Parents

5 toddler activities you can set up the night before

These easy toddler activity ideas will keep kids busy long enough for you to actually finish your morning coffee. (Without any screen time!)

Do your kids wake up and go straight to TV time or tablets in the morning? There’s nothing wrong with liberal amounts of screen-time (especially when we’re all home indefinitely and everything is closed), but sometimes you want to attempt to keep them busy and engaged without adding to their eye-popping screen-time totals. Beth Rosenbleeth, a mom of three young kids and the owner of Days with Grey, a popular kids’ indoor activities blog and Instagram account, calls these educational activities breakfast invitations.” You can set them up the night before, repurposing stuff you already have into new indoor activities ready for your toddler or preschooler as soon as they’re up and at ’em.

Here are five ideas to keep kids busy (and learning) while you get a chance to drink your morning coffee in peace.

a young boy in a green shirt is putting different coloured cars in corresponding coloured parking lot squares for a story on toddler activities you can set up the night before

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Rosenbleeth, Days with Grey

Drive and park colour sort

Small cars are found in just about every room in our home. We also have construction paper. Here, the two collide for an epic activity we like to call Drive and Park Colour Sort, and I am here for it. This simple indoor activity will kick off playtime as we reinforce sorting and classifying. Find the full instructions here.

a child's hand draws lines between matching stickers on a bristol board for a story on toddler activities you can set up the night before

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Rosenbleeth, Days with Grey

Sticker match

This learning through play activity is simple, easy to set up, and is packed with a fine-motor skills punch. Sticker Match is also a risk-free way to improve pencil grip! So gather your toddler and preschooler, and let’s get these chubby little fingers moving. Find the full instructions here.

A young boy puts socks into a cardboard washing machine using tongs for a story on toddler activities you can set up the night before

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Rosenbleeth, Days with Grey

Wash the socks

My two-year-old likes to use his imagination, so I knew this play prompt was right up his alley. Like many toddlers, he’s often reenacting scenes from the world around him: I see him making phone calls on blocks, rescuing Paw Patrol pups from danger, and wearing headphones, pretending to be on a run outside with dad. Find the full instructions here. 

Two young boys pour water into various containers each with different coloured markers for a story on toddler activities you can set up the night before

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Rosenbleeth, Days with Grey

DIY watercolours with old markers

If you’re like us, washable markers can be found on tabletops, on the floor, or in the marker drawer of the art cart on any given day—often missing a cap and drying out already. So before allowing this to make you crazy, or tossing dried-out markers in the trash, I’ve got an exciting idea for your family to try: recycle your markers into watercolours. It’s both a science experiment and art activity, all in one. Find the full instructions here.

Rainbow heart stack

If you can’t exchange cards and candy at school or daycare this year, try this rainbow Valentine’s Day heart craft at home. All you need is scissors, paper and glue. Older kids can work on their cutting skills, and younger toddlers who aren’t ready for scissors can focus on sorting by colour and sorting by size order. Find the full instructions here.

a child pokes popsicle sticks into a box with slits for a story on toddler activities you can set up the night before

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Rosenbleeth, Days with Grey

Pick a colour

This one even works with one-year-old toddlers who are hovering around that tricky baby/toddler transition. When my kids were that age, I used it to prepare dinner, vacuum the living room floor, and take a shower—you know, all normal activities that are a wee bit harder to do with someone pulling on your pant leg. The good news is, all you need is Popsicle or craft sticks, a few markers and an empty cardboard box. Find the full instructions here.

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