Category Archives: Activities

Ten Activities to Entertain a Sick Toddler

*Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase an item from these links, I receive a small commission at no additional expense to you. Thanks for supporting my family.*

A few weeks ago, Buddy was sent home sick from school. Hubby stayed home with him on his first day off, and I was with him on his second day. By that time, Buddy was feeling much better, and he needed a lot of activities to keep him busy. He was still too sick to go out of the house, but he had enough energy to play. These are some of the things we did together.

  1. Read books – Buddy loves reading, and when he’s feeling a little sick, he has extra patience for sitting and reading. His favorite books are ones that have parts to move, like this  really cool version of “Wheels on the Bus”.
  2. Sing songs – Buddy is finally able to sing many of his favorite songs. He especially loves “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald”, and we sing them all the time. We also love singing along to songs on the toddler song station on Pandora.
  3. Playdoh – Playdoh is so much fun for toddlers. We usually only pull it out on weekends when we have plenty of time at home. Buddy especially loves playing with his Thomas train playdoh set from his Thomas party and these Playdoh tools. 
  4. Play with forgotten toys – I rotate Buddy’s toys and books every month. It’s especially great for days like this where I need something “new” to distract Buddy. Buddy was excited about several of the rotated toys, but he was most excited about this Fisher Price firetruck
  5. Play with favorite toys – It’s nice when we have enough time for Buddy to play with all of his favorite toys. Right now, his favorite is his “choo choo tracks”. (We bought him a train set similar to this one for his birthday along with some Thomas trains.)  He played with these for a long time. 
  6. Box play – It’s amazing how entertaining an empty box is for kids. I gave Buddy the Thomas toss game box from his party and offered to play the toss game with him. He decided it would be more fun to put all of his trains and cars in the box and push them around. We’ve also had a lot of fun in the past coloring in a large cardboard box. (Read more about that here.) An empty box offers a lot of different entertainment options for toddlers. 
  7. Make music – Buddy has a lot of different musical instruments, and he enjoys making music with them. (We have the Horner Kid’s Band and the B. Parum Pum Pum Drum and love them both.) On this particular day, we spent some time playing our piano. We don’t do that often, so it was a lot of fun for Buddy. 
  8. Do a sort – Buddy is very interested in shapes and colors right now, so I decided to pull out my attribute links. We’ve played with these before (read about our shapes activity here and our colors activity here), but it’s been a long time. I asked Buddy what he wanted to sort first and he wanted to do a shape sort first. Then we mixed everything up again and sorted by color. Even if you don’t have attribute links, Pinterest is filled with many ideas for doing different types of sorts with shape and color.
  9. Stickers – Stickers are such an easy way to entertain a toddler. Buddy’s very into stickers right now. (We’ve even started carrying some in the diaper bag to keep him entertained when we go out to eat.) My favorite places to buy lots of cheap stickers is Party City and the dollar store. Buddy spent a lot of time putting lots of Thomas stickers on paper and making scenes of the characters. 
  10. Be artistic – Being stuck in the house is the perfect excuse for an art project. Right now, Buddy is really into his Water Wow book that he got for Easter. He can paint a picture with water, and it is really fun. We could have also drawn a picture with crayons, used his Color Wonder markers, or actually used paint. Since the Water Wow is new and easy, that’s what we did. Hopefully we are done with sick days for awhile. But I’d love to hear more ideas for sick day toddler activities if you have them.

Move Like the Animals: A Gross Motor Skills Game

Buddy was a very late walker, and he works with a physical therapist once a week. As a result, I’m always looking for fun ways to build his gross motor skills at home. Last week, Buddy’s physical therapist mentioned that they had been imitating different animals in their session. I thought that sounded like an idea that would be fun to do at home as well.

Buddy received a set of Fisher-Price Little People Zoo Animals (affiliate link) for Easter. I thought they would be fun to incorporate into our animal movement game. To play the game, Buddy chose an animal from the tub. Then, we would try to move like that animal. Some of the animals were easier to think of movements for than others, but it was fun trying to make up movements for all of them.

When we first started, Buddy spent a lot of time looking through the animals and deciding which one to pick.

Once he picked an animal, we both got up and moved like it. For the zebra, we did high marching kicks. For the panda, we pretended to climb up bamboo. We swung around like a monkey, waddled like a penguin, hopped like a kangaroo, and snapped our arms like an alligator’s mouth. We crouched and crawled and roared for both the lion and the tiger. The seal was the weirdest one movement wise; we just waddled around and barked like a seal. Both of us had so much fun!

Marching like a zebra

Climbing bamboo like a panda

Moving like animals is so much fun!

After a little while, Buddy wanted to just play with the animals and the container, which was fine. He had a lot of fun just lining up all of the animals and then saying their names.

It was a really fun activity for both of us, and it was great for practicing some of his gross motor skills. We have played this game several times so far, and I’m sure we’ll play it again soon. If you have any other ideas for fun gross motor activities, please share in the comments.

Gardening Sensory Bin

Buddy loves sensory bins, so it’s always fun when I come across a new sensory bin idea. I first saw the idea of making a gardening sensory bin on Frugal Mom Eh’s blog. Now that it’s spring, it is the perfect time to try it.

Buddy and I bought the gardening materials from the dollar store. I had him pick out some flowers he liked, and I bought some small plastic pots as well. We also bought a jumprope with carrot handles. I cut off the rope so we could use the carrots in the bin. We bought five bags of black beans at the grocery store, and the rest of the tools we already had at home.

Before we played in the gardening sensory bin, I cut down the stems of the plastic flowers with wire cutters so they would fit in the pots. I wrapped the ends with electrical tape to cover up the exposed wire. I also found some toy gardening tools that we’ve used with some of our other sensory bins.

The bin was set up with the flowers and some black beans in the pots and the carrots buried in the “dirt”. Buddy was very eager to play in the bin, and he immediately started taking out all of the flowers.  I hoped that picking out the flowers with Buddy would increase his interest in them, but it didn’t.

Buddy’s favorite part of the bin was the plastic pots. He loved scooping up the beans and putting them into the pots. Then he’d pour the beans out of the bin, and start over again. Buddy also loved banging the pots together and stacking them in one another.

I loved the black beans as a sensory bin filler. In fact, it is my favorite filler that we’ve tried. Buddy loves it as much as rice because it’s easy to rake, scoop, and pour. I prefer it to rice, though, because it’s much bigger and easier to pick up. Buddy also helped me pick up the spilled beans to put back in the bin (something he can’t do when we play with rice).

Overall, Buddy and I both were really happy with this sensory bin. It entertained him for a long time, and was faster to clean up than some of our other sensory activities. I’m sure we’ll do it again soon.

Ten Easy Activities To Do With a One Year Old

Buddy turned two this weekend. I can’t believe it. When I look at the picture above, it’s hard to believe the little boy in the top (Buddy at 14 months) is the same boy as the one in the bottom picture (Buddy at 22 months).

It’s been an extremely busy weekend filled with a Thomas the Train birthday party (more to come on that soon) and lots of out of town family. I haven’t had much time to blog this weekend, but I wanted to reflect on this occasion. One of my goals of this blog was to find easy activities to do with Buddy and share them with others. I’m pretty happy with most of the ones I’ve done so far, and I hope they’re useful to you.

Here are my favorite ten activities that I’ve done in the last year with Buddy:

  1. Painting with Water

2. Making Rain Sensory Activity

3. Fun with Homemade Play Dough

4. Rice Sensory Bin

5. Fall Sun Catchers

6. Cornstarch and Water Sensory Play

7. Repurposed for Fun: Water Bottle and Straws

8. The Snowy Day Indoor Snow Activity

9. Fishing for Magnetic Letters

10. Cardboard Box Coloring

I’ve done so many fun activities with Buddy this year, it was hard to pick just ten. (And if you’re looking for more ideas, please look around on the blog. I have lots of them!) Now I need activity ideas for Buddy as a two year old. If you have any good ones, please share in the comments.

 

 

Cardboard Box Coloring

Sometimes the best activity ideas are the easiest. A long time ago, I saw the idea of coloring in a cardboard box on Pinterest. (See the original idea on Berry Sweet Baby’s blog here.) I immediately thought it was a great idea, but Buddy was too small to do it at the time.

