Our Current Favorite Frugal Toddler Activities

In the recent Simply Frugal survey I did, I received a few answers from readers saying they’d love to know what sort of frugal activities are keeping my daughter occupied. Since I like to read other bloggers posts that give me a peek into their daily lives, I thought I’d oblige!

A little background. My daughter will be three at the end of March 2015 (*sob*) so she’s starting to get more interested in activities that are more structured. Also, since having my daughter, I find I have to get out of the house at least once a day. Even if it’s going for a walk or getting groceries. I go stir crazy if I’m at home too long (says the girl who was a homebody before kids.)

I’m always looking for new frugal things to do with her but currently, these are our favourite things to do:


She loves craft time. She pretty much has free reign over the supplies I’ve picked up from the dollar store, Target (I’m going to miss that dollar section!) and various other stores. I have a plastic bin with paints, crayons, googly eyes (her fave), stickers, glue, ribbon and more just for her. She loves to make birthday cards and they’re a hit with the recipients 🙂 We’re going to give this craft kit a try on an upcoming road trip we have.

Dolls/Pretend Play

It’s so fun to watch since her pretend play is really starting to develop!  One of her favourite things to play with right now is dolls. She loves to take care of them: bathe, feed, play and dress them (with my help).  We also do a lot of pretend shopping trips with her grocery cart and play food. She also loves this Melissa & Doug food set. We have picnics with it and this LeapFrog picnic basket. Another thing she loves is a toy jeep and little people that my mom kept from when we were kids.

I don’t think my daughter has a ton of toys but when I do purchase something I like to invest in good quality with good playability toys. Most of them have been bought off Amazon, bought used (the best!) or given as gifts.

Sensory bins

This is something that I want to play around with more this year. So far the two bins that I’ve set her up with she loves. I can usually get almost 1/2 hour of independent play out of a bin.  That is amazing to me! One bin I made holds dried beans and small farm animals. The other is rice with plastic insects and pom poms. She loves to bury them and then dig them up.  Pouring from one bin to another is also fun. She’s past the age of putting random things in her mouth, but when she was younger I would keep a very close eye on her.  I love this post about Sensory Bins, it’s so thorough.

Involve Her

From a young age, I always tried to involve her in what I was doing around the house.  If I was cleaning, I’d hand her a damp cloth or her mini mop and she’d clean right beside me.  If I’m baking, I measure out the ingredients then have her pour them into the bowl.  When we’re out grocery shopping, I point out things she can put in the grocery cart. She loves to help unload the cart at the end and likes to help me pay by handing over the cash.  Sometimes it feels like a lot of work and makes things slower than if I were doing them myself, but I like the idea of what I’m teaching her. I think one day it will really pay off!


She’s not one to normally sit down by herself and start “reading” a book, but she loves her bedtime stories. Some of her current favourites are:

Throughout the next year, I want to start incorporating some learning activities that go along with the books.  This is an example of what I have in mind. Even if I don’t end up doing most of the activities, I like to have something planned for when her boredom strikes.


While I do go on walks with her, most of her walks happen with her Grandpa. (Such a blessing for me since I get a chunk of time to work!) They have so much fun walking to the park, our small airport to watch the planes and even the grocery store. She’s starting to get really observant of the things that are outside so I want to take her on a nature scavenger hunt using a simple guide I might find on Pinterest.


Currently this is the only outside activity that I pay for. She goes to a local drop-in so I only pay when she goes.  She has so much fun and burns off energy.

Free community programs

We used to attend a Mother Goose program but we’re going to start trying the Strongstart program offered at local schools. I think it will be more her speed and they usually have a variety of fun activities!  Story time at the library is also a hit.


Mainly this is an excuse for me to get out and visit my friends, but most of my friends have kids close to my daughter’s age that she enjoys playing with. In the summer months we meet once a week at a local beach to hang out and eat lunch. 🙂

So there you have it. A peek at our current favourite activities and toys. I hope I didn’t bore you to death and that at the very least you have gathered some ideas!

What are your current favourites at your home?