Some activities are marked with a star. They are some of the early learning foundations set by the Delaware Department of Education. All children are learners and all children learn through play. These activities give your child a head start on their education!
Get into the water together and splash around.
Fill a bucket with water. Show your little one how to squeeze the bulb to draw water into the baster and then squeeze it again to squirt it out.
At a park, in a sandbox, or at the beach, show your baby a bright or colorful object. Then, hide the object in the sand. Help your baby brush the sand away. Eventually, let your baby dig the toy out by himself/herself.
Roll a ball to your baby. Encourage him/her to roll it back to you.
The driveway is your canvas. Remember that bigger chalk is easier for your little one to hold.
Sit on the ground and hold your baby up with one hand around his/her chest and the other supporting his/her bottom so that your baby is standing. Place a ball in front of your baby and help him/her “kick” the ball.
Stack them, knock them down, and rearrange them again.
Fill your baby’s Pack ‘n’ Play with soft balls and let him/her play in it, tossing the balls in and out. Be sure to remove all items before naptime.
Sit your baby down, whether on a blanket outside or on the carpet, and blow bubbles in his/her direction. Watch your baby try to catch the bubbles.
Go for a walk with your baby (if your baby is still in a stroller, that’s fine!), allowing him/her to interact with nature by introducing him/her to leaves and other things along the way. Name the objects as you show them to your baby.
Start teaching the basics of throwing, catching, and kicking a ball.
Go sledding with your child. Sit your child in between your legs at first, and as your child gets older, let him/her go down the hill on his/her own. Make sure to dress up!
Look for 4 leaf clovers in the backyard or in a park. Explain the meaning behind them, and save the ones you find in a notebook or photo album.
On a sunny day, get an old shower curtain or new and clean heavy-duty garbage bag and place it on a level lawn area. Pour warm water on it and put your baby tummy-down or sitting, with your support, on the ‘waterslide’ next to you. Encourage your baby to splash in the water; you can even add toys.
Get brown paper bags and fill a shallow pan with warm water. Dip your baby’s feet into the water (depending on your baby’s age, you can hold him/her while you do this or let him/her do it) and help your baby walk across the paper bag. You can also do this with hands. Compare foot and hand prints.
Outside, set up a bin and fill it with water and dry oats. Give your baby a whisk to mix everything together. You can give your baby some other toys, like a bowl or a spoon, and you can even add some flavor to the oats with cinnamon or brown sugar.
Look at pictures of family members in a photo album or on the computer, saying each person’s name.
Plastic measuring cups are a fun thing to stack and bang together.
No explanation necessary.
Place a blanket on the floor and work on tummy time, rolling, stretching, and reaching.
Show your baby his/her reflection in a mirror. See how he/she reacts to seeing himself/herself in the mirror.
Take empty cereal boxes and have your child place them in a row. Then, knock over the first one and see if they all fall down. Try different patterns with the cereal boxes.
Get a variety of shoes in all sizes from the closet and have your toddler try each pair on and attempt to walk in them.
Fill the room with objects your baby can crawl over, under, and around.
Crawl after your baby, saying, “I’m going to get you!” Then crawl away, encouraging him/her to follow. Try hiding behind a piece of furniture and letting him/her “find” you.
Cover a piece of cardboard with a baby blanket, put it down on a carpet, and lay your baby tummy-down on top of it. Slowly slide your baby around, giving him/her the sense of forward motion.
Prop your baby on his/her back on a pillow. Hold his/her hands and gently pull your baby into an upright position. Gently lower your baby and repeat.
When your baby is in the bath, use a washcloth to wrap up a toy. Give it to your baby and exclaim, “I got you a present!” While he/she is un-wrapping it, wrap another toy.
Stack cushions, with the largest on the bottom (like couch cushions). Holding your baby, help him/her climb the stack of pillows until he/she reaches the top!
