Activities for 18 Month Old Toddlers

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Activities for 18 Month Old Toddlers

As a mother and teacher with two kids of my own, I understand the unique needs and developmental milestones of 18-month-old children. This stage is an exciting time filled with rapid growth and exploration. It is crucial to provide age-appropriate activities that support their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. 

In this guide, I will emphasize the importance of tailoring activities for 18 month old toddlers to their specific needs. By engaging in the best activities, we can foster their growth, curiosity, and overall well-being.

Customize Activities – Consider Your Child’s Behavior and Tendencies

As parents, we know our own children best. It’s important to consider our child’s behavior and tendencies when selecting activities for them. Some of the activities mentioned here may not be suitable for all children, especially if they have a habit of putting objects in their mouths or exploring different tastes through sensory play. It’s crucial to make a decision based on their individual behavior and preferences.

If your child tends to put things in their mouth, there are precautions you can take to ensure their safety during playtime. For instance, if they are playing with smaller objects, you may consider allowing them to have their dummy or pacifier as a safer alternative to satisfy their oral exploration. Alternatively, you can opt for edible versions of sensory materials like Aquaphaba or yogurt, which provide a safer experience if ingested.

Dummy in the toddlers mouth

Regardless of the activity you choose, close supervision is key. Keep a watchful eye on your child throughout the entire play session to ensure their well-being and prevent any potential hazards. It’s important to prioritize their safety and be actively involved in their play.

It’s worth noting that all the activities suggested here were tested and enjoyed by our own children. We understand the importance of creating a safe and engaging environment for our little ones. However, what works for one child may not work for another. Adapt the activities to fit your child’s needs and always prioritize their safety and well-being.

Elmer the Elephant Activities for Toddlers 3

Remember, you are the best judge of what is appropriate for your child. By considering their behaviors and preferences, you can make informed decisions about which activities are most suitable for their individual needs. Enjoy exploring and engaging in activities that bring joy, learning, and safety to your child’s playtime.

Valentine_s Day Activities for Toddlers 7

Sensory Activities for 18 Month Old

Muddy Piggy Sensory Play

If your little tots adore pigs, especially Old MacDonald’s oink oink and Peppa, then this sensory play setup is perfect for them. 

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Prepare a safe muddy sensory bin for your child’s play. Introduce toy pigs for an immersive experience. Use child-sized brushes and sponges for cleaning the muddy pigs, developing motor skills and coordination.

Benefits of muddy play: Boosts mental health and well-being, enhances understanding of the world, and supports physical development and sensory perception.

Designate a play area, protect surfaces, and maintain hygiene. Enjoy the educational and joyful Muddy Piggy Sensory Play with your child!

Muddy Pigs

Taste-Safe Mud Options

Additionally, it’s important to note that if you prefer an edible option for the mud in the Muddy Piggy Sensory Play, there are alternatives available. Here are a few edible mud options you can consider:

  1. Chocolate Pudding Mud: Use chocolate pudding for a tasty experience.
  2. Oatmeal Mud: Create a mud-like texture with cooked and cooled oatmeal.
  3. Yogurt Mud: Mix yogurt with cocoa powder for a creamy twist.

Ensure safety and supervision, and consider allergies and restrictions. Enjoy the edible options in the sensory play!

Shaving Cream Bath Paint

Unleash your child’s creativity in the exciting bathtub! With shaving cream and food coloring, transform bath time into an artistic adventure. Enjoy mess-friendly fun that’s easily washable. The bathtub is the perfect canvas for creative exploration, allowing your child to express themselves freely. Use non-slip bath mats for safety.

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Mix food coloring into shaving cream to create the Shaving Cream Bath Paint. Use a muffin pan for organizing colors. Place a non-slip bath mat in the tub for safety.

Your child can dip fingers or brushes into the paint, enjoying the texture and creating colorful strokes on the tub’s surface.

Clean-up is easy – simply rinse the tub to remove the paint. For a safer option, consider using Aquaphaba instead of shaving cream.

Enjoy a bathtub adventure with artistic expression and easy clean-up.

Let your child’s imagination shine with the Shaving Cream Bath Paint. 

