Advice Column, Parenting, Toddler

5 Hands-on learning activities to try with your toddler while you’re stuck at home

  • All4Woman
  • Category Advice Column, Parenting, Toddler

Here are five hands-on learning activities to get stuck into with your toddler or pre-schooler…

The global coronavirus pandemic and social distancing has most of us trading fancy-schmancy corporate gear for spit-up stained leggings, an almost-always reasonable boss for a pint-sized tyrant and nine-to-five working hours for a day that never.ever.ends.

All of a sudden; we’re feeding, comforting, playing and disciplining around the clock.

While you’ve probably already realised that staying at home all day with kids is anything but easy, it’s also incredibly special.

Besides being present for all those moments we usually tend to miss, we also have the opportunity to spark a love for learning in those busy little hands and inquisitive minds.

One of the ways to do this, is to introduce hands-on learning activities to them from an early age.

Hands-on learning

Hands-on learning provides a practical learning experience and requires active involvement from your child (note: not his or her helicopter mom). It sparks curiosity and allows for investigation, self-discovery and problem solving.

It also develops thinking skills and builds self-confidence.

Now, hands-on learning activities go against most moms’ control freak nature, but our role in these activities is not to take over the learning experience or overload with instructions – but to act as a guide, ask open-ended questions, and provide encouragement.

5 Hands-on learning activities to get stuck into

Here are five hands-on learning activities to get stuck into with your toddler or pre-schooler, as suggested by Karen Vidiluch form Crawford Pre-Primary North Coast:

  1. Creative art explorations: Provide a variety of materials and allow your child to explore and experiment with creating their own masterpieces. This helps to build creative expression, fine motor skills, and a sense of self-worth
  2. Block play: Set out a variety of blocks of different sizes and shapes. See what your child creates on his own. Provide a challenge, “Build a tower that can support the weight of this doll/ action figure/ book.” Block play is good at helping to develop basic geometry skills and an understanding of physics.
  3. Sensory play: Create a sensory area with different materials and textures. Watch how your child explore this area. Ask questions, “What does the bark feel like?” This helps to develop language skills.
  4. Nature area: Collect a variety of leaves, seeds, stones and sea shells. Allow your child time to handle these objects. “What are you holding in your hand? What does it feel like? Where did it come from? What does it do?”
  5. Sand and water play: Set out different sized containers, cups, colanders, funnels, spoons, etc. Watch how your child plays. Do they fill the containers? Do they pour the sand/ water into bigger containers? Mathematical concepts such as measurement, volume and capacity, number skills and fine motor skills are developed, as well as introducing them to physics.


Writer. Creative. Word-nerd. Aspiring photographer. Oh, and mom to the only little girl more demanding than me. Parenting editor at All4Women (e-mail me at

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