kids/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=1011899550_46086990_248861
8. Activity: Letter Tracing
How-To: Draw out different letters, in any order, on a piece of paper. For more of a challenge, use both upper and lowercase letters. Then have your kiddo trace over the letters. This can be done with multiple different materials and in many different ways. I would start with a little bit of paint and a cotton swab. Have your kiddo dip the cotton swab in the paint and dab along the lines of the letters. This allows them to get a handle on the shape of the letters and it also gives you the chance to direct their motions in the early stages of writing! When they get a little more advanced, you can begin to use small paintbrushes or even markers!
Skill Development: Fine Motor – Tool Use: In developing their fine motor skills, children are able to manipulate objects in useful ways that serve as the foundation for writing skills. Allowing children to explore different manipulatives and materials gives them the chance to make these skills transferable to different areas of their creativity.
More information: https://thestay-at-home-momsurvivalguide.com/preschool-activities
9. Activity: Ice Cube Art Experiment
How-To: You can use ice and water and a little food colouring in so many ways to keep your little ones entertained! For one, you can mix water and food colouring together and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Then, watch as your kids find ways to create with the colourful water! They might choose to paint along pieces of white paper or melt the ice cubes on a hot driveway! Another more detailed experiment is freezing food coloured ice cubes and, once they’re frozen, sprinkling baking soda over top. Then, using a dropper tool (or straw if you don’t have one), suck up a little vinegar and drop it along each of the ice cubes! Watch as your little ones get so excited at the fizzy masterpiece! Once you’re comfortable, let them try (trust me, they’ll most likely want to give it a shot).
Skill Development: Physical – Senses Exploration: In developing their senses, children are able to use sight, sound, smell, touch, hearing and taste to discriminate between objects based on properties. In science-based cause-and-effect experiments like that above, children are beginning to understand the ways in which materials can change when exposed to different things.
More information: https://www.toddleratplay.com/2018/09/21/fizzingicecubesactivity/
10. Activity: Indoor Gross Motor
How-To: For rainy days, indoor gross motor activities can be an absolute lifesaver! My advice: try taping party streamers or thick string in obstacle course arrangements from wall-to-wall in a hallway (almost like one of those bad spy movies). Have your kiddo try and get from one end to the other without touching any of the barriers! Another great game is pretending the floor is lava or a swamp; if you don’t want your kiddo hoping all over the furniture, try putting cushions or pillows on the floor and see if they can hop along from one end to the other without touching the floor!
Skill Development: Gross Motor – Misc.: activities that harness gross motor development allow for children to strengthen their balance, strength and confidence. When children feel free to fall, tumble and jump in a safe environment, they begin to understand their own abilities and how far they can push themselves, provoking further gross motor development!
More information: https://www.hellowonderful.co/post/easy-indoor-activities-for-kids/
E.L.E.C.T. Skill Development Link: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/ExcerptsFromELECT.pdf