Mother and Baby

8 Fun, Free And Creative Games To Play With Your Toddler

Get inspired with our pick of the best activities to do at home with your child

Playing with your child doesn’t always mean spending a fortune on new toys for him.

Especially when he’s probably one of the most excitable (albeit easily distracted) audiences you have right now. Who else laughs so much at your Barney the Dinosaur impression?

And there are plenty of ways you can get creative with objects you already have in or near the house. Introducing our favourites.

1. Steal your partner’s shaving foam

Put an apron on your child and a shower curtain on the floor, then fill an old baking tray with the foam.

‘Let your toddler enjoy the wonderfully tactile feel of it, which is great for his sensory development,’ says Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents (£13.99, Piatkus).

2. Paint with sponges

While the shower curtain’s down and your toddler’s covered up, get a packet of washing up sponges and some paper, then let him use paint to create his own stamp.

Cut the sponges into heart or star shapes if you’re feeling extra arty.

3. Bring the garden inside

Fill a washing up bowl with mud, sticks, leaves and stones for your child to rummage through.

‘Again, this is good for sensory play and to help him learn about nature, especially if a few bugs or worms make their way in there,’ says Sarah. You could then make a collage out of the sticks and leaves.

4. Get furniture creative

Put your dining room chairs in a square and drape a towel or sheet over them to create a play den for your kids. Or, set up an obstacle course in the living room with sofa cushions to climb over and piles of laundry to navigate around.

Creative and good for getting your toddler moving.

5. Finish that ice cream

Fill the old tub with water and add animal figures from cold places, such as penguins and polar bears.

Your toddler will love watching it slowly melt to reveal the animals

‘Put the tub back in the freezer and when the water is frozen, tip the ice block out into a washing up bowl of warm water,’ says Sarah.

Your toddler will love watching it slowly melt to reveal the animals, and it gets him started on very basic geography and science. Plus, you get to power through some Ben and Jerry’s – it’s a win win.

6. Update hide and seek

OK, so it’s not revolutionary, but sardines is perfect if you have a few children. Basically, one person hides and the rest of the group looks – as each person finds him, they join him in the hiding spot until everyone’s found.

Even if the littlest ones don’t quite understand, they’ll still get excited playing with their older siblings and squeezing behind the curtain with them.

7. Get accessory happy

Nothing beats homemade pasta jewellery for encouraging your mini artist. ‘Paint the pasta shells and cover with glitter, then thread them on string to make a necklace,’ says Sarah.

Just remember to take it off before that Monday meeting.

8. Embrace cardboard boxes

We’ve all been there. You’ve bought your toddler a new toy – and all he wants is the box to play with.

Cut and draw on larger boxes to make houses or space ships, and paint on egg boxes then break apart the individual container shells to create puppets. Or, string them together to create a chain to hang in the kitchen, so he can marvel at his handy work.

What are your favourite ways to get creative with your child? Let us know below.

  • Author: Alex Davies Alex Davies
  • Job Title: Features Writer

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