Lemonade Sensory Bin

What could be more refreshing on a hot day than a cold glass of lemonade? While nothing compares to a cold glass of lemonade, this sensory experience will engage their senses and ignite their imagination.

What will You Need?

What to Do? 

Arrange lemon slices in a muffin tray for a visually appealing sensory bin. Fill each slot with water, and freeze overnight to create frozen lemon slices.

Transfer the frozen slices to a bin, and add water for play. Let your child freely explore the bin with cups, spoons, and scoops. It can be great pretend play as they can sip lemonade, stir the slices, or engage in sensory play.

The Lemonade Sensory Bin stimulates senses, develops motor skills, and encourages imaginative play.

Lemonade Sensory Tray

Car Wash Water Play

Get ready to beat the summer heat with a refreshing and engaging fun game that toddlers love! This exciting playtime will not only cool off your little ones but also encourage them to enjoy the process of washing while enhancing their fine motor skills and imaginative play. Let’s dive into the details and expand on this interactive adventure:

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Prepare a washing station with small toys on a tray or in a bin. Line up the cars and add shaving foam for a soapy surface. Fill a watering can for rinsing.

Let your kids take charge of the car wash. They scoop and apply foam with sponges, enjoying the sensory experience. Hand them the watering can rinse off the foam, enhancing fine motor skills and water control.

Add Legos to build a drive-through car wash for imaginative play and storytelling.

This sensory activity develops fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and creativity. 

Car Wash Activity

Cow Milking Activity For Kids

Engage your little ones in this hands-on, educational, cause and effect activity! This interactive play will not only entertain them but also enhance their fine motor skills while learning about the process of milking a cow.

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Begin by painting the water white using white paint. This step adds a visual representation of milk to enhance realism. Fill the rubber gloves with water, leaving enough space to tie a knot and create four fingers for the udder.

Hang the gloves on sturdy support or ask for assistance. Place a table underneath to catch drips or use a tray with a bin for easy cleanup. Poke small holes in the fingers of the gloves to simulate udders. Demonstrate the milking process to your child, gently squeezing the gloves to release water.

Encourage your child to take over and continue milking. This activity develops fine motor skills, hand muscles, coordination, and precision.

The Cow Milking Activity provides a better understanding of milking while honing fine motor skills. It also offers tactile and sensory play, promoting learning through exploration and imitation.

Cow Milking

To make it more immersive, incorporate a pretend milk-pouring component. While your child milks the gloves, pour a small amount of real milk into a container of their choice.

Hand the container to your child and encourage them to taste the milk. This sensory connection deepens their understanding and engagement. Consider any dietary restrictions or allergies when choosing the type of milk.

Combining milking with the taste of real milk creates a multi-sensory experience, sparking curiosity and imagination in your child. It enhances the authenticity of the activity and fosters their understanding of the farm-to-table concept.

Hidden Hearts in the Colored Water

Embark on a delightful sensory adventure with the Hunting for Red Hearts sensory bin! This great activity combines the thrill of treasure hunting with the mesmerizing properties of a red water sensory bin mixed with cornstarch. Let’s dive into the details here

Bubble Foam – Aquaphaba

We have previously written an article on bubble foams, exploring various sensory bin settings and different methods for kids to play with them. However, this time, we are excited to introduce a unique twist: Edible Bubble Foam! This new variation offers a safe and edible sensory play experience for toddlers. 

Bubble Foam Recipe

Making Edible Bubble Foam is as simple as making traditional bubble foam. The only difference lies in the ingredients. Instead of using bubble soap, you will use the liquid found in canned chickpeas. 

In our previous post, you can discover a plethora of sensory bin ideas and fun activities involving traditional bubble foams. Be sure to check out that article for inspiration and detailed instructions.

Bubble Foam Sensory Bin

Splash in the Bath Tub with Pom Poms

Sensory baths are beneficial for toddlers and young children. They provide sensory stimulation, relaxation, and help develop fine motor skills. Sensory baths also promote language and cognitive development, encourage bonding and social interaction, and support emotional regulation.

They offer a holistic and enjoyable experience for children’s overall development. For an extra festive touch, we’ve added a Halloween theme to make it even more thrilling! Let’s discover the magic of pom poms and embark on a spooktacular sensory adventure.

