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Best cheap and cheerful ways to entertain a toddler

(71 Posts)
Ilovenannyplum Wed 26-Oct-16 07:40:17

Just that really?

Yesterday we spent ages threading pipe cleaners into a colander and my just turned 2 yr old loved it (and it cost nothing, win!)

Anybody have any suggestions to keep little hands busy? smile

MrsA2 Wed 26-Oct-16 07:45:39

Our winner here is just all in one suit, wellies and a roam about - park, woodland trails etc. We roam for hours, collect leaves, jump in puddles, chat to dogs.

And the library on wet weather days is great to kill an hour!

Paulat2112 Wed 26-Oct-16 07:47:54

Put out a towel on the floor and a big mixing bowl of water. Add some cups and spoons. Keeps my kids busy for hours

TheVeryHungryDieter Wed 26-Oct-16 07:48:05

Newspaper, scissors and a tube of pritt stick. DS could do sticking for hours on end.

NickMarlow Wed 26-Oct-16 07:53:41

Handful of pasta and some plastic cups. Dd loves moving individual pieces of pasta from one cup to another, and then pouring them back.

Ilovenannyplum Wed 26-Oct-16 07:58:17


Our wellies are ready for a stomp around the park this morning smile

Was toying with shaving foam on a tray later with toy cars to drive through. Not sure if I can cope with the inevitable clear up so I'll see about that one confused

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Oct-16 08:05:56

YY to waterproofs and park, also Library

For the park, take a container to collect conkers, leaves, catkins etc according to the season

Have you got any museums locally? DS has always loved them, the smaller and more esoteric the better.

Not quite free, but very cheap, DD just loves going out on the bus, to anywhere. Sometimes we get a Day Rover ticket and get on the next bus going anywhere, then the next, maybe a train etc and see where it takes us. Not for potty training children though!

We went to a few parent/baby/toddler groups. Some were free, non cost more than £1.

DD enjoyed pairing socks as a toddler. She also had a lot of fun with a bag of pegs and a pile of tea towels.

Large sheet of paper - old wall paper is great -. Get child to lie on it, draw round, colour in, decorate etc to make paper children.


"Foreign" days - chooseba Country to learn about. Make a flag, dress up, learn some phrases, cook some food. This may involve a trip to the library or Asian supermarket.

LifeIsGoodish Wed 26-Oct-16 08:15:26

Ooblek in the bath.

A plastic cup of cornflour, a plastic bowl of water (tinted with food colouring, if you like), another plastic bowl and a spoon, a couple of paintbrushes. Plonk them all in the bath with the child. When the child has had enough, undress them and run the bath, all with them still in it.

Of course, you have to stay with them, but it's a lovely run down to bedtime. And you don't have to join in (though it's fungrin) you could sit on the loo and MN read.

KittyAlPick Wed 26-Oct-16 08:15:31

Making a 'den' with clothes after sheets and cushions? Then reading in there.

Washing up bowl of water with different things to pour with?

Musical instruments with dried lentils or chick peas in empty jars and pans to bash?

There's a book called 'I'm bored' that had lots of ideas of free things to do for a range of ages.

Rainbowqueeen Wed 26-Oct-16 08:15:33

Painting outside with water and a paintbrush

Paint the gate, paint the door etc

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Oct-16 08:29:03

Oh yes, all the above! My memory's getting a bit rusty now that my youngest has just started school.

Also, chalking outside, if you know there's heavy rain forecast to wash it away later.

Ina few weeks time - making paper chains (save coloured paper) and other chirtsmas decorations (salt dough, gingerbread)

Ilovenannyplum Wed 26-Oct-16 08:56:48

Such good ideas everyone - thank you!

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Oct-16 09:13:53

Potato printing
Planting bulbs - even garlic!

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Oct-16 09:14:16

Junk modelling - DS hated it, DD loved it

moggle Wed 26-Oct-16 11:51:39

"Cleaning" her outdoor toys or our patio furniture with a sponge and bowl of water.
For my DD (23m) for the past year anything involving things going out of a container and being put back in is a total winner. including:
Putting cupcake cases into muffin tin, remove, stack and repeat (much less wasteful if you buy some silicone muffin cases instead)
A pile of different clothes and shoes for her to try and put on and off (this is probably a narrow window where they can't quite do things like trousers but still are keen to try)
If I take all our shoes off the shoe rack she'll put them all back on, paired up :-)

aforestgrewandgrew Wed 26-Oct-16 18:28:05

Some lovely ideas here smile

Mumandthemermaids Wed 26-Oct-16 19:28:21

We iced digestives today. I just made some runny icing and gave them all my left over bits of sprinkles and a few sultanas etc. Kept them busy for a while. Then gave them a hand trowel and hand rake and let them loose on the raised bed. It's all been cleared ready for winter but they spent hours taking the leaves out and digging, finding worms etc. Then we made witches brew from all the leaves and twigs they collected from the park on Monday. Do t know about them, but I'm shattered.
I'm definitely stealing some of these ideas for tomorrow though. Payday Friday - thank goodness!! 😴😴😴

43percentburnt Wed 26-Oct-16 19:34:28

1 metre hexagonal builders trays from b and q are fantastic for shaving foam cars, making building sites for diggers (collect stones, twigs etc to make rubble and logs), can sit on them to paint or chalk and can hose them down and hang them in the garage. The trays are about £20 (so not free) but keep everything contained!

Masketti Wed 26-Oct-16 22:03:29

Den making. Sheets, pillows, cushions. Hours of fun!

Or large cardboard box and some felt tips. 'Safe' decorating their 'house'.

Masketti Wed 26-Oct-16 22:05:09

Oh yes cornflour, food colouring and water in a glass. Kills an hour!

pineappleeyes Wed 26-Oct-16 22:53:19

My 2 played for hours with a large card board box once

wobblywonderwoman Wed 26-Oct-16 23:05:19

I have two toddlers. Baking is one of the favourite activities - sieving flour mainly!

Shaving foam in a washing up bowl and lots of cars - free car wash grin

Sand pit - hours of fun

Painting or just stickers or cut up pictures from Argos catalogue

itshappenedagain Wed 26-Oct-16 23:12:06

Freezing small toys in a bowl the letting them Chicken them out. My ds used to love it.

CharminglyGawky Wed 26-Oct-16 23:21:34

Cardboard box big enough to fit child in and a handful of felt tips.

Cheap wallpaper from b&m or the like and roll it out across the kitchen (or any uncarpeted room) and hand over whatever pens/pencils/crayons you have to hand and won't stain the floor if scribbles go over the edges. You need it to be pattern down so they get the plain paper side to draw on. You can even lay child down and draw round them so they can colour themselves in!

Probably too cold and damp now but the wallpaper works brilliantly with painted hands and feet to make hand prints and run across for foot prints... Possibly best to do that outside though which is why the weather matters!!!

blinkineckmum Thu 27-Oct-16 02:00:46

Puddles, hanging out at the bus station, library, Ikea bag, washing up, walks, pooh sticks, feed the ducks, chopping veg, phone a family member or even phone the dc on the house phone using a mobile...

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