Get a few balloons and have your child throw or hit them into the air. Don’t let any balloons hit the ground! This promotes hand-eye coordination.
If you have a family pet, teach your child how to correctly interact with it, like gentle petting. Spend some time teaching your child about that particular animal.
Read a book with your child. Choose a color and have your toddler point it out on each page.
Using large cups, hide a toy under a cup and ask your baby to find it.
Hide a toy and give your child clues to find it: “Where’s the ball? Can you find it? It’s under something blue.”
Hang a glass prism in a window and see how your baby follows the colors.
Draw a face on your fingers and put on a little play.
Get a variety of fun stickers and a piece of paper. Let your child peel off the stickers and decorate the page to develop fine motor skills.
In a low-lit room around bedtime, sit with your baby in your lap and slowly shine a flashlight over the walls. You can play soothing music while you do this.
Outside the house, give your baby a bowl of water and a few paintbrushes. Ask your baby to paint the wall or an object with the water; if your baby can’t grasp a paintbrush yet, tell your baby to use his/her hands.
Blow Bubbles with your child. Have your child chase and pop them.
Around Thanksgiving, help your toddler trace your hand onto a piece of paper. Give your child some feathers, glue, and markers to decorate the turkey, just be sure to supervise and help your child glue things.
Use popped popcorn and construction paper to create a picture. To get different colored popcorn, toss it in a paper bag with powdered tempera paint, or use markers.
Take a raw ear of corn and roll it in non-toxic paint. Have your child roll the corn onto paper and see how many different designs he/she can make.
Have your child stand on a piece of paper while you trace around his/her feet with a crayon or pen. Then trace your feet and compare the sizes and color them in.
Tape a large piece of paper to the floor. Pour non-toxic paint into a dishpan or tub and place it next to the paper. Have your child dip his/her feet into the tub and step onto the paper. Play your child’s favorite tunes and have him/her dance away. Use a towel and water to wipe his/her feet.
Place a piece of paper into a Ziploc bag. Put nontoxic paint on a small ball or object of your choice and put it into the bag. Zip and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. Add another color of paint and repeat.
Get different textures, like sandpaper, toilet paper, bubble wrap, and other materials and line them up in a line like a “runway”. Have your baby explore the different textures by moving down the line.
Get a big bin, some dish soap, and non-toxic food dye. You can use a changing pad to make a “giant sponge”. Squirt the soap, some warm water, and food dye onto the changing pad and watch as your baby creates colorful suds.
You can teach your toddler different animals using hand art. Some possible animal creations are crabs, monkeys, caterpillars, peacocks, giraffes, reindeer, and so many more!
Make your own alphabet book with your toddler using handprints and footprints to draw animals, trees, or other objects beginning with the appropriate letter.
Use your baby’s stacking blocks for this project, and dip them in different colored paint (correspond colors, like a yellow block in yellow paint). Your baby will love printing shapes on paper with these.
Put on your favorite music and sing along.
Use rattles, paper, cellophane, tinfoil, and other noisy items to surprise and delight your baby.
Slowly count your baby’s fingers, from one hand to the next. Then, move on to your baby’s toes.
Build vocabulary by demonstrating things like high and low, big and small, and near and far.
See if you can get your baby to do the same thing that you do: roll over, clap, smile, etc.
Put varying numbers of jingle bells into five different socks and shake them to see the different sounds each sock makes. Let your baby do the same.
Have fun popping it together.
Place an assortment of big and little spoons in front of your child. Show your child where each one goes and help him/her sort the spoons by size.
With your baby on your lap, sing the hokey pokey while moving along with the song (right foot out, left foot out, etc.). Help your baby participate by moving his/her hands and feet along with you.
Give your baby a wooden spoon in each hand. Show him/her how to hit the spoons together to make noise; after a few tries, your baby will be able to do it himself/herself.
Grab a cute picture book and read to your child at bedtime. Make this a nightly routine; your child will begin to remember what each book is about and will build a positive relationship with books.