Last week, Buddy received a gift that came in a very large cardboard box. I took the present out, but I didn’t immediately break down the box. Later in the day, I needed an activity for Buddy when I remembered the coloring box idea. I grabbed Buddy, gave him some crayons, and put him in the box.

Buddy loved being in the box! He colored for a bit, and then he had a lot of fun knocking down the sides of the box. Every time he hit the side, Buddy burst out in hysterical laughter!

Buddy loved coloring in the box as well. He actually loved this activity so much, we did it four days in a row! (And then we revisited it again later in the week!)

Buddy loved to take peek-a-boo breaks from his coloring. He loves playing peek-a-boo, and the box made it extra fun.

This was such a great activity! I left the box with crayons in it in our living room for a few days, and we would color whenever we needed a fun activity. It was worth the eye sore to have a quick, fun activity right on hand. We’ve since thrown out the box, but I’m sure we’ll do it again the next time we have a large box delivered to our house.

Find That Shape: A Sidewalk Chalk Game

I’m so excited that spring break is here! As the weather is getting warmer, Buddy is extra eager to go outside to play. A friend and colleague of mine told me about a shape sidewalk chalk game she plays with her granddaughter. She draws different colored shapes in chalk and tells her granddaughter to find different colors and shapes. Since Buddy is working on colors and shapes, I knew it’d be a perfect game for him.

To make this game easy for Buddy, I only did one of each shape and color. I also picked shapes and colors that Buddy knows. 

I told Buddy to find a specific color/shape combination and jump on the shape. He had a lot of fun finding each shape. Buddy can’t jump yet, but he enjoyed stomping on each shape as he found it.

Buddy took some breaks from the game to draw on our driveway with the chalk. We’ve never played with chalk before, so that was fun and exciting for Buddy. Then we’d go back to playing our game again.

We also played a variation where he told me which shape and color to jump on. Buddy thought that was lots of fun too.

Once Buddy becomes more confident with his colors and shapes, I will make this game more difficult by making shapes in more than one different color. So far, we’ve played it twice this week, and it’s quickly becoming one of Buddy’s favorite activities.

Buddy and I have some extra time together this week due to spring break, so I’m looking for more things to try with him. If you have any ideas, please share!

Construction Site Sensory Bin

I first saw the idea of doing a sensory bin with construction trucks and shredded paper on Busy Toddler’s blog. I immediately loved the idea because it’s easy to set up and includes Buddy’s love of vehicles! We haven’t done a sensory bin with shredded paper since our Open the Barn Door activity in August. Back then, Buddy wasn’t interested in the paper at all. I was curious to see how his reaction would be different now.

To set up the activity, I put some paper from our shredder in a large bin and put it on the floor of the kitchen. Then, I placed some construction trucks in the paper. These were purchased at the dollar section of Target years ago, and are used more as a decoration in Buddy’s room as a toy. As a result, Buddy was especially interested in playing with these “new toys”.

Buddy first started driving the trucks around in the paper. I showed him how to use the digger to push paper around, and he tried to do it too. Then, Buddy discovered how to fill and dump the paper in the back of the dump truck. This was a lot of fun for him.

Buddy was just as interested in driving the trucks around on the kitchen floor as he was in the paper. The cars made a noise on the floor, which Buddy thought was very entertaining.

The last time we did a shredded paper sensory bin, Buddy wasn’t very interested in the paper. That wasn’t the case this time! Buddy thought the paper was a lot of fun! Once he tired of playing with the trucks, Buddy decided to play with the paper. I was expecting things to get messy, and boy, was I right!

Buddy threw paper everywhere and made a huge mess! Then, in typical toddler style, he decided to run around the house and leave a trail of paper in his wake. Once Buddy was “all done”, I threw him in his crib and swept the floor. It didn’t take too long to pick up the mess once Buddy was contained. Even though it was a messy activity, it was worth it to see Buddy have so much fun.

I’d love to try some new sensory bins this spring. If you have any great ideas for sensory bins, please let me know!

