Stuck Inside: 50+ Items to Entertain a Toddler

Stuck Inside: 50+ Items to Entertain a Toddler

There is one rule I have followed since my son was born. I will get out of the house every single day, even if it is just for five minutes in our backyard. It’s easy to entertain a toddler outside. Play at the park, go for a bug hunt, collect leaves, chase a ball, climb on objects, and run run run. There are so many things to do outside to tire out a toddler.

But, with current recommendations for social distancing and the idea of a long-term quarantine looming ahead, I am preparing to be stuck at home for a long period of time.

Here is a list of items that I have been using for toddler-play to keep him entertained at home. You probably have most of these items at home but I’ve included links to Amazon for quick and easy ordering. I find if I have items on hand, I can be so much more creative and switch things up easily to keep boredom at bay.

Disclosure: Move Mama Move is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.  Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.

Arts & Crafts Items

Tops of many colors of crayons in a group
  • Construction paper
    • Color on & paint on
    • Sort items by colors: collect several random things around the house and place them in a pile. Set out different colored sheets of construction paper. Have your child sort objects and place each on its corresponding colored paper.
    • Create paper chains
    • Practice cutting
    • Cut shapes out and have child match shapes
  • Washable acrylic paints
    • Paint on paper
    • Paint toy figurines: action figures, dinosaurs, vehicles
    • Paint on recyclables: milk cartons, egg crates, cardboard boxes
    • Paint on nature leaves, pinecones, rocks
  • Paintbrushes
    • Use with paint, in a traditional manner
    • Paint on construction paper with water
  • Paint cups
    • Store paint and keep from spilling while in use
    • Mix colors to create new colors
  • Mess-free markers – color with less mess
    • Practice tracing
    • Draw shapes
    • Free drawing
    • Coloring pages
  • Washable crayons – color knowing surfaces can be cleaned
    • Use coloring pages or coloring books
    • Practice tracing
    • Draw shapes
    • Free drawing
  • Dot Markers
    • Follow color patterns – make a pattern on paper (i.e., alternate red and blue) and have toddler follow along
    • Practice tracing shapes
    • Color pages with dot patterns
  • Art smock
    • To keep kiddos clean
  • Chalk
    • Draw shapes, letters, characters
    • Practice tracing
    • Play games (i.e., hopscotch, ring toss, bag toss)
    • Sort items by shape – draw a triangle, circle, & square on the ground. Find objects around the house that match those shapes. Bring them and place them into the shapes.
  • Paint Sticks – paint with less mess
    • Practice tracing
    • Free painting

Sensory, Stacking, & Sorting Items

A variety of dry beans in a pie pattern
  • Bubble Bath
    • Play in the tub
    • Bathe toys
    • Create bubble foam and play – 2 parts bubble bath, 1 part water. Add food coloring for fun.
  • Rice
    • Add to a sensory bin
    • Practice pouring from one object to another
    • Use scoops for fine motor training
    • Weigh the rice on a scale
    • Color rice, find instructions here
  • Beans
    • Add to a sensory bin
    • Practice sorting by size, shape, or color
    • Practice pouring
    • Use beans to count
    • Line up to trace shapes, letters, numbers
  • Funnels
    • Use with a sensory bin
    • Pour water, rice, beans, sand
    • Transfer items from container to container
  • Measuring Cups
    • Use to scoop items in a sensory bin
    • Practice measuring items
    • Transfer liquids & solids
    • Create a racing game – fill measuring cup with water and try to walk across the room without spilling. Pour water into a larger cup with a line to fill to then repeat until the goal is met.
  • Sorting bears
    • Practice sorting by colors
    • Line up the bears in order of colors of the rainbow
    • Count the bears
    • Practice using tongs to pick up the bears and put in a cup
    • Toss the bears in a cup, like playing basketball or Bozo buckets
    • I love these so much I wrote an article on 15 ways to play with sorting bears
  • Plastic solo cups
    • Stack cups to make a huge castle, fort, wall
    • Toss items into cups, think, Bozo buckets
    • Transfer liquids back and forth – add food coloring and mix colors
    • Add to a sensory table
  • Colored Blocks
    • Stack
    • Sort by color
    • Line up like dominos
  • Ice Cube Trays
    • Sort items in each cube
    • Count – place one item in the first cube, two items in the second cube, three items in the third cube…etc.
    • Freeze a small object in each cube. Have toddler smash cube with a toy hammer to free the object
  • Water beads
    • Add to a sensory bin
    • Sort by color
    • Count
    • Line up to make different patterns
  • Pom poms
    • Sort by color and size
    • Practice sticking pom poms in a container with small holes cut out
    • Line up to make a track
    • Glue onto art projects
    • Add to a sensory bin
  • Colored noodles
    • Sort by color, size, or shape
    • String together
    • Add to a sensory bin
  • Squirt bottles
    • Add water & squeeze on the fence, in the grass, in a plastic bin, in the sink
    • Squeeze vinegar onto baking soda for a science experiment
  • Play-doh
    • Enhance imaginative play by making animals, food, plants, etc.
    • Practice rolling out, cutting with scissors, using cookie cutters, flattening with hand
    • Take animal figures and create “footprints” in the play-doh


