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Highchair Games

If you’re home-educating siblings, keeping little ones occupied while homeschooling big ones can be tricky. Activities that can be done at a table or in a highchair make little ones feel part of the team. These activities are quick to set up, easy to clean up, and encourage motor skills and pre-literacy learning, key features in pre-school education.

Easy highchair activities for toddlers

Ice play

Toddlers are fascinated by ice cubes! It’s a sensory activity as the ice melts, is fun and gets bonus points for being super easy to tidy away. (Place a towel under the highchair to catch any drips.)

  • Add ripped-up crepe paper to let them explore the colours as the paper gets wet
  • Offer paintbrushes and coloured paper for a mess-free painting experience
  • Give them a bowl of salt (or sugar) to add to the water for an extra sensory experience

Rice play

Scoop and pour! Empty tubs/bowls, a couple of different-sized spoons and a bowl of (uncooked) rice will give you time for a reading lesson.

  • Add in a toy tractor/digger/play characters
  • Use coloured rice – add small amounts of uncooked rice into sealable bags. Add a couple of drops of food colouring to each bag and shake them up. Spread the rice on baking trays to dry.

Sand Play

Sand is a great texture for little ones but it’s not food-safe. Crushed up cereal is a good alternative for younger toddlers, while older toddlers (and big kids too!) love kinetic sand. Add water to extend the activity.

Cloud Dough

Cloud dough can be made with either neutral cooking oils or baby oil type lotions. Simply mix flour with oil until it becomes the texture of soft sand. I love this activity because it smells wonderful when made with scented oils and can be made food-safe for toddlers who haven’t yet learnt that not everything can go in their mouth.

Tongs + objects to pick up

Beans, pasta, mini-pom-pom balls..anything that can be picked up using tongs and transferred into a container of sorts. Sugar tongs are the perfect size for small hands. Empty egg cartons are brilliant for this activity especially when they learn to recognise numbers: Write/stick numbers on the inside of the segments and ask them to add the correct amount of beans etc to match the number.


Small jigsaws are great for slightly older toddlers with greater motor skills. 4/6/8 piece jigsaws fit on highchair trays. When buying jigsaws, check how thick the pieces are: Lots of jigsaws are printed on thin card that rips easily in enthusiastic toddler hands. Wooden jigsaws are brilliant.


Stickers are a fantastic activity for the littlest of learners. It takes a huge amount of concentration, patience and use of fine motor skills to peel stickers off the sticker sheet. (To make it easier, peel off the middle bit around the stickers…like this.)

Add lolly pop sticks, ask toddlers to decorate the sticks using the stickers (verbally selecting colours) and turn them into fishing rods! (This activity can be made even more fun for older toddlers by gluing a magnet to the end of the ribbon and using magnetic sheets to cut out fish to catch.)

Pipe Cleaners

A pasta strainer + pipe cleaners is a great activity: weave the pipe cleaners in so the toddler has to untangle the bendy pieces to remove them. (Bendy pipe cleaners are super fun but can easily scratch curious toddlers – to make pipe cleaners toddler-proof, wrap the ends in sellotape.)

Boxes and Lids

You know the saying about giving a baby a gift and them playing only with the wrapping paper? Matching lids to tubs is a super simple activity that is guaranteed to entertain and is surprisingly beneficial, requiring hand-eye coordination and logical thinking to match the shapes and colours of the lids with the right tubs.

Zips, Buttons and Buckles

Toddlers LOVE zips ! If you’re crafty, Pinterest has some great ideas on how to make activity belts with minimal sewing; otherwise, just cut the zip part off any old item of clothing, or give them an empty bag to zip and unzip. If using a bag, hiding extra activities for toddlers to find in the bag is a good way of extending the amount of time they’ll stay in the highchair.

Like zips, most toddlers love buttons. I say most because for some toddlers, buttons are simply pure frustration. If a toddler always wants to button up their own jumper or if they’re frustrated trying to button clothes up, some appropriately-sized buttons and a piece of material to push the buttons through lets toddlers experiment with buttoning in a non-stress environment.

Buttons are a great tool to keep in a sensory box toolkit because as gross motor skills improve, toddlers can thread buttons onto string, push buttons through holes cut into tub lids, use them for colour-matching games and later, repurpose them as manipulatives when learning to count.

Pasta and String

Dried pasta can be dyed in the same way as rice and used for scooping activities. Making necklaces with pasta is a classic toddler activity.


A toddler-play must-have. Add in a rolling pin, craft bits to decorate creations with, blunt knives to practise cutting, blocks and toys to use as stamps…game play with playdough is limitless. Playdough often draws the older kids in too, making it a great option for multi-age sibling play.

Finger-Paint & Watercolours

A great highchair activity and a useful multi-age activity for siblings to do together, painting with toddlers is always fun!

Sometimes toddlers will simply just want to join in with lessons– that’s ok too. Whatever works to make your homeschool productive for those learning, and happy for everyone in it.