Depending on the disposition of your two-year-old, you may be in the midst of the most terrible or terrific time in her life! While you may not feel like it some days, this too shall pass. In the meantime, what can be done with a two-year-old to foster learning, make memories and help save your sanity along the way?

“Get down on the child's level, sit on the floor, or at their play table & do something that requires both of you using your hands, example, finger painting, water colors, play dough,” advises toddler teacher Dianna Vavrik. “Show them you remember how to play, giggle, and in general can be silly with them!”

Create a Craft

Toddlers love crafts and making messes! Messes can be cleaned up and the skills and fun your child will derive from these activities will be well worth the mess.

  • Strengthen fine motor skills by giving your child a variety of materials to write and draw with. Crayons, markers, colored pencils and different kinds of paper including notebooks, small pieces of scrap paper, even old wrapping paper will make drawing more inviting.
  • Give your toddler a pair of child-safe scissors and help her cut (with supervision of course). Old newspapers, magazines, or small pieces of ribbon are great for practicing beginning cutting skills.
  • Toddlers love stickers, and manipulating them is great for fine motor development. Let her decorate boxes, paper towel tubes or make her own sticker book. You don’t have to save everything: remember it is the process and not the product that's important for young children.

Amazing Acting

Young children love to imitate what they see you doing in your everyday life. Give her a few props and watch as she recreates your life before your eyes!

  • Create an area that can be used for acting. Include some costume pieces (hats and vests are great) and some simple household props (baby dolls, play food and dishes). Your child may be engaged for hours, especially if you play with her. Let her be the mommy while you be the child!
  • Act out favorite stories, rhymes and songs. The simplest props will do the trick and no costumes are necessary. You can make up your own ending to stories, too!
  • Have Dad or older siblings help you role-play behaviors that you would like to have your toddler change. Have her give ideas for better ways to handle different situations.

Bounce and Boogie

Toddlers are all about movement! Rather than fight it, embrace this wiggly time in her life by making it fun for the whole family.

  • Put on your favorite music and boogie. Surf the radio stations or your CD collection for different kinds of music and see what she likes. Talk about how some music is fast and some is slow. Move with the beat of the music and don’t be shy!
  • Create an obstacle course outside (or inside on a cold or wet day). Use items for crawling over, under and through. Jump, turn in circles, sit on a chair or whatever you and your child can think of. See how fast she can do the whole course and have her try to go faster each time she tries.
  • Make your own instruments using old cans, boxes and tubes. Add rice or beans, rubber bands or a spoon to create a fun homemade band. The classic pot and pan band is fun too (just a little more noisy!).

Learn About Language

Your child is at a critical moment for language development. Help build her vocabulary and prepare for reading and writing success.

  • Make a book by stapling a few pages of paper together. Write your child’s name on the cover (after all, she is the author and illustrator) and allow her to illustrate her book using crayons, pencils and markers. If she has a story to go with it, you can write down the words on the pages.
  • Read lots of books with your toddler. Make reading part of your daily routine and you will instill a love of reading in your child at a young age.
  • Make up silly rhymes as you go through the day. Nonsense words are funny to toddlers and rhyming games are wonderful for early literacy development.

Bounce, giggle, act and create your way through your child’s two’s! She will love to have your attention and her favorite activity is spending time with you. Keep her active and having fun, and this time will likely be one you will fondly remember and cherish.