Ten simple play ideas for toddlers this summer


Are you already worrying about how to keep your toddler entertained over the summer months? While Dubai offers lots of entertaining venues for little ones, it’s just not practical to stay outdoors all day.

So yes, you will end up with a bored toddler for a good part of the summer. But toddlers are easily entertained! It takes the simplest things to keep them occupied. You don’t even have to be the crafty type or have a stash of art material to come up activities. Just look around the house for some inspiration, and you’ll see lots of items that can become games with a little imagination.

To get you started, here are ten simple ideas to keep toddlers busy at home this summer:

  1. Painting with water – If you have a blackboard, just give your toddler some water in a plastic glass and a few brushes. Brushing with water is fun, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up. If you don’t have a blackboard, just let them paint on coloured paper.
  2. Painting with unusual items – If you don’t mind cleaning up just a little, lay a large sheet of paper on the floor of your kitchen. You can get a roll of drawing paper – it’s quite handy. Next give them paints (finger paints are the best) and some items from around the house to paint with. The kitchen is a good place to start. Think spoons, slotted spoons, cotton, and foil. They’ll love making patterns with these unusual painting tools.
  3. Balloon tennis – This is a classic boredom buster. Use kids’ tennis rackets or even board books to toss around a balloon. You can either play with your toddler, or a sibling can. Else, just ask them to keep the balloon in the air as long as they can.
  4. Play dough – You can’t go wrong with play dough. Whether it’s store bought or an easy home made version, let them explore with different tools to make tracks, such as cars, toy animals, and so on.
  5. Coloured water tub – Set up a tub of water with a cap of food colouring in the kitchen, or use the bath tub. Then hand your toddler some cups, ladles, and bowls. This should keep them busy (and cool) for a while.
  6. Stacking paper cups – This has always been one of our favourite activities. Get a pack of paper coffee cups or plastic drinking glasses and they’re your toddler’s new toys! They can stack them to make towers, and improve eye-hand coordination. Bonus points if they are colourful.
  7. Masking tape road track – For toddlers who love playing with cars, this activity can be so much fun! Simply stick masking tape on the carpet or floor and use a black crayon to make a track for cars or trains.
  8. Cutting and gluing – Improve your toddler’s cutting skills by giving them safety scissors, coloured paper, and a stick glue. They can cut out whatever shapes they like and stick them on to white paper. It’s more fun if you guide them or draw shapes for them to cut out and use it to make recognizable designs.
  9. Pasta play – Pasta was one of the earliest items we used for sensory play. You can colour it with food colouring and vinegar, or use as is. Fill some in a tray or box, and give them some tools for scooping and pouring. That’s all!
  10. Scavenger hunt – A scavenger hunt doesn’t always have to be outdoors. You can have a simple shape hunt or colour hunt, and ask your toddler to look for appropriate items around the house.

Good luck keeping your toddler busy, and have a great summer!


More about the Contributor:

Tarana Khan is an expat mom and blogger. She has done her stints in professional writing before embracing parenthood full time. She blogs at Sand In My Toes, where you can drop by to read more of her parenting and other adventures! Tarana also has a series called Busy Hands on her blog where you can find more activity and craft ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.


  • Zeyna S. Mummy On My Mind

    July 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Great tips! We have been addicted to painting this summer, but I must try out the masking tape roads with him too!
    Also, I have a ton of safety scissors but I’m so apprehensive about giving them to him. Should I wait for him to be a little older, or is it fine to start already. (He’s 2 and a half years old)

    • afterschool

      July 26, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Hi Zeyna, glad to hear you inspired! Safety scissors are great, but as with anything that can cut, as long as you are giving it to your kids with Adult supervision, at 2 and a half you may find that the movement may be a little tough to co-ordinate but with your supervision and time your little one will soon get the hang of things. Enjoy the crafts!


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