Quick fixes to entertain your stir-crazy kids
[ ] Sensory tubs. Put rice in a box, bucket, bowl or small plastic pool. Instant sand box. Rice is great for sensory tubs, but there are tons of other materials you can use – rice, beans, oatmeal, etc – so get creative! Add some spoons, cups, funnels and anything else to make the experience fun, and let your little ones get to work.
[ ] Form a band. Get out those spoons, bowls and kitchen utensils and start banging.
[ ] Go bowling. Line up some cups or cans, grab a ball and throw for a strike.
[ ] Consider the birds and create homemade bird feeders. You will need: large unsalted pretzels, strong string, peanut butter, plastic knife, bowl of birdseed. Attach a 2 ft. length of string to each pretzel. Using a plastic knife, allow child to coat it with peanut butter. Next have child dip the pretzel into a bowl of birdseed until all the peanut butter is covered with seed. Hang from a tree in your yard and watch the birds flock to the snack you’ve made for them.
[ ] Wrap up a few of her favorite toys for her to unwrap. Don’t use too much tape or she’ll need your help. See if she can guess what’s inside.
[ ] Trace a toddler. Have your child lie on butcher paper and trace his outline. Then let him color or paint it.
[ ] While the snow falls outside, create snowflakes with your kids indoors. Have your children fold a piece of white paper in half three or four times and then cut small shapes from the sides. Once they unfold their snowflakes, give them glitter and glue sticks to decorate them. Use string to hang them around the house.
[ ] Make a hat. Cut a strip of card to fit round your tot’s head, then have her decorate it.
[ ] Make some playdough. In a pan, mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 cup salt, 2 Tbs vegetable oil, 1 Tbs cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity). Cook over a low heat until formed and not too sticky. Knead in some food coloring (liquid, powder or unsweetened drink mix) and scented oils.
[ ] Ask a friend over. At this age children love to have a companion and they tend to entertain each other.
[ ] Have some indoor snow play. Dump some snow in the bathtub or the sink. Let your kids play without dealing with the biting cold outside.
[ ] Freeze dance. Turn on the music and get moving! When the music is turned off, freeze like a statue. This one gets all ages giggling. If you’re playing with more than one, anyone who isn’t “frozen” when the music stops is “out” for a round.
[ ] Blow up a balloon or grab a ball and keep it off the ground. Each time the balloon or ball hits the ground, give everyone a number. When you reach the number 10, the game is over. Not only is this a great activity for movement and coordination, it helps with counting as well.
[ ] Puppet show. Find hand or finger puppets, or small dolls. Get a big appliance box and have the kids cut out an opening for the stage. Staple on a piece of cloth or towel for the curtain. Paint the box to make it festive and tie on a few helium balloons. Have the kids present a show from inside the box.
[ ] Cookie time. Find a recipe for your favorite cookies. Under your supervision, have the kids make the cookies, then decorate them with tubes of frosting and candy sprinkles.
[ ] Play “Follow my leader.” Your toddler has to copy everything you do: jump up and down, pat your tummy, sit down, stand up, walk up stairs, walk like a bear, or put your slippers on your head. The sillier the better! Once she’s got the idea, let her lead you.
[ ] