I don’t know about you, but the most challenging part of my day seems to be when I am trying to make dinner. It’s the time of day that everyone seems to need my attention and I’m just trying to get dinner made and on the table!I finally realized that the easiest way to survive this “witching hour” is to set up a QUICK AND EASY ACTIVITY to keep the kids occupied while I cook. But the activity needs to be low mess, easy set-up, and not too consuming (because they won’t want to leave the activity when dinner is finally ready if the activity is too exciting!)

Here are some of the best activities I found that accomplish the task with the perfect balance:

10 activities to keep kids busy while you cook dinner

1. Pasta Threading

This simple activity just requires large pasta noodles, straws, and play dough (if you’re looking for a great play dough recipe, check this one out)

2. Tinker Box

Turn your junk drawer into an inventor’s box! This imaginative idea will keep your munchkins busy until dinner is done.

3. Foil and Toys

Prep this activity right before you prep your food. It will keep them busy the entire time-guaranteed!

4. Straws and Cheese Container

Easy fine motor practice with objects easily found in your kitchen.

5. Pom Pom Transfer Activity

This is soooo simple and a great activity for the witching hour! Grab the pom poms and check this idea out pronto!

6. Oil and Water Discovery Bottle

A clean jar from the recyclables, plus oil, and water makes an interesting activity for toddlers to explore. Add in food coloring and knick-knack toys for more interest!

7. Scooping and Pouring Beans

Tip: Use a clean formula scooper to practice fine motor/wrist development in this simple activity!
If you don’t have a formula scooper, try measuring spoons like these fun ones by Little Tikes.

8. Crunchy Box

This one was a BIG win with my kids! If your littles like destructive activities (that’s pretty much every toddler ever), this will be right up their alley!

9. Sorting Cutlery

We love offering our munchkins metal cutlery similar to these. The weight is more interesting for them to hold and gets thrown less often. And my munchkins just LOVE helping me sort the cutlery whenever they get the chance! Maybe even lovely sheffield silver cutlery they love shiny things, my friend said her kids love looking at the shiny cutlery.

10. Muffin Tin and Baby Food Lids

Another simple activity, but just watch how your tot will spend time clanking and organizing these lids into the muffin tray.

Looking for even more ways to keep your toddler busy? I’ve got the perfect resource for you!

Playful Activities for your Busy Toddler e-book is right up our alley!

This awesome resource contains 35 engaging toddler activities that you can easily put together (no crazy supplies or extensive set-up)!
There are even already planned for you daily toddler activity plans!

Read more about this resource here. You don’t want to miss it!


9 thoughts on “10 {quick} Activities to Keep Kids Busy while you Cook Dinner”

  1. My boys are older now, but when they were young I was lucky enough to have several “little people” sets – zoo, Noah’s ark, farm, castle, and a couple more. I’d put the characters way down the hall. As I was making dinner I’d ask them to bring me a specific color one, or one they’d find on a farm/zoo, or a pretend one (like the dragon), or a boy, or one that flies, or one that lives in the jungle. They’d run up and down the hall fetching different ones. I liked it because it was an opportunity to reinforce concepts like colors, but it also gave them an outlet for their endless energy.

    1. That is such a great idea! There’s so much going on in that one activity, and lots of running to wear those little bodies out 🙂 I’m going to have to try that out!

  2. Baby food lids in a wipes container is another option. Sadly they have now misplaced all my saved lids.

  3. I make many items for special needs, sensory, fine motor and gross motor skills to name a few. My youngest loves playing button’s button’s who’s got the buttons game. It’s putting different sizes of the same color buttons in 1 1/2″ jars. There are 12 different colored buttons, 6 buttons of each color, and 3 sizes for different skill levels and multiple games.

    I also have a similar activity to your straws in the cheese container except using uncooked spaghetti in spice jars. ? thank you for sharing. I enjoyed your ideas. ?

  4. Thank you for the great ideas! My 13 month old is into everything while I’m trying to cook. And of course has no interest in any of her toys at this time.

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