Boredom Busters (12-18 months old)
1) Give your child a magazine, newspaper, or a pile of junk mail to rip and tear to shreds.
2) Using a galvanized pail or an empty and clean paint can, cover the outside with child-safe magnets (ABC refrigerator magnets work well for this). Have them remove the magnet from the outside, and put it in the bucket. When they're finished, lead them to take each one out and put it back on the outside. Repeat as long as they will.
3) Make a colander/pipe cleaner sculpture. Give your toddler a colander and a handful of pipe cleaners, and show them how to string the pipe cleaner through the holes.
4) Finger paint with yogurt and a little food coloring. Stir 1 or 2 drops of food coloring into a canister of yogurt, and let your toddler go to town finger painting. You can stick them in a high chair and allow them to paint the tray, or allow them to paint the inside of the dishwasher door. This way you can just close it up and run a cycle - easy clean-up!
5)l Dance to music with ribbon twirlers. Easy-to-make, new-sew ribbon twirlers make great additions to grooving to your favorite music. If you don't have satin ribbon and wooden handles on-hand, this can also be done easily with curling ribbon tied around the end of a wooden spoon.
6) Ragamuffin band. Gather a handful of pots, pans, wire whisks, and wooden spoons, and go to town banging and scraping to make loud, toddler-friendly music. Going even further - tap out a rhythm for your toddler to copy.
7) Water painting. Give your toddler several containers of water and a paintbrush. If it's nice outside, they can "paint" the driveway, garage door, house, mailbox, etc. In not-so-great weather, move the party indoors, and "paint" the shower/bathtub walls.
8) Wash dishes. Fill up the sink/bathtub with an inch or two of water, and dump in some dish soap, a dish scrubber brush, and an assortment of plastic dinnerware, and let your toddler scrub away.
9) Mix, measure, and pour. Fill an under-the-bed tub with rice, beans, or sand. Add some measuring cups and spoons, plastic funnels, a whisk, shovels, and bowls. Demonstrate measuring and pouring. [Make sure to supervise carefully - especially if your toddler is still prone to eating art/activity supplies. =)]
10) Indoor basketball. Grab a laundry basket and a bunch of balled-up socks, and let these substitute basketballs and a basketball goal as an indoor-friendly game of hoops, toddler-style.