How Do You Entertain an Active Toddler?

Little Tikes

Little Tikes

Toddlers are full of energy and curiosity. I am always trying to find ways to channel my toddler’s energy for good instead of destruction. 

Today we’ve partnered with Little Tikes to share some tips and strategies to help you.  

To keep a toddler busy, at minimum you need to have the following three things:

  • Open-ended toys that foster creativity and imagination.
  • Simple sensory activities.
  • Opportunities to move in big and little ways.

Keep reading as we dive more into these three things in a bit and explain why they are critical for busy toddlers. 

  • Why are open-ended toys important for toddlers?

    kid driving
    Little Tikes

    Open-ended toys allow kids to use them in more than one way. They help kids use their imagination and creativity while they also have fun. Typically they can also be used together with siblings or friends. Kids can use them differently each time they play based on what they are interested in.

    For example, using their Cozy Coupe car, they could drive around and pretend to be the mailman one day and then the next day they could wash the car with soap, sponges, and water and use it to create a car wash. They could also toss a baby doll inside and be a “mom” one day and a “dad” the next. 

    With open-ended toys there are no rules and no pressure to create a finished product. There is no “wrong” way to play!

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  • Why are simple sensory activities important for toddlers?

    Similar to when you pull out playdough for sensory play or do a sensory scooping activity, sensory activities help teach kids things like...

    • self control

    • stress relief

    • imagination

    • hand-eye coordination

    • fine motor skills

    • social skills

    • language skills

    • and more!

    Don’t you want your toddler learning those sort of skills? I do!

  • Why is it important to get toddlers moving?

    Raising Children shares that “Movement is important for your toddler’s learning and overall health and well-being. Play is one of the main ways that children learn and develop, so playing with your toddler each day helps her move about and strengthens her muscles and bones. As your toddler climbs higher, runs faster and jumps further her confidence in what she can do will grow.”

    According to Scholastic, kids who move regularly also often enjoy:

    • Improved sleep

    • Improved ability to focus

    • Build healthy bones

    • Enhanced emotional well being

    • Opportunities for social and emotional growth

    • Improved self-confidence

  • Are you ready to entertain your toddler?

    kids in sand
    LIttle Tikes

    Here are SIX awesome activities (including three life saving toys you'll want on your wish list) that will keep your active toddler busy! Kids can PLAY BIG, while you tackle all of those other small things you need to do.

  • 1. Cars & Trucks

    Cars and trucks are our favorite open-ended play toy. Kids can drive them around, create ramps and tunnels for them, and even add them to their favorite sensory bins or carry them along with us to the park to play in the sand. You can also use them in simple art activities like painting with trucks. We always bring painter's tape and cars/trucks with us when we go on vacation. It is so easy to create a tape road that any sized car or truck can go on.  

    This Dirt Diggers™ 2-in-1 Cement Mixer can be used indoors and outside. We love using it in the sandbox, dirt, and wood chips … but it’s also fun to play with on the carpet with other favorite action figures. After a good bath, of course! This open-ended toy can be used in so many ways!

  • 2. Sensory Bins

    Sensory bins are so great for helping kids explore their senses and work on many small motor tasks. Some of our favorite bins include either playdough, dyed rice, or black beans. We just add in whatever small toy is a favorite and some scoops or tongs and everyone plays for hours!

    Sensory bins are great calming activities for active toddlers as well.

  • 3. Something to Jump On

    Little Tikes

    Kids love to bounce and spin. Typically, they’ll use whatever you have around if you don’t channel them in a special way -- beds, couches, or even pillows are fun to jump on!

    We love having a trampoline to direct kids to when they need to get out some extra energy. If they start running around or bouncing on the couch on a rainy day, it is much easier to redirect them to a tool that was designed for jumping… instead of just telling them to stop.

    The Little Tikes® 3 - Foot Trampoline is a great tool for busy toddlers and preschoolers under 55 lbs. There is even a version that is easy to put away and store since the handle folds down. Perfect for small spaces!

  • 4. Ride-On Toys

    ride-on toy
    Little Tikes

    Did you know that active toddlers can use ride-on toys in the house AND outside? We keep our Cozy Coupe indoors and my toddler does donuts all around the family room and rides back and forth. She also pulls her toys along to play with her in her little car.  

    Ride-on toys are a great way to help kids get energy out while also building hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. 

    This classic Cozy Coupe® has been a favorite for all four of my kids as toddlers and preschoolers (up to 50 lbs). They are always so sad when they grow out of it! I wish there was an adult version.

    If kids get tired of driving their cozy coupe car, mom and dad can even push them!

  • 5. Hunting

    Have you ever set up a hunt around your house with your kids? We hide all sorts of things and then let the kids hunt to find them! It can keep them busy for a long time.

    Here are a few fun things to hunt:

    • Candy canes

    • Glowsticks 

    • Toys (have them hunt by color)

    • Stuffed animals

    • Words or pictures (give them a flashlight to make this even more fun)

    • Letters or numbers (we like to use letters in their name or their age)

    Kids build vocabulary skills playing simple games like this. They also work on social skills and problem-solving skills.

  • 6. Music & Movement

    Music is a magical tool for helping busy toddlers get their wiggles out. You can sing favorite songs together or turn on your favorite songs and move and dance. We love to pull out pots and pans and wooden spoons to make a kitchen band. We also like to play freeze dance! Both of these activities give kids opportunities to practice listening skills and following directions.

    What are your favorite dance songs to use with your kids?

  • All six of these activities we’ve shared can be helpful in keeping active toddlers busy! 

    They also all allow opportunities for open-ended play, sensory play, or movement! Do you have any other favorite activities to keep 2 or 3-year-olds busy? Share them below!

    Kristina Buskirk of Toddler Approved is the mom of four as well as a National Board certified teacher. She retired in Fall 2011 and now loves being full-time mom and teacher to her kiddos.