Halloween Sensory Activities 11

Patchwork Sensory Bottle

Introducing the Elmer the Elephant-Themed Patchwork Sensory Bottle. This enchanting creation combines sensory play with characters from the beloved Elmer the Elephant books.

Elmer the Elephant Activities for Toddlers 10

The bottle is filled with vibrant colors and captivating materials, representing Elmer’s patchwork world. 

Elmer the Elephant Activities for Toddlers 13

As you shake and tilt the bottle, a symphony of sights, sounds, and textures unfolds, engaging the senses and sparking the imagination.

The colorful visuals mirror Elmer’s appearance, while the various textures invite exploration and enhance fine motor skills.

With its Elmer theme, the sensory bottle becomes a tool for storytelling and imaginative play, encouraging creativity and language development. 

Ideal for parents, educators, and caregivers, this sensory bottle offers a fusion of stimuli, promoting sensory exploration and cognitive development. Immerse children in a world of vibrant colors, textures, and imaginative play.

Let their senses be captivated as they embark on a sensory journey inspired by the charm and wonder of Elmer’s patchwork world.

You can also create your own themed sensory bottles, like ocean adventures, galaxy exploration, garden discovery, dinosaur expedition, or fairy tale magic. Remember, the possibilities are endless!

Elmer the Elephant Activities for Toddlers

Painting on Ice – Sensory Art

This engaging activity combines the thrill of painting with the icy allure of frozen canvases. Watch as your child’s creativity comes to life on the melting ice, creating beautiful patterns and vibrant colors.

Get ready to embark on a sensory adventure that will captivate both the eyes and the imagination. Let’s dive into the world of Painting on Ice and explore the magic of this unique art experience.

Paint on Ice


Get ready for a mesmerizing and hands-on sensory experience with Oobleck! This fascinating substance has the unique property of being both a liquid and a solid, offering endless possibilities for exploration and play.

And the best part? We have created a variety of Oobleck recipes that are perfect for toddlers too, including options without cornstarch and with baking soda. There’s an Oobleck recipe to suit every little explorer. Get ready to have some sensory fun!

How to Make Oobleck with Baking Soda 4

Edible Play Dough

This delightful activity combines the joy of play dough with the excitement of being able to safely explore and even taste their creations. Made from simple and edible ingredients, this playdough opens up a world of sensory exploration and imaginative play.

Join your little ones on a journey of hands-on fun as they mold, shape, and create with this safe and tasty playdough or even salt dough

Homemade Playdough Without Cream of Tartar 28

Muddy Worms

This exciting activity allows children to dive into a squishy and slimy sensory experience while indulging their curiosity and creativity. Plus, if you’re concerned about little ones putting things in their mouths, rest assured that you can easily remove the plastic bugs and ensure a safe and enjoyable playtime.

Get ready to get messy and engage your child’s senses with this delightful Edible Mud and Worm Pie activity, perfect for those who love exploring new textures and getting hands-on with imaginative play!

Worm Hunting

Making Tree Faces

Step into the enchanting world of nature-inspired creativity with Making Tree Faces! This delightful activity allows kids to transform ordinary trees into whimsical and expressive characters using mud and natural materials.

With just a touch of imagination and a few gathered treasures from the outdoors, children can bring trees to life and add a touch of magic to their surroundings.

Scoop the Baubles

This festive and engaging activity is perfect for toddlers, adding an extra dose of holiday cheer to their playtime. As the Christmas season approaches, what better way to celebrate than by incorporating the joy of ornaments into a fun and interactive game?

With Scoop the Ornaments, little ones can engage their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sensory exploration while scooping and transferring colorful ornaments.

Join in the holiday excitement as your toddler immerses themselves in this merry activity, fostering a love for the Christmas spirit and creating cherished memories. Let the festivities begin with Scoop the Baubles!

Scoop the Baubles

Fine Motor Learning Activities for Toddlers

Straw in the Box Fine Motor Activity

This was a quick idea of mine, once I saw that my daughter really enjoys playing with colorful straws. The toothpick part was an additional idea while preparing for the first activity. These outdoor and indoor activities for 18 month old tots are good for improving fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

What will you need? 

What to Do with the Straws?

