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Fun and Free Motor Activities for Toddlers

In and Around Wichita or At Home

Life has gotten a little crazy during these unprecedented times, and families may not be able to attend activities within the community due to taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Events and classes are canceled or might be difficult to manage with toddlers safely. Since communities have changed a bit here in 2020, families are having to think a little more creatively to have some fun activities within their home or outdoors within the community.

I have compiled a list of activities that can be done to help keep your young child busy, and work on some motor skills while you are at it.

Sidewalk Obstacle Course
I created this fun obstacle course on my driveway. It is geared toward toddlers, with walking between 2 lines, walking along a diagonal line, jumping, running, marching, and spinning in a circle, but you could incorporate more challenging activities such as skipping, jumping forward, hopping on one foot, and walking backwards for preschool aged kids. 

Outdoor Playgrounds Around Town
Now that playgrounds are open again, take some time to explore some of the great playgrounds around Wichita. My favorite toddler playground down south is Madison Avenue Central Park. It has turf, so it doesn’t get muddy, and there are age appropriate swings and slides to play on. The Boundless Playground at Sedgwick County Park  has a huge toddler playground that is perfect for new walkers to navigate safely. It is also perfect for kids with mobility issues, as strollers or wheelchairs can easily be driven over the surface. Eastborough Park also has great toddler equipment. If you live out east, check out Andover’s Central Park. There is a sand box, toddler equipment with plenty of swings, and public bathrooms available.

Fine Motor Chalk Activities
While you are making an obstacle course out of chalk, encourage your child to practice drawing with chalk. The large chalks for sidewalks can be a bit difficult for little fingers to hold, so you might look for some chalkboard chalk to make it easier for them to learn to hold. If they grab the chalk with a fist, you can break it in smaller pieces. That makes it more likely that they will be able to practice a more mature grasping position. You can have them scribble on a variety of surfaces, from the sidewalk, to construction paper, or even paper towel rolls. You can dip it in water and see how it changes the chalk. Focusing on sitting to scribble for just a few minutes at a time is perfect for toddlers. 

Indoor Fine Motor Play with Household Items
There are so many activities that will keep toddlers busy that you can create by using your household items and re-imagining them to be lots of fun and educational. Tape empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls to the walls and slide items through. They will have lots of fun problem solving which items fit, and which ones don’t. You can place magnets on your cookie sheet or refrigerator and see which ones stick, and which ones don’t. Placing small toys or snacks in ice cube trays or muffin tins are a fun way to play, and give you lots of opportunities to talk about colors, shapes, sorting, and counting while working on their grasp.

Water Fun on the Patio
This article has some fun ideas for playing with water on the patio. Draw on the concrete with chalk, and let them use paintbrushes to erase it. You can make a nature soup by gathering leaves, flowers, rocks, dirt, or anything you can find to put in the water. You can have a toy wash, and clean your washable toys with dish soap and water in a bowl. 

Toddlers can have the most fun doing the most ordinary things. Allowing them to use their imaginations to explore the world is teaching them to think outside of the box, and take joy in the simplest of things. 

Written by Amy Foster.  Amy has been a physical therapist with Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services for more than 20 years.  She has helped bring potential to life for many children and families through the years.