2-3 Years

Two-year old children sometimes get characterized with a not-so-positive label called the “terrible two’s”.  Yes, a child begins to exert his independence around 2 years of age, but he also becomes engaged in conversation, able to reason, and starts socializing with others.  It really is a wonderful age!

Here are some activities you can do with your 2-3 year old.


Please note:  These activities are simply suggestions for what the author believes is appropriate for this age.  Please use your best judgement and consult your pediatrician when you have questions or concerns.

A Lesson on Sharing
Apple Graphing
Apple Star Stamping
Apple Theme Sensory Tub
Apple Toss
Autumn Tree
Balance Beam with “Fiery” Leaves
Bathtub Painting
Beach Scene
Biggest to Smallest with Dinosaurs
Bottle Cap Sorting
Building Block Towers
Butterfly Tie-Dye Craft
C is for Cow (Alphabet Craft)
Car Painting
Caterpillar Counting
Cloud Dough
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” Sensory Play
Counting Kisses Game
Day 1 of Creation:  Light
Day 2 of Creation:  Sky
Day 3 of Creation:  Flowers, Plants, & Trees
Day 4 of Creation:  Sun, Moon, & Stars
Day 5 of Creation:  Birds & Fish
Day 6 of Creation:  Animals & Man
Day 7 of Creation:  God Rested
Diffusing Toddler Temper Tantrums
Dinosaur D Alphabet Craft
Early Graphing Activity
Edible Playdough
“Feelings” Matching & Memory
Flashlight Spot-and-Tell
“Freeze!” Game
Hot Air Balloon

Hula Hoop Jumping
Icy “I Spy”
Indoor “Ice” Skating

Interactive Counting
Invent Your Own Indoor Kite
“I Spy” Activity Bottle

“I Spy” Mats
Jack-O-Lantern Shape Sorter
Pattern Train
Leaf Bracelet
Leaf Rubbing (Personalized)
Letter Recognition with Cheez-Its
Lick-and-Stick Stickers (DIY)

L is for Leaf
License Plate Rubbings
“Little Cloud” Activity
Little Helper

Making Rain
Matching Animals to Pictures
Measuring with Dinosaur Feet
Numbered Heart Game with Dice
Octopus O
Painting at the Pool
Paint Sample Rainbow Fan
Peach Pit Painting
Pedicure Stegosaurus
Pots and Pans “Puzzles”
Race-Car Snack
S is for Sunflower
Sand Numbers
Santa Says
Sensory Tub with Shredded Paper
Shape Chick
Simple Color Sorting
Snowflakes (Puffy)
Spaghetti Designs
Sponge Relay
Stoplight Beanbag Toss
Submarine Art
Sword Fighting
Ten Apples Up on Top (Literature Activity)
Throw a “Snowball”
Toddler Shoe Game
Turkey Toss of Thankfulness
Vertical Writing with Window Markers
W is for Window
Wordless Books:  Their Hidden Value

Here are some things to remember regarding the development of your “terrific” two-year old:

Gross Motor:  Prior to blowing out those three candles on the birthday cake, your child will most likely be able to throw a ball overhand, balance on each foot for 1-2 seconds, and jump up.  It is easy to lose sight of the importance of gross motor activities once she begins to participate in more “academic” activities, but make sure you encourage running, jumping, and climbing.  Not only are these necessary for building gross motor skills, but it also gives your child an outlet for all that excess energy.  :)

Fine Motor:  Your little darling should be able to build a tower with 4-6 blocks/cubes and gradually increase the number of blocks as her third birthday approaches.  Give your child lots of opportunities to color and paint, as this will also build fine motor coordination.  She should be able to draw a vertical line in imitation and eventually draw a circle as well.  Playing a game with tweezers and clothespins will also help to strengthen the muscles in the hand.

Language:  By your child’s second birthday, she will most likely be able to say at least 50 individual words.  She should be able to identify several body parts and follow a 2-step command without gestures.  As the year progresses, she will start to combine words and eventually speak in short sentences.  If your child is anything like mine, you will not be able to stop that little motor-mouth!  Encourage her love of language by talking to her and continuing to read her books.  Label things around your home so that she realizes that items can be identified by symbols as well.  Start teaching her about the alphabet in the context of other activities.  It is much more beneficial to teach letters along with another activity than just doing flashcards or watching an alphabet video.  She will also start to notice colors, again teach her those in context.

Cognitive Development:  Your child will begin reasoning during this year of her life.  Simple puzzles are perfect for two-year olds!  Work on positional words, such as in, out, up, down, under, over, etc.  Begin having your child sort groups–start off with just 2 groups of objects (such as colors) and then gradually increase the groupings as your child’s development progresses.  One-to-one correspondence is an important skill for preschoolers and one that probably won’t be mastered until shortly before kindergarten.  Encourage your child to “count” small groupings of items.  She will probably recount items she has already counted–that is totally natural at this point in her development.  Try holding her hand as you point to each item and line the items up so that there is a definite starting and ending point.

Social/Emotional:  Your child will take more of an interest in other children and will probably start modeling behaviors she sees during this year.  She should be able to recognize friends and name them.  She will start off the year still engaged in “parallel play,” where she enjoys the company of another child but instead of playing with her, she will by her.  As she nears her third birthday, you can expect that she will gradually begin to seek out playing with other children.  Don’t be surprised if she still plays by herself well after her third birthday.

Self-Help/Adaptive:  By your child’s third birthday, she will most likely be able to brush her teeth (although you will still want to help in order to ensure they are properly brushed), wash and dry her own hands, take off most of her clothes, and put on a t-shirt.  She may even be able to dress herself unassisted!  Hooray!  To save from having battles over what to wear, separate her closet space or drawers with play clothes and nice clothes.  Allow her the freedom to choose her clothing (within reason) from the corresponding side of the closet.

Spiritual & Moral:  Beginning around the age of 2, children will become enthralled with Bible stories.  Talk about God to your child.  Encourage her to pray for others who are sick or struggling.  Expect your child to obey your instructions.  We recently had my two-year old memorize Ephesians 6:1:  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  Children probably won’t understand when you reason with them about their behavior, but attempt to explain it nonetheless.  Children at this age or naturally self-centered (it’s not wrong, it’s a normal stage of development), so encourage her to show compassion and empathy to others by modeling it yourself.  Involve her in serving others–take a meal to someone in need, make a card for a sick friend, or visit a nursing home.  All of these activities help your child see that she should care about others.

*This section was written with the help of a family physician and the book What to Expect- the Toddler Years by Murkoff, Eisenberg, and Hathaway.

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