Games for two year olds: these are the 20 best toddler games

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  April 13, 2022

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"Why? But why? Then why mommy and daddy?”

Your two-year-old Thunderstone is probably very curious about everything and exploring the world.

When it comes to entertaining your 2-year-old, often very little is needed.

In fact, for this age group that is constantly learning, less is always more.

Playing games with your toddler is not only fun but also stimulates the development of various skills.

We've rounded up the best playing tips for you, including expert advice and suggestions for games for two year olds that you can play (for free)!

First, let's take a quick look at how a toddler of the age of two likes to play:

Simplicity is key

Young children are still trying to figure out how the world works, so if you're looking for games to play with your two-year-old, skip things with complicated rules and choose activities that are simple and open to interpretation.

“The best games for 2-year-olds are the ones in which they create something themselves, usually with a parent, an older child, or another adult together,” said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive.

This can also be making your own game with, for example, a tea set, rolling balls around or building with square wooden blocks.

Any open-ended items such as blocks allow toddlers to create without rules.

Games shouldn't be right or wrong at this age, they should just be fun. Your child wants to feel free.

Be involved

Simple, repetitive activities can be mind-numbing for you, but they are the height of fun for your toddler.

"Toddlers learn the most from simple, engaging and interactive games," said Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, author of The Tantrum Survival Guide.

When parents and children play together, it's all about promoting connectedness, which is the foundation for everything else, especially learning.

The most important thing a parent can do is encourage a sense of comfort and security while playing with their little one.

In this way the child is free to work things out for himself and that is also nice to see as a parent.

While playing, make sure you:

  • Stimulates your baby
  • Guidance offers
  • Especially a lot of encouragement

The Tantrum Survival Guide and How Toddlers Thrive are (at the time of writing at least still) also available on Storytel, I wrote before here a Storytel review.

Include life skills

For kids who haven't yet mastered the art of sharing (read: all toddlers), Lisa Clegg, author of The Blissful Toddler Expert: The Complete Guide to Calm Parenting and Happy Toddlers, to teach a few life lessons to your toddler during playtime.

Toddlers don't pay much attention and many haven't yet grasped the concept of sharing, so it can be helpful to play games where you have to take turns. They learn that together play and socialize.

To prevent boredom in your two-year-old, make sure that no one waits too long for their turn.

Other life skills your child develops while playing are:

  • Creative / symbolic thinking and coming up with creative solutions
  • Increase abstraction ability
  • Language proficiency
  • Fine motor development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Cognition
  • Processing emotions / emotion regulation
  • Overcome fears
  • Strategic insight
  • Strengthen bond

Best games for a 2 year old

Ready to play? Here are a ton of games for toddlers that are sure to be a hit.

So the right game can improve your child's cognitive, physical and emotional skills.

Looking for hot and cold toys

Looking for hot and cold toys

Grab his favorite toy, one he always plays with. For example, hide it in a basket and then have him search the room.

When it strays from it, it is cold and as it gets closer it is warm, warmer, hot!

If he gets frustrated, you can hold his hand while he looks around.

This game improves your child's emotional skills:

  • he learns patience
  • perseverance
  • and the realization that just because you cannot see something does not mean it is not there.

One for you, one for me

Two toddlers sharing food at the table

Perfect for younger toddlers, this game teaches sharing in a playful way.

How do you play it? Easy!

  • Choose a number of objects, such as colored pencils, buttons, beads or marbles
  • Ask your child to divide the objects between you
  • Every time they put down an object they can say "for you, for me" or "one for you, one for me" etc.

Make sure you have a container each for your growing collections.

You can also do it with food, but that is a very big challenge!

Hokey-Pokey

Toddler throws right arm forward into hokey pokey

Another classic that is super fun to play and helps young children follow instructions and learn the names for its body parts.

The song "Hokey-Pokey" is simple with instructive lyrics. Playing is easy (you just do what the song says) and there are no losers!

“Throw your left arm forward and then back again
In, out, in, out, just throw it out
Do the Hokey-Pokey and spin around
Just stamp on the ground

Throw your right arm forward and then back again
In, out, in, out, just throw it out
Do the Hokey-Pokey and spin around
Just stamp on the ground

Ooooooh, do the Hokey – Pokey
Ooooooh, do the Hokey – Pokey
Ooooooh, do the Hokey – Pokey
Knee, stomach, arm, main role role role

And throw your left leg forward and then back again
In, out, in, out, just throw it out
Do the Hokey-Pokey and spin around
Just stamp on the ground

Throw your right leg forward and then back again
In, out, in, out, just throw it out
Do the Hokey-Pokey and spin around
Stamp on the ground”

etc, etc, and so on.

You can come up with all kinds of things yourself to move forwards and backwards or you can always set up Jus Roos from Youtube (on the kids app) to accompany you musically.

Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt challenges hidden little car and blue vases with yellow flowers

Is there anything more fun than a scavenger hunt with funny assignments† Send your toddler on the hunt for objects around the house through commands such as “find the…”, or “where is the…”.

Also nice if you have more of something like “point all…. On".

Hide and seek

Baby is hiding and toddler is looking behind a door

Also this game you need to make a little bit simpler to be fun for your 2 year old, but it already teaches your little kid problem solving skills by hiding from him!

My son really loved this and kept shouting "Huh?!?" if I was constipated again. And soon he started doing it himself, especially behind the curtains and then proudly presented himself with “Yes !!!”.

Or, if you'd rather not hide (or have done so a hundred times already), you can always ask them to hide an object in another room or a sneaky place of your choice.

You can then start looking. And vice versa is of course also possible.

There are also special toys to play hide and seek with such as this one from Miffy which almost everyone has had with a child between one and a half and three.