We reused an empty Pringles container for the straw activity. Just punch a few holes in the lid with a hole puncher, sharp knife, or scissors. Then give your toddler a bunch of straws and show them how to push them through the holes into the container.

Cereals Threading

Engage your toddler in a delightful and hands-on activity with Cereals Threading! This simple yet engaging activity offers a fantastic opportunity for your little one to practice fine motor skills while having fun. 

Cereals Threading

What will You Need?

  • Play-Doh
  • O-shaped cereal, like Fruit Loops, Oreos, etc

What to Do?

Gather holed cereals like O-shaped or fruit loops for threading. Use Play-Doh (or for a safer version make your own edible playdough) and spaghetti as the base.

Guide your toddler to thread cereals onto spaghetti strands, developing motor skills and concentration.

They can create patterns, count, and explore textures. This activity promotes math skills and sensory perception.


Tape Rescue Animals

This engaging and hands-on activity involves using tape to create unique animal traps and then rescuing them in a thrilling pretend-play rescue mission. Watch as your little one’s creativity and problem-solving skills come to life as they embark on animal-saving adventures.

Get ready for a wild and imaginative experience that will have your toddler eagerly stepping into the role of a hero. Let the rescue mission begin with the Animal Tape Rescue!

Animal Tape Rescue

Easter Q-Tips Peg Cardboard

Q-Tips Peg Cardboard toddler activities develop fine motor skills, and also provide opportunities to create colorful artworks! It’s a fun and creative way to keep kids engaged while also providing an opportunity to develop their hand-eye coordination. This time we made Easter-themed Peg Cardboards

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Footprint Activity

Step into the colorful world of Eric Carle’s beloved character, the Hungry Caterpillar, with this exciting activity! Designed for young children, the Hungry Caterpillar Footprint Activity brings art and education together in a fun and interactive way. By following simple steps, you can create an enjoyable learning experience that introduces children to the concept of days of the week.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Printables made by Messy Learning Kids

To get started, download the printable materials and gather the necessary supplies. Then, watch as your little ones have a blast creating their own caterpillar footprints and exploring the days of the week through art. It’s a wonderful opportunity to combine creativity and learning, allowing children to engage their imaginations while developing important skills.

So, get ready to embark on a colorful adventure with the Hungry Caterpillar Footprint Activity! Watch as your little ones learn new skills, grow, and have loads of fun along the way. Let the magic of Eric Carle’s iconic character come to life in this delightful and educational activity.

Smash the Pumpkin with Your 18 Month Old Baby

Get ready for a ghoulishly good time with this simple and spooktacular Halloween activity idea! It’s the perfect way to keep the little ones entertained and engaged during this exciting holiday.

Get creative and make your very own playdough pumpkins, and then let your child unleash their energy by smashing them in a delightfully fun and spooky way. This activity combines sensory play, creativity, and a touch of Halloween mischief to create an unforgettable experience.

So, grab your playdough and get ready to create and smash your way into Halloween fun!

Smash the pumpkin

Sticker mania

Stickers have stood the test of time as a beloved childhood activity, but did you know they offer more than just entertainment? Stickers can also be a fantastic tool for developing fine motor skills in children. As little one’s peel, place, and manipulate stickers, they refine their hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, and precision.

This simple yet engaging activity provides an opportunity for children to practice their fine motor skills while having a blast with colorful and adhesive creations. So, grab a sheet of stickers and let your child’s fine motor development flourish in a fun and interactive way!


Stacking – Learning Toys

Introduce your little one to the fascinating world of stacking with these engaging learning toys designed for 18-month-olds! Stacking toys are not only entertaining but also promotes essential developmental skills such as fine motor coordination, problem-solving, and spatial awareness.

Watch as your child explores the concept of balance, improves their hand-eye coordination, and delights in the joy of stacking colorful blocks.

Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker

But that’s not all! We also have an article featuring a wide range of learning toys for children aged 2 and above. Be sure to check it out for even more exciting options to support your child’s growth and learning. 

Gross Motor for 18 Month Old Toddlers

Glow in the Dark Trampoline

Instead of the classic Hide and Seek I tried to include a super amazing gross motor activity. Enhance the magical experience of Glow in the Dark Trampoline Jumping by taking the glow sticks to a whole new level! Attach the glow sticks to your child’s body, creating a luminous stick figure that adds an extra element of fun and creativity to their bouncing adventure.

