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Fun Activities to Improve Attention and Concentration in Toddlers

Help toddlers focus and concentrate with these activities and strategies.

Fun Activities to Improve Attention and Concentration in Toddlers

Fun Activities to Improve Attention and Concentration in Toddlers

Toddlers have short attention spans, making it difficult to focus in the classroom for long periods of time. As they grow, children are able to focus longer, tune out distractions, and shift their attention from one task to another. You can help toddlers strengthen their attention spans so that they remain focused during instruction by implementing careful strategies and planning activities that will help them concentrate.

A young girl in a white and yellow dress standing at a table and working on a jigsaw puzzle.


Attention span of a toddler

An attention span is the amount of time that someone can spend continuously focusing on an activity. Toddlers have brief attention spans, which increase as they age. The following is a breakdown of the typical attention spans in young children.

  • Attention span of 2-year-olds: Four to six minutes
  • Attention span of 3-year-olds: Six to eight minutes
  • Attention span of 4-year-olds: Eight to twelve minutes
  • Attention spans of 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds: Twelve to eighteen minutes

Children's attention spans can be influenced by underlying medical conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma, and auditory processing issues.

Improving toddlers' attention spans helps prepare them for future learning. Children need to develop their attention spans, concentration, emotional self-regulation skills, working memory, and other executive functioning skills so they can succeed academically and develop emotionally and socially.

As children progress academically, they need to pay attention to their teachers for extended periods. If a child's attention span is limited, they may struggle to understand difficult material and stay on course academically.

How to teach a child to focus in the classroom

You can help children focus in the classroom and improve their attention spans by following these strategies.

Remove distractions

Toys and other distractions can make it difficult for children to concentrate during lessons. If children have had free time to play with toys before a lesson, make sure the toys are put away and out of sight before you start to teach. If children can see toys during a lesson, they may ask to play with them instead of paying attention, which may distract other children and teachers.

Lengthen story time

You can help your children learn to focus for long periods of time by lengthening story time. Gradually add more pages as you read books during story time. Correct your children if they get restless while you are reading to help them learn to stay focused longer.

Take breaks and get moving

Encourage the children to get out of their seats and move around after lessons that require them to remain seated for long periods. Have them dance, wiggle, jump—anything that will get their bodies moving and eliminate the restlessness they may be feeling. In addition, taking breaks will help your children release pent-up energy, making it easier for them to focus during the next lesson.

Give simple instructions

Keep your directions short and simple when teaching children. Your toddlers may struggle to follow elaborate instructions with multiple steps, so it's important to break down complicated instructions into simple steps and tell the children each new step after completing the previous step. This will help your lessons flow without overwhelming the children and will help them learn to be patient and focus only on the current task.

Create lessons that relate to your children's interests

Children are more likely to concentrate if the material relates to their interests. At the beginning of a new school year you can incorporate things such as “All About Me” activities that help you get to know more about your children’s likes and dislikes. Choosing themes based on their interests will engage them more in the learning process.

Activities to increase attention span

You can help your children increase their attention spans with these fun activities.


Memory is a card game where picture cards are placed face down, and players take turns randomly selecting two cards and flipping them over. If the cards match, the player removes the pair from the array of cards and collects them. If the cards do not match, the player flips the cards back over, ending their turn. The goal is to collect the greatest number of matching pairs.

Memory teaches children to concentrate and pay close attention to the position of each card and the picture on each card that is flipped so they can find matching pairs. When playing the game with toddlers, it may be helpful to begin with only a few pairs of cards to prevent children from getting frustrated because they can’t find matching cards.

Jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles improve children’s attention by requiring them to focus on one task for a long time. Even simple jigsaw puzzles with only a few pieces require children to focus on arranging and orienting the pieces, which can increase the amount of time they spend on the task beyond their typical attention span.

Bead jewelry

Creating bead jewelry requires that children thread a piece of yarn through the holes in the beads. This activity improves children's focus, concentration, and fine motor skills as they pay close attention to the beads and yarn and carefully thread the beads onto the yarn without missing the holes.

Spot the difference

Spot-the-difference puzzles improve children's concentration and encourage them to focus on details. These puzzles are almost identical illustrations that children can look at carefully to identify the parts of the illustrations that differ.

Going on a picnic

"Going on a picnic" is a memory game played with a group. This game improves children's attention spans and concentration by having them remember and recite lists of items.

How to play "Going on a Picnic":

  • Start with the phrase, “It’s a warm summer day, and we’re going on a picnic. Let’s take…” and name a food.
  • Have the first child repeat your sentence and add a food item.
  • Have the next child recite the previous player's sentence and add another food item to the list.
  • Repeat the steps with each child until someone forgets an item.

As your children participate in these activities, you can use a tool like brightwheel's daily activity report feature to note how often they lose focus or need to be redirected to stay on task. Then, you can share these findings with your children's families so they can continue to work with their children to improve their attention spans at home.

Final thoughts

These classroom activities and strategies can help your toddlers concentrate and focus in the classroom so they can learn with fewer distractions. Increasing your toddler’s attention spans with puzzles, breaks, memory games, and other engaging activities will help them focus in the classroom so you can make the most of each lesson and equip your toddlers with the ability to focus and concentrate.

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