July 15, 2019 — By Wendy Sachs

Teaching a child to play independently doesn’t have to be tough. In fact, it can be a win/win situation as you can start young giving your child opportunities to play and grow by themselves so that when they are older they are accustomed to playing solo.

Here are a few sure fire ideas of simple activities you can set up for your very young kids that can keep them occupied and hopefully allow you to fold a load of laundry, or better yet, drink a cool iced tea and take joy in watching them play!

  1. Pouring water. There is absolutely nothing more fun and empowering to young kids than pouring their own containers of water. Set up a shallow bin with water and a few interesting pouring vessels; cups, small pitchers, funnels. You can do it in the kitchen with a beach towel underneath them on the floor or high chair (allowing you to cook!). This summer you can take advantage of the warm weather and go outside!
  2. Fill the empty bathtub with stuffed animals. Every house has more stuffed animals than you can use- put your 3 year old in a tub full of them and let them play!
  3. A large empty box can be anything from a boat to a house. Use those Amazon boxes to create large stacking blocks by taping them shut while they are empty. Cut out a hole and let baby crawl in and out of the box. Or give that 2 year old some large crayons and put them in the box so they can color and stay in one spot for a few minutes!
  4. Stacking toys are the best! We love these colorful ones from Melissa and Doug, or this amazing set from Battat. These types of toys can hold the attention of little ones for more than a few minutes at a time.
  5. For some fine motor fun- try giving your kids some penne or ziti pasta and a pipe cleaner. Have them put the pasta on the pipe cleaners. You can use yarn too, but it will be tougher for your younger toddlers. You can dye the pasta for some color fun, but there is no shame in keeping it easy!
  6. Special board book basket. Say that three times fast! Want to ensure a group of books will keep a toddlers attention for more than a nanosecond? Keep some books in a special basket and only get them out for solo play. Choose books that have bright vibrant photos and artwork so they are visually stimulating even without many words.
  7. Cheerio stacking!! This is an all time favorite. All you need is a little play dough ball and a few strands of uncooked spaghetti stuck in the middle. Give your kids a handful of cheerios and show them how to stack the cheerios onto the spaghetti. Once you show them, they will be obsessed with trying to repeat that task.