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Toddler2-Year-Old Activities to Foster Development

2-Year-Old Activities to Foster Development

You’ve got a front-row seat to watching this tiny human become a thinking, feeling person before your very eyes. It’s a beautiful—and sometimes challenging—place to be. Your 2-year-old these days is getting more comfortable with expressing their opinions about everything, from what they eat (“more blueberries!”) to what they wear (“no socks!”) to what they want (“mine!”), and you’re just along for the ride. 

Just remember that they’re working on developing their independence at this stage, a milestone in and of itself. And to support their burgeoning do-it-myself skills and all those newfound likes and dislikes, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite 2-year-old activities to keep them entertained and engaged. 

Sensory activities for 2-year-olds

1. Scented playdough

Add scents like vanilla, lavender, or citrus to homemade playdough, and let your child engage their senses as they knead, shape and explore the fragrant dough, promoting sensory development and relaxation. Kitchen tools like forks and cookie cutters can make fun shapes, too. 

2. Sensory bins

Now that your kiddo is over 18 months, sensory bins are a great way for them to explore new textures and tactile sensations. Try filling a large but shallow bin or baking pan with dried black beans, rice or kinetic sand, and then incorporate a few of their favorite toys into the mix, too, like mini metal cars or trucks for digging or items found in nature to discover and collect, like pinecones, acorns and flowers. 

3. The big dig

Freeze small toys or objects in a large block of ice and provide your child with tools like spoons or paintbrushes to chip away and melt the ice, promoting fine motor skills, problem-solving, and a cool sensory experience.

Developmental activities for 2-year-olds

1. Pom pom party

Give your child a pair of toddler-friendly tongs or two spoons and a bowl of colorful pom poms (find them at the craft store!), and encourage them to transfer the pom poms from one container to another to promote fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and concentration. Then, ask them to find just the red ones, or just the green. 

2. Shape treasure hunt

Hide paper or cardboard shape cutouts around the house and help your child search for them, encouraging shape recognition, problem-solving, and gross motor skills as they navigate and collect the triangles, squares, circles and stars.

3. Alphabet matching

Using index cards or small squares of construction paper, create flashcards with uppercase and lowercase letters, and have your child match the corresponding pairs and find the letters in their name, promoting letter recognition, memory skills, and early literacy development.

Things to do with a 2-year-old

Week 1: Coffee date

Consider taking your 2-year-old out on a date to a nearby coffee shop. They’ll love the focused one-on-one time with you (maybe you can chat about your day, do some people watching or sketch the dogs you see) and they’ll also get a taste of what it’s like to be in the grown-up world for a bit. At home, you can play barista together! 

Week 2: Rainbow rice

Dye dried rice in different vibrant colors using food coloring, and let your child create colorful masterpieces by gluing the rice onto paper or cardboard, providing a sensory-rich art experience that promotes creativity and fine motor development.

Week 3: Make a maze

Using painter’s tape, make a maze or car racing course on the floor. Your little one can drive an imaginary vehicle through the track or use a scooter or toy cars. Watch them flex their gross motor skills, balance and spatial awareness. 

Week 4: Bubble stomp

Got some bubble wrap tucked away? Lay out a sheet of bubble wrap and let your child stomp, jump and pop the bubbles with their feet, combining tactile and auditory experiences while encouraging movement, coordination and sensory stimulation.

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A version of this story was originally published on June 3, 2023. It has been updated.

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