In early childhood, all activities are learning activities. Best educational activities for toddlers and kids to learn fast is essential. For the very young children, play is learning, active exploration of their immediate environment is learning and most importantly, interactions with the adults in their lives could be seen as learning. When you’re handling kids in early childhood, you can encourage cognitive and language development by engaging them in certain activities.
However, with toddlers, they get easily excitable and getting them to sit still could be a major challenge when trying to put them through some learning activities. So if you want to be successful in engaging them with educational activities, you would have to come down to their level and play with them.
There are hundreds of educational activities out there that you can put them through. Most educational activities should always be play-based and hands-on. It is important to note that you shouldn’t force your kids into learning things they are not ready for, simply expose them to it and mastery will come in later. Don’t try to push them, let them learn at their own pace and with time, they will get the hang of it.
Play is the highest form of learning you can expose your child to as it beats all other forms of learning. Exposing them to educational games boosts their motor skills, their cognitive, physical and emotional skills and also exercises their bodies and minds. Similarly, their communication skills can be worked on with such activities, since they are still learning to talk and express themselves.
Here’s a collection of activities to entertain your toddler with. They are super fun and they provide a wide range of learning opportunities.
1. Soapy Sponges
This is a simple water table idea. The setup consists of large sponges that can be found at the dollar store, a small amount of water in a water table and a mild soap if desired. This activity helps to build up the muscle tone in toddlers hands as they work on developing their coordination and grip.
2. Floating Rainbow Balls
This is another activity that is very easy to set up and take down as well. The materials required include a water table, plastic balls and a small amount of water. This is another activity for babies who are already capable of standing up and also tall enough to access the items in the water table. This activity helps them practise standing up, having a good grip, leaning against the table and at the same time exploring the contents of the water table.
3. Scoops and Bucket
This activity helps to develop fine motor skills by simply scooping and pouring small items. You can make use of plastic scoops and plastic beads, sand or pebbles for the scooping items. Exposing them to this activity will develop and refine their motor skills needed for handling utensils during self-feeding. This will, in turn, give them some level of independence.
4. Frozen Pom Poms
This is a simple, hands-on sensory activity involving frozen pom poms. To set it up, get some pom poms from the store, put them in a tray, add water and freeze. Once they are frozen, you can have them play with it and watch it melt outside or simply throw down a blanket inside the house and let them have at it. It’s another great activity for developing fine motor skills.
5. Ice Boats
Water and ice provide kids with great sensory activities. To set this up, you’ll need containers for freezing the water in. Then you can make the boats with straws, sticky tape and craft foam. The craft foam is waterproof and light and thus would make a great sail. You can add food colouring to the water to make the sensory play more entertaining. Please always supervise your children whenever they play with water.
6. Easter Eggs
This is another great sensory bin activity your toddler would love. There are tons of easter egg activities for fun play and learning. However, we’ll stick to the activity they can carry out in the water table. This involves filling your water table with plastic easter eggs and your toddlers get busy by opening and closing the eggs and also filling them with water.
7. Alphabet Soup
This is an exciting learning activity, particularly for toddlers. It involves placing upper and lower case letters in the water and watching your little ones attempt to pair the upper and lower case of the same letter. You can even make it more fun by making them attempt picking up the letters with a tweezer.
8. Toddler Fishing
Your toddlers will be full of delight and enthusiasm as they attempt to pick up little animal erasers with a net in their water table. By letting them fish with a net, you’re developing their motor skills and this game ignites your child’s imagination and it keeps them occupied with healthy, active fun.
9. Sink or Float
This is a play-based learning activity that teaches your toddlers about science. This activity will introduce them to density and buoyancy. It is very easy to set up. Pour a bowl of water into a sensory bin and gather so many items from around the house. When they get hold of the items, let them hazard a guess if that item will float or sink and then let them drop the item into the water. This activity exposes your kids to science and you might never know, they could pick up a passion for science from there.
10. Puzzle Sorting Station
If you have a toddler who becomes uncertain when it comes to puzzles or one who loves a combination of puzzles and sensory bins, this is the perfect activity. Puzzle sorting teaches your kids how to organize things. They get to sort objects by shape or by vertices.
The post-it-matching activity can be done with letters, numbers, shapes or names. Setting it up requires post-it notes, black marker, white butcher paper and a painter’s tape that is wall safe. Draw several holiday or Christmas symbols on your white butcher paper. Draw those same symbols on sticky notes. The goal is for your child to match those symbols together. This activity improves their visual discrimination skills in being able to tell the difference between two symbols. It is more of a pre-reading activity because when they read they employ this exposure to tell the difference between two symbols.
12. Colour Sort
Sorting helps your child analyze information, depict similarities and differences and bring them to think critically about the objects right in front of them. This exposes your toddler to learn how to think instead of just memorizing. The set up is just to get coloured items they can sort and coloured surfaces they can sort onto. Then you sit them down and ask them to match those coloured items with the exact coloured surface.
13. ABC Colour Sort
This activity exposes your toddler to letters. However, adding a mix of colour to the learning activity makes it more fascinating. The goal of adding a mix of colour to the activity is to let your toddler sort the letters by colour; putting all the coloured letters in the right place. By doing this, he’ll be learning letters in the context of colours.
