Intentional Parenting: 25+ Hands On Activities to Do With Your Toddler

25 Hands-On Activities to Do With Your Toddler

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Kathleen Willet, a dear friend of mine. Kat and her husband, Jeremy, adopted their son, Evans, from Ghana this past year, and are in process to adopt their daughter from Ethiopia this spring! You can read more about their family and ministry right here. Kat and Jeremy are great examples of parenting with intentionality and they are constantly seeking to redeem the things of the world for the glory of Christ.

Before I get to this months “Intentional Parenting” piece, I wanted to share how our all naturally dyed Easter eggs turned out. Here is a photo of the finished product and I would say they turned out great! We ended up using beets, turmeric, chili powder and red cabbage. We wanted to use our chicken’s eggs, which caused a slight issue since only one chicken lays completely white eggs. The colors would have been much more vibrant with white eggs, however, we still found them to change colors pretty well.

Hands On Activities with a Toddler

Something we have been doing with Evans is to try to let him be “hands on” with as many things that we do as possible. He isn’t one to sit and play with toys all day but he loves to read and be a part of everything we are into. I believe most kids want that as well. They want to be involved in what their parents are doing and it gives them a sense of helpfulness in the home.

For my husband, who is a musician, “hands on” means allowing Evans to play on the drums and piano in the basement studio as well as at live concerts after sound check. Evans knows there is a time for playing the instruments and that he has to have Poppa with him if he wants to play. Seeing him on the drum kit trying to mimic his Uncle Jordan is just priceless and he feels like a big boy being allowed to experiment with Poppa’s instruments. Unfortunately it’s the drums that he is drawn to and not something quiet like the acoustic guitar 😉

Intentional Parenting: Hands On

As I go about my day cleaning, cooking and making our home a place of rest, “hands on” means allowing Evans to help me vacuum, cook and make our homemade laundry detergent. When it is my day to vacuum, Evans walks around the house with the vacuum extension piece and runs it across the floor trying to pick up dirt (if only that truly worked!) When I am baking or making dinner I let him either watch and sometimes event let him stir ingredients and roll out dough. For Easter we made the Grandparents some Easter cookies and Evans was just so excited to help roll out the dough and use the cookie cutters. About once a month I do batch of our laundry detergent bombs and recently he has started helping me grate the soap and stir in all of the ingredients. He is such a big help and even makes those jobs fun for me to do.

Intentional Parenting: Hands On

The crazy thing about Evans being “hands on” helping Momma and Poppa is, most of the time when we allow him to help he is doing the action out of pure observation. I never sat him down and showed him how to use a rolling pin but he has watched me many times. My husband didn’t sit him down and teach him that each part of the drum kit makes a different noise, he just observed his Uncle Jordan. Our children are so observant! Instead of pushing them towards their toys or even the television, it’s better to let them be “hands on” helping you around the house.

Will it take extra time to let them help?
Will they make a bigger mess then you had intended on?
In our case – will my house always be filled with the noise of Evans drumming on anything that makes a cool noise?
Will our children grow up to be a helper in the home and feel pride for all they can accomplish?

I challenge you to take the opportunity the next time there is something you are doing that your little one can help and be “hands on” with. They will have so much fun helping and your chore will also seem like more fun for you too.

Here’s some ideas of activities you can try with your little one:

  1. Help stir ingredients together when cooking. Just this morning, Evans helped me stir the batter for pancakes. He loves to see the ingredients come together.
  2. Vacuum or sweep floors
  3. Let your child help with watering the garden and even placing seeds/transplanting seedlings. Giving them a little plot of their own is also a good idea!
  4. Make the bed. In the morning, Evans throws all of his stuffed animals back into his crib. He also helps me place the pillows on our bed when I am done making it.
  5. Let your kids help put the laundry in the dryer with you. Evans loves to push the clothes in when I place them on the dryer door. If we are line drying, he likes to hand me the clothes from the basket to place on the line.
  6. Put away non-sharp silverware and unbreakable dishes. I give Evans our plastic containers and he places them in the right cabinet. It’s at his level and I do have to re-adjust them but he is helping get them there!
  7. Roll out dough for pizza.
  8. Get the mail (with you!)
  9. Pick flowers from the garden.
  10. Feed and water pets, or groom if applicable.
  11. Make sandwiches (PB&J is an easy one!)
  12. Wipe windows, tables, or countertops. They might not do the best job, but give your little one their own cloth and let them practice.
  13. Set table. Little ones can put out placemats or non-sharp silverware.
  14. Make natural cleaning products, like laundry bombs,
  15. Cut out and decorate cookies.
  16. Shake up homemade dressings or butter- they may not be able to help for very long, but teaching a little one where their food comes from, and how it is made, is an important value!
  17. Pick fresh herbs from the garden (with supervision!)
  18. Feed the chickens and collect eggs. Evans loves helping to put the food in their barrel as well as hold the egg basket.
  19. Play an instrument- if you have musicians in your home, supervise a little jam session.
  20. Make smoothies or fresh juice- let your little one help you put the ingredients in the blender, or push down on the pushed for your juicer.
  21. Help water plants around the house.
  22. Wash the car- give your little one their own little sponge!
  23. Pick up rocks from garden bed.
  24. Paint a canvas with finger paints.
  25. Help knead dough for bread.
  26. Help pick up the house. Before nap/bedtime we make sure all of Evans toys are picked up and put away. He is at the age now were we give him a few items to put away. It makes for a fun family game before bed 🙂
  27. Say prayers.  We believe in instilling importance of prayer into your child at an early age. At meal time and bed time, my husband will have Evans repeat after him during the prayer. Evans says the last word of every phrase, but he understands!
  28. Yard work. We have a lot of trees in our yard, which means lots of sticks! Evans and I go out and pick up sticks and place them in his wagon so Poppa can mow the yard.
  29.  Playtime. It’s great to take time out and just sit with your little one just to play. When your day is filled with demands, play time can help you refocus.  Let your child be creative and remind you how to have fun during your day!
  30. Take a nature walk and collect flowers, leaves, or rocks. Look for birds, frogs, or fish. There is nothing that compares to discovering the world through a little one’s eyes!

What fun hands-on activities do you do with your toddler? How have you seen them grow and learn through these fun times?

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