Toddler attention spans can vary a great deal from child to child, so I cannot guarantee that these two activities will occupy your toddler for hours at a time but I will say that for the few or many minutes she is engaged in these activities, she will be exercising something very important - fine motor skills. If you child is still mouthing items, please supervise closely.
Above my 2 year old is stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner. I presented the tray with two small wooden bowls filled with various beads and a half-length pipe-cleaner . I chose to not give her a lesson and let her explore. She knew intuitively that the intention of the activity was to string the beads
She sorted through the bowls and interestingly chose the most simple beads (pony beads ) and reflecting a need for symmetry and order, chose only those beads to string. After doing so, she asked for a second pipe cleaner and then strung the animal beads . Poor fimo beads were rejected and left unused for the day. In a montessori environment, she would be tasked with either completing the activity by turning the beads into a “bracelet” or removing the beads and placing them back into the bowls.
However, she did not want to unstring her work so we set the tray back into a cubby to be taken out and enjoyed again later. Obviously, she will need to remove the beads before starting the activity anew but I didn’t want to force the issue and will wait for another opportunity to show her how to “complete” the activity/work.
Above is a pinning activity, I’ve used sewing pins here since my daughter is familiar with them but pushpins or toothpicks would also work as the cork is quite soft.
I showed her how to tear up the construction paper. Then I placed the paper on the trivet and pinned one corner. I stepped back and let her finish. After placing the pins, I then showed her how to clean up the activity. Placing and removing the pins are both activating fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination.