Teaching Toddlers at Home Using DIY & Everyday Items

I’m moving into the toddler phase with my firstborn and it’s nuts! Two-year-olds are the strangest creatures on the planet and they are so incredibly full of energy all the time! I’m finding out that teaching toddlers anything can seem impossible when they won’t even sit still for more than two seconds.

What I love about this stage, though, is that my little one is starting to pick up on things like colors, numbers, shapes and letters on his own and it excites him!

When I saw his interest in learning, my initial reaction was to go out and buy a bunch of stuff to help him, but I realized there are so many everyday items that I already have that are perfect teaching aids.

Here are all the good reasons for holding off on buying:

  • I like to save money wherever I can.
  • Toddlers break everything anyway.
  • Kids need less screen/battery time.
  • Every day items invite organic teaching moments.
  • I can get more use out of things I’m already buying anyway.

Teaching toddlers isn’t something that parents are trained for, so the idea can be a little intimidating. It’s probably the number one reason why the idea of technology is so alluring. It does the heavy lifting for you.

What’s helped me, though, is to really try to see things through his eyes. That’s when I started to see all of the every day items that I can use to help me. The initial impetus was his attraction to our recycling bin (which is really just a big diaper box from Amazon).

Cereal boxes, pasta boxes, you name it, he’s getting it out of the box! If I’m going to have the boxes hanging around anyway, why not use them? Here’s what I’ve found that really works:

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Teaching Toddlers with Printed Boxes

Teaching Toddlers with Incredibly Cleaver Everyday Items!

Printed boxes are great because they usually have a good mix of colors, numbers shapes and letters. They are generally bright and eye catching. When you break the boxes down, they typically have a color strip from the design file. These are a great place to start.

My toddler is interested in these boxes anyway, because it’s where he knows his food comes from. He also thinks he’s getting away with something buy getting them out of the recycling box (which he kind of is).

And, as long as I eat Reese’s Puff Cereal almost every day, there will be a never ending supply!

Graphic T’s, Quilts & Blankets

Kids blankets are another no-brainer. The variety of designs and patterms are endless.

Teaching Toddlers with Quilts, Blankets and Graphic T's.

My son just got an “I Spy” quilt that his Nana made. It’s covered in different, brightly colored animals. He happens to love snuggling under blankets, so this is another super easy teaching aid to bank on.

Baby Bottles, Clocks & Watches

I never thought to use a baby bottle as a teaching aid, but my little guy picked this one out on his own. For some reason, he’s been wanting to drink out of his baby bottle recently . . . (he actually just likes to squirt water out of it and thinks I don’t know what he’s doing, wink, wink).

Teaching Toddlers Numbers with Baby Bottles, Clocks & Watches!

He started pointing out the numbers on the bottle for measurements. Again, it’s something he interacts with on a regular basis and provides perfect, organic teaching moments.

The same goes for clocks and watches and even calculators (if anyone still has those).

Old TV Remotes

Ok, so, my kid will not stop taking the TV remote. He has old ones that we let him play with, but he somehow ends up with our current remote anyway. I’m sure it sounds like I let him get away with everything, but I’m just picking my battles, people!

Teaching Toddlers with Tools you Don't Have to Make & Already Have Lying Around the House.

This remote works really well, though, because there are big numbers and big, colored buttons. I sit with him multiple times a day and rehearse each number as he points to it, and tell him the colors of the buttons. So far, he knows 2, 9 and green.

You can do it!

This mom thing seems to be an ever changing adventure, but teaching toddlers doesn’t have to be a difficult challenge. It can be as simple as picking up an item you’ve got lying around and seeing it in a unique light.

There’s nothing like seeing the excitement in your child’s eyes when they start making new connections. As a mom who loves saving time and money, nothing could be easier or better than realizing all the tools I have right in front of me to help me teach my toddler!

What are some of your toddler teaching ideas? Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Geeky Daddy says:

    Some terrific and creative ideas! I have been using the TV remote for numbers with my toddler as well and match box cars for counting.

    1. Olivia Hall says:

      Match box cars! Great idea! Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Margaret@GrowingPlay says:

    Excellent ideas! And awesome that you are encouraging toddlers to unplug!

    1. Olivia Hall says:

      Thank you! Yes, finding a better balance with screen time is so important!

  3. Zaneta The Work At Home Mama says:

    I love this! Teaching our children through natural means is definitely the way to go. Great post!

    1. Olivia Hall says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback!

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