Learning through play: 5 indoor activities for toddlers

Spring is here! And what a wonderful time of year it is for inquisitive little minds. The vibrant flowers, the songs of the birds, the fluttering butterflies, and the magnificent rainbows…it’s all so magical and wonderous for toddlers.

Remember that all of this is new and fascinating in their eyes. There is so much rich sensory stimulation everywhere for them during this season.

Play is vital to healthy growth and development in childhood (and beyond!), so it’s essential that we provide plenty of opportunities and the freedom for our toddlers to explore their world.

An immense amount of learning happens through play, but it shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. The purpose of play is fun and enjoyment.

The weather during this season can be so changeable depending on your location, which is why we also created an article with 5 outdoor activities for toddlers. We hope you and your little ones love all of these ideas as much as we do.

Learning through play: 5 indoor activities for toddlers

To stress the importance of it (play is never a waste of time), we have listed the learning benefits of each of our favourite indoor activities to do with toddlers this Spring.

1. Read books about Spring

To introduce your toddler to the theme of Spring, you might like to read them some books about it. Go to the library together, and select books about rainbows, gardens, baby animals, butterflies, and flowers. If it’s not raining, take the books outdoors to read for a richer experience. Here are some example titles:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • A Little Book about Spring
  • The Spring Book
  • Grow
  • What to Look for in Spring

Learning benefits: Inspires a lifelong love of literature, teaches about language and emotions, promotes brain development and imagination, all whilst strengthening your relationship.

2. Spring arts and crafts

Don’t feel you need to have a set objective for arts and crafts. For children, it’s all about the process, not the finished product. Loose parts are the best for inspiring creativity. Supply the materials and let them create whatever comes to their imaginations. Here are some examples of what you could provide:

  • Make some playdough (see our taste-safe recipe). Then, go for a walk in the garden and collect sticks, flowers, leaves, and herbs for your child to add to it.
  • Invite your toddler to do some ‘transient art’ using any Spring nature treasures. This is non-permanent, movable art in which loose parts are placed on a surface in any configuration your child chooses to create a ‘picture’.
  • You could cut out some shapes, such as butterflies or flowers, out of cardboard and invite your child to glue on paper scraps or paint on them.
  • Make ‘paintbrushes’ using flowers, weeds, feathers, or sticks that you find on your walks, and use those instead of regular brushes next time you get the paints out.

Learning benefits: Helps develop their communication skills, fosters self-expression, creativity, and promotes fine motor skills, patience, concentration, planning, and emotional regulation.

3. Spring sensory bins and bottles

Toddlers love sensory bins and bottles, and Spring-themed ones are lots of colourful fun after a grey winter. You’ll need either a large plastic tub, or empty bottles. They’re simple and inexpensive to create but will provide hours of fun. Okay, that might be a stretch – they are toddlers after all! It will probably be longer than you expect, though. Here are some ideas:

  • Make a little duck pond. Half fill up a tub with water (use a tarp and towels to protect the floor), add in some blue food colouring, and some rubber ducks. You might even like to use blue jelly for extra sensory enjoyment. Throw in some scoops and funnels too.
  • Rainbow sensory bin or bottle. Use rainbow rice or spaghetti (find out how to make both here) and add in scrunched up tissue paper or cotton wool to represent clouds. Or add in an assortment of colourful pompoms, feathers, and small balls, and using tongs, your toddler might like to do some colour sorting into bowls.
  • Gardening sensory bin. Into the tub, add real or fake flowers, plant containers, spoons, toddler-sized gardening tools, and either some dried lentils, or make ‘dirt’ using a mixture of flour and cocoa.
  • Here are some more sensory bottle and bag ideas.

Learning benefits: Helps language development, improves fine motor skills, social skills, science and maths skills, and stimulates their senses.

4. Plant something together

Gift them the experience and wonder of watching something they planted grow. It could be:

  • Growing seedlings in egg cartons in a sunny spot in the house. They’ll be pleased to have the responsibility of watering them a little each day. Once the seeds sprout, plant them in the garden together.
  • Start a little windowsill herb garden together. Once they’re ready, your toddler will enjoy cutting off some leaves to add to meals (a bonus benefit is exposing your toddler to more tastes and textures).
  • You can even grow some vegetables in pots indoors, such as spring onions, celery, and carrots.
  • If gardening isn’t your thing, you might like to pick some flowers and do flower pressing with your toddler instead.

Learning benefits: Meets their sensory needs (which stimulates brain development), emotional regulation, and they can learn about the environment, nutrition, science of plants and weather, and it strengthens their fine motor skills.

5. Have a Spring dance party

This is lots of fun and a good emotional release for the whole family, particularly when you’re stuck inside, or your toddler is experiencing some big emotions. Search for Spring-themed songs, and get singing and dancing with your little love, such as:

  • Singing in the Rain
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Five Little Speckled Frogs
  • 5 Little Ducks
  • It’s Raining, it’s Pouring
  • Ladybird, Ladybird
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb

Learning benefits: Music and singing helps to develop language and literacy skills, and refine their listening skills and sense of rhythm. Dancing promotes their body’s strength, coordination, and flexibility.

X click to search