Keep Toddlers Busy
Toddler Activites

Keep Toddlers Busy with 50 Screen Free Activities

As you can probably tell from the name of my site, my goal in life at the moment is to keep toddlers busy, healthy, and happy. And it’s not an easy thing to do. Like at all. But it’s sooo important.

The funny thing is that it doesn’t just stop there. We live in an age where we are given so many options of entertainment via screens and other gadgets (and they work) but then we are told too much of it can be detrimental for our children. It’s like showing us candy and then saying we can’t have any LOL.

Nonetheless we are here and I decided to take some time today to talk about 50 Screen Free ways to keep toddlers busy! So here are the facts first.

Keep Toddlers Busy

I’ve read that up to 70% of parent would like to see less screen time.

The main idea behind this list is to give our kids something to get lost in other than the screens.  So it must be fun and engaging, and often times we have to show extra interest and participation to get the ball rolling.

I personally love to see my toddlers being creative and imaginative.  I love to see them with books, experimenting, playing , or just running around.

What Are the Screen Time Recommendations?

Most of us know that there is a lot of information and research out there about screen time. If a child has unlimited access to interactive media in particular (cellphones, Ipads, video games), there are certain aspects of their well-being that can be affected. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.

For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media.”

The funny thing is I often spend time trying to prevent my kids from becoming bored. But sometimes, it’s actually Good to be bored for a little bit..  I have witnessed some of my kid’s most creative moments when they were a little bored. It’s amazing. Then we go on to do some great activities.

I really truly believe that our kids have more fun doing things that don’t involve screens, but it is easy to get sucked into the screen life and forget. Especially when we as parents have things that we need to get done.

The kiddos just need a reminder. So take a look at the awesome activities below and let me know what you think!


Keep Toddlers Busy with These Great Ideas!

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Outdoor Activities

Go to a local high school football game

Just recently my family and I bought a house and moved to a new city and state. It just so happened that the local high school and middle school are around thee corner from us, so we decided to catch a game with the kids one Friday night. Let me tell you. They. Had. A. Ball. Games, snacks, cheering, mascots, chaos. They loved it and it was a great family moment for my 2 and 4 year old.

kid hugging mascot

Family bike ride

A simple bike ride with the family is always a great idea if the weather permits. It’s free, easy to get going, and takes up a significant portion of time. Let’s be honest, sometimes we just need some time to pass 🙂 (and make memories of course)

Make a mess

Well, they are kids. Mess is kind of their MO. Dump all the toys out in the playroom and let them have it it. Worry about the clean up later!

Ice cube games

This activity is great for warmer weather. If you stick some pom poms and water in an ice cube rack and freeze it, you will literally have an almost no prep activity that your kids can play with over and over again. Its great for sensory play and pairs well with sidewalk chalk to extend the play time. To learn more check out my post on Frozen pom poms!

Busy Toddler craft

Encourage outdoor play and play dates

Back yard swing sets, play dates at the playground, sprinklers, hide and go seek, rolling down the hill, eating dirt, whatever. As long as it’s outside! According to a Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, outside play not only gives them Vitamin D and exercise, but improves executive function, taking calculated risks, socialization, and nature appreciation.

Trip to the Dollar Tree to get crafts

So this is seriously on of my go to activities. If my son has a great week, I allow them to pick out One item at the store. They always pick out a few and then I help them to narrow it down. It’s amazing what you can find to craft with at this store.

Bubbles

Good old fashioned bubbles, you can’t beat it. If you are like me, you are not about to be blowing bubbles on a stick for an hour, so make sure you are prepared with an automatic bubble machine like this one. Absolute life savor.

Indoor Play Areas

I’m honestly not sure how I would functions without these! I use them VERY frequently. I’m talking Burger King, Chik-fila, the mall, you name it! It’s free and you don’t have to buy anything.

toddler on Indoor slide

Sidewalk chalk

Another favorite that is sure to please the kiddos. These days there are so many creative products to enjoy this simple activity, but good old regular chalk works just fine as well.

Community events and library events

This is another one of my favorites. If you know where to look, there are so many free events taking place all over. Hop online and search for your local library. You will more than likely find a schedule for all of the libraries in your county or city.

