The Ideal Toddler Activity Schedule
After staying home with my son for the past year and a half, I have realized one thing. As much as I want to embrace the ambiguity of the day, have a free spirit, and fly by the seat of my pants, I need SOME
So, I came up with an ideal schedule of general daily activities to maintain my sanity. Now, when I say schedule, I don’t mean “Monday at 9 am – gym class. 10 am – snack and playgroup. 12 pm – eat lunch. 1 pm – nap time… and so on.” I can’t believe I am saying this, but that much structure drives me nuts! Pre-baby Lisa would have loved an hour by hour schedule. But, not post-baby Lisa. Too much structure leads to serious expectations. We all know what happens when you plan activities with a toddler and have certain expectations…haha. If I don’t meet my daily expectations, I am defeated and feel like a failure by the end of the day.
But, I also can’t deal with waking up to a wide-open schedule day after day. Before I know it, it’s nap-time, we haven’t gotten out of our pajamas, and I have a toddler attached to my leg while I attempt to finish the third load of laundry. I end up wasting the day being task-oriented since I am not great at regularly planning fun activities on a whim.
The weeks are starting to fly by and I haven’t even touched on my “bucket list” of fun things to do with Chulengo. Before I know it, he will be heading off to school and I am going to look back, sobbing, wondering where all the time went. I hate the idea of spending these precious years home with him, while I focus on tasks and errands. Yes, I know I do have to get things done, but I’ve decided to come up with a different way to engage with Chulengo on a daily basis.
So, here it is! My activity schedule:
The actual activity schedule PDF can be printed HERE!
It’s pretty basic, which leaves a lot of wiggle room for interpretation while still providing a simple structure for parents and kiddos. I have labeled each day of the week with a theme. This allows for some light planning on my part and some predictability for Chulengo, while still maintaining low expectations. Together, we can make the most of the time we spend together while focusing on fun, engaging, and educational activities. Each day of the week will have a pre-determined theme, but every day can be different from the week before.
Since my days of planning a theme party (oh hey, college!) are long gone, this activity schedule allows me to celebrate themes in a creative and entertaining way as a parent.
The focus for Math Monday is math-related skills like numbers, shapes, and patterns. As I get Chulengo prepared to go to school, I want him to have a strong foundation in math. I loved math growing up, and because of that, I did well in math classes. I want to ignite an excitement for math in Chulengo because everyday life skills, along with many job skills require a strong foundation in math. I am always looking for play activities that involve math concepts.
Ideas for Activities: numbers, money, counting, measuring, sorting, pairing shapes, graphing, tracing, dice, order, estimating
Tidy Up Tuesday
As Chulengo gets older, I will recruit him to help out with household activities at home. He is already eager to put things in the trash and empty the dishwasher. I am sure that excitement will wear off as he gets older, but it’s adorable to watch his joy with such simple tasks. As I have been touring preschools, many program directors have discussed basic life skills that toddlers will begin learning at a young age. Now is the time to start teaching Chulengo how to care for our home. Picking an activity or two each Tuesday to focus on around the house will help Chulengo’s awareness of what is done to make our house a home.
Ideas for Activities: fold laundry, empty and load the dishwasher, vacuum, sweep, mop, wash windows, make beds, put away laundry, dust, wash dishes, wipe down appliances, clean baseboards, wipe down mirrors, empty the trash, sort recycling, organize toys, wash
Bath time, hanging out at the pool, and playing in the water table are some of Chulengo’s favorite activities. The kid loves water. Therefore, I have dedicated an entire day to activities related to water. I grew up near Lake Michigan and since I was a kid I have been at peace when near water. I want Chulengo to feel comfortable and safe in the water.
Ideas for Activities: play in the water table, swim at a pool, visit the beach, run around a splash pad, run through a sprinkler, make and throw water balloons, have a squirt gun battle, play with sponges, sort colored water, wash toys, make floating objects, paint with water, experiment with ice cubes, build something a water tunnel with tube & pipes, play in the rain, visit a local pond, take local swimming lessons, stomp in puddles
It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in our day to day activities, focusing on taking care of Chulengo. My goal for Thoughtful Thursday is to get Chulengo out of the egocentric world he is immersed. Obviously, as a toddler, it is developmentally normal for him to have a self-centered view of the world. But, I want to expose Chulengo to the world around him and demonstrate he can have a positive impact on those he comes in contact with.
Ideas for Activities: send a letter, donate goods, make baked goods, cook a meal, create a list of thankfulness, make a phone call, video chat with a loved one, send a funny video, tell a joke, take flowers to a loved one
Field Day Friday
Fridays are my last hurrah for the week. The final day to fit in a fun activity before we get busy with the weekend. I typically like to meet up with some friends for a playgroup. My goal with Field Day Friday is to introduce Chulengo new places and activities. To take him to a new park, museum, or venue that he can learn and enjoy. Seeing Chulengo explore a new place is a pretty incredible experience. Watching his curiosity and discovery is very therapeutic. Field Day Friday is also a way for us to see different parts of the city and explore our town.
