Activities and Games to Keep Little Hands and Minds Busy – Part 2

Finding activities to keep an older child busy isn’t really that hard. Young toddlers like Gareth, however, is a different story altogether…

In a bid to help reduce his screen time, I have been desperately trying to find activities to engage Gareth. With the onset of the terrible twos, keeping Gareth away from the TV and iPad has been more challenging than ever. Although Gavin has had more than his fair share of screen time when he was little, getting him away from a screen has not been difficult. The older he grows, the easier it is. I suspect we could minimise it even further if it weren’t for Gareth demanding to watch the TV every time he claps eyes on it. I fear that Gareth may have a harder time giving up the TV as he grows older so in between re-runs of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I try to find other things for him to do that do not involve a screen. Ironically, one of the toys Gareth enjoys playing with most is Gavin’s Fun Thinkers Grid:

He likes to count the numbers as he puts the squares into the grid because he seems to have a deep fascination for numbers at present. I wonder if part of his eagerness to play with this grid has something to do with the fact that it is his brother’s? Gareth likes anything that belongs to Gavin, especially the stuff that he is normally not allowed to play with.

Our next hit were the foam alphabets and clock puzzles I found in Daiso:

Of course that was before I read the article on health risks associated with foam mats. Since we had them for weeks already, it was pointless to throw them away.

I also copied a few Montessori activities from TweedleWink that Gareth really enjoyed – developing the pincer grip by placing coloured
pom poms into ice cube trays:


I also bought some felt buttons and shoe laces (thin round laces) for the threading activity (a little too advanced for Gareth right now but something for him to grow into):


You can get all this stuff at Daiso for RM5 each.

My SIL also bought Gareth the Melissa & Doug Sort and Snap which teaches toddlers colour matching:

What I like best about this activity is that there are number of ways you can use the board. Toys are expensive these days so it helps to get toys that can have extended use or are multi-functional. Aside from colour matching, Melissa & Doug Sort and Snap helps to develop motor skills, colour memory (flip the card over to the black and white image and try to remember which where each colour goes), create your own creative patterns, play quantity activities, and more. The activity comes with an instruction sheet detailing all the games you can play with it.

Incidentally, the colour memory activity is not unlike the right brain Mandala activity so there’s another way you can implement Mandala.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Activities and Games to Keep Little Hands and Minds Busy – Part 2

    1. Thanks Michelle – great link. Have seen some really great ideas on 1+1+1+1 as well. Now I really wish we had our own place so I could have a place to set out my own tot trays…


  1. It has helped to increase her concentration when you find the activity that hits their sweet spot!! At the moment she likes pouring water into everything and playing with her sensory tubs which usually only include rice or beans.


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