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Attach glow sticks to clothes to create a glowing stick figure on the trampoline.

As the sun sets and darkness falls, the magic begins. Step onto the trampoline with your child and let the glow-in-the-dark fun commence! Encourage your child to explore different poses, dance moves, and jumping styles to make their stick figure come alive. 

Remember to ensure adequate supervision during the activity to maintain safety and prevent any accidents. Provide clear guidelines and remind your child to follow proper trampoline safety rules, such as jumping in the center and avoiding somersaults or risky maneuvers.

Glow in the Dark Trampoline Jumping is an unforgettable and magical experience that combines active play and visual delight. It’s an opportunity for your child to explore their jumping skills while being immersed in a glowing wonderland.

Glow in the Dark - Trampoline party

Climb on Playground Structures

Climbing on playground structures can be an exciting and engaging activity for 18-month-old toddlers. As they continue to develop their gross motor skills and coordination, exploring playground structures can provide valuable opportunities for growth and exploration.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that adult supervision and safety precautions are crucial during this stage of their development.

Key points to consider

Choose age-appropriate structures: Look for playground structures that are designed for younger children and are suitable for their size, strength, and abilities. These structures often have lower platforms, shorter slides, and handrails or bars that are within reach for toddlers.

Ensure a safe environment: Before letting your toddler climb on the playground structures, ensure that the playground is well-maintained and free from any potential hazards. Check for loose or broken parts, sharp edges, and any potential tripping hazards.

Climb on Playground Structures

Supervise closely: Keep a close eye on your toddler as they explore and climb on the structures. Be within arm’s reach to provide support and assistance if needed. Encourage them to use handrails or other designated supports to maintain balance and stability.

Encourage safe climbing techniques: Teach your toddler how to climb safely by showing them where to place their hands and feet and guiding them through each step. Emphasize the importance of taking one step at a time and being aware of their surroundings.

Foster independence: Allow your toddler to explore and climb independently, but always be ready to provide assistance when necessary. Encourage them to problem-solve and figure out their own way to navigate the structure, while still ensuring their safety.

Celebrate accomplishments: Praise and celebrate your toddler’s achievements as they successfully climb and explore the playground structures. This positive reinforcement will boost their confidence and encourage further exploration and development of their climbing skills.

If you want to you can even buy your own climbing toys for indoor and outdoor fun, like:

Climbing Dome for Toddlers

This innovative toy offers not just one, but two exciting ways to play.

Rocking mode provides a fantastic opportunity for your child to develop balance and body control while flipping it over transforms it into a climbing and jumping adventure.

Foam Climbing Blocks

With these blocks, little ones can climb, crawl, and slide, engaging in active play while having a blast. The blocks also serve as a valuable learning tool.

Toddler Slide with Climbing Steps

The 5-in-1 Toddler Playground is a fantastic addition to any play area. With its multiple activity areas including stairs, slides, storage spaces, a basketball area, and a play telescope, this playground provides endless opportunities for children to improve their physical coordination and develop essential motor skills.

Rocking Climbing Toy

This versatile climbing toy offers endless play possibilities. It can be a climbing arch, tunnel, cradle, or swing, providing hours of active fun and relaxation.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more climbing toys available in the market. It’s important to choose toys that are age-appropriate, sturdy, and safe for your child to use.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in exploring a wide range of outdoor toys suitable for 1-year-olds and beyond, we have a comprehensive article that covers various options.

It provides detailed information on different outdoor toys, including climbing toys, ride-on toys, sand and water play, and much more. You can refer to our article for in-depth guidance on selecting the best outdoor toys for your toddler’s developmental needs and interests.

Best Outdoor Toys for 1 Year Olds picked by Messy Learning Kids

Outdoor playtime with climbing toys not only promotes physical development but also stimulates imagination, social skills, and cognitive abilities. 

Remember, every child develops at their own pace, so it’s important to be patient and supportive as your toddler explores their abilities on the playground structures. With appropriate supervision, a safe environment, and encouragement, climbing on playground structures can be a fun and beneficial experience for your 18-month-old toddler.

