Toddlers are easily bored.
If you have one living in your home, you know that fact as deeply as you know your need for coffee as soon as you wake up. You can hear their tiny voices – “I’m bored! Let’s go empty out the pantry!” or “Look at the portrait of myself that I drew on the wall with your lip stuff, mom!”
It’s a slippery slope from boredom to mischief.
I have a toddler of my own (though he will be four soon. When do they stop being toddlers and start being just a kid? I can’t even imagine it! I’m just going to keep living in denial that every year he gets a little bigger…), which means I am always on the hunt for new and interesting toddler learning games we can play that will stave off boredom and keep him occupied for more than ten minutes at a time.
I have a list of three activities I have recently come across that have resulted in hours of entertainment. I know one day he will get bored of them, but for now they’re his top picks every day. Maybe they’ll interest your toddler too? Read on –
This is a set of two large magnetic boards, thirty laminated activity sheets that contain various word ladders/phonic combinations, and 70 foam letter tiles with a magnet backing.
You line the tiles up on the sheets to build words – very simple! These word ladders range from easy (3-letter words ending in -ap, for example) to a little more complicated (words ending in -ing) and even a few transition pages that contain both three, four, and five letter words.
Because the sheets are laminated, you can write on them with a dry erase marker, too, which is great for practicing lettering.
E had the beginnings of an interest in reading and spelling, but these boards have really exploded that. All day long, I think I spell 400 words or phrases to him, and when we get the board out, he sometimes can spell words back to me on his own using the tiles (this is true if it’s a word we have repeatedly spelled).
What’s more, you don’t have to use the magnet boards with the sheets. Sometimes, we just play with the tiles on the board itself and build our own words – right now, for example, E is inexplicably obsessed with the words “jiggy,” “wiggy,” and “jigglish.” I don’t know how or why, I just go with the flow.
When I noticed E was really interested in the days of the week, the weather, dates things happen (his birthday, mostly), I wanted to create a “today” station in our home somewhere we could make note of the day of the week, the month, the weather, etc. I wasn’t really sure where I would set something like that up, though.
One night, I was browsing Zulily when I couldn’t sleep (always a recipe for mindless spending…), and I stumbled upon this Today Board and it was absolutely perfect with the added bonus of requiring me to do zero work except buy the thing.
Since it arrived at our house, it’s been a daily (haha) fixture. It gets conversation going about the weather outside, how time works (have you ever tried to explain the concept of minutes in an hour, or the passage of time, to an almost four year old? You should try it, if you want to walk away questioning the merits of time and dimensions, haha), the months of the year and how they correspond to the seasons, the days of the week – it covers all of the basic bits of information we take in every day about our days.
What I’ve immediately noticed from this board is E’s awareness of dates and days passing, whereas previously he had no concept and no real reason to have any concept of time’s passing.
Now if we could only get past the fact that any time it’s windy outside, it’s automatically “Windsday” aka Wednesday…
This little game is so much fun.
Not only is the title hilarious, but the game is super cute, too. I really could go on and on about its merits, but I’ll limit myself to a few points:
- It teaches taking turns, following simple directions and listening to directions, managing disappointment (if you lose a turn, or lose all your acorns), and showing good sportsmanship (if you lose, or if you win).
- It teaches color recognition, and color matching.
- It teaches counting, and you can even go further by using it as a visual representation for addition and subtraction.
- It’s a lot of fun using the “squirrel squeezer” to chase your toddler around when you’re done playing the game, I mean what?
This was a Christmas present for E, and it has not lost its popularity since then. We play this game at least once a week, if not sometimes more frequently if we have family or friends over. Just a fair warning – there are tiny pieces so if you have a baby around, keep his or her hands away from the acorns.
I hope these suggestions inspire you to find fun and unique toddler learning games to bring into your own home. If you have a toddler learning game to share, please share it! I love hearing about new activities to do with our kids. Thanks for reading 🙂