Toddlers are busy little people. They like exploring with their hands (and mouths). They love putting things in and taking them out of containers. They continue to explore different textures. They are starting to use both hands together and as they get older starting to choose one hand as the dominant "worker" hand and use their other hand as the "helper. They are starting to learn about colours, shapes and counting. They are learning about their own body parts and how to move them to perform certain actions.
I would like to say recently, but it was actually some time ago I made some "toddler busy boxes" to give to friends who were expecting their second children. These were gifts to keep their "firstborns" busy with quiet interesting activities. These toddler activities were chosen so they can be done almost independent of mum (who may be busy with the newborn) and could be repeated over and over again.
Depending on the age of your toddler and their exposure to similar activities, you may need to show them how to do these several times before they are independent. You may like to introduce one activity at a time rather than give your child the whole box of activities in one go. I placed each individual activity into a zip-lock plastic bag so all the pieces could be kept together. I then placed all the activities into a sturdy box with the child's name on top.
10 Great Toddler Busy Box Activities!
1. Felt face - I cut out a square as a background piece, a circle for the face and various interchangeable pieces for the facial features. Your toddler can make "faces" trying out different positions for various features. They may learn about their body parts and how to organise the felt face to match the spatial positions of their own face. As your toddler gets older they could try drawing a face using the felt face as a model.
2. Ice cube tray, tongs and pom poms - Your toddler places a pom pom into each hole in the ice cube tray. They may also use the tongs to pick up and release pom poms. They may develop hand strength and learn colours from this activity.
3. Crazy straw and felt circles - I cut out a series of felt circles and made a hole in each circle. Your toddler may thread the circles onto the crazy straw one at a time so that it goes for a "ride". They may place all the circles onto one straw to see how many fit. They may learn about colours and use both hands collaboratively.
4. Pegs - Your toddler may place the pegs onto the side of the box. You could change this over time by adding colours or letters to the pegs which may be matched to a corresponding card. They may develop hand strength and start using both hands together.
5. Caterpillar counting pages and pom poms - I downloaded these counting pages from Powerful Mothering and laminated them. Your toddler may match the pom poms with the caterpillar body. As they get older they may be able to match the corresponding coloured pom poms to the pictures and count them.
6. Milk Bottle Lids and star stickers - I placed some star stickers onto 10 milk bottle lids. Your toddler may match the stars with the same colours. They may like to stack the lids and knock them over. As your toddler gets older you may use the lids as a memory game placing them all face down and trying to find the matching pair turning over two at a time.
7. Pipecleaner and small beads - Knot one end of the pipe cleaner with a bead so that their is a "stop" end. Your toddler may begin to thread beads onto the pipecleaner. This activity may require supervision so that beads are not placed into the toddler's mouth and swallowed.
8. Shapes and pipecleaners - I provided laminated pictures of shapes and pipecleaners. Older toddlers will be able to manipulate the pipecleaners to the shapes. You may also provide a dry-erase marker for your toddler to trace or colour in the shapes.
9. Playdough and playdough mats - I provided a new tub of playdough and laminated playdough mats from Planet of the Apels. Your toddler may add their playdough to the mats to complete the pictures. You may find more ideas to do with playdough here!
10. Car and Road maps - I provided a new "Matchbox" car and laminated road maps from the DIY Mommy. Toddlers will love driving their car around these roads and race track.
11. Paddlepop stick shapes - Draw a shape across two paddlepop sticks which are the same colour. Your toddler can match the shapes and colours together. The paddlepop sticks could also be used with the playdough.
It was lovely to be sent photos of these busy boxes in action! Isn't Mr E adorable?!
These activities would also be great for an OT to have in his/her therapy bag to use with toddlers and preschoolers!
Have you made your toddler a "busy box"? Have you made one as a gift?
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Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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