Amusing a two-year old
July 22, 2008 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for new things to amuse and delight a two-year old in an urban setting. Most activities are for slightly older kids, so other urban parents, any tips or tricks for fun activities we can do together? Bonus points for Boston-specific suggestions.

My toddler is like most kids her age - runs around at high speed, says some sentences, but doesn't really communicate in any deep way; she isn't easily scared, and is fascinated by the usual range of things from dogs to buses.

The playground, Children's Museum, local farm, and pet store have gotten a bit old for me (though not for her), and I am looking for any interesting suggestions of activities to do with her, either in or out of the apartment. She'll get bored during story hours, while arts and crafts projects are probably too ambitious. Any good ideas?
posted by blahblahblah to Human Relations (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Have you read through Go City Kids Boston?
posted by jeanmari at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2008

Jean - thanks for that, like the excellent Boston Central, most of the activities are really for slightly older kids, 3 and up, who can handle more organized events and understand them a bit better.

And I should clarify that any suggestions of fun father-daughter projects that would work with a two year old would be great, not just organized activities - I was a bit jealous of the father of the five-year old who was able to bake a cake with his kid in my MeFi FPP.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:27 PM on July 22, 2008

There is a story hour at most libraries, and at Zume's coffee shop in Charlestown. I know a couple of local day cares often bring the kids in tow.
posted by Gungho at 1:29 PM on July 22, 2008

My son at 13 months (and older daughter) really liked the Mystic Seaport Aquarium, so that sets the Boston Aquarium up as a target. The Franklin Park Zoo is also pretty nice. Plenty of room to run around and lots to see.
posted by plinth at 1:31 PM on July 22, 2008

My two year old just started Music Together and really likes it. There are plenty of Boston locations.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:36 PM on July 22, 2008

At two my kid was fascinated by cars, and we would sometimes pack a snack and spend an hour watching cars roll out of the automatic car wash, occasionally strolling into the carwash to peer into the windows so we could see the cars getting sprayed. Freight trains and railyards are similarly awesome -- just find a spot where you can watch them come and go.
posted by ldenneau at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2008

I have a three year old whose attention span is limited (unless there are trains involved). Some suggestions:
- Harvard's Museum of Natural History fascinated him at 2, and continues to fascinate. Free Wednesday mornings and Sundays.
- The aquarium is expensive but is generally slow on Sunday mornings. Plus you get to look at all the boats down there. (And the seals are free to see.)
- Riding the bus and subways is exciting. I let Toddler Cocoa get involved in seeing how much is on our card, putting it in the turnstile, etc. There's a double-decker tourist bus that's a change from the normal ride (the driver/tour guide cut us a break because we're locals).
- Haymarket
- Walden Pond, for both the walk/run on the path and sand play when we find a spot
- The sculpture park at DeCordova (and sometimes the exhibits inside)
- Rent a canoe at Charles River and bring a picnic lunch or snacks to eat on board
- The Museum of Science. There are things for every age here and the Toddler Room is really great. Worth the membership. Note that it often opens an hour later than the rest of the museum.
- I think Hancock tower is closed, but are parts of the Pru still free at the top?
- Making boats (we stick wooden skewers in Styrofoam or foam packing and call it done) and floating them at Boston Common/Jamaica Pond/the Arboretum/Forest Hills Cemetery's lake
- Kite flying can bring something new to the same-old playgound time
- Watching the trains at South Station then eating lunch or snack in Chinatown
posted by cocoagirl at 1:43 PM on July 22, 2008

*Spread out some towels on the kitchen floor. Fill up a shallow rubbermaid bin or similar container with water. Let her play. Fill with different kitchen tools (spatulas, cups, strainers, etc) or add some shampoo for bubbles. Variation - let her give her "baby" a bath or otherwise wash some of her own toys this way.

*Paint. Paint with pudding or yogurt if you don't want to get her started with real paints yet.

*Buy some clear contact paper and let her stick things (anything) to it. Cover with another piece of contact paper and voila! Insta-art with no gluing.