Give your baby toys that he/she can squeak, shake, and pull. Let your baby discover ways to make things happen.
Sing rhymes to your baby. Hold his/her hands and clap along with the words.
Have your child help you while folding laundry. Show your child a sock and let him/her find its match. Point out the different colors and say things like, “whose little green socks are these? Whose big white socks are these?”
Using a toy phone, say a number to your baby and press the button of the number on the phone. Have your baby imitate you.
Put dry noodles, rice, and plastic shapes in a casserole dish and explore the different textures with your baby.
Let your little one paint his/her highchair with pudding or frosting.
Put some overturned pots and pans on the floor around you and your baby and see how different-sized pots make different sounds.
Get different-sized pots with lids and see if your little one can put the right lid on the right pot.
Use milk, fruit, and yogurt. Have your child help find the ingredients in the refrigerator. Mix in a blender and enjoy. Try different flavor combinations.
Pour Cheerios into a large container and practice scooping out the Cheerios and putting them back in.
Create hand or footprint stones with sand, cornstarch, and hot water and bake at 300 degrees for one hour.
Use different colored pipe cleaners and weave them through the holes of a colander with your child. This is a fun way to improve eye-hand coordination.
Cover a baking sheet with baking soda and give your child a dropper to put vinegar-tinted food coloring onto the sheet. The color drops will create colorful fizziness.
Use a mix or start from scratch using a family recipe. Take the dough and place even-sized balls onto a baking sheet. Have your child push each ball down using his/her thumb. Bake the cookies and enjoy thumb print cookies with your child!
Print out pictures of fruits and vegetables you have in your fridge. Place them on a blanket or table top. Give your child the real vegetables and fruits and have them match them with their picture.
Pour flour into a baking dish or baking pan. Let your child use his/her fingers to draw in the flour. Use a vacuum for easy clean up.
Place non-sharp kitchen utensils on a blanket on the floor. Let your baby explore the texture and look of each item. Suggested items: colander, wooden spoon, whisk, ice cream scoop, basting brush, measuring spoons, etc.
Give your child whole fruits and vegetables. Let you child touch them, bang them, and taste them. Point out the different colors and textures of each.
Invent as many different kinds of silly walks as you can.
Take your child to a local farm where he/she can see and possibly pet the animals.
Create a “nature bracelet” with masking tape. Your child can wear it outdoors and stick discoveries to his/her bracelet.
Turn a kiddie pool into a fishing experience with fishing nets and rubber ducks. Count the number of ducks you and your child catch.
Create a giant ice cube with toys and trinkets inside for your child to chisel away with a spoon on a hot summer day.
Set up pots, pans, or cups for your child. Let your child experiment with water and pouring.
Get plastic dinosaur bones and bury them in a sandbox. Have an archeological dig with your child.
Teach your child about bike safety then go for a bike ride to practice what he/she learned.
Go for a walk with your child in a rural area, in a forest, around a lake, etc. Write down or draw the types of plants and animals the two of you discover and talk about them.
On a windy day, go to the park and teach your child how to launch the kite into the air and fly it in the wind.
Get out a picnic basket and ask your child to help you fill it up with food, snacks, and drinks for a picnic. Your child can even help you make sandwiches. Have a picnic in a park or even in your own backyard.
Play hide and seek with your child. This can be done inside or outside, but be sure to set safety parameters.
Have a snowball fight with your child. Use smaller snowballs and don’t pack them too hard.
Make a snowman and have your child choose the items for the nose, arms, etc.
Pick out plants or vegetables to grow with your child, plant them together, and have your child document the garden’s progress.
Get a star chart and see how many constellations you can identify together.
Have your child fill a bucket with soap and water and help you wash the car on a sunny day. Or, ask your child to help give the dog a bath. These can be fun and refreshing summer activities.
