7 Cheap Activities for Toddlers to do Before Summer Ends



 This summer is flying by!  Below are some fun ideas to keep your toddler occupied until fall.  Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more activities!


1. DIY Scented Play-dough


Play-dough is a staple of childhood.  You can spend a fortune over time buying play-dough from the store, or you could just make your own.  But I know it’s hard to skim Pinterest trying to find a recipe that doesn’t end in failure.  Trust me, I’ve tried several recipes before these two came to pass.  Play-dough is such a hit with the young ones because they love sensory play.  Touching is how they learn from the cradle to preschool.  You thought play-dough was just for fun?  That’s OK, I used to think the same thing.  Playing with something like play-dough is actually where a lot of learning takes place.  They learn to manipulate the dough and create shapes to make things from real life.  There is so much fine motor work going on, and of course that’s great practice that will later show up in their growing development of writing and drawing.

Anyway, teaching rant over.  Let’s talk about scented play-dough.  I have two recipes to share.  Each of these is my own as I played around with adding ingredients and perfecting the dough. The first one is chocolate!  Yum.  This is a play-dough that you don’t have to worry about your child eating when you aren’t looking (because we know that happens to the best of us).


Below is the recipe.

Chocolate Play-Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups boiling water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the oil one tablespoon at a time, stirring in between.  Next add the boiling water one cup at a time and mix until well blended.  After it cools (about an hour) knead the dough.  If you’re feeling fancy, you can add some glycerin for a nice shiny look.

Next up is Strawberry Play-Dough.  This is also an edible dough.  I tried a couple of recipes that called for conditioner, and they didn’t turn out.  It ended up being too mushy no matter how much salt and flour I added.  So I decided to try kool-aid.  It worked beautifully.  It smells delicious and won’t kill your toddler/preschooler if they take a bite or three.


Strawberry Play-Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 packet strawberry kool-aid (just the concentrate people, not actual kool-aid that involves water and sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • food coloring (red, burgundy, pink)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the oil one tablespoon at a time, stirring in between.  Next add the boiling water one cup at a time and mix until well blended.  After it cools (about an hour) knead the dough, adding the food coloring (I used the Wilton cake food coloring).  It will take a while for the color to show up, so start with a small amount and go from there.  Remember, if you’re feeling fancy, you can add some glycerin for a nice shiny look.

2. Cookie Sheet Alphabet


This is an activity I saw while student teaching.  It’s brilliant.  There are so many ways to apply this to suit your kid’s needs for challenging their minds.  My daughter is two and knows the alphabet, but has no idea what letters are what.  Everything is “E” because you know, Ella starts with e.  Target has upper and lower case magnets for $1 each!  Score!  Besides the magnets, all you need is a cookie sheet.  You could even pick a cheap one up from the dollar store so you don’t have to sacrifice your cookie baking for the alphabet.  The magnets stick to the cookie sheet just like the fridge.  For kids that are learning how to spell, pick up a few of these bad boys and have them practice spelling different words on their cookie sheet.  You could even pick up flashcards from the dollar store and have your kid spell those words with these magnets.  So simple, cheap, and fun!

3. Window Art


This activity only requires three things: clear contact paper (Target), colored tissue paper (dollar store) and a window (or glass door).  I cut tissue paper into different shapes (mostly squares because I got lazy) and placed the contact paper on the window with the sticky side facing out.


Your child can place the tissue on the contact paper to create a piece of art.  It looks like a stained glass window.  Really beautiful and they’ll spend hours on this!

4. Washing Dishes


This was an experiment that failed, but turned into something fun.  What kid doesn’t love water?  And what parent doesn’t love dirt free fun?  **crickets chirping


So I microwaved ivory bar soap and was supposed to add water and toilet paper to create this fun foam, but Ella threw in the whole glass of water and there was no going back.  So I took her dishes from her kitchen, a dish tub with water, and a dishcloth.  She went to town washing these dishes like mama.  I can already tell that she is a meticulous dish-washing champion.  Her father would be proud.

Try the soap thing.  It has to be ivory soap.  Has to.  No exceptions.  It’s fun to watch the soap expand in the microwave.

5. Grow Capsules in the Bathtub


This was another Target find.  I started out putting two capsules in a glass of warm water, and go the idea to throw these into a warm bath.  The capsules dissolve in warm water and reveal some pretty cool sponge animals.  There was a lot of excitement as each capsule burst into a creature.  These sponges also work great as stamps for later use with paints.

6. Painting Rocks


It’s exactly what it sounds like.  You can paint rocks over and over again because this paint washes off.  Toddlers will never realize that they’ve painted that rock before.  This activity is great for kids that are interested in colors.


I talked with my daughter about the mixing of colors and let her guess what color it would turn into.  The only one she guessed correctly was green.  It was a blast to watch her squat and paint.


Painting rocks is best done outside where you don’t have to worry about making a mess because the hose will clean it up.

7. Tape Shapes



This is a great rainy day activity to do inside.  It’s basically a big puzzle that you can turn into a game with your kids.  I cut different shapes out of construction paper and traced them with tape on the carpet.  You can hand the shapes to your toddler and let them find the right spot on the floor.



Or you could make it a game where you hold up a shape and they have to stand on the matching shape on the floor.  There are endless possibilities.

That’s a wrap folks!  Be sure to visit my crafts and education tabs for more activities like these!




8 Comments Add yours

  1. scented PlayDough? I was a real “Barbie girl” back in the day 😀

  2. Clare Speer says:

    Love the scented play dough idea! And you have incredible and also adorable pics!

    1. Janell says:

      Thank you! It was fun 😊

  3. I would like some scented play doh and I am a grown adult, haha

    1. Janell says:

      I know, right? I think the wonderful thing about having kids is that we can play with their toys 😊

  4. Rebekah says:

    These are awesome ideas! My boys would love those capsules. I guess I’ll just have to take a trip to Target. Darn. 🙂

  5. triciathegoodmama says:

    These are great ideas! I love the tape and shapes idea. I’m going to have to try these with my son. Pinned.

    1. Janell says:

      Thanks for reading and pinning 😊

I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s