If you are needing to fill those long summer days with some fun and simple activities, read on for a list of 41 Toddler Activities Using Just 10 Ingredients!
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When we had my daughter, our first child, we totally fell into the trap of thinking we needed to BUY ALL THE THINGS… We were gifted so many great toys and baby items as well. In retrospect, I realize the baby merch market totally keyed in on our ‘New Parent Anxiety’ and we ended up with so many things that were barely used! Now that we have a better handle on how to keep her healthy and *sometimes* happy (she’s 3, so…;) I’ve started to look at clearing out our home clutter and providing open ended activities, rather than toys. It feels so good to minimize the clutter and not feel the need to buy her every toy we see at friends houses.
So to help you too declutter (and protect your pocketbook,) here is the list of 41 toddler activities using 10 Ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen! If you are missing a few, trust me, jump on Amazon Prime or add them to your grocery list. You’ll thank me next time you need to occupy a toddler while you get something done (or just drink your coffee or eat secret cookies, I don’t judge;)
41 Toddler Activities Using 10 Ingredients
Now that you have your ingredients, read on for 41 ideas for fun and easy activities with your toddler! I’ve only included activities that either only use these 10 ingredients, or that may add another ingredient that I was pretty sure 99% of people would have lying around their house (like an old plastic bottle or dish soap:) I’m working on a Resource page with all of the supplies, tools and websites we love for activities, sign up for our email list today to be notified when it’s done!
We do mostly process art, meaning it is about the process and not necessarily the end result! The toddler years are about developing basic fine motor skills and exploration. Process art can be messy! The upside to this is that I’ve found that little ones, when left to explore materials on their own, get more deeply engaged and need less direction from parents (ie you get a break;) We do almost all of our projects in this tray and it is an absolute life saver when it comes to clean up!
1: Marbleized Paper- This activity from Juggling With Kids is simple, a little messy, but so much fun!
2: Puff Paint– Painting with new textures is always fun! These don’t store well but are fun in the moment:)
3: Sidewalk Chalk Paint– Make sure to hose this one down afterwards before it bakes in the sun, and add a few drops of dish soap to make clean up easier. The kids will love how vibrant the colors are!
4: Hidden Color Mixing Explosion– My little is super into ‘mysteries’ right now, so she gets a kick out of this! Love that it is teaching them color theory in such an exciting way!
5: Natural Play Clay– This one is great for making keepsake ornaments or handprints, a toddler activity with a gift for the grandparents all wrapped into one!
6. Volcanos- These don’t have to be elaborate, you can use dirt or sand outside like in this tutorial or use old play-dough you don’t mind throwing out. I’ve also used tinfoil wrapped around a recycled plastic bottle to make a volcano shape and an old sweet potato with the center cut out lol. You can use food dye instead of the paint they use in this recipe. I set the little up with the volcano shape, a small pouring jug of dyed vinegar and a dish and spoon with baking soda. She enjoys experimenting with adding different amounts of the ingredients. Do this outside and add some toy dinosaurs for a whole world of play!
7. Giant Bubbles- So technically this recipe calls for dish soap and baking powder as well, but I feel like it isn’t a stretch to think everyone already has those;) These are seriously so fun for little ones, add a large hula hoop or use a a hanger for a wand!
8. Oil And Water– This science experiment is so simple yet entertains a toddler for so long! I went ahead and ordered some pipettes off Amazon for this experiment, but it could be done with any sort of dropper or even a spoon. You can do different variations as well. We’ve done it both with a bottle and in a large flat baking dish.
9. Milk Bubbles– This is such a fun one! For an added explosion we dipped a cotton swab/toothpick into dish soap first, then popped the food coloring bubbles. As an extension, once the little one was done swirling the colors we poured it into a recycled bottle and made a sensory bottle for her to look at (obviously the milk goes bad so we emptied it at the end of the day:)
10. Magic Mud– So this one requires some dirt, but that’s free so I didn’t count it as a material:) Seriously so much fun, and a fantastic addition to a Messy Playdate or just for daily use in a Mud Kitchen. We’ve gotten a ton of use out of our squeeze bottles for the vinegar and other things, but you could also repurpose an old ketchup or other bottle!
