We all know that keeping toddlers entertained can be a little bit of a challenge. Sometimes it can be a struggle to keep them all focused and doing the same activity. However, having a few different tasks available is usually a winning combination. This allows them to choose what to do rather than trying to get them all working together on the same task at the same time.
There are times where working together as a group is important for a structured child care centre; these may include afternoon relaxation/nap time, meal times, and outdoor activities. But what about all those times in between? In this article, we’ll share a few of our favourite activities for toddlers in child care. These are reasonably quick and easy to set up and should keep many of your charges occupied and engaged.
Making something to take home
In our experience parents love having something special to take home that showed what their child did on that day. These few activities will provide your toddlers with plenty to take home with them and show their parents. You can either send them home on a daily or weekly basis, or create a treasure trove of artwork and objects you can give to your toddler’s parents at the end of year.
- Shadow Painting - for this you’ll need a large piece of paper and a bright light. Pin the paper to a wall and see if your toddlers can make some interesting shapes with their body. Using a coloured sharpie draw around the shape as best you can; it’s okay if they move a little. After you have the shape, they can fill in the shadow using their best artistic skills. They can glue on small objects (scrap coloured paper, feathers, etc) or use paints to fill in the shadow shapes to create an interesting piece of art.
- Tin Foil Toys - just like clay, but way less messy! Take a roll of tinfoil and let your toddlers form and shape them into various objects. You can try to give them some animal shape examples to copy. For the adventurous toddlers you can add in other elements such as strips of material, or feathers.
- Sticker Books - stickers are a great way to build fine motor skills in toddlers. Give your toddlers a small scrapbook (a folded piece of A3 paper works a treat) and a book filled with stickers. They will find the stickers they like the most and peel them out and stick them in their own book. For a personal touch you can have them colour in the pages after they’ve selected all their stickers.
In the room activities for toddlers
These activities for toddlers in child care can act as a semi-permanent part of the room as they can be used more than once. You can set up the basic elements and keep them functional for an anytime approach to play. These are designed to build a child's imagination and allow them to learn through play.
- Colour Sorting - this requires a few coloured tubs and many scraps of similarly coloured materials. You can use cloth, plastic pegs, wool, and coloured paddle pop sticks. Spread the items and objects out onto the floor and mix them all up, then have your toddlers pick these up and sort them into the same coloured buckets.
- Ball Drops - attach a tube (plastic or cardboard) to a wall or table. Then have a series of objects that will fall through the tube and into a bucket on the ground. Toddlers will have plenty of fun picking items up and making them disappear into the tube, only to see them reappear again later.
- Birds on a Wire - attach a string between two points on a wall, then use scraps of paper (crepe paper is perfect) cut into strips and allow your toddlers to peg these onto the string. This will create a ‘birds on a wire’ look, and help build their fine motor skills.
- Sand Islands - take a large shallow tub and half fill it with water (for a great effect you can use food colouring to turn it blue). Then add some sand into the tub. Your toddlers will have a ball using shovels to make islands in the water, or simply watch in delight as the sand falls through their hands. This is a great way to have some messy play, without getting too dirty.
Developing new and interesting activities for toddlers is a fun challenge for most child care educators. We hope that some of these suggestions can give you some inspiration for developing your own games and activities. Toddlers are generally responsive to games and fun activities; provided you have a few different activities set up and ready to go we’re sure they’ll be entertained for the entire day.
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