This is a sponsored post.

PicMonkey Collage

Although we don’t live in a climate that guarantees we’ll be stuck indoors all winter, there are definitely more days than not that it’s too cold to venture outside – especially with new baby Claire!  It can be challenging to think of new games and activities for a busy toddler. So I thought I’d share the details of my favorite standbys (and an awesome monthly subscription service called Kiwi Crate), and then you guys can give me some suggestions, too.  Maybe we’ll end up with an amazing list of games and crafts for our little ones to do this winter!


Idea #1: Kiwi Crate Deliveries


I just got to test out a Kiwi Crate delivery, and I already know I’m going to sign up for a subscription. I may get a yearly box for my best friend’s kiddo, too – it would be a wonderful holiday present and way more fun than a toy that she’d get bored with in a month! 


Basically, it’s a monthly subscription service that provides all the materials for a creative, educational series of age-appropriate crafts and games (the boxes are targeted towards 3 – 4 year olds, 4 – 8 year olds, 9 – 14 year olds, and 9 – 16 year olds). The subscription includes free shipping and can be shipped to US and Canadian locations.  Each month, there is a different theme – this month’s 3 – 4 year old box was colors!


The box included materials for three suggested activities – watercolor paint, crayons, colored screens, a color block for a color-seeking game, string and paper triangles to make into a banner, and more.





The paint was, in particular, a huge hit with Henry, who at 2.5 is juuuust getting into the idea of using a paintbrush.  He had SO much fun testing the crafts, which will provide hours of activity.  I LOVE the idea of getting an organized box sent to my house – it’s instant fun!  It’s aweeeesome that I don’t have to plan and shop for new ways for Henry to learn and play; it just shows up at my door.  With a newborn in the house, this is going to be more valuable than ever.


Kiwi Crate plans start at $16.95 a month (and you can do a “sibling ad-on” options so the boxes are “no fight”). If you want to try Kiwi Crate out for yourself (or as a gift – what an awesome present for a kiddo!), click HERE and use the code HTP60 to get 60% off your first crate!!   You can see examples of popular past Kiwi Crates right here – it’s a really cool concept!


Idea #2:  Bathtub Painting


This is especially great if your toddler is a bit young, as normal fingerpainting can get messy fast.  I simply put a diapered Henry in the bathtub and hand him some paint – sometimes, it’s real fingerpaint, and sometimes, as in the photo above, it’s actually ketchup!  Mustard works, too. I love this activity because it’s totally messy fun but very, very easy to clean up. 


Idea #3: Help You Cook

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While you can let your toddler ‘help’ you with a lot of baking and cooking, so much of it has to be very closely supervised (like measuring and dumping flour and sugar for cookies). But I’ve found a few cooking activities that don’t require me to be on top of him through the whole process – which is nice because I can multitask washing the dishes or cooking the main part of the meal. He loves to: 1) cut a peeled banana into slices with a butter knife and 2) take pre-chopped potatoes, broccoli, carrots, or other roasting veggie and dip each into a bowl of oil and then place the piece onto a cooking sheet. Also – he’s more willing to eat the vegetables he ‘cooked’ himself.


Click through for 5 more fun ideas!

Idea #4: Sweep Into a Square


I got this idea from all my Montessori reading – basically, the activity teaches self-reliance (i.e. cleaning).  But really – I think Henry likes it because it seems like a sport.  I mark off a square tile with painter’s tape and crumble up some papers, and he uses a kid-sized broom or his plastic vacuum to push the trash into the square.


Idea #5: Organize Blocks in New Ways



Building towers is cool, but we like to play with our blocks in other ways, too.  He’s getting pretty good at sorting by color, and we’re working on sorting by shape, which is definitely harder.


Idea #6: Lacing Games


I just blogged about finding these wooden lacing beads in the $1 section of Target.  They are really fun to mess around with (we made the dogs necklaces!) but also encourage dexterity.  The strings are too hard for him right now, so we use pipe cleaners.  I also bought him some lacing/tracing wooden animals (you run a shoelace around a wooden shape) for Christmas – I hope he likes them!  I think they’ll be a good car toy once he figures them out.


Idea #7: Cotton Ball Drop


Henry is a bit too old for this now, but it was a huuuuge hit when he was younger (I re-created the activity because it’s hard to explain without a photo!). I’d use painter’s tape to put cardboard tubes of different shapes on the wall, and then he’d drop cotton balls down the top.  I think he enjoyed seeing it disappear and then reappear on the floor over and over again. 


