13 Free Things to Do With Young Kids and Toddlers


Who doesn’t need something different to do every now and then?

1.  Go to the Park

Pretty obvious!  There are a plethora of good parks in Australia, with all sorts of equipment.

2.  Chase Seagulls

They’re pretty safe, I’ve never heard of anyone actually catching one.  But try to do this somewhere like the beach, it’s painful having to stay between a young toddler and the edge of a pier.

3.  Go to a Shopping Centre

OK, some people would say this is a penance.  And you do need a bit of consistency so the kids know there won’t be any money spent.  But

  • they’re air conditioned,
  • they have cool patterns on the floor you can follow or jump on,
  • they often have ramps, which is something really different for an early walker,
  • some have sculptures kids can check out,
  • even if you don’t put money in, you can still pretend you are flying the plane or swimming underwater.

4.  Visit an old people’s home

Pick your home and make sure it’s ok with the staff, but old people just love seeing little kids.  Take in some of your artwork for some lucky resident.  A 15 minute visit is all that’s needed to give your kids an experience with people who are often invisible and brighten their day.

5.  Play in a fountain

Am I the only one who’s ever done this?  In the middle of Darwin is a fountain in the mall, it doesn’t have a basin but drains at ground level.  Kids often stick their hands in or run through it quickly, but I’ve stripped the toddler down and let her go for it.  She had a ball and no-one told us off!

6.  Sing loudly

When else will you get to?  Who always thinks you’re a fabulous singer?

7.  Play word games

I Spy (colours if they’re non-spellers), 20 Questions, Rhyming Words, change the nursery rhyme lyrics, Words Beginning With, Food, Place, Animal, …

8.  Make daisychains

Use your fingernail to put a slit in the stalk of a daisy, then pull the next flowers’ stalk through.

9.  Plant seeds from your food

Collect the seeds from your food, plant them and see what comes up.  We’ve done passionfruit, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins and avocados, the rockmelon hasn’t worked so far but the girls live in hope.

10.  Play dress-ups

It’s nice to have a little costume with all the parts, but how creative can you be with Mummy and Daddy’s old clothes?  A cot sheet makes a fabulous sari or coccoon, a petticoat is a great evening gown, and doesn’t everyone love clip clop shoes?

11.  Be bed gymnasts

Not that great for the mattress but it’s a perfect place to do roly polys, somersaults, jump and land sitting, have horsey rides and lift each other.  Especially if it’s rotten weather and you can’t be active outside.

12.  Pick up rubbish

I don’t know why this is a hit with my kids.  Around the house we have 10 minute cleanups – I actually have a kitchen timer and they love it.  Or they will clean out the car after a big trip.  Don’t ask me, maybe it’s the novelty!  Get some disposable rubber gloves and plastic shopping bags and see what you can find at your local park.

13.  Go to the Library

An absolute must.  We have a lovely library bag and go every week.  We’re quite lucky, our local library has a semi-private kids’ room with a big chalkboard and drawing things as well as lovely new chairs.  We play and read a couple of books there, then choose some to take home.  I also let the big girl choose a book for me and it’s been very interesting.  Her criteria are usually along the lines of “It has a fish on the cover!”  so I’ve found lots of new authors I would never have chosen for myself.  One book I couldn’t finish, some have been an interesting change, some have become new authors I look out for.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Just wanted to say that I have also stripped off my toddler and let them play in the fountain in the Darwin mall! Great list by the way.:)


  2. Great list. Happy TT.


  3. Great list. Now if I could only find one like it for teenagers.


  4. All great ideas. My daughter has learned the fun of window shopping which makes for a nice day at the mall (with a little splurge in the food court) Today she lined all of her animals up in a circle and then invited me to the reading club, where she read us a book (because that is obviously what you would do in a reading club!) Good times!

    Happy T13!


    • How cute! I love it when they do things like that. Pretend play seemed to suddenly click with my 18 month old today, she not only pushed the toy around in the pram she insisted on feeding it, me feeding it, dressing it and putting it on the potty too! I love toddlers.


  5. I’ve seen daisy chains, but never knew the procedure….now, thanks to you I do!!

    My 13 is posted, if you can stop by for a visit it’d be awesome…but if you can’t have a great Thursday anyway. Click HERE and scroll down a bit on my post.


  6. Good ideas! I think we’ve tried most of these, but chasing seagulls does sound fun.


  7. I’d like to try no. 4. No. 11 is my kiddo’s fave.


  8. After doing all of that with a toddler, I would want to add in, “Take a nap!” 🙂
    Wishing you a picture perfect TT!


  9. Ooh! How awesome! I feel like I’m always trying to come up with something to do with my munchkin! Thanks! Have a fabulous Thursday! 🙂

    My TT: http://mamakitty729.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/089/


  10. Although I am not a mother yet, I love this list!! Very creative and frugal ideas!

    Happy Thursday!


  11. […] 13 free things to do with young kids and toddlers on Fusion Parenting […]


  12. We have done numbers 1 & 3 but number 6 would be great..

    Here is my first Thursday Thirteen


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