Picnic at the park

Self explanatory and so much fun! It doesn’t get much better that slides, swings, and snacks. Just make sure you get a sturdy mat like this one in the picture. I use it for everything, including the beach.

playground picnic with preschooler

Walk the neighborhood

There is nothing like a stroll with the kiddies. Easy and a great way to get some exercise for everyone.

Wash the car

Isn’t it so funny how the little ones love to help with some of the fun chores, but we know it wont last? Your kids will enjoy this more than you, but at least you get a clean car out of the deal!

Pitch a tent and camp out in the backyard

I’ve always wanted to do this! At some point I will get a kids tent (one that keeps out bugs and feels really sturdy ) and have a great time out back with the family. One day.. But if it’s your thing, don’t wait! It doesn’t have to be at night.

Jump rope

Have a contest and make it fun! Sometimes old school is the best school.

A trip to the beach or a volley ball court

Sand is sand! My kids have had a ball with beach toys at the volley ball sand court. Creativity is the key 🙂 Just make sure that no one is using it!

screen free play time

Indoor No Screen Activities

Dance to some music

This one right here ALLOWS ME TO STAY SANE! Music is the universal gateway to my kids emotions. I always play soft, slow (but happy) music during dinner, (I have a dinner play list) and I have also pepped my bored kids up on sooo many occasions with Kid’s Bop and Disney Soundtracks. It’s definitely my number one activity.

Painting with Dot Markers

Dot markers are another staple in my house. I have literally been using them once a couple of weeks for about two years now, and I haven’t had to buy any more. Check out this awesome activity here!

dot marker craft

Build a fort

I absolutely LOVED to build forts when I was a kid. I think we probbaly built hundreds of forts during my childhood. The ones where we used pillows, blankets, and chairs were absolutely the best. But you can also get forts to build that are more sturdy lie this one.

Do board games

For younger kids like mine, my favorite board games that can actually keep their attention is Candyland, Shoots and Ladders, Connect Four (although they don’t actually play it right, and Hungry Hundry Hippo!

Cooking lessons

Your kiddos will feel like grownups if you get them cooking in the kitchen. It may take a lot of patience and extra time on our part, but the reward is an adorable little kid having a great time. Start with something simple like making cookies and you will have a blast!

Put on a play

This is an awesome idea, I must say. Toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids love the attention, and we get to sit down for a while as we watch. If you are really serious about it, try one of these awesome portable stages!

Toy bath

So you mean to tell me that we can have fun And get clean? At the same time? This idea is so cute. Who said we can’t have fun in the bath sometimes. You can throw some toys in or we could create some 2 ingredient shaving cream paint. Find out how here!

bath time fun

Create a busy box

Busy boxes are the holy grail. they provide entertainment for longer periods of time and the preparation is so worth it. Here is a great idea from theleangreenbean.com to get you started:

busy boxes

Play doh

My kid is serious about his play-doh. I was go so far as to say it’s our most used toy of all time lol. He loves planets, and it easy to make planets with play-doh, as well ad everything else. Every parent should have a play-doh stash with play-doh toys like these.

Paint Pumpkin

We have been painting pumkins for 6 months now in my house. We started in October for Halloween, we painted turkeys, we painted Christmas trees, and now we are painting hearts in February. It’s actually a pretty decent canvas because it can be wiped clean and used over and over again.

pumpkin painting craft

Include them in your day

This one is a complete necessity and will make your child feel like a million bucks. Things may go a little slower, but let them help you clean, run errands, cook, even get dressed or do your hair. The rewards are tremendous.

Magnets on fridge

No need to explain. If you need a quick 10 minutes to do something have the kids sort by color, spell names, but the alphabet in order, or even make shapes on the fridge

Rice Bin

This is a great sensory activity for the kids and you can be super creative with it. Here are some ideas from BusyToddler.com !

Edible sensory activities

Yogurt painting is the best when the kids are at the table and you don’t want them to move! Check out my 2 ingredient art post here.

