About Jennifer Todryk
Hey there! I’m Jenn.

Things get a little loud and chaotic over here from time to time. I blame the three child beasts ... and Mike is loud too. But, I hope to bring you nothing but happiness, inspiration, good home decor and only the comfiest clothing recommendations because, who really enjoys pants .... ? And most importantly a good laugh. I hope you laugh a lot… even if it’s at my expense.

- Jennifer
September 2, 2015 | Motherhood

8 Creative Activities To Do With The Toddler That You Don’t Know What To Do With.

by Jennifer

 I am a stay at home mom to two very active, very adorable, very vocal babies… and I’ll just come out and say it, some days seem really long.

Eternal almost.

Entertaining a two-year-old who DEMANDS my attention every second of the day is hard. Mentally hard. Like check-me-into-a-mental-facility hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job as a stay at home mom, but doing the same things over and over again, like working on alphabet memorization, “A. A. This is an A. Von, where is the A? Can you find the A? A is for apple, and alligator… A. A.A, repeating numbers, colors and shapes can be, dare I say it, not very mentally stimulatingNecessary, but not sitting on the edge of my seat thrilling by any means.

Due to my toddler’s extremely short attention span, we do about 73 different activities on any normal day. I’m basically a freakin’ circus. I provide multiple forms of entertainment, I provide the food and the side shows acts. This Mommy-Circus does it all.

My son forces me to be one of those “creative moms” but honestly, I have fun making up silly games!

Are you in the same situation? Do you have no clue what to do with your child because the activities and toys he used to enjoy doing/playing with are now boring and things of the past?

Here are eight activities that have been a huge hit with my toddler at this Mommy-Circus lately.

1. Build a Massive Indoor Tent.

 Don’t skimp out now. One sheet?…. just stop it. You want to impress the child, not make him think you are swaddling him for a nap. You must use at least three king-sized sheets. Not debatable.

2. Paint Rocks. 

Go grab some rocks! We grab some big stones out of our flower beds, paint them bright colors, and then place them back in the flowerbed for all to enjoy! My son loves this. Every time we go outside he will run to his rock and shout, “VON PAINT!” with a huge smile on his face. That little caveman is so proud. (If only Daddy thought that this hot pink florescent rock did our flowerbeds justice.)


3. Build and Paint a Box House. 

You will need to go buy a TV or large appliance so you can use the box. (Just kidding) Or grab a couple of normal boxes and duct tape them together, get creative! We had a large box a few months back from a glider we bought for my youngest’s nursery, so we made it into a house. Huge hit! Opening and closing the door all by himself was the best part. He also liked to run into the box, close the door, and then take a dump. Then he’d sit in there for a while, basking in his own stench. It was his own toddler port-a-potty.


Poop face. Please take note that the door and window are hand-cut by yours truly, and the door knob (pull) is made out of rope.

After a couple weeks of this house, he got bored with it. So, to make it desirable again, I hauled it outside on the back porch and we painted it. Sometimes, doing something new with an old object or just changing its scenery makes them interested again. This bought us a few more days of playtime with the box house.

Until the day I found a black widow spider in it and set the box on fire. Bonfire anyone?

4. Surprise box. 

I created the surprise box for two purposes: a new fun activity and a bribe. I wanted this amazing surprise box to be something that I could use against my son, “Eat all the green things on your plate and we will go open surprise box! Oooooooo!” Sometimes it works as a bribe, sometimes it doesn’t. However, he always loves opening it! 2-3 days a week I fill the surprise box (a shoe box) with a random activity, either things I have laying around my house or things I find at Dollar Tree or in the dollar section at Target.

For example: Last week I threw in an old magazine, scissors and tape. Our activity was flipping through the magazine, cutting out pictures of things that he knew the name for (I did the cutting), then he would tape down the picture on a piece of paper. It was fun for 10 minutes then we found other things to do with the magazine, such as rip all the pages and laugh at the sound it made. Then when that got old 5 minutes later…. we would roll up all the torn pages into balls and throw them at each other. Then when that got old, we sang the clean-up song and threw them into the trash can. That surprise box took up 20 minutes of play time, and my son had a blast making a mess.

