Activities For Toddlers

Benefits of Play

As the rain falls outside my window today, I wonder what types of rainy day activities we can do to keep my active toddler occupied. Normally we would visit a local playground or just spend some time chasing a soccer ball outside. 

Today, however, that’s just not possible.

So I took some time to wrack my brain and came up with some fantastic ideas.

The first fall back is always the local bookstore, where they offer story times complete with a craft at the end. In case he’s not into the story or craft, there is always a train table where he can learn how to share with other kids. As the only child at home he doesn’t always get the socialization he needs. In fact, a founding father of developmental psychology Jean Piaget believed that children get their sense of justice from interactions with their peers.  

Parents, Piaget argued, can appear to children as illogical governments making rules randomly
to suit their own needs. Now it’s not that we parents are actually dictators, but the point Piaget was making was that children do not always understand our reasoning. However, among their peers they learn justice because they are all working on the same level (Ross and Pearson, n.d.).  

Also, research has shown that children with poor social skills can have problems down the line including depression, withdrawal, and anxiety. Conversely, children who were encouraged to play in child-led activities were better at sharing, taking turns, cooperating, more conscious of other
kids’ views and emotions and behaving properly towards others (Lobo and Winsler, 2006).

A local dance class for kids and toddlers might work too. Not only does your child get exercise, he will get more of that peer interaction. If you and your toddler would rather stay at home, creative dancing can help your child tremendously.  For instance, in a Canadian study of 40 children who were involved in a Head Start creative dance program showed marked improvement in social skills and behavior (Lobo and Winsler, 2006). These children were at-risk youth from low-income areas.  Each child who participated in a dance program was better adjusted than children who did not.

Other out-of-the-house activities can include visiting a local kid-friendly museum. For instance, a local manufacturer of art supplies has a museum in which children can create works of art, learn lessons about water movement through play, and dance to loud music while their images move on
a giant screen. Check out your local visitors’ bureau to get ideas on rainy day destinations.

If you’re not big into dancing or museums and would like to lessen your carbon footprint by staying home, try finger painting, music making, and coloring.  

You can make instruments from old cans filled with beans and covered on one end with a piece of paper and a rubber band, or old pots and pans. Your toddler may also be interested in building race tracks or obstacle courses for their play vehicles. If all else fails, try a game of dress up using old clothes! You would be surprised on the creativity of your child when they are given the chance to shine!