Some of the best ways to keep your young child busy is simply by having them do activities that teach them basic life skills. At this age, they will see it as a big game. So it’s fun for them, and they are learning!

Here’s some suggestions for developing toddler skills through playing!

  1. Water plants. A great way to incorporate some nature into their life skill building! Whether outdoors with the water hose, or inside with a little bucket, I think most kids are fascinated with water and plants, so teach them how the two go together. (Makes a great “first chore” too!).
  2. Button. Use large buttons to teach this skill to little ones. There are several children’s toys that encourage buttoning clothing on dolls or stuffed animals. Or have them play with the buttons on an adult coat. Try this great use for old shirt sleeves to create a “button bracelet” for your toddler to play with!
  3. Zip! My son already loves to zip up plastic Ziploc bags, my coat, whatever… it’s still hard for him to manage, but he tries and it keeps him entertained!
  4. Velcro, Buckles and Snaps! After every meal, our son has to “but-kle” the high chair straps back together after I take him out of his seat. He just love these simple routines!
  5. Match. Give your child fabric patches cut from scraps and have them match textures or colors. You could match stuffed toys to pictures, or create your own matching game with various small household items or toys!
  6. Open and close. Use various sized jars with screw-top lids to have your child practice screwing and unscrewing. “Op’n-it!” and “F’x’it!” are common phrases we hear anytime we unscrew the cap off a pouch of his baby food or other container. Children love the twisty-turn action.
  7. Pour. Use dry goods like beans, rice or even salt to have your toddler pour from one container to another. Try using plastic measuring cups or pitchers. Vary this activity by using liquids (if you’re daring!), or pour in liquids through a funnel into another container!
  8. Transfer. Use hands, a scoop or a sponge to transfer liquids or solids from one container to another. Sponges are great to squeeze water from one bowl to another. Spoons and scoops work well for pasta, beans, sand, rice, etc. Or for larger objects, try tongs to move pom-poms, cotton balls, peanuts in the shell, etc. These are all good motor skill development exercises!
  9. Sort. After the magic of transferring wears off, have your child sort by color, size, shape, type. Use muffin tins as sorting trays!
  10. Cook! Give your child an egg beater to whip (the hand-crank kind), a spatula and bowl to scrape, or a whisk. Show them the movements of each one. (Fun tip: put a little water and dish soap in a bowl for them to whisk or beat up some bubbles!).
  11. Fold clothes. A great way to teach kids to help around the house – start small by just having them fold washcloths in half. I already have my 18-month old stack up his cloth wipes. Sure, he doesn’t get very far before wanting to go play, but he’s learning!

The great part about all these activities is they build motor skills, and your child’s independence!

What other important life skills for toddlers can be turned into fun and games?

Read the entire 101 Toddler Activities Series:

Leave a Comment

  • Linda Karchmar November 5, 2013, 4:47 pm

    Great post! Great Montessori toddler ideas!I am starting up a shop called Linda’s Montessori Shop. selling all my 3,000 used books from 30 years of teaching Montessori, and later all my Montessori materials. It’s not open yet, but I have over 300 books on right now. If you sign up for e-mail messages (on the front page) i can let you know when we are launching! I thought that my Shop might be especially useful for Montessori Homeschoolers such as yourself. Thank you! Hope to see you there!

  • KD Blakley October 8, 2013, 10:33 pm

    Love this post! These basic life skills are so important for kids and serve to strengthen their self-confidence. In fact, I started a website devoted to the subject, It is designed to help parents teach their children the skills they need to be ready to leave home – from preschoolers all the way through the teens. I still have a lot of researching and writing to do, but would love to hear suggestions from other parents.

  • take a visit now November 18, 2011, 1:25 am

    Wow, marvelous weblog format! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is excellent, let alone the content!

  • Crunchy Beach Mama September 9, 2011, 7:44 am

    Great ideas! One of this favorite things to do these days is put things In and Out. In and Out of boxes, containers, almost anything. (but then I won’t mention how once everything is In he likes to give the box a flick to get everything Out and flying across the room)

  • T Rex Mom September 8, 2011, 11:46 pm

    Always love these posts. Bebe Sister is an excellent folder and unfolder. The kids do have a pretend vacuum and they vacuum while I do. I will give them a wet rag to wipe surfaces while I dust. Sometimes it does sort of mess up windows but things are still clean and they feel happy they helped.

  • Mandi September 8, 2011, 9:05 am

    I love these! It reminds me of when I taught in a Montessori classroom! Some other activities might be using a squirt bottle to spray the window and a rag to dry it. Or get two dish buckets. One with soap and water, the other just water. They can wash the close, rinse them, then use clothes pins to hang them to dry. :)