Parents have a variety of goals. Some of these involve sleep, others revolve around toilet training and then there are the ones that concern entertaining toddlers without spending ANOTHER £6 on soft play or an organised class.
If you’re looking to conquer a goal in the sleep category, this link won’t help you, but it may make you laugh. If you’re trying to nail a goal in the toilet training category, this link will be of some assistance. And if you’re aiming to tick off some goals in the entertaining toddlers without spending ANOTHER £6 category, then don’t go anywhere, because this post contains everything you need to know.
Seriously? Yes, seriously. Hot on the heels of my critically acclaimed (well, my dad liked them) posts featuring games for entertaining toddlers on a rainy day and games for entertaining toddlers at the dinner table, this article brings you five more brilliant options for entertaining toddlers. Better still, each game costs nothing and is easy-to-play.
I know that you’re thinking and I agree. I am a criminally under-appreciated genius. No, wait. That wasn’t what you were thinking at all. You were actually musing that a list of free and easy-to-play games sounded too good to be true. I get where you are coming from, but here is the thing: it is 100% true. And to prove as much, I’ve included video evidence of my son enjoying each of the activities described in this article.
Any further questions? I thought not. So, without further ado, here are the five games you’ve been waiting for…
1. Toilet Roll Tower Smash
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they are too tired (or hungover) to fight the chaos. At this point we have two options. We can reach for an iPad. Or we can embrace the carnage, encourage our toddler to build a tower using 4-packs of toilet roll (note: kitchen towel and tissue boxes also work) and then challenge him or her to knock it down with a cushion.
2. Multi-ball Shootout
Not only does Multi-ball Shootout eat up some valuable minutes in the always-tetchy pre-bedtime period, it also gives you an excuse for ignoring your partner’s wishes and not “getting rid of all the crappy old balls that are lying about the garden”.
If you want to introduce some mathematical learning to this game, I suggest you ask your child to count the balls before he or she kicks them. If you want to add an artistic angle, I suggest you teach them to do a post-goal celebration (my son is an efficient performer of ‘the dab’). And if you want to have more children, I suggest you protect your groin rather than the goal.
3. Plastic Cutlery Table Football
The great thing about eating out with my son is that he is always quiet, calm, happy to stay in his seat and… …I’m sorry, I can’t keep this charade up any longer. Like most toddlers, he is a complete and utter nightmare, who would choose running and screaming over sitting and eating any day of the week.
Obviously, tablets and smartphones instantly solve this problem by turning children into mild-mannered, chair-dwelling robots. But if you’re more into participation than pacification then Plastic Cutlery Table Football is the game for you. Here’s how to play.
- Grab (or ask a member of staff for) two pieces of plastic cutlery and a sachet of sugar, salt or pepper.
- Sit opposite your toddler.
- Give your toddler one piece of cutlery and keep the other piece yourself.
- Place the sachet on the table.
- Use the plastic cutlery to hit the sachet back and forth.
- If the sachet goes off the side of the table, pick it up and resume play. If the sachet goes off one end of the table, pick it up, award the person who is attacking that end a goal and resume play.
- Continue playing until someone reaches the winning number of goals (e.g. 20) or whoever is eating finishes his or her meal.
4. Jump Jump Shoot
Q: How do you take a back garden football game to the next level?
A: By creating three lanes, sprinkling a bunch of objects in each lane and challenging competitors to jump over these obstacles (with their feet together), before kicking their ball into the net.
5. Toddler Parkour
Bad news: unless you live in a gargantuan stately home replete with steps, benches and walls, you are unlikely to be able to play Toddler Parkour in your garden.
Good news part I: you can play it at just about every National Trust property, country park or pedestrianised area in the country (we took the above video at London’s South Bank).
Good news part II: it uses up loads of energy and helps little one’s climbing and jumping skills to progress to the next level.
Random and unnecessary update: my son has had a haircut since we took this video.
Aaannnnnddddd we’re done with my latest handful of games for entertaining toddlers. If you like all or any of them, please share them far and wide. And if you’ve got any original toddler games of your own that you want to tell the world about, please comment below.
Until next time…