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If you'd rather not spring for the latest trendy toy or spend money on yet another action figure based on the latest movie, don't worry – your toddler can have plenty of fun without them. Spending time with you is the most important thing to your child, and you can do plenty of fun activities together that won't cost a bundle. Here are a few ideas to get started.
Go for a ride
Toddlers love transportation, especially if it's a departure from the car seat. Check out your local airport or hospital – many have a free shuttle or tram that you can ride as often as your little one's heart desires. If you don't usually travel by bus, check your local bus system and take a spin around town, enjoying things from a thrilling new vantage point.
Borrow a tip from kid-friendly restaurants and let your toddler play with a satisfying hunk of pizza dough. Not too sticky and not too runny, it's the perfect consistency for little fingers. Get some from your local grocery store or pizza parlor or mix up your own.
Getting to use a rolling pin is the icing on the cake for this activity (or, shall we say, the cheese on the pie). If you're feeling motivated, you can bake a pizza with the rest of the dough while your child plays with her portion. Otherwise, simply freeze or refrigerate the rest for future playtime.
Get into a rhythm
Fill small plastic containers with rice and beans to create homemade maracas. (Be sure to use sturdy tape to hold the lids down and ensure a tight seal.) Then put on some music and dance, dance, dance! You can also turn plastic buckets upside down or use empty coffee cans (the kind with a plastic lid) as a drum set if your toddler wants to play along with the music instead of dancing. Roll up some paper or use empty cardboard tubes for trumpets, and soon you'll have a whole band!
It's a plane!
Check with your local airport to see whether it has an observation tower – or a room with huge windows where your toddler can watch planes take off and land. Bring along some lunch and enjoy the show.
Although your toddler isn't yet old enough to use an electric mixer or flour sifter, he may be ready to be put in charge of the sprinkles department. Bake a batch of cookies, and let him have at them with a container of sprinkles. You'll probably end up with several bare cookies and a few heavily sprinkled ones. Don't forget to take a picture!
Find more fun activities to do with your toddler.