*Put dried pasta of various shapes into a container. Give her a second container and a spoon. Let her play.

*Take water and a bucket outside and paint the sidewalk or garage with water. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles are always good.

*Go for a walk. I don't know Boston but there must be a market area. Smell fruits and veggies and flowers. Look in store windows. Go slow, be patient, and she will show you amazing things.

*Have you checked local community centres for Toddler gym time? Little kids get to run and climb and play in a safe atmosphere. Gymnastics clubs often have this type of program as well, but more expensive.

*Swimming pools.

*Have a picnic in the park.

Must go pay attention to my own kids but I'll be back with more after bedtime.
posted by Abbril at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, Mr. Cocoa likes taking Toddler Cocoa to our small, local hardware store. They get "supplies" and then come home and play with them. (Eventually the parts make it to the basement for actual use later.) I think places like Lowe's are even better because it doesn't really matter if you make a lot of noise or take things out to playlook at them (I'm thinking things like wheelbarrows and sonotubes).
posted by cocoagirl at 1:53 PM on July 22, 2008

When my daughter was that age, the family went through a lot of yogurt. We washed and saved the containers. She and I could occupy several hours, me stacking the containers as fast and as high as I could, her knocking the stacks over. (Now, this might not be good training for when her buddies are building with blocks and are going to be distressed to see them knocked over, but my daughter never seemed to have an issue with that.)

You can do great cooking projects with a toddler if you adjust your expectations. And not just cookies either. We made sweet potato pie, pizza, all kinds of stuff. Get her hands real clean beforehand, then let her mix things and dump pre-measured quantities. You can work in some information about safety rules (oven, stove, sharp things) at the same time.

Does she like music? I used to put on some bombastic classical music and play "mad conductor" - using my whole body to conduct an imaginary orchestra. A kid that age might like to play along. Pick a piece you won't get sick of. Or try dancing together - Motown is a good style for energetic kids.

For organized group activities, try toddler gymnastics or swimming. Or a hands-on science class aimed at her age. My local science museum offers one called "Mud Pies" that's a big hit with preschoolers.
posted by expialidocious at 2:05 PM on July 22, 2008

The two year old I nanny and I are doing Music Together classes and she loves them.

She also loves anything to do with water - the Frog Pond is open for wading this time of year and there are several fountains that allow splashing as well.

Arts projects are super easy with two year olds, but you have to have reasonable expectations. One thing that I do with Little Schmoopy is to do drawings together of things that we did that day. Like, we go to the aquarium and I draw a penguin or a fish while she draws... well, what she draws. These are neat little reminders of time that you spent together and seeing you draw helps her figure out how to form images. Even just getting out some paint and big sheets of paper, two year olds can come up with some pretty awesome stuff. Also, art might hold her attention a lot longer than you think if what you're doing is open-ended and not end-result specific.

Little Schmoopy and I do a lot of baking together from mixes - nothing super fancy, but allowing her to pour in the ingredients and move the spoon around a bit thrills her to no end. Also when making cupcakes and muffins, I give her her own set of cups to "arrange" while I fill up the tray with batter and she LOVES it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:25 PM on July 22, 2008

Am I missing something? I'd say the Swan Boats and the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. How about the USS Constitution? Kids at that age aren't as jaded as we are. (And I've enjoyed all of the above.)
posted by Morrigan at 4:00 PM on July 22, 2008

Cardboard boxes. Bits of string. Fingerpainting. Dolls. Walk to the corner store with $3.00 in hand. Picking fruit from the neighbor's tree & eating it. (With permission.) Local petting zoo. Wagon ride down the sidewalk. Flying a kite. Building a teepee. Making sun-tea or lemonade. Hike in the park. Painting old clothes. Sidewalk chalk. Making a cake. Assembling legos. Planting seeds. Digging a hole at the beach. Learning a simple magic trick. And of course... painting a fence.
posted by MaxK at 1:55 AM on July 23, 2008

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