Intellectual Developmental Activities for Toddlers

Updated April 17, 2017

As toddlers grow physically, their cognitive growth is progressing just as quickly. Parents can provide activities to promote this intellectual development in ways that are enjoyable for the toddler as well as other members of the family as they interact together. Toys, games, and activities will get everyone having a good time as well as learning.

Reading Activities

It's no secret that reading to children at a very early age is beneficial, but parents can go beyond simply reading books to engage toddlers in the learning process. Ask questions about the items on the pages, and answer the questions if the toddler doesn't. In a book about dogs ask "Where is the dog?" or "What colour is the dog?" In "Your 19-Month-Old's Language and Cognitive Development," the Baby Center website suggests engaging toddlers by leaving ending words out of sentences in a book that has been read multiple times. See if she can use her expanding vocabulary to fill in the words.


As toddlers watch grownups around them take care of daily tasks, they will want to have an outlet to express the things they are learning through that observation. Provide toys that will give children the opportunity to role-play and they continue to learn about the how to interact with the world around them. Children this age will enjoy toy phones, kitchen supplies, dolls with accessories, and pretend lawnmowers.

Simple Puzzles

Toddlers stretch their cognitive skills when they are trying to solve problems, so provide opportunities for them to practice this. In "Cognitive Development: Two-Year-Old," the Healthy Children website states that simple jigsaw puzzles and shape sorters are age-appropriate toys for toddlers. Model for them ways to wiggle and turn the pieces to make them fit. Assist in early attempts, but as toddlers figure things out and successfully finish the task they will not only be learning, but building confidence, too.

Stacking and Nesting

When looking for a toy for a toddler, bypass the electronics and look to some of the classics. Nesting cups, stacking rings and basic blocks of different sizes provide many opportunities for intellectual growth in toddlers. As children play with them, they will need to understand the concepts of smaller and larger, which will help them stack or nest successfully. As they build a tower of blocks higher and higher they will problem-solve issues of size and balance. As with all activities, parents need to get down on the toddler's level and work with him to demonstrate how to use the toys and interact with them.

Interactive Games

Toddlers enjoy interacting with the adults in their lives, and a few simple games will keep them not only entertained, but will test their memory skills. In "Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old," the Kids Health website suggests playing games such as pattycake, peek-a-boo, hiding, and chasing games to keep a toddler thinking.

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About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Laura Wilson entered the writing community in 2010. She writes about children, education and health-related topics for various websites. Wilson has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Houghton College.