12 Simple, Fun Activities For Toddlers At Home (That Cost Nothing)

toddler playing with blocks in an article on educational activities for toddlers

Fun Indoor Activities for Toddlers

Providing fun activities for toddlers at home is often easier than we think!

Kids don’t need a lot. When it comes to having a good time for a long time, less is best. Studies show that when you give people (including adults) less to choose from, they are happier.

When you give people more choices, they tend to feel overwhelmed and worry they’re making the wrong choice. With children, that translates to them being bored or playing with a toy for only a few seconds.

That’s why it’s a smart idea to have most toys out of sight in cupboards.

Bring out 5 or less for your little one(s) to play with for a week or two before putting new ones out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well they occupy themselves.

As for the types of toys you put out, they do not need to be anything fancy! Children’s imaginations are impressive, and they can have the absolute best time with the simplest of things.

Here are some favorite household items toddlers love to play with.

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12 Household Activities Toddlers Love

Looking for fun activities for toddlers that don’t break the bank? This list of activities includes everyday household items your child(ren) will be sure to love! They are great to do with each other for bonding and/or for independent play.

1. Fill Tupperware with water.

water droplet in a pool of water

This has been a very peaceful and fun activity for my children to do since they were really little (they are 5 and 3 now).

Take Tupperware or bowls (whatever kitchen containers you feel comfortable filling with water) and set them on the ground over a towel.

When my kids were super young, they loved having just a spoon to stir around in the water. Often times, they didn’t even want that and would just put their hands in the water over and over and over.

As they have gotten older, they have wanted bath tub toys in the water bowls, along with straws and ladles…different utensils to transport water from one container to the other and back.

This activity is oddly soothing for them where they can sit still doing it for several minutes. You do need to monitor for water spillage, but I fill the bowls super low to minimize puddles.

2. Play with Scotch Tape.

roll of Scotch tape

You might be thinking, “Tape?! I don’t want to waste tape.” But, hear me out!

At only about $2 a roll, your child can have hours of fun. The stickiness of tape promotes curiosity and strengthens fine motor skills.

My children (ages 5 and 3), have been playing with tape for years.

They love to cover my legs in tape as I sit and type at my computer…They pretend to heal imaginary boo-boos with tape….

They love to cover paper in tape or wrap tape on chairs (our chairs are metal so the tape easily cleans off)…They like to see how far they can pull the tape before it crinkles…

Covering cardboard boxes in tape to make “traps” or obstacle courses is loads of fun too, which leads me to toddler activity number 3.

3. Create with cardboard boxes.

toddler and dad painting a cardboard box in an article on educational activities for toddlers

I am more of a minimalist than not, so having extra things in my house gives me anxiety…But an empty cardboard box is an exception because of the imaginative play it encourages.

Save your Amazon packages and pull out the crayons! Boxes can turn into playhouses, dog houses, rocket ships, buses…The ideas are endless!

The ability to color on something other than paper is very exciting to a little one!

My 5 year old recently discovered poking holes in the boxes creates stars with the light shining through them.

4. Blow up some balloons.

pile of colorful balloons in an article on fun activities for toddlers

Blow up a balloon and see an instant smile.

Balloons are the best indoor “ball” since they are safe for throwing, hitting, and kicking–3 things toddlers love to do!

5. Play with paper towel tubes.

3 rolls of toilet paper tubes in an article on educational activities for toddlers

When my firstborn was not even two, my parents came over for a visit. They created a game with my daughter of dropping a ball down our foam roller.

The amusement and length of time my daughter spent seeing a ball go down a tube over and over and over was eye opening to me as a new parent.

I have since then recreated that game but with paper towel tubes because they are softer and safer for independent play.

Let your kids decorate them in tape or draw on them. Paper towel tubes can turn into megaphones or microphones with no extra equipment other than their imagination.

The tubes can be slides for tiny figurines or tunnels for race cars. They can easily elevate the playing options with an ordinary toy.

