Your little one is surrounded by toys, but he follows you from room to room, whining and tugging on your leg. Sure, he has all of the latest toys to play with, but maybe what he really wants is time with you! As you've probably already figured out, toddlers aren't hard to entertain. Why not play some games? You don't have to spend a lot of money to come up with great games to play with your toddler. In fact, many of the following games don't cost anything to play!
Remember when you were a child, and you went puddle jumping after a good, summer rain? Well, your toddler will love to do the same thing. If it is still raining a little, so what? Tell your child that you and she are going to be puddle ducks, and start waddling and hopping through those puddles. For extra fun, add a few quacks, too!
Water Freeze Tag
For this game, you and your toddler will head towards the yard. The object of the game is to spray your little one's toes as he hops around the yard. Once you've made contact, he will freeze until you spray him again. He'll love this toddler game, but be prepared because soon he'll want to spray you, too!
Take a walk down the sidewalk and play a game where you pretend to walk like different animals as you go. Can your child stomp like an elephant or hop like a kangaroo? Maybe he can move slowly like a turtle or fast like a cheetah.
Catch Your Shadow
On a sunny day, point out your child's shadow. Ask your child to try and step on her shadow. Encourage her to make silly motions, such as waving her arms or jumping up and down as she tries to catch her shadow.
This game is a lot of fun, and all you need is several pairs of socks and a stuffed animal or two. Scatter the socks over your living room floor, and place the stuffed animals in a couple of different places amidst the socks. Tell your child that she has to rescue her animals from the scary crocodiles, which are the socks. She'll need to wind her way through the crocs till she reaches her animals, then whisk them out of harm's way, and make her way back to you.
Hop in the Car
Arrange two or more chairs in a row to represent the seats in a car. Let your toddler pretend to sit in the driver's seat and tell you all about where you're going and what you'll do when you get there.
What's in the Box?
Place random household objects in a few different boxes. Have your child feel around the box and guess what's inside, then pull the object out and see if he's right. He may not be correct most of the time, but he'll have fun seeing the surprises inside. For a younger toddler, you can simply hide things under bowls or boxes and have your toddler lift them up to see what's underneath.
Place a stuffed animal, a beanbag or a light book on your child's back when she is in a crawling position. Have her crawl around the room and try to keep the object on her back. When it falls off, the game is over.
Games for Chores
Musical House Cleaning
Your toddler will love this activity, and you might get a few chores done along the way! Hand your little one a small broom, dust rag, dustpan, or have him use his toy vacuum. Crank up the music, and dance while you clean. Your little one will love it, and he might actually clean something! Plus, you are teaching him to do chores and still having fun at the same time!
Turn sorting laundry into a game while helping your child learn colors. Place a few laundry baskets on the floor and tape a piece of construction paper with a different color on each one. Go through the laundry and have your toddler toss the pieces of clothing into the correct baskets. You can also play the game with types of clothing instead of colors, having your child sort pants, shirts or socks into different baskets or set a timer and see how many pieces can be sorted in a minute.
Draw faces on a pair of socks and put them on your child's hand. Tell him the socks are dust monsters and their job is to eat all of the dust in the house. Walk around the house and help your child find dusty surfaces for the monsters to eat.
Games to Buy
Getting toddlers to sit still for a traditional board game is difficult, but a few games have been designed with toddlers in mind. These games introduce toddlers to the concept of playing a game without requiring a lot of attention or activity.
With the Memory, toddlers flip over cards and try to match the pictures. The original version of the game features cartoonish animals and toys, while special versions feature some of your toddler's favorite characters. The game comes with 72 cards, which may make the game last too long for most toddlers. Play with only half or a third of the cards to keep your child's interest.
Lucky Ducks turns the traditional pick a duck carnival game into a fun game for toddlers. Ernie from Sesame Street sits in the middle of the pond as rubber duckies swim around him. Toddlers pick up the ducks and try to match shapes and colors.
To play Elefun, turn on the elephant and try to catch the butterflies as they fly out his trunk. Your toddler will have fun chasing the butterflies around the house. For some toddlers, the butterflies may come out too slow, but you can make them come out faster by cutting a few inches off the trunk or making your own "butterflies" by tearing up pieces of paper and adding them to the game.
Hide and Seek JoJo
Children will love playing hide and seek with Hide and Seek JoJo. Your child hides JoJo's carrot and sets JoJo loose to find it. When he finds the carrot, he celebrates. If he can't locate it, your child is praised for hiding it well.
Be Creative and Have Fun
With a toddler, nearly everything can be turned into a game. You can sing silly songs or play matching games as your child learns his letters, numbers and shapes. A visit to the store or a ride in the car can be turned into a game of "I Spy" or a scavenger hunt. Even helping make dinner or doing chores can be turned into a game your toddler will enjoy with just a little creative thinking. It doesn't take much for your toddler to have fun.