Ideas for Places to Visit: a new park, the zoo, science museum, beach, animal shelter, nursing home, fire station, pumpkin patch, local museum, apple orchard, Ikea, mall, aquarium, local farm, library, art museum
…of The Week
I then added a couple of ideas to focus on each week. Before creating this chart, I would review letters, numbers, shapes, and colors with Chulengo throughout our day. But, I felt like my lack of structure made things confusing. Now we have one letter, one number, one shape, and one color to focus on for the week. I write these up on the board by our front door to regularly remind me what to focus on.
Don’t get me wrong; we don’t work on ONLY the one letter, number, shape, or color of the week. I do include others, but being able to focus on one, in particular, helps me easily remember to bring them up throughout the day. The repetition makes it easy for me and is helpful for Chulengo.
etter of the week
Number of the week
Shape of the week
Color of the week
I’ve initially started using this activity schedule to get us out of a rut, doing the same activities every day. Now, it helps me look at each day with a different perspective. I have been looking forward to my days with Chulengo!
So, if you are looking for help with creating some sense of structure and an educational environment, please download the Activity Schedule Here! If you have more ideas to add to the theme days, please comment below! I would love to hear them and add them to the list.
I recommend printing out the Activity Schedule and laminating it so you can write ideas down with a wet-erase marker, making the schedule reusable.
20 thoughts on “The Ideal Toddler Activity Schedule”
Love this!! So creative and fun yet simple and easy to follow! This works for both of my kids! Thank you for posting ??
You’re welcome, Samantha!! Let me know how V & S like it!
I love this schedule LIsa! So smart and covers all areas 🙂 Great article!
Thank you, Lora!
What a great idea for a schedule. I like that it allows you a lot of wiggle room but still has structure! Field Trip Friday has to be fun!!
Thanks, Lauren. Yes Field Trip Friday is my favorite!
I love this! I do themes for my homeschool days like this sometimes too. It leads to such creativity on my part. And I understand what you mean about sticking to a strict schedule. I was surprised to find though that my kids liked structured hours – when they were probably 5+ they liked me to set up “stations” and set a timer and then they would switch. They would beg me to set it up! Which was essentially – sit in the chair in this corner and read books, sit in this corner and do puzzles, sit in this corner and play with wooden train, etc.
Aw!! That’s adorable that they appreciated having schedules. What a great idea to put a timer! I hope my little guy likes an activity like that…it would be so fun to plan.
I totally pinned this article. I have been looking for a more structured schedule with my 2 year old. I keep her at home with me, and I want to get her off the iPad as much. I swore I would not be an iPad mom, but it has become a survival tool so far. I need to really crack down though and start doing more one-on-one activities with her. I love this idea too. I would love to hear your ideas for Water in the winter. I know we could do ice cubes inside, but I would love to hear more ideas. 😉
Thank you!! I am glad you find it helpful. I desperately needed something to give me sort of structure and this was the only way I could do it and not be overwhelmed. Some water activities for winter include anything snow-related (snowballs, snowman, etc), working with sponges (squeezing them into different containers, cutting sponges into different shapes, using different color sponges), water & food coloring – making new colors by transferring to different cups, mid-day bath time, playing with medicine droppers… if I think of any more, I will message again. Merry Christmas!!
This is so much fun! I love it. My favorite would be Thoughtful Thursday. What a great way to start teaching our young ones to bless others and do things for others. Plus, everybody loves cute homemade gifts from kids!
Thanks, Judy! We have a lot of fun on thoughtful Thursday 🙂
I really like this list! My youngest is 2 and our days aren’t very structured. I have a schedule of when I would like to get things done around the house and for work. But I do not have a schedule that fits in learning time with him. I know this is huge, my older two thrived on these momemnts (ok, my oldest child could have cared less but my middle loved it)!
Thank you, Sara! I agree…there is still stuff to get done at home, so finding a way to weave in little lessons is great!
Thanks for the activity schedule PDF printing now.
Yay! Let me know how it works for you 🙂
Love this idea! It’s a great way to provide consistency and have fun at the same time! And it’s great that your week is tailored around things your toddler loves so he has fun while he’s learning tool
You’re so right! Consistent and fun…together!
This is a great schedule I love that you focus on one activity a day I have two-year-old and I’m having a hard time having a focus for a long time.
I agree. I have had to split things up throughout the day. For example, if it’s math Monday and we go to the grocery store then we practice counting when we pick items up off the shelf. If we need 3 lemons, I have him count the lemons.