6. Put couch cushions on the floor.

toddler playing on couch in an article on fun activities for toddlers indoors

I used to never let my kids take our couch apart for a few reasons. Then, one day, I came into the living room and saw them doing it anyway.

I had the epiphany they were creating a very soft, safe space to jump, roll, and tumble. The laughter and smiles that came with the freedom of having couch cushions on the floor was priceless.

When they do this, the ground often turns into lava. The cushions become an ocean. Or, my children turn into animals in the wild, creating a fun, energy-releasing environment that is safe to play in for long periods.

7. Dance to music.

two little girls dancing in an article on fun activities for toddlers

Find a kid friendly station on Spotify or Pandora and let the fun begin 🙂 Seeing children sing and dance is such a heartwarming experience. I love it.

Music is therapeutic and good for the soul. I have fond memories of going to my grandma’s house when I was a little girl; she would turn classical music on and we would roll on the carpet to the beat of the songs. It felt so fun and silly to literally roll on the ground with my siblings and grandma.

8. Build a fort.

boy in couch pillows in an article on fun activities for toddlers indoors

Grab some blankets and create a fort to let your toddler and his/her stuffed animals transport to another world!

9. Play “I Spy”.

two young girls whispering in an article on fun activities for toddlers to do inside

“I spy with my little eye, something (name a color of an object you see).”

Let your children take turns guessing what the object is. Whoever guesses right gets to go next with saying, “I spy with my little eye, something…”

My children especially love to play this game sitting under the tree in our front yard or when we are driving to school.

10. Create a homemade sensory bin.

toddler playing in a sensory bin in an article on fun activities for toddlers indoors

Sensory bins are similar to the water in a bowl activity (number one on the list).

Young minds and little hands have so many new textures to explore, from uncooked noodles to uncooked beans to cotton balls…

Fill a container with anything you can find in your house. Throw in a spoon, cup, or ladle and let the independent playtime begin!

11. Play pretend.

little girl and dad playing make believe

At preschool drop off one morning, a mom shared with me her children love to play “school” together. She said that is how her youngest got excited about real preschool…

It dawned on me my kids didn’t really do pretend play yet of real life scenarios. At the time, my munchkins were focused on pretending to be animals.

So I was excited to introduce them to new types of imagining. There are so many fun things to pretend play!

Your little one(s) can pretend to be:

  • on an airplane (set some chairs up in a row like they’re sitting on a plane).
  • at a grocery store shopping (give them a basket to fill up with groceries and a coffee table for checkout).
  • at a doctor’s office
  • at school
  • working at a construction site
  • camping in a forest
  • in a castle as royalty
  • on a boat as pirates looking for treasure
  • a mail man doing special deliveries
  • astronauts in outerspace
  • chefs in a restaurant or kitchen

12. Go on a nature walk.

kids playing in nature in an article on fun activities for toddlers

From sticks, to rocks, to leaves, flowers, and more! There are many things to look at and collect outside–be it just in your backyard or around the neighborhood–that are new and exciting in the eyes of a toddler.

After collecting, you could make a game out of sorting the items into categories (i.e. things that are smooth or rough, or big and small…).

My children currently love to collect all the sticks and rocks they can find in our backyard to build “nests” for birds or “homes” for critters.

5 Favorite Toddler Toys for Independent Play

toddler girl playing with stuffed animals

Here are the favorite toys of my 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son. They are toys well-loved by both of them for years. I hope these toys bring your little one(s) as much joy as they have brought mine.

Duplos Mega Blocks


Kinetic Sand

Lincoln Logs


Final Thoughts on Fun Activities For Toddlers

Keeping toddlers entertained at home can be a fun and rewarding challenge.

The activities and toys listed here support cognitive development, motor skills, and creativity.

A little goes a long way, and less is best when providing an engaging experience for your little one(s).

Do you have a favorite activity for your toddler? I’d love to hear! Share in the comments section below.

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