Look for simple objects, throw them in the box and try to think of a way to play and teach with them. Even if it’s dumb, no one is there to say, “You suck at being creative, lady“, and I bet your toddler will love it!

This was a Surprise Box was from a few days ago containing Target ‘Sculpty Sand’. Even Berkley was into it.


I’m not sitting here saying that you should be making each surprise box a lesson in physics or algebra. Keep it simple.

5. Picnic lunch. 

We do this probably 3 times a week as long as it’s not the temperature of Texas Hell outside. The point of having a picnic is to feed your child, not burn them to a crisp. Eating outside on the patio is so liberating for my son. When we eat inside I always make him stay in his high chair – no expectations. But when we picnic he has a little more freedom. He loves it! Yes, his hands get dirty and then he touches his food, which is disgusting.

Having picnics has also forced me to face and work on my germaphobic issues.

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Once he ate a bug at one of our picnics and I almost fainted.

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Updated picnic picture with both baby beasts in on the action!

6. Glowstick Bathtub Rave.

 Buy glow sticks from Dollar Tree or Target and throw a few in the bathtub. Turn off the lights, turn up the choo-choo jams and the bathroom becomes a G-rated rave. My son loves this and I get to dance like a lunatic – it’s part of the package deal. He claps, I dance. When I do this kind of bath, I bathe him first, completing the real purpose of bath time, then the fun begins. This usually ends up being a very long bath, and my dance moves…. well, to put it modestly, they’re epic.


Please take note: bath time doesn’t HAVE to be at bedtime. If you’re having a long day and don’t know what to do with the child, throw ’em in the tub with some toys! My son’s favorite baths are the impromptu baths that take place in the late afternoon. Break the bedtime routine rules every once in a while.

Be a rebel.

7. Flashlight Treasure Hunts.

 This is the biggest hit for my son at the moment. We do this every day. Find the darkest room of your house, hide a few random items, then turn off the lights. Give your child a flashlight and walk/crawl with him guiding him and the flashlight while looking for the objects that you have hidden. After all of the objects are found we usually sit and play with the flashlight for a while. We make hand shadows, play music in the dark while whipping around the flashlight… I will say, this one is pretty entertaining for me as well.


Can you find the banana, red car, white car, spoon and blue cup? This is how things are hidden…. now turn off the lights!

8. Nature Walks.

 Grab a grocery bag (or extremely tiny Easter bag, as shown below) and get to walkin’. I take my son on walks but in order for the walk to be fun, engaging and not involve me wishing that my son was on a leash the entire walk, we make it a learning game. Make a nature treasure hunt off the top of your head. “OK (your child’s name), we need to find three rocks! Can you find three rocks and put it in your bag?” leaves, sticks, balls, weeds… anything you see. I once saw an orange flag on one of the empty lots by our house, pretty certain it was an electrical marker flag, well, I needed an object and it was right there. “Von, can you find an orange flag?!“…. in the bag it went.

My husband later told me that you are not supposed to take those, I was quick to tell him that there are no rules on nature walks.

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I hope you find some, if not all, of these ideas useful! I truly believe that it’s our job to teach our children how to play and how to use their imaginations. A box isn’t just a box, it’s a house, a race car, a present, a secret cave….. get your kids thinking outside the box (pun intended) because that’s when their attention spans hold the longest.

Do not be discouraged if your child doesn’t get these games right away (i.e. treasure hunt, nature walk, painting rocks), teach them how to play, it takes practice!

Let your kid make a mess! Yeah, it’s just another thing you have to clean up, but so what…. drink some wine and get over it.

Your kids had fun today, and you got to teach them something new.

Good job, Mama.

