Toddler Activities for $10 or less

If there’s anything you should know about me it’s that I am very careful how I spend my money. But I also have a two year old that I love to spoil. I love providing him with opportunities to learn about the world through various activities. From the very start I would find ideas online and give them a try. A lot of the items I used are from the dollar store. So I've compiled a list of activities that I’ve already “experimented” with on my little one. 

  1. Ocean explorer: Using a couple of dollar store bins and some ocean creature toys we had an ocean exploring day. I filled the bins with water set them out in my backyard and threw the toys in. After dousing him in sunscreen, I set him up outside so it wouldn’t be as messy. He loved splashing the water and letting the dolphins and sharks jump from one bin to another. It occupied him for so long. By the end of the activity he was sitting inside the bins himself! The bins turned out to be useful multiple times now. I’ve let him play with some scups, spatulas, and ladles in the water one day. He also enjoyed playing in it with some food coloring in the water to change things up. 
  2. DIY moon sand: If there’s anything my little one loves it’s any kind of truck, train, or plane. Instead of building a sand pit for him (we live close to beach...less sand is better) I decided to make a bucket of moon sand for him. The recipe I found was so easy and quick. It only requires flour and baby oil.Check out the recipe here!  I sent my husband out for some baby oil and he brought home some Shea scented oil so our moon sand also smells really good.  One of my girlfriends was visiting us with her son at the same time I made this and both of our boys loved it. I made the moon sand in a large Tupperware like container so it would have a lid. We sat the boys outside (again for easy cleanup) and gave them trucks and tractors to go digging in the moon sand. They did not want to stop playing. And when they were done I closed the container and saved it for another day.  
  3. Car wash: This idea was derived from a YouTube video, that my son loves, where a boy goes all out washing his toy cars. He had colorful soaps and used a hose to rinse it off. I didn’t get that complex with it. My son was just as happy to put some foaming hand soap on his cars and use a dry sponge to scrub it. The best part about it is that he is sanitizing his toys! I would be careful with toys with batteries or electronic toys. You wouldn’t want to ruin them. I even let my son do this in the house because it doesn’t have a lot of water. I was able to keep an eye on him easily and get a lot of stuff done around the house. 
  4. Painting: Painting enhances toddlers hand-eye coordination as well as let’s them be creative. I found some wooden toys and some paint and paint brushes at Walmart and spent a total of $7 on everything. I set my son up in his chair. Laid some paper on the table for easy clean up and let him go to work. While he painted I was able to get some lunch going. When he was done painting we ate lunch and he took a nap. When he woke up his toys were all dry and ready to play with! He loved them so much he was so excited to show daddy when he came home. This budget friendly craft is like two in one. Painting activity and toys to play with forever. 
  5. Splash pads and parks: This is a super easy one and tires those kiddos out super fast! We have a splash pad in our city that has a little green field next to it. Perfect for a lunch picnic and playing in the splash zone. Lots of towns have areas where you can let your kids run through the water for free. Malls, city parks, some people have them in their neighborhood. If you happen to live near the beach like us, thats another great free activity for the whole family. What toddler doesn’t like playing in the sand? Taking the kids to a city park even without a splash pad is lots of fun. We are fortunate enough to have a few parks within walking distance of our house. I like to load up the stroller with some snacks and water, strap up the pups on their leash, and we all head out to the park. I call it a win-win-win; I get my exercise in, my son gets to play and get tired, and my dogs also get their exercise! 
  6. Look for local events online: There are so many groups you can find online or on Facebook. I would urge you to be cautious, of course, when linking up with anyone online. There are lots of groups on Facebook for moms and they host events such as meeting at parks or libraries. You can also check out your public library for events. Our library offers book reading for toddlers once a week. I think it’s great and educational!


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