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Toddler activities: Happy playtime ideas for your 18-24-month-old

Follow these five games to keep your toddler amused—and you sane—while you work from home.

5 mins to read Apr 27, 2020

Now that your toddler is almost two years old, you'll notice her skill levels increasing, from coordinating her movements to communicating her desires—and she may have a language explosion too! If you're at home on a coronavirus lockdown, this is the perfect opportunity to develop her new abilities and have lots of fun along the way.

Be an active role model
Being active regularly is important for your toddler's health. Physical play keeps growing bodies busy and little brains challenged. Continue to be a good role model by being as active as possible yourself. Let her see you walking (even if it's only around your home and garden), dancing, and playing, rather than sitting on the couch, watching television, or staring at your cellphone. Remember that she will want to do what she sees you doing.

Games to help development
Some games will help develop her fine motor skills because they use the small muscles in her body, such as those found in fingers. Activities such as dancing, jumping, and racing to pick up her favorite toy involve her entire body so will help develop her gross motor skills.

It's important to include both structured and unstructured playtime every day. Structured play is when an adult is directing the activity and the child is encouraged to follow simple rules. Unstructured, or free, play is when the child is free to be active in whatever ways she chooses. Here are five ideas for fun games to play together so you can meet the target of one to three hours of physical activity a day...

Fold and fly

  • What? Fold and fly
    How? Make a paper airplane together and encourage her to run and catch it. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, go outside. If not, clear some furniture out of the way so you can race around your living space. Let her try throwing it too (she might need some help with the trajectory!) then run after it yourself to show her how much fun the game is.
    Why? Running around involves moving her entire body and will help build muscle strength in her legs. It's also sure to keep her guessing where the wind will carry the airplane!

Build them up

  • What? Build them up
    How? Encourage your little one to make a tower from soft blocks then knock them down again.
    Why? This game will help the development of her hand and finger skills. It's a good example of unstructured play, where she can create whatever she likes and learn how things work. It will also occupy her hands and challenge her brain.

Hide and seek

  • What? Hide and seek
    How? Find a place to hide yourself—either in your home or garden—while your toddler seeks and then switch so she's doing the hiding. Alternatively, you can hide a toy for her to find. Take turns and show her how much you are enjoying playing the game and being active together.
    Why? By 18 to 24 months, your toddler is likely to understand the concept of “hide and seek.” If you hide a toy under a cover, for instance, she will know to look for it. If you have a garden, hide and seek is an opportunity for her to develop gross motor skills as she runs around outside. If not, then there are lots of hiding places to be found at home—whether that's under a duvet, behind a curtain or in a cupboard! This game is structured play, where children follow directions and are guided by an adult, and is a good way of including this type of play in the daily activity goal of one to three hours. It's also a chance to teach her new words for new objects she discovers around the home or garden.

Inner circle

  • What? Inner circle
    How? Place a hoop on the floor, or arrange a skipping rope into a circle, and scatter some balls of various sizes around. Encourage your toddler to gather up the balls and put them inside the circle. When she's had some practice, join in and see who can go faster!
    Why? Challenges your toddler to move quickly and flex her whole body as she bends to pick up and put down the balls, and races back and forth. Helps her practice both gross and fine motor skills.

It's a strike!

  • What? It's a strike!
    How? Set up empty water bottles as bowling pins and show your toddler how to roll a ball to knock them over. Praise her if she knocks any bottles down to reinforce the aim of the game.
    Why? Puts her gross motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination into action. Remember that you are your child's role model so she's more likely to join in and play if she's sees you having fun too. She'll also learn “cause and effect”, how to take turns, and celebrate sporting victories!

Need baby and toddler activities for a different age? Get more ideas of what to do with your little ones during coronavirus isolation here.

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Shelov SP & Altmann TR (Eds.). (2009). American Academy of Pediatrics. The complete and authoritative guide Caring for your baby and young child birth to age 5 (5th ed.). USA: Bantam Books.

Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). Active start: A statement of physical activity guidelines for children from birth to age 5. 2nd ed. Reston, VA: SHAPE America; 2009. Available at:

Tremblay MS, Chaput J, Adamo KB, et al. Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0-4 years): An integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. BMC Public Health 2017; 17(Suppl 5):874 doi 10.1186/s12889-017-4859-6.