When looking at developmentally appropriate activities for children it is important to remember there are building blocks to learning. A child can not jump to writing and reading without first understanding these concepts even exist.
I recommend going to www.naeyc.org (National Association for the Education of Young Children) and reading some articles and perhaps purchasing books on appropriate activities for toddlers.
Toddlers need to learn how to palm and then pincer grip in order to hold and eventually control a crayon or pencil for writing. Encouraging free drawing (even if its scribbles) helps with this gross motor to fine motor transition.
Toddlers are in a sensory developing stage. Introduce audio, visual, tactile, smell and taste activities. scented playdoh, sand, water, goop, sandpaper, water and finger painting, sound games etc are wonderful for developing these sensory processing parts of the brain.
Heavy weight activities like pushing large trucks, rearranging furniture, pushing a toddler bike, lifting and carrying are very important to their precioperative development.
Music and movement is also a great way to expond some energy and learn balance with coordination.
Reading Reading Reading - very important. Label everything in your house with a picture and one word. Door, Bed, Kitchen, Backyard, Dog, Cat, Stairs, etc. Gives toddlers the understanding that what we say is also written. Gives them the word to the visual picture.
Teach everything has a place - encourage and help them to put things away to learn structure and appropriate behavior
Organize objects by color, shape, type, size. Give your toddler a large bucket of objects and help them sort. Then leave the bucket out so they can manipulate it when they feel like it. Girls do this more then boys but be open. You never know what will spark in a child when given an intentional environment.
I hope this helps. Shannon Sutton Owner/Director Brighter Future Learning Center, Lakewood, CO