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While it may be so easy and simple to just hand your toddler an iPad or Kindle, keeping them busy and occupied doesn’t always have to involve a screen. There’s nothing wrong with some screen time, just be sure that it’s in moderation.

But how then, do you keep them occupied?

Well, aside from some good old fashioned play time indoors, there are plenty of ways to keep your toddler busy.

Some things are hands on, and why not? I have just as much fun coloring or playing with playdough as my toddler does. Other things you may need to do with your toddler and that’s okay too.

They’re only young once and sometimes we might take for granted the opportunities that we have to make memories.

Let's face it, even as a stay at home mom, sometimes we need a break from playing. Here are fun things to do with your toddler that they can also do alone or with minimal adult participation.

Any parent with an active toddler at home can testify to the fact that, without a plan in place on how to keep them busy, it is next to impossible to get anything done around the house!

Active toddlers demand so much our attention that it can be difficult to keep on top of all the other responsibilities that require our attention. With that in mind, here are a few ideas on how to keep your active toddler busy.

7 Fun Things that Parents Can Do With Their Active Toddler


Painting, coloring, or drawing can all be fantastically engaging for toddlers, but it is often something that parents shy away from doing at home. Just because your toddler cannot paint anything that resembles a picture, the simple act of putting colors on paper is a brilliant achievement for them.

Put on some old clothes, spread the paper out far and wide, and encourage your toddler to paint whatever they want. You’d be surprised just how rewarding they might find it!


Cleaning and tidying can be very exciting for toddlers. They have no concept of work, so why not put them to good use!

Ask your toddler to collect all his toys and put them in the toy box. What about giving him a bowl of water and asking him to wash a selection of toys? Perhaps you could ask him to wash his vegetables in a bowl of water before making dinner?

If your toddler thinks they are helping, and they are doing something with their hands, they will be more than likely happy to go along with whatever you suggest!


Puzzles can be brilliant for active toddlers. Simple games like sorting toys by color can keep your toddler busy for some time, and is a fantastic learning tool for them.

As they get older, this can progress to puzzle based games like jigsaws or letters and numbers games. By cultivating an interest in puzzles at a young age, you will reap the rewards as your child gets older.


Most children are fascinated by fridge magnets. If you are really stuck for an activity to keep your toddler busy, why not ask them to move all the fridge magnets from the fridge to the washing machine?

Tell them they can rearrange the magnets whatever way they want in their new home. This simple activity can easily entertain a toddler for 20 minutes as they go back and forth between the two machines.

Cookie sheets also make for a great portable magnet tray.

We love to read books and one of our favorites lately is Eric Carle.

So what else can you do with your toddler?

Those moments when you and your toddler engage and play are some of the best moments a parent can have. When these fun moments can also be learning moments, you receive even more satisfaction and joy from the moment.

Your child is learning and having fun with you. It doesn’t get better than that. Here are three learning games to play with your toddler.

Shape Hunt

This is a great way to teach your children their shapes and to learn to apply their knowledge to the real world. If you have blocks, you can start with those. Have your child identify the shapes.

For example, “Which block is a circle?”

When your child points to the circle, pick it up and congratulate them. Then encourage them to find other circles in your home. Try to have a few well-placed circles sitting nearby so they’re successful right away.

For example, “You’re right, this is a circle. Do you see any other circles around here? What about this plate? Is this plate a circle?”

Whether the child says yes or no, show them how the two shapes are the same. Repeat the game with other shapes. Make it more challenging as you go. Look for shapes within shapes. For example, circle or square shapes on your oven. You can repeat the process with colors and even textures.

For example, find five things in this room that are red. Your child can combine counting with mastering their colors. Or, find something that is soft.

Alphabet Game

While toddlers aren’t going to learn to read, learning to recognize their letters is the first step to that eventual skill. You can make learning their alphabet fun. A foam letter mat is an ideal prop for this game. Lay the mat on the floor and have your child jump to a letter you call out.

For example, “Where is the S?” They’ll jump to the S and you’ll have a dance party. If you’re playing music during this game it’s even more fun.

If you don’t have a foam alphabet mat, then you can take pieces of construction paper and draw large letters on it. You can also take a large sheet of art paper and create a paper alphabet map. Instead of jumping on the paper, they can toss a beanbag on the correct letter.

Scavenger Hunt

This can be with animals, bugs, dinosaurs, trucks or whatever they’re interested in. Scavenger hunts are always fun. And they’re particularly fun for your toddler if you’re hunting for things they enjoy. Prepare ahead of time with pictures. You can print them on your computer, cut them out of magazines or place books around the home for your child to find.

I'll be the first to admit it- sometimes I just don't feel like playing all day with my toddler. Yes, it can be fun but there are also times that I'd just rather be done. Here are some fun things that toddlers can do on their own and that you can do together.

Learning games are a wonderful way to bond with your child and help them embrace the world around them. They set a foundation for a love of learning. Choose one of these learning games or make one up yourself.

Some of these activities, your toddler may want to eventually do on their own. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Not only are you fostering their independence, but you’re also freeing up a little bit of time for yourself. Toddlers are bundles of energy, and curiosity; take advantage of that with some of these fun things to do with your toddler.

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Digital Product Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed autistic/ADHD mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, product creator, and coach; Kori shares autism family life- the highs, lows, messy, and real. Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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Janice Tyler
7 years ago

I also have toddler and I totally don’t like an idea about giving an iPad to him. I would like him to play more but not on iPad because I think he’s still too small for it. From my point of view, playing with simple toys is better than just giving him an iPad. I know that it’s hard to play with toddler because he/she could easily drive you crazy. I liked the fun things that you mentioned and think that they are really useful. I think cleaning is pretty useful thing that will keep toddler occupied and you’ll be… Read more »