*Second Toddler Activities Post Coming Soon!*


– Until the next time this Redhead rambles.

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Related Post: The 5 Chaotic Phases of Putting a Toddler To Bed.

Leave a comment

  • you're children are very fortunate to have a creative mama like you. i think our kids suffered due to our lack of creativity. oh well.....no looking back!!! Great job Jenn!!
  • Great ideas! We love to have play-dough parties and make a big batch at home. Also, it's fun to trace their body shape on a large piece of paper or cardboard and let them color it in with crayons or stickers (face, clothes,etc). I'm afraid if I do the glow stick bath he'll never come out!! :)
    • Jen those are great ideas! My son is obsessed with play-doh. I love the tracing the body idea! We are so doing that today after nap! I'll be posting a pic to my Life as a Rambling Redhead Facebook page in your honor hahaha Thanks for the ideas!
      • Yay! Glad you like it :) I have a great DIY play-dough recipe on my site from my MIL (she's a pre-K teacher and uses it all the time) but of course it's easy to make. Can't wait to check it out.
  • Great ideas! I have a 2 year old too so totally understand! Have you brought out some playdough yet? That was a huge hit with my son last week. Sat for 20+ min a few days! I shared some playdough activities on my blog if you're interested! ☺
  • Thank you!! These ideas are fabulous and I've been pulling my hair out in the afternoons lately counting down the minutes until my husband gets home from work. Needless to say we've been watching a lot of Dora. But I think we're going to take a nature walk today. Thanks for the tip! Bossyjocie.com
  • These are so fun and creative! Will definitely be trying them!
  • I always enjoy chalk drawings on my driveway or patio. We trace full bodies, hoses, garden tools, sticks, a garbage can lid, their toys - anything not harmful. . We traced our hands in a horizontal line and made flowers by adding stems out of sticks and adding oak leaves from the yard as oak leaves at the bottom of the stems. The fall wind would blow the leaves about and the kids would keep replacing them. Made for a wonderful morning outdoors.
  • I give my very active & wild middle & little-est kiddos busy after nature walks with white paper & they can smoosh up the cool stuff they found on their nature walk into the paper with a rock or a small wooden mallet (aka the "whacker thingy") and it makes "cool" art we send to the GP's which think that squished dandelions are THE coolest art ever :)
  • - Gluing smaller pieces of paper to big piece of paper. If I am very good mum - I would cut eg. big butterfly shape, lots of small circles/triangles/squares and let my little one decorate the butterfly. If i am very lazy mum - it's a plain A4 and pieces of newspaper. The fun of gluing is nearly the same - I guess it's the glue and sticky hands, and making mess that is really important. Depending on the day : 20 to 40min - Pillows stairs/trampoline/path: we would use all sofa/armchairs pillows, put them either one on the other (it would be called wall, or stairs), or one next to the other (a path), or just throw them randomly on the floor (stones in the lake), and we either jump on them, or run on them, or roll on them. Seems like the key is to have pillows. Fun can last the whole afternoon (but it's only if i agree to participate as well). - Spider net: we take loooooong (15m) ribbon, and attach it to the table/chairs/armchairs in a way, that it creates kind-of-spider net. Then the task is to : pass through/over/under it without being touchring the net/ being catched by a spider/mum, walk on it just like spider would (here mum turns into a fly, and tries to escape), dis-attach it from the furniture, while spider/mum is getting upset and does funny faces, catch the spider/mum and immobilize it with the net (good 1h activity) - Painting with sand: make an "invisible" painting with a glue, and then throw some sand on the paper. It should stick to the glue, making the painting visible
    • Oh.... All these are awesome ideas! Thanks so much! I have a feeling that my son would LOVE the "pillow path". And we have a trampoline, which kills tons of time, we both love it :) Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your ideas with me!
  • We have a box house (because we had to get a new fridge) and it is awesome. It now has a mailbox and flowers around it! We also have a boat made out of a box from a desk we bought!!