The first is another sorting activity and you won't have to buy anything for this one!
Put two or more different kinds of beans in a bowl and sort them into their own containers. I used garbanzo and pinto beans here. It is amazing how such a simple activity can occupy a child for so long! (once again adult supervision is a must for this activity as it uses small objects)
I purchased ABC and shape flashcards from Target before going on a plane ride with my daughter, hoping to keep her occupied with something new. She was 18 months at the time. She sat for an entire hour in my lap on the plane looking at the ABC cards. Coming home from the trip the cards made an appearance every day, she loved them. And I am very proud to say that by 19 months she knew her entire alphabet by sight and could pronounce(for the most part) each letter. She also knows her shapes too! Although octagon and pentagon pretty much sound the same coming out of her mouth :)
Children just crave learning! It really is amazing how much they absorb and how much they want to absorb it!