Neon colors post it notes layered on top of each other
  • Silly faces
    • Practice creativity
    • Work on fine motor skills by having child remove stickers
    • Talk about emotions and expressions
    • Discuss the difference between various facial features
  • Reusable stickers
    • Work on fine motor skills by having child remove stickers
    • Ask questions and discuss various scenarios and placements for stickers (i.e., Where should the deli counter go? Why would someone ride in an ambulance?)
  • Window clings
    • Move the window clings up high and low to work at different levels
    • Draw a line, seeing if your toddler can reach and put window cling above the line, making them stretch
    • Sort by color or shape
  • Dot stickers
    • Practice letter recognition – put your child’s name on construction paper with one letter on each page. Then tape to the wall. Then write their name multiple times on dot stickers, with one letter on each dot. Then have them remove the dots and place the sticker on the corresponding piece of paper.
    • Practice number recognition. Same as above with the name, but using numbers, phone number, address
    • Place stickers along a line – straight, zig-zag, looped
  • Post-It notes
    • Practice matching colors, letters, numbers, shapes (i.e., Get five post-it notes. Write one shape on each post-it note. Then put them in a line on the wall or fridge. Now repeat those letters on another set of post-it notes and give the second set to your toddler. Have them match the shapes of the post-it notes on the wall to the shapes in their hand.
    • Line up post-it notes in a color pattern and have your toddler repeat.

Educational Items

Plastic colorful letters and numbers
  • Bathtub letters
    • Use in the bathtub or sensory bin
    • Place on windows
    • Sort by color or letter
  • Magnetic letters
    • Practice the alphabet
    • Create words
    • Sort by letter or color
  • iSpy books
    • Pick out items by a theme (color, the letter they start with, shape, etc.)
  • LeapFrog Computer
    • Practice letters and animal names
  • Fire Tablet or iPad
    • Provide a resource for learning apps
    • Give yourself a break by letting kiddo have a little screen time if you allow

Miscellaneous Items

Different colored golf tees in a pile
  • Butcher paper
    • Draw on
    • Paint on
    • Cut with scissors
    • Use as a station for activities on the wall
  • Golf tees
    • Hammer into foam
    • Sort
    • Line up
    • Use to balance small balls or pom poms
  • Painters tape
    • Tape items to the wall, floor, objects without damaging them
    • Create a track: for kids to walk on like a balance beam, push cars on, line up toys
    • Create stations on the floor (i.e., place all items in the square made of tape on the floor)
  • Pipe cleaners
    • String items onto pipe cleaners – pasta, beads
    • Stick pipe cleaners in holes of a colander or other containers
    • Twist together
    • Make shapes
    • Wrap around objects
  • Magnetiles
    • Build
    • Sort by color or shape
    • Stack
  • Clothespins
    • Line up on edges of paper, boxes, containers, clothes
    • Sort by color
    • Drop into a paper towel roll taped vertically to the wall
  • Straws
    • Sort by color
    • Stick through small holes of a container
  • Shoelaces
    • String cheerios
    • Lace through a colander
    • Tie together
  • Q-tips
    • Use with paints
    • Stick through small holes of a container
    • Line up in patterns, shapes, letters, and numbers
  • Flashlight
    • Create shadows,
    • Play in the dark
    • Play tag

Household Items to Use

Collection of kitchen tools on a wooden counter, including but not limited to wooden spoons, rolling pins, whisk, cookie cutters
  • Muffin tin
    • Sort objects by color, shape, size
    • Mix liquids
  • Empty food containers (i.e., oats, yogurt, jars, recyclables)
    • Use as storage, holding paint & other liquids
    • Make calming jars
    • Pour in oil, water, and food coloring for a science experiment
  • Trays & baking sheets
    • Keep activities contained & organized
  • Toilet paper & paper towel rolls
    • Use as tunnels, telescopes, towers, etc.
    • Tape to the wall with painters tape to create drops
  • Colander
    • Use holes for pipe cleaners, strings, and more
    • Toss items into like basketball
  • Tongs
    • Pick up and carry across the room
    • Move items from one container to another
    • Sort items
  • Storage bins
    • Keep activities contained
  • Sheets & Blankets
    • Create tents & forts
    • Have a picnic
    • Have a sleepover
  • Medicine droppers & syringes
    • Add liquids to other liquids and solids (i.e., vinegar, to baking soda, mixing colored water, water to oil)
  • Breast pump collection cups
    • Sort & store small items
    • Pour liquids between

Ok. It’s a lot, I know. But, I wanted to arm you with as much as possible given that we aren’t sure how long this self-quarantine process is going to last. Do you have any other ideas to add? I am always looking for new ideas to entertain a toddler.

If you’re looking for a way to teach your toddler while at home, check out these 5 easy ways to educate your toddler at home.


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