Entertaining a toddler can be hard work! They are busy, busy people and want to explore anything and everything. Keeping them out of trouble but engaged in fun, beneficial activities can be a huge challenge. To make things harder, almost every toy you can buy for their makes noise, has lights, screens, and buttons. I’m not saying that those things don’t have their place, but I think it’s important to get kids away from all the clutter that a lot of toddler toys have. They benefit greatly from learning to play with objects that don’t make noise, or have screens, lights, and the works. So, after a little brain storming, I have come up with a few (toddler tested) ways to entertain a toddler with a few simple household objects. Each of these ideas involves cotton balls, and while some of them require a few additional objects, they are all objects you will most likely have on hand, or can acquire easily without a trip to the store.
Cotton ball spoon races
I tested this with my almost two year old son, and it was a huge hit. I call it races, because some older kids will probably find a little competition in this, but for my son, it was all about balancing the cotton ball and hearing the cheers from his favorite cheerleader (me). He had to be very careful and watch his step as well as his grip in order to keep the cotton ball on the spoon. It was pretty easy for me to teach him the object of the game, even though his communication skills are fairly limited. I held a spoon, gave him one, balanced the cotton ball on my spoon and started walking, while telling him the object was to keep the cotton ball on the spoon. He follow suit fairly quickly.
Cotton ball drop
This one was fun, but didn’t hold his attention quite as long. The object is to stand over a container, (I used a clean, empty formula can), and drop a cotton ball from a high place like a chair or a couch and try to get the cotton ball to drop into the container. Lots of cheers and clapping followed each attempt. The cheers were exaggerated when the target was hit. This quickly evolved into seeing what other items we could drop into the can, which was great until my son advanced to some of the heavier toys…
Cotton ball wind races
This one was super fun for me and my son. The object of this one is to blow your cotton ball across the floor. It worked better on a hard surface than carpet, but it worked alright on the carpet, too. If you child can’t blow very hard (it’s a tough skill for some kids,) maybe tear the cotton ball so it’s a little smaller. See how far you can blow it with one breath, who can go the farthest fastest, etc. My son liked it because we did this one on our bellies. My not quite crawling daughter was wishing she could join in on the fun, too! As you can see by the picture though it quickly changed into pushing the cotton ball with our hands instead of blowing it. Still, he had a blast.
Cotton ball stuffing
This one takes some sort of a container. I used a Tupperware container that I have that is too small to be used for pretty much anything else. I cut a hole in the lid large enough for a cotton ball to fit in. Be careful when you cut this hole. Make sure that the edges aren’t sharp. Then, get a few cotton balls (15-20ish) and show your child how to stuff the cotton balls through the hole in the lid. This has become one of my son’s favorite toys. He puts all the cotton balls in, takes off the lid, dumps them out, and starts over again. It’s great.
Cotton ball toss
This one takes a few different containers. Set them up fairly close to each other, but not too close. I didn’t take a picture of this one. I totally forgot. The object of this activity is to toss the cotton balls into one of the containers. This could be done with just one container, but a few of them make it a little more fun. My son really liked the idea of this, but it was a little above his level. I think it would be great for a three year old.
There you have it. With a few household objects, you should be able to have a good day of fun games with your toddler. For a recap, you can:
- Have cotton ball spoon races
- Do a cotton ball drop
- Have cotton ball wind races
- Play the cotton ball stuffing game
- Do a cotton ball toss
The best part is that it gets them away from electronic toys and gives them some hands-on time. Just make sure you supervise, because some kids like to eat cotton balls (yuck). Who says you need to buy your kids toys, anyway?
How do you entertain you toddler? Any other good “cotton ball” ideas?