Fishing for Magnetic Letters

I first saw the idea for fishing for magnetic letters years ago. I pulled out materials when a friend’s kids came to visit, but we never got around to the activity. Recently, I saw the idea again on Make, Do, and Friend’s blog. Since I already had the materials, I thought it would be great to try with Buddy.

Before we started, I made a fishing pole with a slotted spoon, string, and a large paper clip. I wove the string around the different slots to keep it stable. Then, I put some magnetic letters into a plastic tub, and everything was ready to go.

Buddy was immediately interested in the activity. He wasn’t sure what to do with the spoon at first. However, once I showed him how to “go fishing”, he was excited to try it.

Buddy actually enjoyed when I fished more that when he did (it was a little challenging for him). As we caught letters, we talked about the letter and the color of it. Buddy is really excited about learning colors, so that made it very fun for him.

Buddy quickly decided that scooping letters with a spoon would be easier than fishing. He really enjoyed that as an option. Eventually, he just decided that grabbing letters with his hands would be easiest of all.

Before too long, Buddy wanted to dump all of the letters out. (He still really loves putting things in containers and dumping them out.) Buddy repeated this several times before deciding to play peek-a-boo with the tub.

Eventually, I decided to show Buddy that these were magnets. We took them downstairs and played with them on the back of our front door. We’ve never played with magnets there, so this was a new activity for him. He loved it!

This was one of Buddy’s favorite activities ever! He has played with the letters every day this week. He’s gotten a lot better at naming colors as a result. I’m sure we’ll continue to play with our fishing game for a long time.

Fun With Pipe Cleaners

When I first saw the idea for a bird feeder made with pipe cleaners and Cheerios (found here), I thought it would be a fun and easy activity. I’m always looking for new activities for Buddy using materials I already have at home. Last weekend, Buddy and I made one together.

I decided to do this activity after snack time to minimize Buddy’s desire to eat all of the Cheerios. Unfortunately, I learned that Buddy always has room for Cheerios! When I asked Buddy, he said he wanted to make a bird feeder. However, it turns out that he was more interested in eating. For every Cheerio that was put on the pipe cleaner, he ate three full handfuls! Buddy did enjoy putting the Cheerios on the pipe cleaner, but once the rest were gone, he was upset that he couldn’t eat them off the pipe cleaner.

Buddy was excited to see the pipe cleaners.

Yummy Cheerios!

Buddy needed a little help to keep the pipe cleaner still enough to put on the Cheerio.

When all of the Cheerios were gone, I made the pipe cleaner into a circle and hung it on a tree in our backyard. I haven’t noticed any birds on it yet, but there aren’t too many birds around right now. We might have to try this one again when it’s a little warmer, and when Buddy learns a little more self control around Cheerios.

Although the bird feeder activity didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped, we found other fun things to do with pipe cleaners this week. Buddy had a lot of fun making pipe cleaner bracelets, putting them on, and taking them off.

We also played with the pipe cleaners and a colander like we did in this blog post. Buddy loves counting right now, so we counted pipe cleaners as we put them in and out of the colander. We also talked about colors of pipe cleaners. I asked him to find a certain color of pipe cleaner, and he tried pull it out of the top of the colander. (He knows red and orange, but he needs help with other colors.) It was a fun variation on the activity that we’ve done before.

Overall, we’ve had a lot of fun this week with our different pipe cleaner activities. (And I’ve also learned that Buddy’s not quite ready for food related crafts!) I’ve put them away for now, but I’ll definitely pull them out again the next time I need a good distraction for Buddy.

Best Toys for Older Infants 6 – 12 Months

*Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase an item with one of these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my family.*

I have always valued other mom’s opinions of kids’ products. Before I’ve purchased anything for Buddy, I’ve looked at reviews from other moms. I wanted to share some of Buddy’s favorite toys as an older infant for anyone who is looking for a gift for a child between 6 and 12 months. Many of these toys are continued to be played with currently (at 22 months).

  1. TRY-ANGLE by Discovery Toys

Buddy loved his try-angle for a long time. There are two sides of activities to keep babies interested. Buddy especially loved the gears, sliders, and mirror. I would recommend this for 6 – 18 months.

