This post is for everyone, of course, but was inspired by Mohawk Valley Girl!
Here is a list of some things a two year old will love. Well, most two year olds. Kids are not always at the same place in development at the same time. They also have varied interests and energy levels. But, these are things I have found to be popular with most. And trust me, putting learning into play is the best way to teach! Don’t be afraid of a little mess. Messes clean up. I am very careful and take precautions when using things such as paint, though, because it can be fatal to carpet! If you are well prepared, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
- Anything sensory. Play dough (home-made or bought) is HUGE at this age. Get some cookie cutters and you have a great way to spend some time on a rainy day. I let them explore sand, dirt and rocks as well. Of course we do those outside. I have even let them play in cooked noodles. Spaghetti noodles are popular. I make ‘smelling jars’. If you have small containers, you can put various things in them and let them smell them! Ideas for this: vanilla on a cotton ball, orange slices, instant coffee, soap, perfume. I also have a set of large cards that have colors, shapes, and different textures on them.
- Active Games. This age group is very active. They will run, not walk, most of the time! We play tag and hide-and-go-seek a lot. Now, granted, it is very hard for them to actually hide and stay hidden, but they still love it. We go for frequent walks and play at the playground by their house. We have dance parties almost daily! So, music is a MUST for this age. I have a big collection of music that also teaches the alphabet and alphabet sounds. I have music that is just silly songs. We play it as background music while doing other things. Before you know it, the kids will be singing the alphabet. Simon says is popular, too! Young kids like to imitate, so they will be delighted to do what Simon says! Be sure to give them turns being Simon, too.
- Filling containers and Dumping them out. I save oatmeal containers and let them fill them with small toys and dump it into another oatmeal container. I also use these or shoe boxes as mystery boxes. Put something in them and let the child feel what is inside and guess what it is. But, seriously, kids this age will delight in dumping things all over the floor. If you don’t believe me, just pick up a container full of small cars and see how long they stay in the container.
- Matching Games. I don’t mean the card matching games, but active matching games. Put a few containers in a row on one end of the room. On the other end of the room, dump out some blocks. Then say, “Grab a red block and take it to a container!” I do it with them and they get ultra excited. Then, repeat for other colors and make sure each color has its own container. I also make folder games. They can be pretty easy to make and you can do many things with them. You use actual file folders. You can draw or trace things to put in them. I make up my own, but you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest.
- Throwing Things. Throwing things is HUGE. I try to make sure we have things they are allowed to throw to help eliminate the urge to throw things that we don’t want them to. Foam balls and bean bags are great. I make bean bags with dollar store socks and, well, beans! Put out a couple of laundry baskets and have a throwing contest! Get some foam balls and have a foam ball fight (like a snowball fight, without the snow). Lots of laughs and fun times!
- Books. Books are a must have! I start reading to kids before they can even sit up on their own and they love bright pictures. Good quality board books are great to have for this age group. Sometimes, the kids don’t even want me to read it to them. They would rather sit and just look at the pictures on their own. Reading every single day is super important!
Obviously, there are tons of other ideas, but these should be a good place to start when considering a birthday gift for a two year old. I know, it’s popular to give shiny and fancy toys. I give those at the family birthday parties. But, I feel the real gift is in things you create to entertain and educate. Learning through hands-on play is the best way to go and the kids will love it!