Being stuck at home with a 2-year-old can be tough at times but you really can’t go out every single day and it is good for children to learn that home can be a fun place too, it is good to allow them to learn and play on their own and it is important for you to be at home to get jobs done. It is also crucial for them to learn from you and play with you too so, I am going to share with you some of the play ideas we do at home with our 2-year-old which is a mix of both independent and assisted play.
I’m going to start with the real basics, the things that all toddlers love and that most of us already have in the home.
- Magic/kinetic sand
- Sand and water table
All of these can be adapted according to age and you can choose how much freedom they have. If it is a nice day, you can do the messier bits outside or you could purchase a Tuff Tray which can be used both indoors and outdoors. Make sure you have an apron and also play mats to cover surfaces if using these inside.
Setting up dedicated play stations around a room or your home will enable your toddler to play freely, to use their imaginations, to engage in role-play and will allow them to play alone if you need to get on with jobs around the home. A few ideas here for you include a wooden toy are, a dressing up station, a music area and a cafe area. Just by simply using toys/items/kitchen utensils etc. you can easily set up things that your child loves to do that will keep them entertained for quite a while.
One sure way of ensuring your child/children don’t become too bored being at home is by sticking to a regular toy rotation. By doing this you won’t end up overwhelming them with too much choice, you will be showing them toys that may usually overlook and you will be creating more interest for them. You can choose to rotate toys every few days but most parents that find once a week or so is more achievable. Start by removing all toys from your living room or play area (leave the larger items, puzzles, lego and so on as these are play staples). Then carefully divide your toys up into playgroups and select ones that could be played with together in a variety of ways. Open-ended wooden toys are perfect for this because the play possibilities are just endless. Making up baskets of small selections of toys and leaving these out for your child to discover is a great way to spark their imagination. This is also a great way of showing you what your child prefers to play with and what stimulates them. Sometimes the best toys for 2 year olds really surprise you!
Sensory play is not only fun but really beneficial too. There are so many amazing ideas out there on the internet and if you have a tuff tray there are countless activities you can set up. Some examples include:
- Shaving foam
- Cheerios with kitchen utensils to play, sieve and fill things in.
- mud and sand
- shredded paper
- musical toys
- freezing toy animals and watching them melt
- creating miniature worlds such as lego people, dinosaurs, princesses, fairies, bugs etc.
- threading activities
- lucky dips
- water beads
- hide and seek using sand
Crafting with a two-year-old isn’t easy but as long as it’s quite simple they can do it with you. Some great options are:
-To purchase arts and crafts sets and use the materials to create a collage
-Make your own playdough with this simple method:
- 1 cup of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 cup of cornflour/corn starch
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- a few drops of lavender oil
- 3/4 cup of warm water
- gel food colouring (optional, leave out if concerned about any skin reactions)
Mix the water and oil in a pan over a medium heat and then add the food colouring. Once fully mixed, gradually add the flour and baking soda until it begins to congeal. Take off the heat and begin to mould with your hands. Add the lavender oil to get a nice scent (optional). You can also add glitter to make it more interesting.
-Make salt dough. We have recently made salt dough dinosaur fossils which you can view in this blog post here.
-Paint or decorate toilet roll tubes
-Paint or decorate paper plates
-Collect items on a nature walk and create a collage when you get back
-Threading beads onto string to make a necklace (a great fine motor skill activity)
-Mask making (obviously with a lot of help from you but they can decorate/paint it)
All 2-year-olds are different and for some, these activities will keep them interested and engaged for a while and others will lose interest far more quickly. By trying out a selection you will quickly work out what your own child loves to do and then you can adapt each crafting session to their own needs.
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Chill Out Time
And finally, don’t forget that chill out time is essential for their development too. The time to sit and process things, to rest their bodies and to listen to a story from you. Make sure you schedule time like this into their day as well as a nap if they still require one. You don’t want them to burn themselves out or become overtired– bedtime with an exhausted toddler is never fun! It is all about finding a good balance between play, educational activities and downtime.
Toddlers are so inquisitive and are so much fun to watch especially when they are trying something for the very first time. I hope you enjoy taking some of these 2-year-old play ideas on board and can easily use them in your own home.
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