Discover fun learning activities for 2 year olds! From educational activities to arts and crafts, get ideas to do with your toddler.
I’m not your typical crafty mom.
I don’t stock sensory bins or organize trays of card stock at home. I also don’t like how many toddler activities seemed to focus on the parents’ crafting skills, not necessarily the child’s.
And I’m more interested in child-directed learning, not the “final product.” It’s not so much about creating a beautiful item as it is about allowing kids to be curious and ask questions.
Still, even as a non-crafty mom, I wanted to provide my kids with activities that encouraged their desire to learn and explore. After all, toddlers still have the same curiosity as when they were infants, but with the ability to do more complex tasks.
Below, I’ve listed the best activities I’ve done with my kids when they were this age. I divided them into five categories for a total of 30 activities (which makes for a fun month-long challenge!). These activities are bound to keep your toddler busy and engaged.
That said, I purposefully kept these activities realistic to do as well. You won’t need to buy science toys or craft supplies galore. If you do decide to buy anything, you’re more than likely going to use the materials over and over.
And these activities are simple. We’re all busy, and we know 2 year olds don’t exactly sit still for hours at a time. They can definitely go at their own pace. Hopefully, you can find them useful. As one parent said:
“I don’t even comment on blogs. But I’m trying to introduce new activities that we can do together and this has really helped. I just wanted to say thank you for putting these ideas and resources together!” -Kaitlin
Table of Contents
1. Play dough
Roll play dough into balls and count them one by one as you place them into a pile. Or roll them into long strings and spell the letters of your child’s name. Encourage fine motor skills by allowing her to pinch bits and pieces off of a large ball.
2. Fractions with paper
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Grab a sheet of paper, cut it in half, and explain how the two pieces make up the whole paper. Then, cut those two pieces in half, making quarters. Keep going, making eighths.
After each round of cutting, assemble the paper so your child can see how all the pieces form the original sheet. You can also get these pizza fraction toys to make it even more fun.
3. Matching game
Using card stock or index cards, write two sets of the letters of the alphabet and have your child match them together. Start with a few at a time to avoid overwhelming her with all 26. Either way, keep the letters all the same color so she understands that she’s matching by letters, not color.
4. Glue by color
Cut tiny pieces of colored paper—for instance, blue, red, yellow, and green. Then, on separate sheets of paper, draw two circles per sheet using different-colored crayons. One sheet can have a blue circle and a red circle, while another has a yellow and a green one.
Finally, have your child glue the cut-up pieces into the matching-colored circles (green bits into the green circle, for instance).
5. Mix colors
Using the three primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, show your child how to mix and match to make different colors. A few to try include:
- red + blue = purple
- yellow + blue = green
- red + yellow = orange
6. Count with dot markers
Have your child practice numbers with dot markers. Print two sheets of paper in landscape format, with the numbers 1-10 along the side. Show her how to color the appropriate number of dots next to each letter, counting along with her.
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7. Sort colors
Find a set of items and sort them by color. A few ideas include building blocks, magnets, cars—anything you’ve stored in a box! Then, sort them into different piles or place them into empty bowls, one for each color.
8. Count everything
Play a game of counting everything. Count toys like building blocks and pom poms, or snacks like crackers and carrots. Use any opportunity to count. Climbing a set of stairs? Count the steps you take. Pushing her on a swing? Count each time you give her a push.
9. Cut paper strips by size
Play a game of sorting by size, using 10 pieces of paper strips, straws, or pipe cleaners, ranging from one to 10 inches long. For instance, you can have one piece that’s one inch long, then another that’s two inches long, and so forth.
Once you have all 10 pieces, shuffle them on the ground and encourage your child to arrange them in order, from smallest (one inch) to largest (10 inches).
10. Sink or float
Gather a few household materials or toys and experiment to see which ones sink or float. You can do this during bath time, or pour water into a large bowl, water table, or kiddie pool. Find water-safe items with varying weights so your child can see different results.
Tip: Afterward, you and your child can use the water for your plants!
11. Letters in the tub
My kids played with a set of foam pieces of the alphabet, which they used to learn even more about letters and numbers. I’d also show them simple words to spell, or how certain letters come together to form their names.
12. Trace and write letters and numbers
Worksheets like those in my Letters and Numbers workbook are another fun way to introduce your child to the alphabet. Start with large letters and encourage him to “trace” with his fingers, before moving on to smaller letters to trace with a pencil or crayon.
13. Nature scavenger hunt
Make a list of items your child might find outdoors and help her collect her findings. A few ideas include leaves, twigs, rocks, pebbles, or flowers. Bring a bag to store the items, and cross the item off your list once you’ve found what you were looking for.
To make this game even easier, task her with finding just one type of item during your nature walk. For instance, my son loved finding baby pine cones, which our local park had plenty of. We’d simply make a pile of pine cones on the base of a tree until we found nearly all of them.
