Discover fun 2 year old development activities! From educational to outdoor to craft activities, get a list of ideas to do with your toddler.
I’ll be upfront: 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 activities seemed to focus on the parents’ crafting skills, not necessarily the child’s.
And I’m more interested in child-directed learning, not necessarily 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 2 year old development activities that encouraged the desire to learn and explore. After all, toddlers still have the same curiosity as when they were infants, but with the dexterity to do more complex tasks.
Fun 2 year old development activities
Perhaps you can relate.
You’re more than willing to teach cognitive skills, you just need to do so in simple ways. You’d rather use regular materials found in your home and find activities to fit into your tight schedule. And you’re looking for things to do that your 2 year old would learn in preschool that will stimulate her brain.
You’ve come to the right place.
Below, I’ve listed activities I’ve done with my kids when they were that age not too long ago. 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 kits 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.
Let’s dive in!
FREE printables: Grab my free printables! You’ll get a set of A-Z alphabet letters to play the matching game, sheets to glue by color, printables to count with dot markers, and samples of my handwriting and tracing workbook, Letters and Numbers:
Craft activities for 2 year olds
1. Play dough
Roll play dough into balls and count them one by one as you place them into a pile. Roll them into long strings and spell the letters of your child’s name. Encourage fine motor skills by allowing her pinch bits and pieces off of a large ball of play dough.
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 the letters by shape, not color.
4. Glue by color
Cut tiny pieces of paper, then draw two circles per sheet using different-colored markers. One sheet might have a blue circle and a red circle, while another has a yellow and a green one.
Finally, have your child glue the pieces of paper into the matching-colored circles (green bits into the green circle, for instance).
5. Color mixing
Using just the three primary colors, show your child how to mix and match to make new colors. A few to try include:
- red + blue = purple
- yellow + blue = green
- red + yellow = orange
6. Counting 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.
FREE printables: Make these activities even easier with these ready-made printables! You’ll get a set of A-Z alphabet letters to play the matching game, sheets to glue by color, printables to count with dot markers, and samples of my handwriting and tracing workbook, Letters and Numbers!
Download the printable pack below—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“Loved this email, it came precisely when I needed it! Many thanks for sharing your insight and helping me see things differently!” -Alejandra Marambio
Educational activities for 2 year olds
7. Sort items by color
Find a set of similar items and sort them by color. A few ideas include Lego pieces, magnets, blocks, cars—anything you’ve stored in a box! Then, make different piles or lay out empty bowls, one for each color.
8. Count everything
Play a game of counting everything. Count toys like Lego blocks and puff balls, 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 straws by size
Do you have a box of straws in the kitchen? Play a game or sorting by size, using 10 pieces of straws, ranging from one-inch long to the full size (tip: you’ll only need five straws to make all 10 pieces). For instance, you’ll 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-inch).
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 container, like a large bowl, water cooler, or kiddie pool. Find water-safe items with different weights so your child can see different results.
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
Simple worksheets like those in my Letters and Numbers workbook are another fantastic 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.
Outdoor activities for 2 year olds
13. Nature scavenger hunt
Make a list of items your child will likely 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 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’ve found nearly every one 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 shapes, colors, or textures, and describe why some art soft and green while others are brown and crinkly. This will help build your child’s language development!
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 lima or green beans—these are easier to hold and grow quickly.
16. Bucket of ice
At a children’s birthday party at a friend’s home, 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, grabbing pieces of ice and moving them to the grass to watch it 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 place 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 kitchen play items or old kitchen tools you no longer use so your child can also have fun pretending to “cook” with the mud.
18. Sidewalk chalk
Grab sidewalk chalk and head to your sidewalk or park. Draw pictures, write words, and even practice coloring in shapes. Sidewalk chalk gives her another opportunity to be creative, in a way that’s different from the crayons and pencils she might have gotten used to.
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.
Place a measuring cup filled with water and a bowl 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 small items like dry rice, beans, or sand.
21. Basting with water
With a kitchen baster (or liquid droppers for kids like these), show your child how to collect water by pinching the baster and dipping the end into a bowl of water.
Then have her open her fingers, drawing water into the baster. And finally, she can press the baster once more, releasing the water into another bowl.
22. Tweezing puffs
With kitchen tongs (or tweezers for kids like these), have your child collect cotton or puff balls from one bowl to another.
If you use different-colored puff balls like these, 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. Sorting laundry
As much as we dread laundry, you have to admit, it can make for easy 2 year old development activities. For instance, have your child sort laundry by type—from shirts to pants—or sort 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 can do every Monday morning, for instance.
Places to go with 2 year olds
25. Children’s museums*
Nearly every major city has a children’s museum your child will love. 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 to 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 even forests in your area. Bring a magnifying glass so she can observe curious finds along the way, or bring a bucket to collect a few to take home.
28. Sandbox or beach
Playing with sand either at the beach or even in a sandbox at your local park can make for many fun 2 year old development activities. Bring sand toys and encourage your child to build, experiment with water, and learn through sensory play.
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 often include peaceful streams and even animals like lizards, fish, and turtles.
Discover the ocean and marine world by visiting your local aquarium! Your child will have an up-close opportunity to meet many of the animals who live in water, while learning about ways to care for the environment.
As you can see, 2 year old development activities don’t need to be complicated or take too much time. You also don’t need to be the next Martha Stewart or produce finished crafts to offer your child a learning experience.
Instead, you now have at your hands a compilation of creative activities to start. She can play with mud or mix primary colors, and learn about sizes with straws or water volume with measuring cups. And most important, she’ll develop a love of learning, especially when these stress-free and fun activities.
You can teach and offer age-appropriate activities to your 2 year old, even with limited time and materials, or a lack of any crafty inclinations whatsoever.
Get more tips:
- 4 Easy Ideas to Nurture Your Child’s Creativity
- How to Raise Kids Who Love to Learn
- Preschool Pros and Cons: Should You Send Your Child to Preschool?
- How to Create a Math Rich Environment at Home
- How to Encourage Your Child to Keep Learning in the Summer
Don’t forget: make these activities even easier with my printable learning activities! Join my newsletter and you’ll get a set of A-Z alphabet letters to play the matching game, sheets to glue by color, and printables to count with dot markers.
Plus, you’ll also get a sample of my handwriting and tracing workbook, Letters and Numbers! Download the printable pack below—at no cost to you:
*Note: Given the current global crisis, this activity isn’t feasible. That said, save it for the future when it becomes available again!