Use street chalk and show your child how to draw hopscotch in the driveway. For a more challenging game, toss a small rock onto the hopscotch, skipping whichever square it lands on.
Have you child pick some rocks from your yard or local beach. Glue the rocks together to create their favorite animal.
Go to the local beach or playground. Build a sandcastle or draw in the sand. Bring a cup or funnel for extra digging fun!
Take a walk with you child. Have them pick his/her favorite color and see how many times they can spot it on the walk.
Choose your favorite dance tunes and boogie down.
Walk and act like an animal and ask your child to guess what you are. Then have your child act out his/her favorite animals while you guess.
Introduce your child to a new yoga position or series of poses at his/her age level. Yoga teaches concentration and balance; you can practice together.
Scatter pillows around your living room and have your child leap from one pillow to the next.
Help your child build a fort with chairs, a table, and blankets. Your child will have his/her own homemade play zone.
Set up empty plastic bottles in a line, square, or triangle and knock them down with a ball.
Fold a sheet of paper into a tight, compact triangle. Have your child stand at one end of the table and slide the “football” back and forth across the table to each other. If it lands on the edge without going over, that’s a touchdown. Make goalposts with your fingers and kick the extra point.
Pick a movie theme (western, sports, action, horror) and then dress like that theme using only what you have in your closets.
Get soft pillows and have a pillow fight with your child. Just remember to be gentle!
Have you child pick a favorite board game and play it together, or grab a new one and explain the rules as you go along.
Have a tea party with your child and his/her favorite toys or stuffed animals. Let your child play the host and follow his/her lead. You can even dress up.
Hide things throughout the house. Give your child a list of what to find, with some clues along the way. Give points depending on how well each item is hidden.
Write a short story or play with your child, then act it out. Get costumes and even fake accents.
Dress up in different clothes, encouraging your child to use your clothes as well, and have a fashion show down the hallway or living room.
Help your child set up dominos on a hard floor or surface. Once the line is set up, knock them down! Try fun designs.
Have your child help you set up a picnic inside. Put a blanket down in the living room, turn on a movie, and eat lunch on the blankets. It’ll feel like you’re at a drive-in.
Help your child turn one of your rooms into an outdoor camping adventure. Make sure to pack s’mores!
Pick your favorite childhood card game (Go Fish, Memory, Crazy Eights) and teach it to your child.
Have your child draw or dress up as his/her own superhero.
Stay in your pj’s, make breakfast, and play your child’s favorite game.
Put room temperature water and vegetable oil in a pitcher, then add a few drops of food coloring and watch what happens. Try a bunch of different food colorings.
Have your child collect flowers and leaves and then place them flat between two pieces of wax paper. Use an iron to seal the two pieces of wax paper together and create beautiful artwork.
Start by folding paper into squares. Make some of the squares into triangles and some into smaller squares or rectangles. See if your child can make any other shapes, or get an origami book out and try to make some fun animals.
Get a small paper bag, some yarn, googly eyes, glue, and markers. Have your child decorate the paper bag and then play with your puppets!
Using cotton balls, glue, and markers, have your child create a snowy winter scene. Or, cut out a piece of construction paper into a ghost shape and have your child glue cotton balls to the ghost. Use black construction paper on top for its eyes and mouth.
Get different colored tissue paper and have your child cut the papers up into pieces (use child friendly scissors and supervise!). Then have your child glue the smaller pieces onto a big piece of paper. Your child can also draw over this.
Give your child markers and other decorative items and an empty egg carton. Your child can decorate the carton and use it to store treasures he/she finds.
Make snowflakes or homemade valentines with your child depending on the season. Use lollipops, black pipe cleaners, black poms, and googly eyes to make spiders at Halloween.
Make a macaroni necklace with your child.
Using a paper towel tube, have your child pick household items such as rice, beans, or beads. Place them in the tube. Tape the ends and shake away.
Place objects such as pennies or leaves under drawing paper. Have your child use crayons or markers to sketch over the objects and make impressions on the paper.
