At two years old, your child begins saying short sentences. This point in their development is crucial to setting them on the right learning path. To do this, parents should participate in various activities with their 2-year-olds.
Finding an activity to capture your toddler’s attention is a difficult task. Below we have collected 21 examples of fun activities that both parents and 2-year-olds are sure to love.
1. Play-Doh Letters
At two years old, your child probably isn’t interested in sitting down long enough to read a long book. However, this doesn’t mean that your child can’t start learning to read.
Bust out some Play-Doh or modeling clay and form letters. Start by shaping a letter out of clay. Teach your child the name of this letter and have them recreate it with some clay of their own.
This activity helps them recognize letters and will set them on the path to reading and writing.
2. Draw a Song
Toddlers love to sing whether or not they know the actual words to a song. Help bring their favorite songs to life by having them draw a picture of what the lyrics describe. For example, when singing Old MacDonald, your child should draw a farm–or whatever comes to their imagination.
Don’t expect your child to draw anything specific. This activity helps children associate words with images while improving their creative thinking. This drawing activity will quickly show you how wild a toddler’s imagination is.
3. Finger Painting
Natalie S., a preschool teacher, explains that any hands-on activity will be fun for your toddler. There are very few activities more hands-on than finger painting is. There isn’t an educational purpose behind this activity. Your two-year-old will love getting messy and creating a piece of art.
When you finish the finger painting activity, make sure all the materials get put away. If your two-year-old comes across the finger paints, they decide to paint their next masterpiece on a larger canvas: your walls.
4. Building Blocks
Playing with building blocks is a hands-on, mess-free activity for you and your toddler. Whether you use wooden letter blocks or large-scale legos, your child will have fun being creative and attempting to build something new. Make sure you don’t use smaller blocks that could pose a choking hazard for your young child.
Learning to hold and stack blocks carefully will help your two-year-old develop fine motor skills. More importantly, it will be fun for both parent and child alike. You can even use the blocks to build houses for your child’s dolls, action figures, or other toys and play using those.
5. Go Swimming
Swimming with young children can make some parents feel uneasy. It’s easy to lose track of your two-year-old at a public beach or swim area. However, family outings will be less stressful if your young child knows how to swim.
No matter what time of year it is, sign yourself up for a mommy (or daddy) and me swim class.
Goldfish Swim School, an aquatic facility in Boise, Idaho, has swim lessons that start when a child is four months old. Your two-year-old could register for three different swim courses: Mini 2, Mini 3, or Mini 4. Which class your child should enroll in depends on how comfortable they are in the water and whether they have any swim skills or not.
Goldfish Swim School has facilities throughout the United States; however, other swimming pools in your area will likely teach similar classes too.
Swim lessons give your child a new skill while building their muscles.
6. Explore Nature
Nature is constantly changing. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or the sun is shining, there’s something for your two-year-old to explore.
If it’s raining, give them a raincoat and rubber boots to wear. Let them splash through all the puddles in the yard and driveway. If it’s snowing, zip your two-year-old into a warm snowsuit and teach them to make snow angels. You can also teach them how to build snowmen or catch snowflakes on their tongue.
On days when the sun shines, take your child for a walk. You may be tempted to steer them away from muddy areas; however, let your child get dirty as they explore. As they crawl through the grass, the mud, or over fallen trees, they’ll learn about new textures, smells, tastes, and so much more.
At two years old, your child will begin imitating the actions that you perform. This may involve cooking, cleaning, or calling on the phone. When appropriate, include your child in the cooking process.
You could also sign up for cooking services designed to teach your child culinary skills. For example, companies like America’s Test Kitchen and Raddish Kids send you recipe cards crafted for children to complete. These cooking kits also include explanations about the science that makes each recipe work.
8. Pom Pom Sorting
Another activity recommended by preschool teacher Natalie S. is sorting small pom poms into an egg container. Collect a bunch of different colored crafting pom poms of various sizes. Have your child sort them into the slots of an egg carton by either color, size, or both.
According to Miss Natalie, this activity helps develop hand-eye coordination as well as both fine and gross motor skills.
9. Sidewalk Chalk
Using sidewalk chalk is fun for children of all ages. Get your two-year-olds more involved with this activity by helping them make their sidewalk chalk pencils.
You’ll need a silicone mold, brightly colored tempera paint, and some plaster of Paris to make homemade sidewalk chalk. You should also purchase some disposable cups and wooden popsicle sticks.
Start by mixing 1/3 cup cold water with about two tablespoons of tempera paint in your plastic cup. Add about 2/3 cups plaster of Paris and stir it with the wooden popsicle stick.
Pour your mixture into your popsicle mold and place a wooden popsicle stick standing straight up in each. Wait an hour or so before attempting to remove the chalk pencils.
