Creative things to do with a 2 year old

All of these activities build fine motor control, gross motor development, hand-eye coordination, and enable problem-solving + critical thinking skills!

1 – Scissors

For beginner scissor users paper is actually not the best to start learning to cut with. Yarn or cooked spaghetti or playdough worms work great. These ones are good for kids just starting out.

Here’s a great trick: Cut slits around cardboard and then wrap a long string.

Try yarn for beginner cutting.

Cut out images from catalogs for toddlers to glue stick + practice vocabulary.

2 – Catalog Collage

Cut out items from magazine/catalog/supermarket circulars. Your little one can glue stick and stick them down. (Make sure to encourage a “pat pat” on the glued item to make sure it sticks.) This is great practice for vocabulary building and speech as well!

3 – Pouring + Dumping

Spilling/pouring water, sand, cornmeal, rice, beans, and blocks are a favorite activity for them but torturous for parents because it usually not what we planned for – so provide them an opportunity to do this. Bath tubs, bins, and boxes are great ways to set that up.

4 – Foam stickers

Foam stickers are a fan favorite for any age! For little ones who can’t quite peel the backs themselves, just get the peeling started on a few started so your little one can learn how to peel them off his/herself. Before you know they will know how to peel it off all on their own and be so proud and excited to do it.

Pro mom tip: These are a fantastic restaurant toy and don’t add any weight to your purse.

5 – Chalkboard + Water

Instead of chalk, hand your child a paintbrush and a cup of water. A thin coating of chalk on the board makes this work even better but a clean one works too. You can also paint with water on wood, concrete, brick or even construction paper.

water painting on chalkboard
water painting on construction paper

6 – Tape

Rip up tape for them to stick. Masking tape works but Colored Bam Tape is even better! Stick tape on a paper, a bag, a toy, a box…

Set up Bam Tape or colored masking tape by ripping piece

7 – Coin Hunt

Place coins around the room, and find them. Collect the in a small cup so then they can be placed in a piggy bank without carrying the bank around. (Then empty out the piggy bank, rehide them and do it all over again.)

8 – Dots

Use q-tips, do a dot dabbers, bingo dabbers, foam stamp brushes, stamps. Toddlers love to make dots, prints, and just jump-around different items (sometimes gently, sometimes with a vengence) all over the paper. Pour some washable paint on a paper plate and they can dip it in and then dot/stamp/hop on the paper.

*FYI these are way better than q-tips! // Bonus tip: Tape down the paper so it doesn’t move all over.

9 – Coloring (a.k.a. scribbling)

Kids are always going to choose the marker or the paint over the crayons (I mean, who wouldn’t?)

Here are some suggested materials for super fun scribbling:

  • Color wonder markers are fantastic because they only color on the paper and they don’t bleed in your child’s mouth when they try to eat them. I like to order extra blank pages. (…I’m not a fan of the color wonder paints though.)
  • Whiteboards & dry erase markers are a wonder for kids (and easy clean up for adults).
  • Paint sticks come off of floors and tables easily and color on just about anything. A full blog post can be found here!
  • Fat markers are easier to grip but if littles see an older sibling using thin markers they will probably want a turn with those too. One way to provide choice + exploration is to “curate the color scheme” by providing them a range of materials in one color palette instead of a whole pack of the same type of markers in different colors.

Tip: Use big paper – or at least put down a large “underneath paper” to cover the table so when they go beyond the paper they “should” be drawing on it won’t bother you. Paper grocery bags (see how here), flannel back outdoor table cloths, wrapping paper, butcher/craft paper all work great for this, or just wrap a whole coffee table in paper or put a big paper on the wall or floor.

10 – Tried + Tested Ready-to-play-with Toys

These are some of my family’s favorite toddler toys that encourage creative play + learning:

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