8 Indoor Activities to Entertain Your Toddler

Keeping toddlers amused and occupied at home can be challenging. Kelly shares eight fun and educational ideas to help you transform the time spent inside from boring to brilliant!

Dealing with energetic and curious toddlers indoors is no easy feat. They have seemingly limitless energy, and they love having all of your attention. If you’re looking for indoor activities to keep your little one busy, these ideas are a great place to start:

1. Drawing with Sand

Drawing with sand help to develop fine motor skills, sensory, and creative thinking.

You will need:

  • Craft sand
  • A tray
  • Food colouring or washable paint

Pour sand on to the tray. Sit your toddler in front of the tray and show them how to draw pictures in the sand with their fingers or other tools such as sticks, a wooden spoon handle or a paintbrush to make different marks ready for when they begin to hold writing tools.

Sand is relaxing to touch, and used in sensory activities and play it helps to melt away anxiety. If you want to get creative, add some colour using a couple of drops of food colouring or a small amount of paint for a truly spectacular visual game. Colourful sand art allows children to explore colours and understand what happens when they get mixed.

2. Simon Says

Simon Says is a common game for toddlers and children—an adult will stand at the front, facing the group, and give out instructions, beginning with the phrase “Simon says.” For example, “Simon says jump up and down.” The children must then perform the action as directed.

If the leader of the game gives an instruction without first saying “Simon says” then the children must remain still. If they perform the action anyway, then they’re out.

Simon Says is a favourite among toddlers, and it’s a great tool for developing their listening and motor skills through play, as well as learning to follow simple or more complex instructions. You can play it anywhere there is space for the children to move around freely.

3. Dress-Up

Playing dress-up is a fantastic way to engage a child’s imagination and keep them entertained on a rainy day. You don’t even need fancy or expensive costumes, just drag out whatever old clothes you have in the back of your cupboard and encourage them to get creative. For example old handbags, purses, lengths of material or an old scarf. The children can choose how they use the items, an old scarf can be a pirate sash, an oversized jacket can be a wizard’s cloak or a superhero cape, and so on. Make-believe play is extremely important for early childhood development, it builds on the cognitive skills they will use to solve problems and perform creative tasks in adulthood. Dress-up play can also help you introduce them to reading. Dress them up like certain characters and tell them stories that encourage them to engage with fiction, and encourage them to ‘write’ their ideas down, even if it’s just making marks. This helps develop early writing and recall skills.

4. Passageway Bowling

Setting up a makeshift bowling alley is incredibly easy.

You will need:

  • Plastic bottles
  • A small, soft ball

Set up the plastic bottles at the end of the hallway/room and have a bowling tournament. Children love the novelty of doing things at home that they would usually have to go out for. Creating home-based games like this also builds their creativity, making them less dependent on electronics for entertainment.

You could also add additional challenge for older children by adding numerals to the bottles and encouraging them to knock down specific ones. You could even begin to engage in simple addition by adding together the amounts on the bottles.

5. Treasure Hunt

Depending on how in-depth you’re willing to go, a treasure hunt can keep toddlers going for hours on end. Obviously, you will need to tailor it for their level of understanding by drawing pictures for clues and maybe guiding them when they get confused.

Treasure hunts are just as fun for adults as they are for children. Designing maps, performing roles, piecing together clues, and watching the excitement grow on the faces of the children as they near their goal. In a world where children are bombarded by games and products that provide instant gratification and intense sensory stimulation, treasure hunts are a great tool for teaching them that persistence and effort pay off.

6. Tracing

If you can get your hands on a lot of scrap paper, tracing is a fantastic activity for toddlers. Using crayons or pencils helps develop their fine motor skills and fosters creativity.

Tracing different objects like leaves, flowers, floor tiles or manhole covers is an easy activity for young children to follow and will keep them entertained for hours. If you have enough paper, ask them to lie down and trace their body. This is an effective and fun way for them to practice self-control. If they can stay still long enough for you to trace them, they get a fun reward in colouring in their outline.

If they’re interested, you can help them draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth as well. Having fun is the main goal though, so once they’ve stayed still for you, let them do what they want with the drawing.

7. Drawing

This may seem like a no-brainer, but drawing is one of the simplest ways to keep toddlers entertained, and it is extremely beneficial to their fine motor skill development.

If they get bored with drawing by themselves, try to integrate it with other activities. For example, tell them a story, and while you’re telling it, draw what’s happening in the story with them. This is a great technique for engaging their imagination while developing fine motor control. Remember, the smaller the hand, the bigger the paper and drawing tools need to be to help children develop those ‘big’ movements ready for when they begin to write.

8. Build a Fort

Many of us cherish childhood memories of building makeshift forts/dens with our parents using couch cushions, sheets, blankets, pillows, and whatever else was available.

As well as being lots of fun, fort building is a brilliant bonding activity for toddlers and parents, and it will help develop their visual and spatial reasoning skills. It’s great for problem-solving and learning by their mistakes. Ask questions like ‘’How do you think we could get our den to stay upright?’’, “What could we use instead of the clothes pegs?’’.

Once the fort is built, you can lie inside and tell stories or put them down for a nap. Alternatively, tearing it down can be just as fun as building it.

Extra Resources:

Play and Learning at Home Activities