Or do you still have a noisy toy at home? Which parent not ?!

Instead of silently cursing the musical object every time it goes off, use that thing for it play hide and seek.

Have your little one leave the room, turn it on and hide it. Your 2 year old will love his yacht.

Obstacle course

Toddler who climbs on a crate and toddler who crawls through a tunnel

Promote gross motor skills, coordination and balance with a fun, safe obstacle course.

If space allows, you can set up a small track in your living room or outside in the garden to make your child roll, jump and run around, over or under objects or markers.

Every toddler loves navigating a mini (age-appropriate) obstacle course.

Hula hoops, cones, makeshift tunnels – the configurations are endless. And that also applies to the benefits of gross motor skills.

At two years old, it's best in the grass (or soft tile if you have those somewhere) so it's done safely and they learn to trial and error safely.

The first time my son didn't really want to, so we had safely built a small track inside and put down some of his favorite corn stalks. He loved it!

Healthy snacks on an obstacle course

Puzzles

Puzzles are great games for toddlers because they contain all the basic developments:

Toddler plays with puzzle at the table

  • Physical (from fitting the pieces)
  • Cognitive (solving the puzzle)
  • and emotional skills (learn to be patient)

Building a puzzle can also enhance your child's memory while learning about different shapes. It's a fun way to help him set (and achieve!) simple goals.

Stranger in our midst

4 wooden building blocks, one of which is a different color

Place a series of blocks of the same color for your 2-year-old and be sure to add at least one block of a different color (nice to do with small fruits or veggies or buttons, with anything really).

Once he's had a chance to see all the blocks, ask him which one is the odd one out.

You can make this game more difficult by using cards with pictures or sets of objects and then asking which ones are similar and which ones are different.

This usually works at a somewhat older age.

Picture lotto

Picture lotto

(view more images)

I love bingo with pictures or numbers because it is easy, fast and again a very educational game.

Kids don't have to wait long to get their turn and you can teach them things like colors, Numbers, letters and images.

View it here at bol.com

Roll and Play

Roll and play educational game for 2 year olds

(view more images)

Roll and Play will not only help toddlers sharpen their memory skills and learn their colors, they will also get a kick out of the activities they have to perform.

Roar like a lion? What 2-year-old said doesn't want that?

View the most current prices and availability here

First orchard

Haba first orchard game

(view more images)

In addition to being a quick game to play (about 10 minutes), Haba's First Orchard promotes a sense of togetherness and collaboration. Your toddler has to work together to pick the fruit before the raven reaches the end of the path.

Available here at bol.com

Funny faces game

Goki funny faces game

(view more images)

Goki's funny faces game is fun and silly, and it helps little ones develop a multitude of skills including fine motor skills, critical thinking and emotional intellect.

A perfect game for 2 year olds! Watch it here

Freeze dance

The freeze dance

Want to get your little one moving while showing him how to follow simple directions? Then do the freeze dance!

We are big fans of freeze dance in our house. My son is always genuinely surprised when I stop the music, and I love watching his cute moves!

It's fun to play with music that they get to know like the song Bumba, because he soon learns where the break is.

But you can also come up with a song yourself and pause at any time.

Memory

2 photos of toys on the table, but one is missing from photo 2

There is a fun variation on the classic memory game. Place some of your 2-year-old's favorite toys on a table.

Have him take a mental picture and then have him leave the room while you remove one of the objects.

See if he can guess which one is missing. In any case, he will be very happy when you put it back!

Run and chase

Toddler on the beach is chased by parents

Run and Chase is one of my favorite games for toddlers, and you don't need anything for it.

Let your child lead while playing, and it will let them know that no matter how far they run, you will always catch them.

It is a metaphor for life that lets them know that you are always there for them.

Football

Toddler with a soccer ball

Whether you have a real goal or an improvised goal, few 2-year-olds can resist kicking a ball to a designated spot.

I here at referee.eu I have already written about the nicest football goals that also include a number of small ones that your toddler can start with.

Scooping and sorting of lids

Toddler pour water into buckets

Another great outdoor idea is to fill a container with water, along with lids of different sizes and colors (lids on those food containers work perfectly).

Have the little ones scoop out the red and put them in a red container and so on. The best thing is if you have a few containers and lids with different colors so that they can mix and match and keep transferring.

Ideal for a hot summer day.

Throwing beanbags

Beanbags thrown near a hole

All you need are some bean bags and a bucket for them, or a trash can or something.

See if your little one can throw the bags in a container or bucket. And if he doesn't want to, well what 2 year old doesn't like toss?

Here you have a set for young children

Hide the object in the sand

Toddler plays with sand in his hands

Just like they love to hide and seek, toddlers love to hide and find objects or toys in sand (more sand games here), in play dough and under boxes.

This makes for a great game, open and close a box with a hidden toy. They love to find it again and again.

Chase the bubbles

Toddler is chasing bubbles in the yard

When it comes to 2-year-old games, I'm pretty old-school.

I think a child at this age will learn more by playing an engaging game of "chase the bubbles" in the grass than by something billed as an educational game.

You can't go wrong with this classic, and I've written about it before the nicest bubble blowing toys.

Conclusion

When it comes to this age group, there really is no need to spend a lot of money or make things more difficult than they are.

You've probably heard the saying that kids are like sponges, this is especially true of toddlers.

Two year old kids are always absorbing new things. Their main learning mode: playtime.

They start out by playing side by side next to you and others (called parallel play) and then move on to more interactive things, where they engage with and absorb information from their playmates.

The right games can improve your child's cognitive, physical and emotional skills, so start early to try out everything that excites him or her.

Also read: these are the best ball games to do with your toddler

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.