It’s not too early to try toddler science activities with your little one! Don’t think of it as education. Instead, think of it as new ideas for having fun. You’ll be teaching new words and showing off neat experiments. Have fun with your child even if they don’t seem to get it. They are soaking in information all the time. All of these activities can be done with everyday items and they are quick to setup, making it easy to whip out some toddler science activities any time you’re looking for fun things to do with your kid.
- Sink or Float – This is one of my favorite toddler science activities. It’s a great game for in the bathtub, sink, water table, or just a big pot of water. Gather a collection of small toys and objects and fill your chosen container with water. Try to guess whether an item will sink or float then see if your guesses are right. Talk about what the sinking things have in common and what the floating things have in common.
- Settling in water – Fill a jar partially with water. Help your child add a handful of dirt to the water. Talk about how the dirt made the water murky. Now put a lid on the jar and set it aside until the dirt settles. Talk to your child about what happened to the dirt, then let them shake it up again and repeat the process. Play again with other materials like sand or glitter.
- Heavy or light – Gather together several objects, like a rock, a ball, a stuffed animal, and a book. Talk about which ones are heavy and which ones are light. Sort the objects into different categories. Use the words light, lighter, lightest, and heavy, heavier, heaviest. Make a funny game of trying to pick up things like your couch – too heavy!
- Heavy and light eggs – This activity lets you explore heavy and light even when all the objects appear the same. Take some plastic Easter eggs and fill them with different materials to make them different degrees of heavy. For example, you could have one empty one, one with some rice, and one full of coins. Tape the eggs closed. Work with your child to figure out which ones are lighter and which ones are heavier. Can you place them in order from light to heavy?
- Magnets – Make a small collection of magnetic things for your child. Some ideas are paperclips, jewelry items, a lid from a jar, an eyelash curler, a screwdriver, nuts and bolts, a key ring, a binder clip, or a battery. Put these items on a baking sheet, along with some refrigerator magnets. Show your child how they connect. Talk about what’s happening, and play around with putting the things together in fun and interesting ways.
- Magnet hunt – Take the best or biggest magnets from the previous game and go on a hunt around the house for bigger magnetic items. Try the refrigerator, door knobs, and hinges. See what all you can find!
- Rock Crystals – In a small glass bowl half full of water, mix in salt a few tablespoons at a time until no more will dissolve. Then add a tablespoon of vinegar and fill the bowl with porous stones or charcoal. Leave it in an out of the way place for 2-3 days before taking it out to observe that crystals have started to form. Let your child touch the crystals and talk about their shapes, colors, and where they came from.
- Outline anatomy – Have your child lay down on a piece of butcher paper and trace their outline. Now take crayons and color in different body parts, talking about all the words we have to talk about the body – nose, eyes, mouth, ears, elbows, knees, belly button, fingers, ankles, and so on.
- Color explosions – Fill a glass cup, jar, or pitcher with warm water. In another bowl, mix a few tablespoons of oil with several drops of food coloring. Suck the mixture up into a medicine dropper or turkey baster. Let your child slowly squirt the mixture into the warm water, watching the explosions of color. Talk about the different colors and the shapes they’re making in the water. Play with multiple droppers with different colors and watch how the colors mix in the water.
- Tiny volcanos – Big kid science can become toddler science activities, too. Here’s a scaled down classic! Cover a baking sheet with baking soda. Fill a medicine dropper or turkey baster with vinegar and let your child squirt it onto the baking sheet, causing tiny little reactions in the baking soda.
- Forest or ocean – This activity requires you to print photos of animals, cut them out of magazines, or look at them together on a computer. You will want to prepare in advance. Choose animals from two different habitats, such as a forest (deer, rabbit, squirrel) and the ocean (fish, sharks, whales). If you live in a particular area like a desert or a prairie, use animals from that habitat. Look at the pictures of animals together with your child, and use the words – forest or ocean – to talk about them. Ask your child, Where does this animal live? and help them classify the different animals. On another day, you can use a different kind of area like jungle or lake.
After you’ve tried these toddler science activities, are you still needing more? Check out 63 Things To Do With Your 2 year Old
- Discovery ice – Freeze small toys into ice cubes and let your child have fun getting the toys out. Perhaps they will want to use a hammer or throw the ice cubes outside. Another option is to give them a squirt bottle with warm water to squirt onto the cubes and melt them.
- Ice block – You can extend the discovery cube idea by freezing an entire block full of toys. Use a pot or large plastic food storage container to freeze a big block of ice full of toys. When it’s frozen, take the block outside and have a great time trying to get the toys out.
- Snow bin – If you have snow outside, you can extend the snow play by bringing a bin inside. Scoop or shovel snow into a large container and bring it in to an area of the house that’s okay for getting wet. Take it all the way to the bathtub if you like. Now help your child play in the snow, perhaps making tiny snow people. Hurry before it all melts! Talk about what snow is made of, where it comes from, and what happens to it when it’s gone.
- Light and shadow – When you are outside in the sunshine, point out your child’s shadow. Show them that you have a shadow, too. Where do shadows come from? Point out the relationship between the sun, the person, and their shadow. Ask questions – Can you step on your shadow? What does your shadow do when you move? What other things have shadows?
- Shadow shapes – Shadows make for perfect toddler science activities! In a dark room set up a lamp. Between the lamp and the wall, make shapes with your hands and the shadows they make on the wall. You could make monster hands, birds, butterflies, and anything else you can think of!
- Indoor breeze – Tape lightweight fabric to a table so that it hangs freely off the side of the table. You can use a bed sheet, scarves, or ribbons, for example. Point a fan towards the fabric. Watch how it flows and flutters, and talk about wind.
- Fan voices – Set up a box fan and turn it on high facing away from you. Now talk and make sounds into the fan. Talk about how the fan distorts the sound of your voice. Encourage your child to make sounds into the fan and have a big joyful reaction when you hear the sound. Try it out with different sounds and pitches.
- Ball slide – Collect various sizes of balls. Using a playground slide or a ramp made from a board, throw the balls so they go up the slide. Talk about how gravity brings them back down. Which ones go faster or slower? Slide them from the top, too.
Now… what are YOUR family’s favorite toddler science activities?