In fact, toddler can learn more from fun activity like games. That is why brain building games will be better choice rather than pushing them to learn on their desk or memorizing many things just like older kid study at school. It does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money to buy a lot of toys. What you need to do is find a fun learning ways and do it together with your child.
Here are several types of brain building games that you can do together with your toddler:
You can try to play dress up games with your toddler. It may sound simple but actually it can develop your toddler imagination, impulse control and creative thinking. Just simply choose or let them choose which dress they likely to wear and develop as story or role play with that.
Imaginary cooking is a kind of simple and cheap brain games. What you need is just an empty pot and wooden spoon. Then let them act like a chef. Based on this activity, they are not only enjoying playing but also develop their imagination and literacy skill at the same time. To make it more interesting but less messy left then you can use sponge, paper or food picture as the cooking ingredient. Just beware of small material since it may lead into choking hazard.
Hide and seek
I bet most of us already play hide and seek in our childhood. This is a great idea of brain games to train toddler mapping, spatial skill and navigation. Just by playing this, your child will try to take a look at the playground layout, possible places to hide and how to get there. If you are dealing with small kid that cannot catch the idea of hide perfectly then you can change it into hiding small object and let them find it.
Block can be old game that played. However, it can be a great step to teach toddler about scientific thinking. They will do some trial and error of picking up or building up the blocks. To avoid boredom, provide various blocks with huge variety of weight, shape and color.
Sand and water
Children love the mess. However, the mess can be valuable tools for their learning. You just need to prepare a basin of sand, bucket of water, some cup and scoop. The will learn by themselves about the concept of liquid, material type and do some trial to build something.
Reverse follow the leader
You can simply let them to lead. Let them play freely in the backyard or playground. This is better way to learn about the physical world around them. A little bit of messy thing will not be barrier because they will get so much more while having fun with you in the nature.