Idea #8: Water Sorting


And last, but not least, Henry LOVES water sorting at the kitchen counters.  This is a “game” that I bust out when I need to cook uninterrupted.  It can be messy, but there’s not a ton of water, so it isn’t too bad.  The key is putting a towel under the bowls.  He shifts water from one bowl to the next with cups.  He also uses a syringe to suck up the water and move it from bowl to cup.  Inevitably, he ends up drinking a LOT of the water – so it’s also a good way to get him to hydrate!


What’s your favorite indoor toddler activity?


This post is sponsored by Kiwi Crate.  Thanks for reading sponsored content – I try to make it engaging and fun, and I always appreciate your interest, as this is how I help support my (growing!) family.



  • Courtney! December 8, 2014, 10:44 am

    These ideas are so cute! Kiwi Crates is one of those ideas that I’m just jealous I didn’t come up with first. It’s genius! I don’t have any kids yet, but I had to read just to figure out WHAT was going on in that slightly gruesome looking bathroom photo! 😀

  • Breanne December 8, 2014, 11:16 am

    I can’t get the code to work. I’d love to try one! Claire is beautiful btw!!


    • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 11:29 am

      Do you mean the promo code HTP60? Let me check with Kiwi Crate to see what’s wrong.

      Here’s the link to sign up though –

      • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 11:34 am

        I just signed up for my six months and used the code and it worked!

        • Kayla December 8, 2014, 11:57 am

          Hmm, I also couldn’t get the code HTP60 to work either. It says it is not valid or expired. If you hear anything, please let me know; I love to order one as a gift for someone I know!

          • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 11:58 am

            That’s so weird because it just worked for me. Did you enter it at the end with the credit card info? That’s where it worked for me. Try that!

        • Kayla December 8, 2014, 12:02 pm

          I tried to use it at the end right when I was checking out. I wonder if it is because I am buying it as a “guest” as I don’t have an account with them.

          • Laura T. December 8, 2014, 5:00 pm

            I’m trying to use the code as well and it’s working but it’s taking $12 off a 3 month subscription – is that right or should it be taking 60% off the $60?

          • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 6:28 pm

            Oh, the 60% off only applies to the FIRST box (so 60% off $20), and does not apply to the other boxes if you order multiple months at once.

  • Rachel December 8, 2014, 11:53 am

    Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! A family friend is due to give birth any day now and I would love to give her a new mom gift for her, since her registry was completely fulfilled for the baby. You might have written about this in an old post after you had Henry but would you mind sharing a few suggestions you would appreciate as a new mom? I’d like to put together a goodie bag. Thanks!

    • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 11:54 am


      Get her a wubbanub.
      Lots of healthy bars like larabars
      Some pretty burp clothes (you can seriously never have enough)
      A pack of diapers
      Maybe Freddie the Firefly? Henry loved that.

      • Rachel December 8, 2014, 12:35 pm

        Thanks very much!

  • Kathleen Ojo @ My Ojos December 8, 2014, 11:57 am

    Great ideas! I think I’m going to try the banana chopping and water sorting things this evening. Trying to cook dinner after work is a PAIN, even with all the meal prep I do on the weekends. My daughter really wants engagement and attention then, and I struggle to find ways for her to help or play independently near me that don’t involve a screen. Thanks for the inspiration! I hope your recovery is going well and you’re enjoying the time with your two little ones!

  • Alison December 8, 2014, 11:58 am

    What great ideas, I am expecting a second on early next year and these will come in handy on the days I have my daughter home from daycare.
    P.S. Clair is beautiful…

  • Lauren December 8, 2014, 12:46 pm

    Thinking about getting Kiwi Crate as a gift for my friend’s son (same age as Henry – 2.5!). Would you say these activities are easy, and the child can work on it relatively self-sufficiently? Of course, always under supervision! But I just wasn’t sure how hands on it was for the grown-up as well as the child 🙂

    • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 1:36 pm

      Some yes and some no. The activities come with a card that describe how much parental involvement is required for each one.

  • S December 8, 2014, 12:47 pm

    So many neat ideas that I never would have thought of! It’s good you have some of these on hand to use when you need to nurse Claire or something else. I am loving the Kiwi Crate! Great gift idea!

  • Lekki Wood December 8, 2014, 1:18 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. SO MUCH. I am sometimes so stuck on what to do with my 2 year old – as is his SAHD. Putting velcro on buttons and then making velcro shapes for him to stick them on (or on numbers) is super popular with my little one – but that is all I have come up with!!

  • Keri December 8, 2014, 1:39 pm

    Super excited to try the cotton ball activity with my almost one year old! I bet he will love it! We’re a bit behind you with interest in abilities since my little guy is 10.5 months, but these are a few of the ideas that work well for us (in case any moms have younger littles):

    Nesting bowls and measuring cups. He loves stacking these and “sorting” them.

