These are my life savers! Quick toddler activities that I can do in a moment’s notice, with no setup… when things… you know… needed to be tamed.
There are so many times when I find an activity to do with the kids and then realize that I need to spend a half hour to an hour prepping for it, printing out stuff or doing something that requires me to get it ready before they can even do that activity (that’s probably only going to last 10 to 15 minutes anyways…)…
What I mean by ‘No Setup’ is that it doesn’t require you to do something to prep for the activity. Yes, you will still need to actually get the items… but that’s it.
Most toddlers activities I do require very little setup, actually most activities in general. I’m not much for prepping for an activity. I may plan for the activity using the kids activities planner… but I don’t actually like to have to get the activity ready before I get the kids involved.
Here are a few things I collected that we do that require absolutely no setup. Just you getting the materials to the kids. Not doing anything with the materials ahead of time.
I geared these toward toddlers since toddlers really seem to have the short attention span that requires us to get that activity ready, and now. But don’t limit them just to toddlers, preschoolers will enjoy a bunch of these too!
- Kids have the blocks out? Hand them tongs to pick them up.
- Sorting. Get out buttons and cups. Ask them to sort them. It could be by color or size… or ones with two holes or four holes! See what they come up with. They could also sort blocks by color or size. Or really anything! Take a look at the toy box!
- A tub of water goes a long way. If you want to add a little prepping, simply lay out a shower curtain to protect from spills, but that’s not totally necessary, and not really much for prep. They could wash their toys, just transfer water (a favorite here!) or have an experiment with some toys and see which ones sink or float!
- Simple Scavenger Hunt: Simply hand your kids a bag and call out an object or describe an object and send them off to find it. It’s a perfect activity while you’re getting supper ready.
- Sensory activities include very little prep, just getting the materials in a tub or tray… Try corn meal, dry pasta, lotion even!
- Cardboard boxes. Enough said? Let their imaginations go and see what they make that box be. Maybe its a train? or an airplane? or a house! Who knows!?
- Dominoes. They can just line them up and play, or match up the dots.
- Pots and pans.
- Match lids and containers.
- Set them up with rubberbands and canned food.
- Set out a colander with some pipe cleaners. Pretty easy!
- As long as you have the play dough on hand, or made ahead of time, it’s a no prep activity. Add trucks and tractors to it, or hammering tees or set out other objects to stick into it!
Any of the quiet activities I recently shared would be great too! They may be better for older kids, or with a little guidance from a parent.
Many simple activities similar to these can also be found in The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner, affiliate link.
Do you have a quick go-to activity for toddlers that require no setup? Share it!
5 weekly plans of activities for each one year olds, two year olds, and preschoolers (plus a learning one too!)
The DISCOVER + PLAY eBooks have a combined 10 weekly plans of activities that are perfect for the toddler age. Fun ways to get one and two year olds moving, work on fine motor, do arts and craft projects and have fun as a family! Each weekly plan includes a handy supply list and activities broken down to know exactly what to do in a simple sentence or two.