Simple Fun for Toddlers

Digging in the ground or in a sand pit is also a great activity!

Digging in the ground or in a sand pit is also a great activity!

I’m always on the lookout for easy, wholesome ideas to entertain my two daughters, and never bore of reading how others do it with their children. Here are some ideas that take zero to little preparation on my part, and hopefully keep my toddlers and yours entertained for a fairly long time.

Water Play

Kids love playing with water, in any shape, structure or form. It takes a little bit of effort on my part cleaning up afterwards, but the amount of time they spend doing these activities is well worth my ten minutes of cleaning:

  • Dish Washing: My daughter likes to pull a small chair up to the kitchen sink, open the faucet, grab a sponge and ‘wash’ away the dishes and utensils. At some point I might actually gather enough courage to let those dishes end up in my clean dishes rack, but for now she’s satisfied putting her washed dishes next to the sink.
  • Toothbrushes and tub cleaning: This activity works for most ages. I give my two toddlers old toothbrushes, a small bucket of soapy water and a soap bar and let them clean out my shower tiles. Lately, I’ve added spray bottles and squeegees to their cleaning items and it’s given them a new dimension of fun. You can consider letting them wear their crocs in the bath tub in case they slip.
  • Sink play: Fill the sink with soapy water, put a stopper in, and let them play away! (A friend’s advice: A plastic apron for these water activities is a good investment, especially for kids who are prone to sickness.)

Bean Play

I like to save empty glass jars of all sizes for childrens’ activities. One of these activities involves dry beans, measuring spoons, cups and jars. Just lay out your mat, and leave the toddlers to measure, pour, and tea party away. The beans remain in edible condition, and I can always wash them and cook them afterwards. Warning: Beware of hungry 18 month old girls and evening diapers.

Play dough

I really think that a play dough activity pack is a nice investment, especially the ones that come with pressing machines and items for making spaghetti shapes, stars, cylinders, etc. With some cookie cutters, rolling pins, and measuring spoons to add to the fun, your kids should love it.

Some words of wisdom

Prepare to let go. Let go of the dry bathroom, let go of the clean carpets, let go of the dry clothes. This helps me release my anger if (when!) things get bigger than I expected. Prepare your kids and the house so the aftermath is less of a disaster zone (place a large plastic table cloth under their play zone, dress them in water-resistant clothing, or keep in mind that they will get wet and/or dirty.)  Enjoy your kids and give me tips on how to entertain mine!

Fatima Abdallah

Fatima Abdallah lives in Virginia with her two daughters and travelling husband.  Her interests include Islamic work, healthy living and graphic design.

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  • Amane

    Love it! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to go get my kids ready to scrub the bathtub now ;-).

  • Um Lubayah

    Great! Now I know where to come when my kids are older and we want to play something messy. ;)

  • laura

    Love your ideas. We also do a lot w/ ice. Ice cubes are an easy toy to have on hand. I also saw online where another mother put a bunch of plastic toys into a container, filled it w/ water and froze the whole thing. After it was frozen, she let her kids “excavate” their toys.

  • mountaineermama

    my kids can spend hours in a sand box…with water, toys, shovels etc. We have a small stand up one that sits on a balcony or deck. I’ve know others to keep sand in a baby bath tub wrapped in a big comforter and stored under the bed for indoor use. Throwing some beans and jars in there would also be fun! JAK fatima!

  • Fariha

    thanks for sharing Fatima! Especially the part about “letting go” — it’s so hard but so necessary!!

  • mahaezz

    It is good to be reminded that–yes, there is something you can do right now! Get creative, stop operating on auto-pilot (I wish there was someone shadowing me who could tell me that when I forget)!

  • Sister Mo’mina

    As-salaamo alaykum,

    Jazakillah Khair for that article. Masha’ Allah my boys love water play as well. An activity for learning how to hand was in my Montessori in the Home book that is similar to some you mentioned. Fill as small tub or small shallow bucket with warm water. Give your older toddler a small size bar of soap, they recommend a ‘hotel’ size, then show them how to suds up and rinse. Hours of fun insha’ Allah. You could have them do it in the kitchen or out doors if you have a place insha’ Allah.

  • Jessi

    Great suggestions!