Activities Our Kids Do and Products We Love

Activities Our Kids Do and Products We Love for Toddlers and Preschoolers


Pasting–stick glue or I put glue on a small paper plate, give them paintbrushes or q-tips, and let them “paint” the glue on

Styrofoam shapes and toothpicks–let them create anything and everything, using the toothpicks as connectors and limbs

Folding paper–origamiairplanes, or other crafts

Tracing–use tracing paper or let them trace around the edges of just about anything, including their hand

Glitter–glitter glue or the old school way of sprinkling on top of glue

Dry erase markers–color on a dry erase board or dry erase cards

Color with markers or crayons–there’s a plethora of free coloring pages online, or just let them go free style


Chalk–on a chalk board, on paper, or on the sidewalk

Crayon rubbings–anything with texture goes here–a favorite is tree bark, or you can purchase something like this

Stencils–use markers, colored pencils, or let them use a wide round paintbrush to dab paint on for a different texture

Painting–finger painting, watercolors, edible paint by painting with yogurt or painting yummy foods with syrup, put washable paint on paper in a tray and roll marbles around in it for a unique work of art, blow paint around on paper with a straw, experiment with different textures like painting with sponges instead of brushes

Modeling clay–buy play dough or make your ownmodel magic, silly putty, thinking putty; cut it with plastic knives, scissors, or cookie cutters, use play dough mats, or try some of these fun ideas

Tools–toy ones or real ones

Animal figurines

Pattern blocks–Mighty MindMelissa and Doug Magnetic Pattern Blocksthese, or cut your own



Feel and find bag–we purchased our own, but you can easily do make something like this with almost anything you have at home

Sorting–I love the ideas she has here; we own a Color and Shape SorterCounting Bears, and tweezers that we use for this

Doll house and figurines–here’s the one we own, but you can also make one with

Pouring–use pitchers, bowls, funnels, cups, and ladles to practice pouring rice, beads, beans, pasta, and water

Puzzles–knob puzzles, various wood puzzles, block puzzles, and simple cardboard puzzles

Play food–“cook,” use play money or a cash register and let them set up a grocery store, practice setting the table, learn about food groups

Doctor’s kit–role play, help them learn about parts of their body

Mr. Potato Head

Cars–make roads with tape on the floor or get out paper towel rolls for tunnels

Building–blocks, legos, Duplo, or Pop Ons (easier for little hands)

Window crayons

Water play–fill up the sink with suds and dishes and let them “wash” them, “paint” the sidewalk or wall, bubbles, sand and water table, give them a big bowl of water and objects that will float or sink–if you’re willing to clean up a mess (I usually am), almost all of this can be done in some form inside, too, if you cover your floors with a tarp or something similar


Pattern Play

Toddler phone

Matching letter and words–See and Spell, or make your own version by printing each letter on small notecards, then print words for them to copy using the cards

Stickers–put them in coloring books, blank paper, on your body, or on windows

Matching–shapes, colors, numbers, letters, pictures, Concentrationhidden pictures with matching picture in the key

Skinny objects in small spaces–popsicle sticks, spaghetti, or straws in salt shakers, spice lids, or bottles

Board games–no rule following required; some of our favorites are ElefunCootie, & Don’t Break the Ice

Educational Laptop

Marbles–besides the traditional games you can set up mazes using a shoebox and straws as boundaries, let them roll them through “tunnels” made from paper towel rolls, cut a pool noodle in half and have marble races, or use something like the Marble Run

Musical instruments–we both have music degrees, so we have lots of real instruments for our kids, but we also love sets like this, pots and pans or storage containers with wooden spoons are also amazing (and amazingly loud!), or try making some of your own

Wedgits–can’t say enough good things about these

Magnets–magnetic letters and numbers, magnets with paper clips, power magnets (these can be used for tons of sorting activities, too), or magnetic puzzles

Peg board–sorting, counting, patterns, colors

Animal Train Sort and Match–our preschoolers could play with this all day long

Dress up Dolls–use real dolls for dressing practice, paper dolls, or wooden magnetic sets like this Melissa and Doug set or Wooden Bear Family

Beading–yarn, string, or pipe cleaners with a variety of beads or cheerios, or we own this Melissa and Doug set, the Bucket O Beads, and a Bracelet Making Kit

Lacing–again, we love us some Melissa and Doug, but you can easily make these at home by punching holes around any picture or even a paper plate and letting your children use string or yarn for lacing patterns

Doodler or Etch a Sketch

Wikki Stix–ah-mazing, similar to pipe cleaners but with more possibilities

Hole punching–though not impossible, sometimes a regular hole punch is too difficult for little hands to push together, so I tend to lean toward craft punches or three-hole punches

Pipe cleaners–lots of cute ideas here

Look at books or listen to audio books

For other ideas on keeping little hands busy, feel free to browse my Pinterest page


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