104 Growth Mindset Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
As loving parents and caregivers, we all want to raise children to be confident, to be resilient, and to have a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the internal belief that intelligence and abilities can be improved through effort. A child with growth mindset will enjoy learning and embrace challenges. They are more likely to think independently and bounce back from failure.
The opposite is a fixed mindset, which is a belief that no effort will be enough to overcome the challenge. Children who hold this belief about themselves have no motivation to improve because they think that failure is certain.
One of the ways you can foster growth mindset is to resist the urge to swoop in and help your child at the first sign of struggle. With each of the activities listed below, take note of opportunities for your toddler to work through a challenge on their own. This will help your child develop resilience. You can further nurture a growth mindset in your toddler or preschooler through your everyday interactions, in the ways that you praise your child, voice observations, and ask them questions.
Was that easy to do?
It looked like you had a big problem to solve!
Do you want to try something harder next time?
Oops, that didn't work. What else will you try?
You worked very hard to finish that!
It's important to make this a habit, but reading the above list one time won't do it. Practice using these phrases as your child does each of the activities listed below. In order for growth mindset language to have an impact it needs to become second nature. Learn more about these interactions in the article "How to Raise Your Toddler with Growth Mindset Parenting: Exactly What to Say".
Reading certain children’s books is a highly effective way for parents to build a habit of using growth mindset language. Here you can download My Little Growing Mindset books.
Every day you will have opportunities to practice growth mindset parenting with your child, such as teaching to self-dress. Looking for some new ideas? Here are activities for toddlers and preschoolers that you can do at home as you help them develop a growth mindset and build your habit of using growth mindset praise:
Drawing and coloring
Try a new food download the eBook - Trying New Foods
Play "Guess the Emotion" with different facial expressions.
Help with baking
Playing with building blocks
Create a "growth mindset mantra" that you and your toddler can say together, such as "I can do hard things.”
Taking a bath
Playing with bubbles
Clean up after bath time
Practice breathing exercises download the eBook - Learning to Calm
Help wash dishes
Playing matching games
Help carry groceries download the eBook - Learning to Help
Play with a new friend
Play memory games
Playing with playdough
Singing and dancing
Kicking a ball
Reading picture books
Playing with stuffed animals
Help rake leaves
Playing with toy cars and trucks
Painting with finger paints
Playing with sand
Help walk the dog
Playing with a sensory bin
Playing with a flashlight
Practice active listening with your toddler by making eye contact and repeating what they've said.
Help sort the laundry
Playing with cardboard boxes
Making homemade instruments
Playing with shaving cream
Playing with puppets
Help clean the floor
Playing musical instruments
Playing with stickers
Playgroup circle time with a parachute or sheet
Playing with a dollhouse
Pretend to be a doctor
Ripping and glueing construction paper
Playing with a tool set
Playing restaurant with play food
Playing with a tea set
Pretend camping with a play tent
Pretend to fly airplane
Help match socks in the laundry
Pretend to be a dinosaur
Pretend to be a robot
Call Grandma or Grandpa
Plant a garden
Playing with dolls
Playing at a playground
Building a fort with cushions and blankets
Sing-along with nursery rhymes
Hide and seek with toys
Hide Easter eggs, anytime of year!
Draw chalk ‘roads “ on driveway for scooters
Color sorting with different objects
Visit a neighbor
Animal sound guessing game
Water play with cups and containers
Chalk drawing on the sidewalk or driveway
Building with Mega Bloks or Duplo blocks
Bowling with ball and plastic pins, or cardboard tubes
Dress up in costumes
Throwing and catching a soft ball or stuffed animal
Follow the leader
Obstacle course with pillows and cushions
Balancing on one foot
Help dust the coffee table
Help with shopping
Check the mail
Red light, green light
Tossing bean bags into a target
Tug of war with a soft rope
Walking like different animals
Help set the table
“Ring around the Rosy”
Duck, Duck, Goose
Finger play, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Wheels on the Bus”
“Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
Putting on shoes
Help take out the garbage
Eating with utensils
Drinking from a cup
Children’s brains are constantly developing, forming thousands of new connections from everyday interactions. Parents have the greatest influence on their child’s brain development. Every day there are new opportunities to build growth mindset and have a major impact on your child’s future success in life. Like most new skills in life, growth mindset parenting takes practice and repetition.
Books are a powerful resource for helping parents to foster a growth mindset in kids. Here you can download My Little Growing Mindset books. They are filled with internal scripts that help children with their thought processes in solving a problem. Instead of repeating a single phrase, the text includes questions and observations.
These stories eliminate the guesswork and help you start teaching your child growth mindset thinking right away. Download this entire series of growth mindset stories. New books and articles are introduced often, so be sure to subscribe.
Your child's growth mindset matters. Protect it, strengthen it, celebrate it!