    Pots and pans and a spatula–to make tons of noise.

    Big plastic tupperwares full of different sensory items (different pasta shapes, cotton balls, grass, pine needles, etc. Messy, but entertaining for him.

    I give him washed whole foods to play with too–pumpkins, squash, potatoes, etc.

    And I totally would love other ideas from you & any other moms of one year olds!

  • Amanda K. December 8, 2014, 1:55 pm

    These look very cool. I noticed they also have a Koala Crate for 3-4 year olds…since you mentioned that Henry is just now getting the hang of painting, etc., do you think the Koala Crate would be more age appropriate (I’m asking bc I’m considering getting one for my nephew!)

    • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 4:03 pm

      Yes he had the koala crate version. Definitely go with the right age range!

  • Dominique Bain December 8, 2014, 2:12 pm

    Cool ideas. My two and a half year old loves to wash her toy car. It is cold here and we don’t have much of a yard, so I just put towels down on the kitchen floor and a bucket of water and a little bit of soap. She also love to do bike maintenance – meaning she pretends to fill her tires with the bike pump. We did bean sorting with a couple of funnels for a while (but eventually I was sick of picking up beans and hid the funnels). We’ll have to get them out and try water.

  • Melanie December 8, 2014, 2:23 pm

    This is great thanks!! One idea I saw on a website recently that I thought looked fun was to take a a board or piece of cardboard and glue zippers to the board. Toddler can then have fun zipping and unzipping..

  • Micki December 8, 2014, 3:09 pm

    I love these ideas. Just be very cautious with ketchup! It can be incredibly acidic and cause burns to the skin after it sits for awhile. Without getting into details, I learned this during a college homecoming activity where we were doused with flour, ketchup, mustard, etc. Those who were first in line had a longer wait and the ketchup burning your skin is vicious!

  • Kath Eats December 8, 2014, 3:23 pm

    Great ideas!!!

  • Elizabeth - Cooking with Milton December 8, 2014, 3:43 pm

    I used to be a nanny in Boston (where it’s cold ALL THE TIME), so I managed to come up with a few “inside the house day” ideas. A favorite was I got a roll of banner paper and then cut out a few “things” shapes (a car, a house, people, etc), put them on sticks, and then they made a background for them and could kind of create a show with the stuff on sticks. It was some up front work for me, but not a ton. We also used the banner paper to make actual banners (great for if grandparents, etc are coming – a “welcome grandma” banner is a hit). I would do big bubble letters that they could color/decorate. We also once made an entire Angry Birds game out of cake – tiny cupcakes for the birds, regular sized ones for the pigs, and then made houses/structures from strips of sheet cake. However, I wouldn’t really recommend that for you for right now – the boys I watched were older and I might have gone temporarily insane.

  • Jessica Mumford December 8, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Can you recommend some Montessori books?

    • Caitlin December 8, 2014, 4:02 pm

      I haven’t found a book that I LOVE but I love the FB group montessori on a budget.

  • Sarah December 8, 2014, 4:02 pm

    This sounds like an awesome subscription! I’m due in March with my 2nd and I’m thinking this might be baby sister’s present to Sam who will turn 3 shortly after she’s born. I also LOVE the sweep into the square idea- trying it this afternoon!

  • Kat @ Where the Sidewalk Ends December 8, 2014, 5:29 pm

    What an amazingly helpful post! I don’t have a kiddo yet (but will in 15 weeks!) and am already bookmarking this post. I also won’t lie, I keep checking back for your birth story, as I’ve read Henry’s a few times when I get nervous and am doing Bradley Method starting in a few weeks, due mostly to your experience!

  • Sharon@DiscoverExploreLearn December 8, 2014, 6:47 pm

    Such great ideas! I’ve been debating the whole subscription box thing for awhile now. I think I need to just do it. I know my boys will adore it.

    Here are a few ideas for toddler activities that we’ve done – super simple and most of them use items you probably already have around the house.

    Congrats on your sweet little girl. She is absolutely beautiful!

  • Janis December 8, 2014, 7:10 pm

    I’m a Montessori PreK teacher and you’ve hit on some fun practical life skills!
    Some great Montessori blogs and Pinterest sites you could check out for more awesome fun toddler “jobs” Google Montessori practical life activities

  • Mika D December 9, 2014, 11:23 pm

    Congrats on the birth of Claire Joy AND this post. I just ordered a Koala Crate for our 2 y/o! I know he’ll love it.

  • Lisa December 16, 2014, 2:08 pm

    These ideas are great! Thank you for sharing. My little one is only 6 months right now but I love the idea of learning while playing

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