14. Letter Board Sort
Letter Boards are the chalkboards of yesterday and almost every mum has one. This is another fascinating activity. It involves sorting letters by their shape (those that are straight and those that are curved), recognizing letters and also taking note of how letters are formed. It is a pre-writing skill and they get to familiarize themselves with letters.
15. Simon Says
You can either play this game one on one with your toddler or with a group of kids. This is a game that teaches your kids how to follow instructions. You will play Simon and all you will be doing would be to give out commands. So you say something like, “Simon says, touch your nose” and your kids have to follow what you say. You can make your instructions all about body parts so that your kids could familiarize themselves with body parts.
16. Building Blocks
This game exposes your child to numbers and letters and this game aims to get your toddler to stack those colourful blocks. This activity boosts your toddler’s motor skills and dexterity. It also creates an awareness of numbers and letters in their minds as they get to familiarize themselves with and recognize letters and numbers.
17. Object Line Tracing
This activity prepares your kids on how to write. It involves placing colourful items on a white sheet of paper and encouraging them to trace lines around those objects with crayons. This gets them to learn how to control themselves and it also refines their motor skills.
18. Object Count
This is a learning activity where you place several items, say toys, before your toddler and you count loudly, pointing to each toy and encouraging your child to repeat after you. You can begin from the basic one to ten and then slowly progress each day. This activity promotes counting skills as well as cognitive skills.
19. Play Dough
This activity teaches your child about art and craft. It is very versatile and it provides your child with hours of fun learning. Simply get playdough of different colours and encourage your toddler to create different shapes and patterns with them. This will promote eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.
20. Colour Mixing
Colours are always fun to play with and you can make them more fascinating to your kids by engaging them with this activity. Just show them how to mix different colours and how to make new colours. You could get them to start with primary colours. This activity boosts colour recognition and motor skills.
21. Finger Painting
This is quite a messy activity and the set up is very simple. It involves fixing a piece of paper to the table with tape and placing small cups of paint on the table. Then you hand your toddler those cups of paint and have him take control; painting whatever he desires. This activity promotes motor and sensory skills.
22. Paper and Glue
This is both an educational and entertaining activity. It involves taking a piece of different coloured papers and cutting out small pieces from them. You then draw different coloured circles and have your kids match those pieces with the coloured circles. This will develop colour recognition and fine motor skills. It also boosts hand-eye coordination.
23. Planting a Seed
This is the perfect means to inculcate in your child, a love for nature. Simply assist your kid with putting a seed in a prepared seed pot and take time out each day together with your child to observe it grow. Asides encouraging a love for nature, this activity also builds locomotor skills and object control skills.
24. ABC Sensory Table
This is another hands-on activity that exposes toddlers to letters. The set up requires a sensory bin that can go on a floor or table, foam letters, containers and scoops. Pour the foam numbers into the sensory bin and put in the scoops and containers as well. Then you encourage them to scoop in the letters into the containers.
25. Letter and Number Scavenger Hunt
Kids tend to recognize upper and lowercase alphabets, as well as counting when they are engaged with a scavenger hunt around the house. Then once the numbers and letters are found, you could ask them to match those that correspond or look similar. You could make use of foam letters and numbers for this activity.
26. Alphabet Pumpkins
This activity promotes concentration, creativity and motor skills. It involves incorporating some colourful letters on a pumpkin. An attempt to detach, re-attach and re-position the sticky alphabets demands real concentration and refines motor skills. You can also encourage them to choose similar letters such as the upper and lowercase of the same alphabet. This develops letter recognition.
27. Alphabet Train
To set up this activity, you’ll need to make a paper, circle garland by using a circle punch to punch out 26 circles on which you’ll write a letter on each one. Then you cut out some cards, tape them to the wall and inscribe two letters per card. Then you make use of a stencil to cut out a train shape from a paper which you will as well tape to the wall.
You can make use of a painter’s tape below each letter so that it would be easy to attach and detach the letters. Now you encourage your toddler to match up the letters on the wall.
28. Circles Art
This is a shapes activity. To set this up, you’ll need paper tubes, tempera paint and a piece of paper. Pour tempera paint into a tray and add paper tubes. Place the paper beside the tray and call on your child to press the paper tube into the paint and then onto the paper. This develops their motion skills as the paper tubes fit nicely in the palm of their hands.
29. Rainbow Process Art
For this activity, you’ll need a bubble wrap, brayers, tempera paint and a white paper cut into arches. Now tape the bubble wrap on a table, pour the paint into containers and add brayers to the containers. Then you encourage your toddler to roll the various colours of paint onto the bubble wrap. These colours should make up the rainbow colours so that they will have experience with rainbow colours.
30. Transportation Art
This activity requires different colours of tempera paint, small toy cars, a long sheet of white paper and paper plates (one for each colour). Attach the white paper to a table surface. Apply paint to each paper plate, place them on the paper and spread them out. Then you let your toddler walk around the table while pushing the cars around. You can vary this activity by making use of different cars. This activity exposes them to what colours can make when they are mixed.
These fun and learning activities will keep your little one engaged and expose them to different aspects of life that will eventually come in handy. These activities will improve their creativity, imagination and create lasting memories in them.
Learning through play and interactions with the environment is the perfect way of getting your child started on a journey of acquiring knowledge and exploring his immediate environment.