Craft courtesy of Project Nursery.
10. Simon Says
When your child is old enough to understand verbal commands, they can start playing Simon says. Not only will the tasks Simon says to do help with their motor skills, but it also teaches your child to listen. You could even use your turn as Simon to have your child help clean up.
Make sure you give your child a turn to be Simon too. Playing the role of Simon gives your two-year-old practice forming sentences.
11. Obstacle Course
Two-year-olds are everywhere. Now that they are comfortable on their feet, they climb, run, and crawl whenever they can. Put these motor skills to the test in a toddler-safe obstacle course. You could take your child to the park and use the playground equipment or design an obstacle course in your backyard.
Either time your child as they complete the course or give them a score for style. This will keep them engaged with the activity. Don’t forget to give them a turn to judge you while you complete the course too!
12. Color Sorting
Have your child gather all of their favorite toys (or all of their toys in general). Explain to them the difference in the colors of the toy and then have them sort all the toys into different piles by color.
This activity helps develop fine motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination, and teaches your child about colors.
13. Grow a Plant
Growing a plant takes time and is, therefore, the perfect activity to spread out over several weeks or months.
Start by helping your child plant a seed. Let them choose the type of plant they’ll grow. Help your child water the seed as needed and take progress photos as it grows. This process teaches them about the science behind plants and gets them intrigued by nature.
If your child’s plant will produce fruit or vegetables, have them harvest it when the time is right. This small-scale self-sustainability may encourage them to grow a larger garden next time. If your child is growing a decorative house plant, help them find a sunny place to keep it. Let them know that with proper care, this plant could live for years to come.
As mentioned earlier, two-year-olds love to mimic the actions that they see their parents do, even cleaning. Get your toddler some child-safe cleaning supplies and let them help you clean the house. This may include a spray bottle filled with plain water, a feather duster, a hand broom, or a child-sized mop. You could also purchase a cleaning set designed for children.
The Melissa & Doug 6 Piece Pretend Play Set includes a broom, a hand brush with a dustpan, a duster, a mop, and a stand to organize them all. According to the Melissa & Doug company, when children imitate their parent’s actions, it builds responsibility and independence.
15. Shaving Cream and Cars
If your two-year-old likes to get messy, then some supervised playtime with shaving cream is an excellent activity. Lay out a tarp or plastic swimming pool in the yard–don’t attempt this game inside– and fill it with shaving cream. If your child has sensitive skin, purchase an all-natural option. Add some of your child’s favorite toy trucks and cars to the shaving cream and let them drive through the foam.
Miss Natalie explains that this activity develops hand-eye coordination. Additionally, it helps children improve their finger and hand movements. In other words, this is the perfect fine motor skills activity. Not to mention the fact that it is incredibly fun!
If your two-year-old is a natural-born tumbler, take some time to do some gymnastic activities with them. Start with something small such as a balance beam.
Lay a wide board across two milk crates and have your child walk carefully across them. As they do, they’ll improve their balance skills. Gradually have them walk over a thinner and thinner board to refine their balance.
After they master the balance beam, move on to doing some somersaults and cartwheels.
17. Paint Rocks
Children are always looking for a new place to channel their creativity. Rocks are an inexpensive canvas for your children to use to create their next masterpiece.
Once you’re finished with your rock masterpieces, use them to help spice up the landscaping in your front or back yard.
18. Bus/Train Driver
Pretending to be a bus/train driver is a fun activity for small children. Grab a couple of chairs or some cardboard boxes and let them build their own train/bus to go along with their play.
Be a passenger on their bus or take turns being the driver with them. Imaginative play like this allows your two-year-olds to develop their own rules for playtime.
19. Sensory Rice Box
In addition to developing motor skills, toddlers need some sensory target play. This type of play focuses on textures, sounds, and smells. Fill a small plastic container with uncooked rice. Add small toys, scoops, and funnels to the rice. Let your two-year-old play in the box searching for the toys hidden in the rice and seeing how rice moves.
Don’t use a rice sensory box on the carpet as pieces will likely fall out of the box.
Another activity children can imitate their parents doing is exercise. Make the exercise session more fun for your child by following along with a children’s exercise video.
After a workout like this, you can expect your two-year-old to take a good nap. Exercise videos that ask your child to count as they exercise can also help them memorize their numbers!
21. Design a Mailbox
Parents open dozens of pieces of mail every week. Let your two-year-old join in on the fun by designing their own mailbox. You can use either a tissue box or a shoebox for this craft. Give them full creative rights on this project.
Once their mailbox is finished, have their siblings, friends, or grandparents right them letters to fill it with. Encourage your child to send some mail of their own too!