11. Fizzing Colors-This is another great toddler activity from the Happy Hooligans blog! You can get so much mileage out of the baking soda and vinegar reaction. Love that the littles can help set this one up as well, which only takes a minute!
12. Fizzy Hidden Treasures– Kids get so excited about the idea of ‘treasure’ (even if it’s just a small piece of plastic lol.) By freezing a small coin or toy inside of some dyed baking soda you get tiny rocks that the little ones can excavate, genius! I have a ridiculous amount of weird tiny items in my purse alone that could work for this activity:)
13. Bottle Rockets– So this one obviously needs a bit more supervision, but if you’re like me you will be just as (if not more) excited about this explosion as your toddler;)
14. Hot Ice– This one takes a bit of cooking, waiting and supervision, but how cool is instant ice that is warm to the touch??!
15. Baking Soda Powered Boat– Grab an old plastic bottle and straw from your kitchen and you have a great bath toy with this fizzy boat!
16. Lemon Fizz!- If you have some citrus fruit lying around you can use this tutorial for a Lemon Volcano, and it smells great! My little one spent 30 minutes smashing the lemon to make it fizz, then asked me to cut it open so she could smash it some more lol.
17. Patriotic Paint Bombs– A) I found the title of this one hilarious and B) I live in California where all the fun fireworks are banned sooo… love this one for 4th of July! Just use food dye instead of paint to keep to your 10 Ingredients:)
18. Shiny Pennies– Another great idea from the Babble Dabble Do website! This one is pretty simple and more of an observation, soak some pennies in vinegar and watch them get shiny! We added a few different jars of liquid to compare the results for them all.
19. Pouring/Mixing Station- This is one of our favorite activities, a simple pouring station will amuse a toddler for ages! Set them up outside if its warm and cleanup is a breeze. Simply put a collection of pouring jugs/cups on a tray. Add some water colored with food dye (choose some that mix well, like red+blue+yellow.) Step back and let your little explore! This is one of the simplest toddler activities that just uses what you have in your kitchen for hours of fun! Kitchen items I often add are: funnels, slotted and soup spoons, strainers, cream or espresso carafes and a dropper or pipette.
20. Melting Ice Block-This one is so fun because little kids LOVE things that are on a big scale. We did this at home and simply put ice in a large bowl then froze it. Perfect for hot summer days!
21. Witches Brew– This one is a perfect fall experiment, and is so open ended you can go all out or just keep it simple. I’ve found my toddler will get more excited about a project if I build it up a bit and it has a cool name haha! Just take my two fave ingredients, baking soda and vinegar, add some dish soap and food coloring and you are ready. This tutorial uses a pumpkin, but you could just use a big cylinder/bowl . Give them a stick to stir and a witch hat, along with some glitter, dirt and flower petals, it will be a hit!
22. Color Bombs-This one is much tamer than it sounds haha! You simply layer oil on top of a glass of water and drop some food coloring on it. The food coloring balls up in the oil layer, then gravity takes over and it explodes down into the water! You can also layer some shaving cream on top of a glass of water and the same thing happens, we use blue to imitate clouds:)
23. Density In Cups-This one is for the slightly older (or more patient) toddler. By mixing different ingredients into water you get to see how it affects small floating objects, great for before a trip to the ocean!
24. Make Non Newtonian Fluid-Because when someone asks you what you did today as a stay at home parent, you can glibly reply ‘We just whipped up a batch of non-newtonian fluid nbd…’ This stuff is sooo cool, just make sure to utilize a tray because it is kind of a pain to sweep up all the powdery cornstarch once it starts to dry;)
25. Frozen Oobleck– This is a great example of adding a new sensory element to an old activity and making it into a whole new experience for your toddler! If you have a little Frozen fan this one will be a hit;)
26. Baking Soda Ice Cubes– Mix baking soda with water and some food coloring, freeze then drop/spray with vinegar. Easy Peasy!
27. Walking Water– This is a great slow activity to set up in the morning and then come back to throughout the day. Water, paper towel and food coloring, too easy!
