26 indoor games to play with your toddler

Funny, silly, noisy, messy - they're all great ways to have fun. And your toddler may even enjoy doing some cleaning

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1. Washing up
OK, this is best done in the kitchen, and even there you’ll need a splash mat and plastic apron. Get out a toy plastic tea set, a brush or sponge and a bowl of soapy water. Oh yes, washing up can be immense fun – and wet.

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2. Dusting – yes, that’s dusting
It’s a mindless task, but in your child’s eyes dusting can be serious fun! Give her a cloth and watch her go.

3. Sand treasure
Put some sand from the sandpit in a washing-up bowl and hide mini treasures. Give her a spoon and a sieve to add to the mood of ‘hunting for treasures’.

4. Guess the toy
Wrap up a few of her favourite toys for her to guess the object and then unwrap. Don’t use too much tape for her.

5. Photo album
Print out some family shots, and help your toddler glue the pictures onto pages to make her own album.

6. Magic painting
Draw a simple design on paper with a white candle or crayon. Make up watery paint in a strong colour and let your toddler paint the paper to reveal the hidden designs.

7. Follow my leader
Your toddler has to copy everything you do – jumping, patting your tummy, and putting your slippers on your head – the sillier the better. Then it’s her turn to lead!

8. Trace a toy
Ask your child to choose a favourite toy, lie it down on a big sheet of paper and trace the outline. Then let your child colour in or paint it.

9. Musical bumps
Put on a lively piece of music, telling her she has to sit down as quickly as possible when the music stops.

10. Make a letterbox
Find an old cereal box and paint it red, or cover it in red paper. Cut out a slot for letters and make pretend envelopes and stamps for her to post.

11. Potato prints
Slice some potatoes in half and cut a shape into each flat surface. Dip the potatoes into saucers of poster paint and let your toddler print with them.

12. Collage making
Hey – sticking fun! Give your toddler a whole range of different textures, such as sweet wrappers, scraps of material, foil, and cotton wool.

13. Pasta play
Give her dried pasta, a sieve, a bowl and plastic jug. Noisy, clean fun!

14. Tea party
Invite her dolls and toy animals, help her set them out on a picnic rug and use pretend or real food.

15. Mask making
Draw an animal’s face on card and cut holes for eyes. Let her colour it, and then attach a straw at the bottom so she can hold it in front of her face.

16. Create a mini village
Help her to set up a train, farm and zoo set she hasn’t got out for a long time, creating her own little town.

17. Make a ‘Butterfly’ painting
Fold a piece of paper in half, and then open it out again. Get your toddler to paint one side of the fold, and then close it up again. Open it up to reveal her symmetrical pattern.

18. Roll the ball
Use a medium sized ball (larger than a tennis ball), get your toddler to sit with her legs open and roll the ball to her encouraging her to catch it, and roll it back to you.

19. Traffic lights
You’re the policeman and she’s the car. When you shout, ‘Red’, she has to stop. ‘Green’ means she’s allowed to go.

20. Indoor basketball
Scrunch up some old newspaper into balls, set up a bin near you and encourage your toddler to throw the balls into the bin.

21. Create your own ice cream ‘factory’
Put a scoop of ice cream in a bowl and let her choose a topping from a variety you’ve set out. Let her ‘buy’ one from you.

22. Flour drawing
This is a messy one, so prepare your kitchen with splashmats, newspaper and dustpan and brush. Tip out some flour onto a smooth surface – your toddler will love the feel of the flour between his fingers. Let him draw swirls and pictures and make shapes with the flour.

23. Play match the socks
Empty out your sock drawer and encourage your child to put the pairs together.

24. Do the dance
Play some music and enourage your toddler to dance and clap with the music. Change the music to something with a different tempo and get your toddler to dance in a different way. This is best played if you dance along too, oh yes.

25. Hunt the teddy
Take it in turns to hide it in the house. Then go looking together – perhaps teddy will ‘magically’ squeak when you get near (how are your ventriloquism skills?).

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26. Newspaper jumping
Use sheets of old newspaper and place them close to each other around a room. Get your toddler to jump from one sheet to another – taking care not to fall into the shark infested waters outside the sheets.

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