3 Easy Activities to Boost Creativity in Toddlers

December 19, 2017

In between dreidel spinning, cookie baking, and holiday meals, there will be a moment when your toddler looks up at you and asks "now what?" Luckily, the experts at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) have your answer with three fun and easy brain-boosting activities for toddlers and their older siblings. 

For another opportunity to develop your toddler's creativity, enter here to win a free three-week family class at BADM.

Ice Exploration

Ice Exploration

There’s often more than one way to complete a task, but through trial and error, the best strategy emerges. In this activity, children will test out different tools as they try to excavate objects frozen in ice. This activity is intended for ages 2 and up, and is recommended for one or more participants. 


  • Items to freeze, such as leaves, shells, sticks, rocks, pennies, etc. 
  • Plastic containers of different shapes and sizes that can be used to freeze the items in
  • Large bowls or flat plastic tubs
  • Toothbrushes or nail brushes
  • Eyedroppers
  • Salt
  • Towels
  • Flashlights
  • Water


  • Place items like leaves, shells, rocks, and pennies into plastic containers filled with water. Place containers in the freezer. 
  • Once frozen, pop out the ice cubes and place them into a large bowl or flat plastic tub. 
  • Look at the materials available as tools, and determine which will be best to excavate the items from the ice. Things to consider:
    • How will you use each tool?
    • What do you think will happen when you use each tool?
    • What other tools can be used?
    • What other techniques can be tried?

Links to Creativity

This activity requires both flexibility and persistence, which are cognitive and affective components of creativity. Children must remain persistent in the task, but also need to be willing to change their problem-solving tactics if necessary. Both divergent and convergent thinking are essential to successfully complete the excavation. Divergent thinking produces a multitude of potential excavation methods, while convergent thinking is utilized to decide on the method that is most likely to be successful. The cycle between divergent and convergent thinking gives birth to the creative thinking process.  

Life Size Coding

Life-Size Coding

Children take turns being a programmer and acting as the computer as they play on a life-size game board. In this group activity, children can learn about programming while practicing their communication skills. This activity is intended for ages 2 and up, and is recommended for two to four participants. 


  • Chalk
  • Index cards
  • Markers


  • Using chalk, set up a life-size game board in the shape of a grid on a sidewalk, driveway, or large open space. Draw different colored shapes—such as a purple diamond or a red circle—on the index cards and place them throughout the grid. See the example below for inspiration:
  • Select one player to be the computer and another to be the programmer. 
  • The computer begins by standing on the game board, in a square chosen by the programmer. The computer will move around the board based on exact instructions given by the programmer. For example, the programmer might say, “Two steps forward,” and the computer will move two squares directly forward on the grid. Or the programmer might say, “Turn right,” and the computer will turn to the right.
  • The programmer guides the computer to a specific index card using the following commands: “Turn right; Turn left; Forward __ squares; Back __ squares.” Each command can be repeated however many times it takes for the programmer to guide the computer to the intended destination.   
  • Take turns switching between who is the programmer and who is the computer.

Links to Creativity

Flexibility and an openness to new experiences are essential for creativity. Both programmers and computers must be flexible and ready for a new challenge. Working closely with a partner encourages collaboration and enhances communication skills. Children must adapt to novel constraints (such as the constraint of having to move within the grid) in order to successfully complete seemingly simple tasks. 

Cardboard Challenge

Cardboard Challenge

The holiday aftermath is a perfect time to take on a cardboard challenge! Using boxes of different sizes and shapes, construct a unique creation and then make up a narrative to go along with it. Maybe your creation is a new kind of household pet, or maybe you’ll invent a machine that can complete an everyday task. Your own imagination is your only limit! This activity is intended for ages 2-5, and is recommended for one or more participants. 


  • Cardboard or other boxes of different sizes and shapes
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape 
  • Household recycling items (cardboard tubes, egg cartons, plastic containers, etc.)
  • Craft supplies for decorating (markers, pipe cleaners, buttons, pom poms, glitter, bells, paper, aluminum foil, etc.)


  • Come up with an idea for a creation that can be made using boxes of different sizes and shapes. To help spark inspiration, consider these questions: What might the creation look like? What part of the creation do you want to start with? What will the creation do?
  • Use tape to attach boxes together and create the shape of the creation. Using household recycling items and crafts supplies, decorate the creation. 
  • Create a narrative to go along with the creation. Does it have a name? Where did it come from? What does it do?
  • Share the creation and its story with friends and family. 

Links to Creativity

Limiting yourself to specific resources can actually make you more creative. Since this activity relies so heavily on recycled materials, it is inevitable new uses for them will be discovered. 


These activities were contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2016 Bay Area Discovery Museum. For similar activities, please visit CreativityCatapult.org


BADM is generously giving away a three-week family class to one lucky reader of GGMG's City Blocks Blog. The winner can enroll with a toddler (ages 2-4) in one three-week session of their choosing between January and March 2018. The winner will also have the opportunity to share their impressions of the experience on the blog.

Enter here before January 3, 2018 and spread the word—the more you share, the more entries you receive!

Family Class at Bay Area Discovery Museum Giveaway


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