14. Collect and compare leaves
Collect a variety of leaves outdoors, lay your findings in a row, and talk about how each leaf looks and feels. You might talk about the different textures, colors, or shapes, and describe why some are soft and green while others are brown and crinkly.
15. Plant a seed
Plant a seed and watch it grow over the next few days and weeks. Depending on the weather, you can start the seeds in small containers indoors, or sow them directly into the ground outside. And stick to large seeds like sunflowers or bush beans—these are easier to hold and they grow quickly.
16. Bucket of ice
At a children’s birthday party we attended, the kids were intrigued with nothing more than a simple bucket of ice. They had found an empty water cooler with only ice and water. They’d grab pieces of ice and move them to the grass to watch them melt.
You can do something similar by placing a few ice cubes in a bowl and heading outdoors. Allow your child to grab the ice cubes and lay them on the ground. Talk about the differences between how it melts on the grass versus the hot concrete.
17. Mud play
Find a spot in your backyard or park and pour water into the soil. You can even bring pretend cooking items or old kitchen utensils you no longer use for imaginative play. For instance, stir and “bake cookies” on an old baking tray.
18. Sidewalk chalk
Grab sidewalk chalk and head to your sidewalk, driveway, or park. Draw pictures, write words, and practice coloring in shapes. Sidewalk chalk lets her be creative in a way that’s different from the crayons and pencils she probably uses often.
19. Sweep into a square
Encourage your child to do chores with simple sweeping! Using painter’s tape (we have a bunch of these at home), make a square on your kitchen floor. Then, with a child-size broom, have her sweep all the dirt from the rest of the floor into that square.
20. Pour water
Place a bowl and a measuring cup filled with water on a baking sheet. (I like this Oxo one because it’s lightweight with a rubber grip for easy handling.) Then, have your child pour water from the measuring cup into the bowl.
Using two measuring cups, she can pour the water into one measuring cup, going back and forth easily. She can also pour and scoop small items like dry rice, beads, or sand. Keep a towel handy for easy clean up.
21. Use liquid droppers with water
Using kid-friendly liquid droppers, show your child how to collect water by pinching the dropper and dipping the end into a bowl of water.
Then have her open her fingers, drawing water into the dropper. And finally, she can press the dropper once more, releasing the water into another bowl. This is a fantastic way to develop fine-motor skills.
22. Use tweezers and puff balls
With kitchen tongs (or kid-friendly tweezers), have your child collect cotton or puff balls from one bowl to another.
If you use different-colored puff balls, you can also have her sort them by color or number. For instance, all the blues in one pile, or make a pile of one, then two, then three, and so forth.
23. Sort laundry
As much as we dread laundry, you have to admit, it can make for an easy activity to do with your 2 year old. For instance, have her sort laundry by type (like shirts and pants) or by color. She can also match socks or set aside household laundry like napkins and rags.
24. Water plants
Kids love watering plants! Use a simple watering can like this to help your child learn how to water both indoor and outdoor plants. You might even make this part of her weekly chores—something she’ll do every Saturday morning, for instance.
Places to go
25. Children’s museums
Nearly every major city has a children’s museum. I prefer these types of museums because they invite hands-on participation (so I don’t have to holler “Don’t touch!” all the time). In Los Angeles, I love going to Kidspace, California Science Center, Discovery Cube, and Skirball’s Noah Ark.
Many libraries include activities for kids, from story time and magic shows to arts and crafts. Grab calendars from your local libraries so you can attend events specifically for toddlers. Plus, going to the library encourages you and your family to make regular trips to borrow and read books at home.
27. Nature walks
Explore a new trail or nature walk with your child! You might check out a local hike, the lagoon, or the forests in your area. Bring a magnifying glass so she can observe curious finds along the way.
28. Sandbox or beach
Playing with sand either at the beach or in a sandbox at your local park can be so much fun! Bring sand toys and encourage your child to build, experiment with water, and learn through sensory play.
Don’t want to deal with the mess? Grab a bag of kinetic sand, which is easier to mold and less messy. I keep this in a plastic storage box with a lid for easy clean up.
29. Botanical gardens
I love taking my kids to botanical gardens because they invite so much exploration. The trees and plants are wilder than more polished gardens, and they include streams and even animals like lizards, fish, and turtles.
Discover the ocean and marine world by visiting your local aquarium! Your child can have an up-close opportunity to meet many of the animals who live in the water while learning about ways to care for the environment.
As you can see, these activities don’t need to be complicated or take too much time. Your child can play with mud or mix primary colors, and learn about sizes with paper strips or water volume with measuring cups. And most importantly, she can develop a love of learning.
You can do activities with your toddler—even if you’re not a crafty mom.
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