On days when the weather isn't cooperating....

....and you have a toddler who is cooped up inside, here are ideas for entertaining the little one.

Go "Grocery Shopping. " Before you say “no way,” check out this idea.  If your child has a little grocery cart (or any type of basket—even a small laundry basket or a box will do), take out some canned goods and let your toddler go “grocery shopping.”  Your child can take them out and put them on the floor and count the number of cans, identify the food, tell you what color each of the items in the cans are, stack them and make a tower.  That should occupy the little one for at least 20-30 minutes.

“Scribble Me This.”  They love to write on a pad of paper.  One of the mechanical pencils works well because the lead can extend the time longer.  

Wash Some Dishes.  This one will require your help, but standing over the sink and turning on the water is so fascinating to kids.  And….you can get the dishes washed in the process!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Save those delivery boxes!  Make a “boat” out of one (just plop your child in there and say that it’s a boat!), use the kiddie broom (if you have one) or a plastic baseball bat as an oar and start singing!   Good for at least ten minutes!

Toddler boy and girl playing row boat in a long shipping box

Stacking Cups.  These colorful cups are a fascination for a toddler.  They tick several learning experience boxes:  Naming the colors, hand-eye coordination and counting.  Be aware that they seem to go missing under furniture, though.  That little purple one is always on my search list.  I actually keep two sets just in case the search goes cold.

The Wonderful World of Stickers.  Buy some inexpensive stickers, and that pad of paper used above, and let your child just stick them all over the pages.  No rhyme or reason to it.  Count it as a fine motor skills activity.

Let’s March! Hut! Hut! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.  When you are going from one room to the next, make it a march with the little one.  Knees high and swing the arms.  And they are learning to count, too.

Raffi A Young Concert for Children

This 45-minute concert is a treasure.  I'm not sure he’s known by many people today. but my grown-up daughters and I sang these songs back in the day.   I’ll bet you, too, will be singing and going through the motions to “Mr. Sun!”

"Mr Sun"

Color My World.  Pick up a few coloring books at the Dollar Store.  Here is some advice about the crayons, though.  That paper around them just calls on a child to tear it off.  The next thing is the breaking in half of the crayons.  A possible solution is these Crayola crayons.  They have more of a chance at staying in one piece. 

Time to Clean.   Hand over that all-purpose cleaner and some paper towels to your toddler and head over to your refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.  They love to spray and wipe!    The younger ones may need some help with dispensing the spray and directing it away from them.

More Singing.  Sprinkle songs throughout the day.  When they go to nursery school, they will be one step ahead if they know some of the old-time favorites.

Doe, a Deer....

Julie Andrews can entertain for a little while with her enchanting songs from “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.”  These are wholesome gems to drown out some of the rough music that their little ears will absorb all too soon. You can find them on the YouTube links below.

What’s Cooking?  Pots, pans and some items such as these plastic coins from the piggy bank can be entertaining to a toddler.  The bonus for mom is if you have a plastic pot or bowl instead of a metal one.  The noise level will be more tolerable!

Toddler boy stirring pot of pretend food

Who doesn’t love a balloon?  Blow up a couple of balloons and bounce them into the air for your child to chase and bounce back to you.   Always be alert for any that pop so the little one doesn’t decide to put it in the mouth.

Play catch.  Pick up a Dollar Store big ball and play catch.  Make it easier for your toddler to feel success at catching by sitting in a chair (a toddler-sized one is best) and aim the ball for the outstretched arms.  You will find it a much less frustrating experience for both of you---less chasing of the ball.  A toddler plastic Adironack chairs works well because of the angle of the seat.

Cereal can be your “Lucky Charm.”  Pull out a box of colored cereal and let your toddler sort by colors, counting as they are put into cups.  Then with some safe glue, make a rainbow on a piece of construction paper. 

Here’s the icing on the cake….I mean the cookie.  Make a batch of cut and bake sugar cookies.  Pick up a few colors of squirt icing and some sprinkles at the grocery store and let your child decorate them.  During holiday times, you can actually buy kits already made at WalMart for under $10, cookies included.

Take a break and read a book.  An obvious one, but always a good choice.

Toddler boy and girl reading books

These activities will bring adventure and joy to your little ones on an otherwise dreary day.

One last note:  Keep your camera or cell phone handy while all of this is going on.  There are photo memories unfolding before your eyes.  Use the portrait mode to blur out some of the household background.  Hold the camera or phone very steady to avoid the blurring of your subject.  Get different angles and photos of just those little hands doing the activities.  And video his/her motions during the Raffi concert.  It’s a day in the life of your toddler that you can’t get back…..preserve it in photos.

Baltimore Children's Photographer