Art & Craft Activities Toddler will Love

Slide Painting with Splash Balls

Looking for a fun and easy way to add some color to your world? This activity is great for kids of all ages and is a fun way to create a masterpiece while spending time outdoors.

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Roll down the paper and secure it to the slide. Use food coloring or paint for a vibrant palette. Dip splash balls in paint and release them down the slide. Create patterns and designs.

Supervise toddlers closely and ensure safety. Adjust slide height if needed.

Let the painted paper dry and admire your masterpiece. This activity promotes creativity and motor skills.

Doodle with Chalk or Paint with Water on Sidewalks

Doodling with chalk (or painting with water for a safer option) is a simple and enjoyable activity that toddlers can engage in to unleash their creativity and develop their fine motor skills. 

What will You Need?

Find a safe outdoor area with smooth pavement for chalk doodling. Give your toddler a selection of sidewalk chalk in different colors. Encourage them to hold the chalk and explore its texture and colors. Demonstrate how to make marks on the ground by doodling simple shapes or lines.

Engage with your toddler during the activity by asking open-ended questions about their drawings. Encourage them to describe what they’re creating or tell a story about their artwork. This helps stimulate their creativity and language development.

Once your toddler has finished doodling, celebrate their artistic accomplishments! Take a moment to admire their artwork together and let them know how proud you are of their creative efforts.

Doodling with chalk provides a wonderful opportunity for toddlers to express themselves artistically, develop their fine motor skills, and engage in sensory exploration. Encourage them to enjoy the process of creating colorful masterpieces while fostering their imagination and creativity.

Doodle with Chalk on Sidewalk

Egg Carton Art – Low Prep Activity for Your 18 Month Old Tot

Indulge in a low-prep activity that every mom will appreciate. The best part? You probably already have the materials (household items) you need right at home! Gather an egg carton and some water paint, and get ready to embark on a creative journey with your child.

What will You Need?

What to Do?

Settle down with a well-deserved cuppa, and let your child’s imagination run wild as they give a new look to the old egg carton.

Provide them with a palette of water paint and brushes, allowing them to explore various colors and unleash their creativity. They can paint each compartment of the egg carton using different hues, creating a vibrant and personalized masterpiece.

An added bonus? By repurposing and giving a fresh makeover to the egg carton, you’re also practicing recycling and being mindful of the environment. It’s a win-win situation, nurturing creativity and promoting sustainability.

Egg Carton Art

Cotton Ball Ice Cream Activity

Get ready for a delightful and refreshing activity that brings the joy of ice cream to life: the Cotton Ball Ice Cream Activity! This activity requires minimal preparation and is perfect for a sunny day.

What will You Need?

What to Do? 

Cut triangles from cardboard for the ice cream cones. Place the cotton balls on top. Pour water into the bowls and add a few drops of food coloring in each bowl. 

Invite your children to color the ice cream cotton balls by transferring the colors with droppers. 

Enjoy the sensory and creative fun of making delicious-looking ice cream cones.

Ice Cream Cotton Balls Activity

Printing with Sponge Slices

Explore the world of art and creativity with the exciting activity of Printing with Sponge Slices. Using simple materials like sponges and paint, your child can create unique and colorful prints. It’s a hands-on experience that combines art, sensory play, and imagination. Get ready to dive into the world of printing and watch as your child’s creativity comes to life on paper!

Elmer the Elephant Activities for Toddlers

Handprint Art (Fireworks, Celebration)

Introduce your toddler to the world of art and creativity with the exciting activity of Handprint Paintings. Watch their eyes light up as they create vibrant and personalized artwork using their own little hands.

This activity not only allows your toddler to express their creativity but also promotes sensory exploration and fine motor skills. It’s a wonderful way for them to engage with different textures, colors, and shapes while having loads of fun.

This time we were making handprint fireworks! Let their imagination soar as they bring their handprint to life, creating lasting memories and masterpieces.

Handprint Firework Paintings
Photo of author


Aniko is a teacher, nurse, baker, mum, virtual assistant, and now a blogger. She enjoys spending time with her kids, making arts and crafts, active hobbies that make learning fun, gardening, and delicious meals you may and your kids can cook together. All you can find here at MessyLearningKids.

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