Wondering how to entertain a 2 year old? Here are 33 things to do with your toddler, from arts and crafts to sensory play and learning fun!
I could barely walk from my bedroom to the dining room, much less take my son on outings. Toward the end of my twin pregnancy, the discomfort was so unreal that I thought it a cruel joke that I also had a toddler to care for.
At the same time, I didn’t want to deny him the attention or activities he needed while he was home with me. As tempting as it was to plop him in front of the television all day, I didn’t want to have to do that. I needed to find things to do with a toddler, with little to no exertion on my part.
And that’s when I dug into toddler activities he could do, both while pregnant and later, when I was with the babies and needed to keep him busy.
Pregnancy aside, you might be looking for easy activities for 2 year olds to entertain your rambunctious little one. Maybe he’s getting bored—despite plenty of toys, he can’t seem to find a thing to do. Or you’re simply looking for learning activities or a homeschooling curriculum to teach.
How to entertain a 2 year old
As someone who literally couldn’t get off the couch to keep her toddler occupied, I know the need for easy activities. Whether you’re on bed rest, have a new baby, or just want easy things to do with your child, you’ve come to the right place.
Below, I list activities you can do at home that take little setup yet can entertain her for long stretches. I also include outings for those days you want to get out of the house without much fanfare (and with plenty of time to get home for a nap!).
Some are timeless standbys while others are unique twists to common activities. I hope this list of easy activities for 2 year olds can come in handy when you’re out of ideas and need some inspiration:
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Teach your child basic skills, from household chores to Montessori-inspired activities. Focus on the skills she gets to learn, as opposed to getting the task done “right.” Here are a few activities to try:
- Wiping surfaces. Take turns spraying and wiping surfaces to clean, using an eco-friendly cleaner. Spray the coffee table, and have her wipe it with a rag. Then, have her spray while you wipe.
- Sweeping. Show her how to sweep the floor using a child-size broom. Using painter’s tape, mark squares on the floor so she knows where to sweep the dirt into.
- Transferring beans. Place two bowls and a measuring cup on a baking sheet. Fill one of the bowls with dried beans, then show her how to scoop them from one bowl to the empty one. This can also work with dried rice, large beads, pasta, or even her snacks like peas or cereal.
- Squeezing water with sponges. Similarly, place two bowls on a baking sheet or large bin, and fill one with water. Show her how to use the sponge to soak water from one bowl and squeeze it into another.
- Squirting water with a baster. Use a kitchen baster to pull water from one bowl and squeeze it into another. This fun activity helps develop her fine motor muscles.
- Lacing cards. Practice basic lacing with lacing cards like these.
- Sorting pom poms. Grab several paper bowls and mark the rims with different colors. Then have her sort several colored pom poms like these into the correct bowls. Incorporate math by counting each pom pom you sort.
- Kitchen supplies. Look for child-friendly tools she can use, from measuring cups and wooden spoons to small pots and pans.
- Letter of the week. Focus on one letter a week and create activities and games around that letter. You can write and trace the letter, find it written on signs around you, and come up with words that start with it.
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Games and toys
Simple games and toys are those that don’t take much preparation but can entertain your 2 year old. Some do include your participation, but not so much that you’re running around the house. Take a look at these ideas for games and toys:
- Matching cards. Grab a card deck, or one designed for kids like this, and play matching cards.
- Bubbles. Find a clear spot to blow bubbles he can catch. Combine it with a bubble bath to make bath time even more fun.
- Magnetic doodle boards. My kids loved drawing and erasing on magnetic doodle boards.
- Catch or fetch. Even if you’re not able to play a traditional game of catch, you can still toss a ball back and forth to each other. If the ball goes out of your range, have him run after the ball to burn energy and develop gross motor skills.
- Magnetic fishing games. There’s a reason these toys are so popular—kids love making a “catch” and collecting their fish.
- Balloons. Blow a few balloons to toss in the air and catch. Or, if you happen to have one filled with helium, weigh it down to his level so he can bop it back and forth.
- Dance party. Throw on a few interactive nursery rhymes, or even your favorite songs, and dance in the living room. Even better: flatten a cardboard box (like an empty diaper box) and have him “tap dance” on it for cool sound effects and rhythm. Tip: Let him squeeze the bubble wrap that comes with those cardboard boxes!
- Puzzles. My son spent 45 minutes playing with this door puzzle, not just the first time but several times after. Chunky wooden puzzles that come together to form a picture are also great for this age and encourage problem-solving skills.
- Water play in the tub. Is bath time pretty routine for you? Mix it up by adding water-safe toys in the tub! Add bathtub-friendly paint and a paintbrush for extra fun.
Arts and crafts
Your 2 year old might not be able to create a polished work of art yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture her creativity with arts and crafts.
Thankfully, you don’t need much to start, much less complicated crafts with an “end product” in mind. In fact, I just make sure we have craft supplies around the house and let her take the lead. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Play dough. Make several shapes (especially with cookie cutters!), mix colors, or pinch off pieces. Playdough is also a fantastic sensory experience.
- Painting. Whether with a brush or fingers, creating art with paint is an easy way to spend time together. One unique option is to “paint with a truck”: squirt paint onto a plate, roll the truck’s wheels over the paint, and use it to “paint” tire tracks onto a sheet of paper.
- Crayons and markers. Now can be a good time to introduce crayons and markers—just make sure to get the washable kind. Or for a mess-free activity, get Color Wonder, which uses only water.
- Glue sticks. Tear or cut 1-2″ pieces of paper and have her glue these scraps onto a larger sheet to make a collage.
- Chalk. Get sidewalk chalk to use outside or regular chalk to draw on a chalkboard.
- Reusable sticker books. Create art and practice fine motor skills with stickers. If she struggles with peeling, help by peeling an edge and have her remove the rest. Reusable sticker books like these make it fun to move stickers around.
- Coloring books. Find coloring books with fun characters she loves, and don’t worry about coloring within the lines yet.
Looking for things to do outside the house? Take a look at these easy activities for 2 year olds that can get you out and about:
- Libraries. Find your local libraries’ calendars and mark events for the toddler age. They likely have activities like puppet shows and story time, or provide toys for your toddler to play with. Check with local bookstores to see if they offer storytime activities as well.
- Parks. Scout your neighborhood parks and see which ones get the highest reviews online. Many also cater to toddlers, with playground equipment appropriate for their size.
- Petting zoos, conservatories, and farms. Introduce him to live animals up close. Many conservatories offer tours, and petting zoos and farms might let you feed them as well. Read these children’s books about farms.
- Indoor playground. From bounce houses to trampoline parks, many places offer indoor activities for toddlers.
- Parent and child classes. The YMCA or your local city recreation likely offers classes like swimming and yoga.
- Out in nature. You might not go on miles-long hikes, but you can spend time in nature. Playing with the sand at the beach or exploring a garden are excellent outdoor activities.
- Children’s museums. Look for museums that allow hands-on, toddler approved exploring.
- Local aquariums. Your city might have an aquarium with interesting animals to see and even touch.
I hope you’ve gotten a few ideas from these easy activities for two year olds! Now you can practice life skills, play games and toys, and create arts and crafts activities right at home.
These activities can come in handy, whether you need your child to burn energy or be entertained—all without getting off the couch.
Get more tips:
- The Best Activities to Do with 2-Year-Olds
- 30 Learning Activities for 2 Year Olds
- Best Games for 2 Year Olds
- 12 Ways to Practice Montessori Parenting at Home
- 31 Awesome Conversation Starters for Kids
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