Monday, February 20, 2012

Ten for Tuesday: 10 Toddler Games that Cost Nothing (Free Play!) #totplay

Here's ten simple and free "activities/games" that toddlers love. 

1. Tag (Wild Thing, 2, loves it when I say "I'm gonna get you" and chase him around the house. Now that we have the baby, I often carry the baby with me and we both chase Wild Thing).

2. Hide and Seek -- Wild Thing's favorite way to do this is for him to hide behind the curtain and for me to say "Where's Wild Thing?" and act completely shocked when he jumps out from behind the curtain.

3. Tickle Contest -- self-explanatory. I tickle him. He tickles me. We both laugh our heads off.

4. Make the Bed -- My mom did this to me when I was a kid, and I loved it!! She would make the bed on top of me and then push, gently, on me and complain about not being able to get the "lumps" out of the bed. (This also works with a blanket on the couch).

5. I Spy -- we all know this one. Now that Wild Thing is over 2 and his language is developing, this game has become more and more interesting and fun for him. (We do a simplified version where I say what I see and he points to it, so I actually say the name of the object instead of describing it).

6. Airplane -- There are several variations, but lift up your child and let them fly (bench press style works. Tummy on the feet is also popular. This activity is also a great workout for mom.)

The two blurry photos are ones Wild Thing took with his Fisher-Price cam 
so you can see airplane from his point of view.

7. Choo-Choo or Horsey -- Wild Thing sits on my lap or legs and I bounce him up and down as he makes horse sounds or I move him side to side as he makes choo choo sounds. (Often the baby is also on my lap. Fun for everyone).

8. Choo-Choo #2 -- Lately Wild Thing likes to sit in an empty box and be pushed around like a choo-choo. I'm trying to get him to push his stuffed animals around when I get tired, but haven't succeeded yet.

9. Dance Party -- put on some tunes and dance with your child. Don't think about it just move, move, move.

10. Sing -- Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is a favorite. The Winnie-the-Pooh song is also a favorite, as is a body part song I made up when Wild Thing was 3 months old. He still loves it. Lately, he also loves making up his own songs and having me ask him to sing to the baby.

I think it's important to remember that it doesn't taken money or toys to engage our children (and to help them grow, develop and learn). It's also important for adults to remember that we don't need all of our gadgets all the time either. What I like best about these 10 activities is not that they cost nothing, but that they require me to log off and get engaged with my little guy.


  1. My preschool aged girls still love doing all of the games you mentioned. They also love Bear Hunt, where you pretend you're the bear, they find you and run screaming, similar to the book/poem of I'm Going on a Bear Hunt. Cracks them up every time.

  2. What fun games. Make the Bed with lumps and all sounds great!

    Thanks for linking with the Summer Connections Blog Hop. If you could kindly leave a link back in your post, the five us hosting would appreciate it!

    Amy @ Missional Mama

  3. What great fun activities! I've found that the ones my girls love best are the simple ones :)

    So glad that you linked up the the Summer Connections blog hop!

  4. Singing and dance parties are big hits in my house!

  5. Some of those are our faves too! My mom used to play airplane and tickle fight with us, so we've carried those on too :0)

  6. I hav a 1 yr old. its my first child n i culd use some advice on various things. i like the dancin idea n the tents. i remember doin so. He has a ball pit but not interested n it. Hes got tons of books he loves me readin to him n him to me(his way) but he gets tired of them quick n wwnts ro do somethin else. Another question. sleepin habits. im not sure the best sleepin habit to go by. he normally is awake between 8:30-9:30am takes a nap around noon gets up at 1:15 n takes a 45 min nap at 2:30pm n i try to make his bedtime between 7:30-8:00pm but sometimes hes fallin asleep durin dinner or wide awake at bedtime. i keep bein told 8 is too late but i feel 7 is too early cuz he wakes up n hr later versus not wakin up. his eatin is another one im havin alotta difficulty wit. he will eat pbj, crackers, grilld chz, lil things here n there. he loves mac n chz but he prefers to suck the chz off n spit the noodle out? im runnin out of ideas of wat to try for my lil one cuz he doesnt seem to like wat i giv him. or he plays wit it or feeds it to the dogs. wat shuld i do???

  7. Great list! My son liked all of these and still enjoys some of them at age 7. Try these knee-bouncing games similar to your #7.

    greenbaby1677, I have a few ideas for you: It sounds like he likes cheese, so try giving him small cubes of real cheese; it is healthier than the mac-n-cheez sauce, and no noodles to spit out! Make the cubes small so he can't choke. For food in general, eat healthy foods in front of him and make yum sounds; when he looks interested, say, "Want to share?" and let him have a bite. Try fruit cut in little chunks--or if he has front teeth, cut it in strips and put out some yogurt or PB and show him how to dip--most kids like some kind of fruit. Don't worry if it seems he didn't eat enough one day; he will make up for it another day, and he may be in a phase where he just doesn't need much, so if he's not upset and acting hungry, let it go.

    Start his bedtime at whatever is the earliest time he gets sleepy. Have dinner finished by that time (if you can) and get him into PJs and start quiet activities like reading, singing, listening to music (but NOT video because the moving light makes the brain more alert). Don't stress if he doesn't fall asleep at the same time every night--who does? Aim for the early time his body sometimes wants, but let him be awake until the later time some nights and just encourage relaxing.

    I have a lot more parenting tips on my site. Good luck with your little guy!!

  8. These are all such great ideas! I love how they force mom/dad to get moving too. :)

  9. Thanks for this great list -- sometimes I just need a few new ideas when my toddlers needs to get pulled out of the grumps!