5 Easy Toddler Activities that Cost $1

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Having easy toddler activities on hand that keep your little one busy for a few minutes are an essential part of surviving days inside with toddlers. Because of the devastating California wildfires, we are experiencing horrible air quality and have spent the last week inside. My little one was starting to get restless with her crayons and coloring books, so I hit the dollar store to find supplies for new toddler activities!


*The fires have been devastating for many. We only have to worry about air quality, but many have lost their homes and all of their belongings. Find out how you can help here*

1. Pipe Cleaner and Strainer Activity

So easy to set up but you little one will love it. I found a package of different colored pipe cleaners in the craft section. I gave Aaliyah two of each color and showed her how you can fit them into the holes and bend them to create fun shapes. She loves doing this and can easily spend 30 minutes sitting on the floor reshaping them. Our dollar store also had strainers so she has one that is on her toy shelf she can grab and play with.

Toddler Pipe Cleaner Activity

2. DIY PomPom Sorter

I saw a pack of Pompoms in the craft section and wasn’t sure what we could do with them but knew Aaliyah would love to play with them. A quick search on Pinterest and found this activity by Susie at Busy Toddler. Aaliyah loves her shape sorter box and I knew she would love this activity too. I originally made this from a lunch meat container, but the plastic was too sharp. The sour cream worked much better. Simply stab a small hole in the lid, then you can cut out different size holes with a pair of scissors! The container is also really easy to open, so shes able to play and then dump them out and start again! You can adjust this activity for older children and color code the holes so that they sort the pompoms by color!


3. Easy Christmas Tree Craft

We are seriously slacking on getting any Christmas decor up, but it has been 80 degrees and doesn’t feel like Christmas at all! I saw these jewels and construction paper and thought it would be a fun way to make little Christmas tree crafts. I cut out three trees and let her decorate them how she pleased. Now honestly when I bought them I thought they were the kind that had the peel and stick backs. Luckily we had some glue around and I would put glue on the back and then she could place them on her trees.I used this time to work on colors and would ask her what color her jewel ornament was. After she decorated with her markers. They look beautiful on our sliding glass door! Older kids can work on their fine motor skills and cut the trees out on their own! You can also use this as a counting activity and designate a number of “ornaments” for each tree!

4. Contact Paper Art

We love love love this activity! Using the same pack of construction paper you used with your Christmas trees and a roll of Contact paper this is such an easy and fun project. I find the contact paper in the kitchen section with the shelf liners. Simple cut out a contact paper rectangle and tape it down. I’ve taped to the sliding glass door which was fun to see the light shine through, but our kitchen table worked great too! Now have your toddler pick out a few colors of construction paper and tear it into small pieces. Demonstrate how the paper will stick to the contact paper and let them go crazy! Older kids can learn the color wheel and only use primary or secondary colors. This would also make a great “stained glass” if they drew outlines with a black marker!

5. Blow Bubbles

Aaliyah is obsessed with bubbles and the dollar store has the BEST bubbles that come in tubes with big wands. These can blow so many bubbles at once she loves it! Now normally this happens outside, but sometimes you have to bend the rules a little bit. Her, her bed head, and our puppy were able to burn a ton of energy they normally do outside chasing the bubbles around our living room.


Bonus! Christmas Window Clings

They had the cutest sheets of Christmas themed window clings! I had to grab a few and let her decorate. She loved it! I think they were placed and replaced 5 times the first day and are still hanging with her Christmas trees!

Keeping a toddler entertained indoors can be difficult. With just a few dollars these screen free activities are a great way to develop fine motor skills and buy you a few moments of quiet time!

Have you tried any of these activities? What are your favorite indoor activities with your toddler?

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  1. Jacquiline Baldwin says:

    Great article. This will totally be useful when my daughter starts working lol!

  2. These are great and really creative. I love these activities.

  3. These ideas are great! I could always use more ways to keep my two year old busy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tina Yantz says:

    Love the ideas… we are totally obsessed with window clings. That of course, is my favorite but they are all awesome!

  5. My daughter loves the window clings. She plays with them for hours and hours. I always liked contact paper when I was a kid. My toddler likes pretty much anything she is allowed to cut with scissors.

  6. beehappy says:

    I love these simple activities! I never thought of using contact paper this way. I’ll have to try that. Both my toddler and my 4yo would love that

  7. Natalie Aubele says:

    These are really great suggestions thank you ! I babysit two year old twins sometimes that love activities like these !

  8. These are great ideas! I’ve been looking for things to do indoors with my 15momth old since it’s been so cold. These are such great ideas!

  9. I am OBSESSED with number 4! That is going into my crafty repertoire! We made similar Christmas trees as you, with markers and stickers. It was a blast.
    I also need to get some pipe cleaners! Thanks for the great ideas!

  10. So many great ideas! I need them for the rest of the stuck inside months!

  11. Ashley | Look for Little Helpers says:

    These are all great ideas! I’m always looking for easy toddler ideas for the winter months when we are trapped inside due to bad weather or illness! I’m definitely sharing this for later.

  12. Marcie says:

    My friend was just telling me about the pipe cleaners and strainer activity! We have these at home so I’m curious if my 16mo would like it!

  13. I loved teh ideas you shared here. such a cost effective and amazing way to keep our toddlers busy and learn something via craft and other way.

  14. Those are fun activities. Our daughter will have fun with these . Thank you for sharing .

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