2. Tangiball by Discovery Toys

Our family still loves this ball and plays with it often. (Hubby might like it even more than Buddy!) It squeaks and is great for throwing or rolling. I would recommend it for ages 6 months and up.

3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Smart Train

When we first bought this train for Buddy, we were hoping it would help motivate him to crawl. It was one of the first things that moved that he was interested in following. He still plays with it a lot, and he loves to make it go around the room. There are multiple levels of play on it, so I’m sure it will be played with for a long time. I would recommend it for crawling infants and toddlers, ages 8 months – 2 years.

4. Toddler Bands:  Hohner Kids Toddler Band and B.Parum Pum Drum

Buddy received both of these bands for Christmas when he was 8 months old. Both said they were for older kids, but they were perfect for a sitting infant. The Hohner Kids Band was Buddy’s favorite gift that year! He still plays with both bands on a regular basis. I would recommend it for ages 8 months – 3 years.

5. Puppet books 

These were some of the first books that held Buddy’s interest. We bought the first one for Buddy at 2 months, but after 6 months was when Buddy really started to be interested in reading. We still read these books all the time. I would recommend these for ages 6 months – 2 years.

6. Baby Touch and Feel books

We were given some of these books as baby gifts when Buddy was born. We now have seven different titles in this series. (We also check out others in this series all the time from the library.) This was the first type of book that Buddy pulled off the bookshelf to “read” independently. (The picture above was the first time he did this, and this teacher mom was so proud!!) I think we are on the verge of outgrowing these books, but we do still read them on a regular basis. I would recommend these for ages 4 – 18 months.

7. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Learning Table

We were given this activity table as a Christmas gift when Buddy was 8 months old, and it has grown with him really well. When he was smaller, we played with it on the floor. Once Buddy was able to stand and play, we put the legs on the activity table. The phone receiver is a rattle, and that continues to be Buddy’s favorite part. We still play with this all the time. I would recommend this for ages 6 months – 2 years.

8. Bright Start Roll, Shake, and Spin Activity Balls

Buddy loves balls of all kinds, but these balls have always been a favorite. They’re easy to hold and some of them make a noise when shaken. I’ve already blogged about some of our activities with these balls (read about them here: balls in a tube, balls in a muffin tin, and colander activities). I’m sure we will continue to play with these for a long time. I would recommend these for ages 6 months and up.

9. B. Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube

We received this as a hand-me-down from friends, and we’re so lucky they gave it to us! This was a great activity to help Buddy build strength in playing while standing. He still loves playing with it! I would recommend this for ages 9 months – 3 years.

10. Munchkin Baby Bath Ball

This was an impulse stocking stuffer, and we ended up loving it so much we bought a second one for Grandma’s house in Florida. As I mentioned before, Buddy loves balls, so it’s fun to have one to play with in the bathtub. We’ve also used it in our water table and at the pool. It is a strainer, and there’s a ball within the ball that makes noise. It’s a lot of fun. I would recommend this for ages 6 months – 2 years.

11. High chair toys Melissa and Doug Wooden Bead Maze and Sassy Fascination Station

Whoever invented toys with suction cup bottoms for high chairs was a genius. We have two different ones (linked above), and we love them both. It is so nice to have a toy on hand while finishing cooking, unpacking groceries, or cleaning up after dinner. The Sassy one in the picture we used more when Buddy was younger, and we use the Melissa and Doug bead maze more now. I would recommend these for ages 6 -18 months.

12. Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

The activity jumper was another hand-me-down from a friend. But it is totally worth the money to buy one if you don’t have one that you can borrow. Buddy loved this so much! He would jump and laugh for a long time. It was great having him contained, so I could do things like grade papers or clean. We were all so sad when Buddy outgrew his jumperoo. I would recommend this for ages 7 months – 12 months.

13. Stacking rings

There are a lot of variations of stacking rings out there. Ours lights up and makes noise, and I know Buddy loves it. It was a challenge for Buddy to do this independently at first (at 8 months), but he was so proud once he could do it. I think he’s almost outgrown it, but we do still play with the stacking rings from time to time. I would recommend it for ages 6 – 18 months.

If you’re looking for a gift for a younger infant, read my blog about toys for infants 0-6 months here.