Pom Pom Play

There are literally too many ways to do crafts with pom poms. we did a name craft below but I’ve done, frozen pom poms, Christmas trees, and snowmen in the past. Be creative!

busy boards toddlers

Indoor stuffed animal picnic

This is just the cutest thing ever. I’ll just leave it at that. Try it 🙂

ffffff

Holiday Crafts

The kids are home and this is the time to break out the crafts. These easiest crafts for me include play-doh and printables. Check out my Christmas crafts post and bookmark it for the holidays!

christmas play-doh craft

Help write a letter to someone special

Is grandma or auntie out of town? Help you little one write a sweet little letter to them and then mail it out!

Play some instruments

Playing instruments is great for cognitive skills, concentration, listening skills, stress, and so much more. Check out other musical benefits here. This a a must have for the no screen activities list.

Do a science experiment

Science is a great thing to be a part of even at a young age. Early exposure can often lead to great things. Here are some ideas and the images from teachingtwoandthreeyearolds.com !

Make a scrap book

Old school again! Get creative and have your toddlers draw some pictures and help glue some photos into your baby book. Put some keepsakes in their as well and you will have some great memories to look back at.

Button Tree

I love this cute idea and will be trying it soon! It’s a great way to work on fine motor skills and it’s just creative. Supplies are also easy to find and it will take your toddler or preschooler a while to figure everything out.

button tree

Illustrate a book

Little two and three year old pictures above some words just sounds so adorable. I would keep this little book forever. Make up a cute little story with your tot and get to drawing!

Get some chores done

This is the time, never again will our children be so willing! Starting chores early creates a sense of responsibility that can go a long way in a child’s life. It also has the power to take up a Saturday morning and set things up for a good nap!

keep toddlers busy cleaning


Pssst.. Looking For More Ideas?




Keep Toddlers Busy with Independent Play

Puzzles

Helping to put together puzzles that are a little advanced for our kids age is a great way to develop critical thinking skills, as well as cognitive, fine motor, and social! Play time is an awesome teacher and TIME is a great way to show we care

toddler puzzle

Play Dress-up

Oh what a must do in our childhoods. Dress up will last way into your kids adult life in some form or fashion.

dress up toddlers

Offer creative toys

The Melissa And Doug easel is a great way to occupy your child for a little longer than usual .Check out my review on the tabletop easel here. I ended up getting one for both of my kids.

Melissa and Doug easel

Build with Cups

Does anybody else’s baby boy love to stack things up and then knock them down?? It’s a daily occurrence at my house. When my son found out he could make pyramids with cups over and over again, and then knock them down…. oh he was in heaven.

Reading and coloring books

This is a staple across the world and pretty much a given, but I could leave it out. AllForKids.org states that reading to kids improves cognitive and language development, increased concentration, and start a lifelong love of reading that will have any benefits throughout life.

Mess-free painting

A Two ingredient mess free activity that makes toddlers feel like they are actually making a mess. Love it! just make sure they don’t open the bag when you aren’t looking. Younger toddlers are best for this activity or tape the bag down.

mess free painting

Kraft Train Table

Every kid deserves a train set at some point in their childhood!

Scribble in a big card board box

Talk about a genius move! All of the scribbling you want but in one location where the scribbles don’t matter. Its a perfect little activity when you need about 15 minutes to get dinner started or just take a breather. Save your big boxes for this No prep idea!

busy toddler toys

Wipe clean books

I absolutely love erase marker activity books because they provide entertainment for a longer period of time and really help my children to both learn and practice all types of new concepts. You can literally get these activity books anywhere!

Lacing Cards

Last but certainly not least, lacing cards are a great way to improve fine motor skills and concentration! You can get all sorts of great shapes depending on what your children love.


I hope you enjoyed this list and that it gave you some great screen free ideas to try with you family!

Do you have any other ideas that you think I should add to the list? Please let me know in the comment section below! I would love to hear from you!

Also remember to sign up for your FREE weekly activities planner on the top or the right side of the page!

5 Comments

  • Jon

    I like the ideas of how to keep your toddlers healthy by keeping them active and making sure that their brains get enough oxygen to the head. Do you think that toddlers that are physically active have a much better chance at succeeding than their peers because they have willpower? Do electronics drain willpower after a certain time? I like the idea of limiting screen time.

  • Beth Bishop

    Nothing quite like family travel especially when you can travel with the kids. Looking forward to your future blogs on child friendly place and hotels now that you will be traveling with her.

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