1. Play dough. We make food, familiar animals, cut shapes, colors, letter and number stamps. Ava is really into calling back letters and numbers to me. She doesn't eat it and is very creative with it if we are playing together.
Play Doh Numbers,Letters' N Fun 35 Pieces
2. Sensory Bin. We use an underbed storage container filled with various dry goods - beans, rice, sometimes sand but it makes a mess. Then I provide lots of funnels, shovels, bowls, and cups and let her fill and spill all day long. There are lots of ideas online for older kids and sensory tables.
3. Blocks. I build, Ava helps, then she knocks it over. I like Mega Bloks, even though there are some beautiful wooden ones available - Mega Bloks link, teach colors and are just the right size. I think you honestly need about 200 though to really get building, so wait till they go on sale for $10 a bag at Christmas or get them off of Craigs List.
MEGA Bloks Building Imagination Bag (80 pcs)Classic
4. Tell Stories. Ava is only 18 months old but there are a huge amount of words she can understand. I make up stories about her favorite things and how they run, play, go to time out, night night, ride a bus, swim, on and on.
5. "Play Puppets" - Ava loves her puppets, I don't think she could have too many. We use them to tell the stories in her books and to chase each other. She really likes to put them in time out for being 'not nice'.
12 Velour Animal Hand Puppets Monkey Cow Pig Etc $11.99 for all 12
6. Cook together. Ava started cooking beside me on a chair when she was about 14 months old and now she pulls a chair into the kitchen and asks to 'be a helper' when I am cooking dinner. Sometimes all she can do is put bouillon cubes in a jar but hey she is happy as a clam and I am getting dinner done! This is Ava cooking at 16 months and Elliana at 22 months. (look away safety inspectors)
7. Stickers - Ava still only likes coloring for a minute or two but with some help getting a corner up she can put stickers all over herself, paper, the couch, etc. Thanks to the dollar store for making this an affordable project!
8. Paint with water books.
Super Blue to the Rescue (Paint with Water)
9. Play kitchen.
10. Stamps - you need a big washable stamp pad, paper from a huge roll and eyes like a hawk.
Melissa & Doug Rainbow 6 Color Stamp Pad
11. Pillows in a play tent.
12. Thanks to a generous first birthday party have a cool swing set with a sand box, an outdoor picnic/ sand / water table, a tricycle, a wagon, and some other cool outdoor toys that Ava would play with over anything, any day. But since you can't go outside all the time the rest of this list is mostly devoted to inside activities.
Step2 Naturally Playful Picnic Play Table
14. Little People - 'Hoho' (aka Santa) is Ava's favorite little person.
Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm
15. Singing and playing music.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Beginner Band Set
16. Playing online toddler games.
17. Checking out some youtube videos.
19. Sidewalk chalk.
20. Makeup and Jewelry - Ava has some plastic lipstick and eyeshadow that she thinks is so much fun!
21. Taking care of babies and dolls - putting them to bed, feeding them, pushing them in her stroller.
Corolle Tidoo Strawberry
22. Balls - we have a baby pool and big bag of ball pool balls - but really any and all balls are endlessly fun.
23. Puzzles - Ava is AMAZING with puzzles - she can place really abstract pieces (sorry had to brag for a minute) . Our favorite brand is Melissa and Doug.
Melissa & Doug Shapes - Chunky Puzzle
24. Potato Head - fun but challenging for young toddlers - Ava gets pretty distracted sorting the pieces though.
Mrs. Potato Head Silly Suitcase
25. Train - we have a little wooden one from Ikea - Ava is learning to put the track together in sections.
If you have any ideas PLEASE post them in the comment section - we need some new activities :)