Pick up a tie-dye kit at your local store along with white t-shirts for you and your child. Mix colors and help your child create a unique design.
Start with a sock, some yarn, googly eyes, glue, and markers. Have your child decorate the sock and then play with your puppets!
Fold a standard sheet of paper 3-4 times and have your child use safety scissors to cut a doll shape. Make sure hands and feet connect on the fold.
Attach two plastic cups to the end of a long piece of string or yarn. Talk into the plastic cups.
Write a family member’s phone number on a piece of paper and have your child dial the corresponding numbers on the phone. This will help your child learn numbers. Then, have a great conversation.
Write a poem with your child. Teach him/her about the rhythm and rhyming of a poem. Make it short and see if your child can learn it by heart.
Get two thermometers. Place one in hot water and one in cold water. Compare the temperature level on each thermometer. Explain how thermometers tell the temperature.
Spoon two tablespoons of baking soda into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and watch your volcano erupt.
Have your child sort M&Ms by color and line each color in a row. Ask your child to count the number in each row and decide which one has the most and which one has the least.
Show your child how to lace a shoe. Then, undo the laces and have him/her try. It will take your child a few tries to figure it out, so go step by step and offer help along the way!
Ask your child to pick a book to read together. Make eye contact with your child and have him/her point out different things in the illustrations. If your child is learning to read, ask him/her to read aloud to you.
When you get home, asks your child about his/her day. Have your child draw a picture of what he/she saw, learned during the day.
Look at maps and learn how to read them. Explain the difference between cities and regions, rivers and lakes and oceans, mountains and plains, etc. Look at a familiar area—maybe you can point out your house or your child’s school.
Fill a 2-liter bottle with water. Using heavy tape, connect the top of the bottle to the top of another empty 2-liter bottle. Rotate the middle in a circular motion to create a tornado or hourglass effect.
Gather leaves, flowers, sticks, etc. Have your child build a collage and identify the different types of items.
Using beads with letters or numbers on them, create jewelry while reviewing spelling or math with your child.
Using markers and strips of paper towel, draw different colored lines on the paper towel. Dip the paper towel in a glass of water and watch the colors blend. Have your child identify the colors as they change.
Stretch rubber bands of different sizes around small boxes, plastic cups, and containers. Pluck the part of the rubber band that is stretched over the opening of each container to make different sounds.
Create a chorus of humming bubbles with just a straw and a glass of water. Place a straw in a glass of water. Blow into the straw while humming a song.
This is a great way to have your child try new foods while playing a fun game. Do blind taste tests where you and your child take turns being blindfolded and trying something of the other’s choice.
Make eating veggies fun for your child: have him/her create a picture with veggies.
Use dice during mealtimes to play a game with your child. Have your child roll the dice to see how many more bites he/she has to eat before being excused.
Bake a pie, cake, muffins or whatever your child feels like making. Use a mix or start from scratch using a family recipe, and help your child break the eggs, mix the ingredients, etc.
Decorate the house with your child in keeping with the season. Your child can help you unpack boxes of decorations, can make his/her own decorations (see some other activities or look online), and help you hang lights.
Create a chore chart and complete each one together. Make it fun by giving your child a star for each chore completed (vacuuming, setting the table, putting dishes in the dishwasher, cleaning his/her room, etc). After 10 stars, give your child a reward, like an extra dessert, additional playtime, or an extra bedtime story.
Go through the fridge together and ask your child what’s missing in the fridge (for example, ask your child if there is milk in the fridge). Create a list with your child, and then go to the grocery store together.
Have your child help you make minor repairs around the house. Discover what each tool is used for and how it works.
Ask your child to help you make play-dough. It’ll feel a lot like cooking. Get ½ cup of salt, ½ cup of water, 1 cup of flour, and non-toxic food dye. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Squirt in the food dye and the dough is ready to play with!