Setting up easy activities for toddlers to encourage and extend playful learning doesn't need to be time intensive or require expensive toys and other materials.
Toddlers have shorter attention spans but they still love to investigate, explore and challenge their emerging skills so the trick is to keep their activities and invitations simple, quick to setup and easy to repeat as they come and go throughout the day. Setting up little activity spaces, stations or baskets around a room or outdoors encourages interest and a toddlers drive to lead their own play.
To help you get started I'm sharing some easy inspiration and ideas from around the web and our own talented and creative Empowered Educators. Real activities you can try tomorrow in your home or early learning service! Let's take a wander.....check under each image for more information about the activity idea.
Test out what floats and sinks - an easy water activity for toddlers and a great idea from our Empowered Educator Facebook group member Brooke.
Empowered Ed Member Tanya made these toddler painting easels from pizza boxes. Tanya blu-tacked them to the table and then used milk carton lids as paint holders. Love the sustainability factor here!
Kate from our Empowered Educator Facebook group set up this invitation to create and collage with circles and strips of coloured paper.
Toddlers love to hammer! Marg from our Empowered Educator Community made this peg board for hammering golf tees - a simple DIY fine motor activity!
Add texture and smell to the building block play with the addition of a little shaving cream! (Please do not use shaving cream if you have children with sensitive skin or allergies) This easy idea was shared by Michelle from our Empowered Educator Facebook Group.
Mix up your playdough with a theme! Empowered Ed member Sharon added some ocean themed toys to her blue playdough and made such an inviting invitation to play. I love the use of those wooden boards to create individual workspaces!
I am yet to meet a toddler who doesn't love to engage in bubble play! Try adding a little food colouring or edicol powder dye as well for extra sensory appeal. This activity and photo was kindly shared by Elizabeth from our Facebook group.
Find your name! A simple but fun name recognition activity from Empowered Ed Hub Member Amanda.
Gwen from the Empowered Ed Community recently shared her fine motor water colour experiments with us - all you need is water, food coloring (or edicol dye) and medicine droppers or syringes.
Go on a colour nature hunt indoors or outdoors together! I love this simple setup idea from Empowered Ed Member Amanda, and the best part is this resource can be used over and over again.
Construction corners created from recycled materials (ask families to donate them) are always a hit with children of all ages. Add some masking tape and glue and you're good to go! This idea and photo was shared in the Empowered Ed Facebook group by Kelly.
Don't overthink your tuff spot tray setups - rainbow rice (or plain rice) and a range of pots, pans and scoops make for an easy sensory toddler activity. Thanks to Empowered Ed Hub Member Mona for sharing this inviting activity with us recently.
Use your utensils for more than just cooking and explore patterns, shapes, outlines and colours just like our Empowered Ed member Natasha did.
Painting using cardboard rolls - another great way to show children how to reuse items from your recycling bin. Thanks for the great idea Ljiljana.
Ask families to donate old computers and technology items and set up an office or two! Thanks to Roelien from our Empowered Ed Facebook group for this idea and photo.
Empowered Ed member Amanda shared this easy idea with other educators recently - use glue to make your own patterned paint rollers!
If you want more easy play based activity ideas like the ones above for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school age children that have already been added to program planners with links to learning outcomes, you can access a library of done for you program themes in the Empowered Educator Member Hub Here.
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A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.