28. Ice Magnifying Glass-You need some purified water for this, we used a metal bowl and made a giant magnifying glass and had SO much fun! I gave the little a pair of gloves for this one, another great summertime activity!
29. Green Pennies-A great activity for St Patrick’s Day! Vinegar+Salt and oxidation makes for a fun experiment! I like to make it open ended by giving the little one a handful of change and letting her discover which ones react:)
30. Dinosaur Dig– Kids are easy, you don’t need to have a dinosaur to dig:) Any small toy will do! This one tends to get messy, so either use that tray or head outside!
31. DIY Glue Collage– Glueing is such a great sensory process experience for toddlers! Bonus with this glue is that you know all the ingredients, nothing toxic here! Tear up magazines and let them glue to their little hearts content. For a more contained mess have them sit inside a large cardboard box and glue the magazine pictures to the inside! You could also use this one to attach pictures to bottles for labels, homemade presents maybe?
32. Ice Sculptures– So simple, grab some different shaped containers and fill them with colored water. Great for outdoor play in the summer! Give them some salt and let them build and experiment with their ice towers!
33. Stalactites– Using warm water, baking soda and a paper towel you can demonstrate how stalactites are formed! Grab and decorate a cardboard box to put the jars in and you have a really cool looking experiment!
All Things Play-dough
Ok, use those 10 ingredients and make yourself some play-dough (see #33) then let your creativity loose! There are countless ways to play with play-dough, some of these toddler activities require additional materials but most are either common household things or there are easy substitutions!
34. Simple Play-dough Recipe– The only recipe you’ll ever need for play-dough, endlessly customizable for hours of fun!
35. Play-dough Imprints- Grab literally anything and encourage your little to make cool imprints in the dough. We’ve used kitchen utensils, rocks, small plastic animals etc.
36. Spaghetti and Cheerio Fine Motor Practice– This one is great as a breakfast time invitation to play (while you drink your coffee;) Stick some dry noodles in a lump of dough and give the little some cheerios to stack. If you’re feeling ambitious you can work on their counting!
37. Hide and Seek Play-dough- Grab some small objects and wrap them in the dough, then leave them for the little to excavate! I usually grab about 3 and then just rewrap them again as she undoes the other one. My daughter loved this at around 2!
38. Scissor Practice– This is so good for little ones first starting out with scissor practice! A great fine motor toddler activity but easier than paper (and weirdly satisfying, let me tell you…)
39. Baking Practice- Grab a muffin tin or muffin liners, birthday candles, sprinkles, glitter, flower petals, basically anything you have that the littles can decorate a ‘cake’ or ‘cupcake’ with. If you use organic material just know that you probably will have to throw it out after a day or so. This is a good one for when the play-dough is at the end of it’s lifespan!
40. Letter and Number Recognition- You can print or draw letters and numbers for the kids to practice rolling out play-dough to create the correct shape. This is a great prewriting toddler activity to develop their fine motor skills!
41. Take it outside!- This is my favorite time in the life of our play-dough, it starts to dry out and/or get gross from being dropped on our (fairly dirty;) floors, so we take it outside! So often just the act of moving a toddler activity to a new location can engage your kid all over again. We’ve added it to both our simple DIY Sandbox and our Mud Kitchen follow the kids lead on this one, they’ll think of something:)
Now go play!
So there you have it, 41 toddler activities with 10 ingredients! The key is in the exploration, not the outcomes for these activities. Some projects, or some days, the little won’t be into what you’ve got out, just bring it out at a different time and you’d be surprised how night and day their reactions can be! I like that most of these toddler activities take under 5 minutes of active setup. Who has time for more than that? I’ve started setting up a toddler activity during the first 5 minutes of my daughters nap, and it’s worked so well. She wakes up super cranky and usually right when I’m in the middle of something, so having an activity to transition her into the land of the living is a lifesaver!
For daily doses of simple toddler activities follow us on Instagram and Facebook, where I share our latest projects. Keep an eye out for our next post where we’ll be looking at some more simple material play, sign up for our newsletter to see it first! What ideas do you have? Is there another ingredient in your activity closet that is a must have? Share in the comments and I’ve love to see pictures of your projects too!