Today I’m sharing the 19 activities that were part of our toddler exchange. You can see the rest of the ideas I gathered for the swap on this google doc.
I’m also sharing what my 18 month old daughter, Adelaide, thinks of the activities we’ve tried as well.
1. Rainbow Rice We haven’t played with this yet but it will be really fun in her sensory table, I’m sure. I know she’s going to love scooping it. I think it would be good to give the rice separated into colors first so the kids can do the color mixing themselves.
2. No Sew Fishing Game The fish have 3 metal washers in them so they get picked up pretty easily by the magnet. It will be easy to add more to the set, as well. I think A could probably do this one soon.
3. Pom Pom Stuff It In A favorite of A! She would love to dump them back out again but doesn’t know how to open the lid (yet!) It’s the perfect size to throw in my diaper bag. She’s played with it every week during church.
4. Button Snake It can be tricky getting the chunky button through the slits but after you do it a few times the holes become bigger. A isn’t quite able to do this one yet and it doesn’t grab her attention. Maybe in a couple months!
5. Pool Noodle Stringing With a little help, A can totally string these and loves doing it (and then taking them off again.) The chunky rope is a great size for her hands.
6. Wacky Sacks The only issue with us for these is that the eyes keep falling off. Some of my friends said their older kids (3+) have already broken and ripped these open. Maybe best for the very young crowd.
7. Color Matching Wheel So far A just likes to take off the pins that I clip on but soon I think she’ll be interested in putting on the pins herself. The color matching aspect is a little ahead of her too. The clothespins can be expensive so look for a deal! Here are some clothespins from Amazon that work out to be .08 a pin.
8. Pipe Cleaner Toy (another link here) A is nuts for this activity. She has played it every day since we got it. She doesn’t understand the color matching yet but loves putting the pipe cleaners in any hole. I think she also really likes the sound the cleaners make tinkling against the metal bottom of the Pringles can. I really like that she can grow into the color matching aspect of this activity. And the pipe cleaners are store inside which is just an added bonus.
9. Mini Reversible Felt Toy Wish I’d gotten a picture of this before A pulled all the pieces apart. She’s not ready for creative building but she did enjoy playing with the pieces. It would be tedious cutting them all out, but felt is cheap at least!
10. Beads in a Water Bottle Pretty simple activity to put together: an empty water bottle + bag of beads! A loves dropping them in, especially the sound. She only fills up the bottom part before dumping them out again, which she thinks is so fun. I always stay close so these don’t end up in her mouth and/or scattered all over the house. Definitely a hit with her!
11. Velcro Shape Sticks We haven’t tried this one yet. I’ll probably add a few more shapes eventually. May also add some sticks with velcro that can be used for free play. (If you use the velcro dots make sure they are the right size for the size sticks you buy.) I like the color coding on these. I think it will be a big help when she’s ready to try out building the shapes.
12. Discovery Bottles These are the prefect size for little toddler hands and go great into a diaper bag for an on the go activity. The problem for us is that A loves to drink out of our water bottles so she just holds these bottles out to us and whines because she wants to drink out of them! Don’t worry, the lids are hot glued on.
13. Magnetic Pom Poms This is such a fun idea for pom poms! I am brain storming a way to make a smaller magnetic surface that can stay in the busy bag instead of having to get out the cookie sheet. That being said, the cookie sheet works great!
14. Lacing Cards A isn’t quite ready for lacing yet but these cards are really cute! The templates would help make it a quicker project.
15. Spools and Straws This one is a hit with A! The problem? She’s pretty rough with it and the holes have been mangled in the styrofoam and now the sticks don’t stick up straight, which makes her frustrated. She loves this so much that we’re thinking of making something small with wood that she could use and hopefully will hold up to her abuse! The little spools are adorable.
16. Mix and Match Game A is too young to understand the matching component but enjoys playing with the little treasures. I have to stick close to her so that the little pieces all end up back in the container!
17. Race Car Shapes As soon as I laid this out to photograph it, A was immediately drawn to it. The person who put it together included a car which was great since we don’t have any. I think A will really enjoy playing with these!
18. Play Dough Mats These are really cute mats. I will definitely be laminating them and hole punching them (the girl who made the bag included rings to make them into a booklet.) Be aware that if you don’t have access to a color printer this project can get very expensive if you plan to print a lot of pages!
19. Pasta Sort
This was my project. First of all, dyeing the pasta was easy but took a lot of liquid food coloring (I used half a bottle of color for probably 2-3 boxes of pasta). I suggest double bagging the pasta while you dye it because I ended up with color all over my counters (but it cleaned up easily.) The alcohol smell really sticks around on the pasta. The batches I left out for a few days smelled better than the ones I made right before the exchange and didn’t have time to air out for as long. If your child puts these in their mouth or gets them wet, the color will get on their skin. I included 4 cups (for sorting by color but you could include more cups and do shape sorting too.) I also included a shoelace and a few pipe cleaners for different options for stringing.