Toddler Activities by Age (Indoor and Outdoor)

This is a list of activities I’m compiling, not just for other parents or daycare providers out there, but for myself as well. It will be something that I continue to add to as I brainstorm more ideas, and refer to it when I need ideas. (Also, the ages on the list will increase as the kids at the daycare grow older and I learn what works for them.)
This list is a general guideline for the most appropriate time to introduce each activity. Thus, once I have mentioned an activity on the list, I do not repeat it, even though it can still be enjoyed (often even more so) at later ages. To reiterate, if you have come upon this site looking for activity ideas for your 2-year-old, check the entire list, as you may appreciate some of those listed under “6 months,” for example. Some children will vary; they will be more receptive to certain activities sooner or later than what I have suggested.   The activities on this list do not involve any specific toys, but do include general or common toys I consider to be essential, or maybe I should say optimal, for childhood learning. The only activities I have not included in this list are those pertaining to music and reading. I believe activities from these two categories should be integral to a child’s life from birth.

6 Months and Older


  • water play (fill basin with shallow water and put bath toys and other appropriate items in, and LOTS of towels around!)
  • finger painting with pudding
  • emptying and filling containers (e.g. filling a bin with books, then taking them out again)
  • banging pots and pans with spoon
  • blow bubbles for them to see
  • water basin filled with toys
  • swings at the playground
9 Months and Older

  • walkers and push toys
  • sensory play bag (fill bag with hard/soft objects, and objects with different textures – e.g. ribbon, bean bag, wooden block)
  • walkers and push toys

1 Year and Older


  • peg puzzles, or those with large wooden pieces that don’t sink completely into the board (‘Melissa and Doug’ brand is good for this)
  • pull toys
  • putting lids on pots and pans, taking them off


  • pull toys
15 Months and Older

  • pop-up toys (where you have to push a button, flip a switch, turn a dial, etc., to get a door to open)
  • shape sorters
  • using spoons to bang on pots and pans


  • throw bits of food (e.g. stale bread) to squirrels and birds to get a better look at them

18 Months and Older


  • coloring using washable, non-toxic markers (on large paper or Bristol Board taped to a wall, taped to a table, at an easel, or on the floor)
  • finger painting with washable, non-toxic paints
  • painting with paintbrush
  • Playdough using homemade recipe ( (safer if they put it in their mouths)
  • ride-on toys
  • sorting like objects (balls, cars, boats, books, etc.) into different containers
  • matching shapes (in puzzle, or using paper cut-outs)
  • dress-up clothes
  • chalk on sidewalk (or concrete/wood surfaces at playground)
  • ride-on toys
  • climb some playground structures, at least with assistance or spotting
  • playing with sand
2 Years and Older

  • large crayons (used on paper or coloring books)
  • regular Playdough (closely monitored – they still like to taste it now and then!)
  • pretend play scenarios (grocery store, doctor’s office, pet store, etc.)
  • gluing shapes to paper using fingers or Popsicle stick
  • jigsaw puzzles with large, yet few, pieces (12 piece puzzles are good to start with)
  • roll ball back and forth to partner (or car/truck)
  • color sorting by putting objects into containers of same color, onto construction paper of same color, or simply by making distinct groups or piles of objects)
  • helping to pour or stir during baking or cooking activities
  • chalk on sidewalk
2.5 Years and Older

  • having child blow bubbles while you hold wand

  • little or no spotting or assistance needed in climbing playground structures

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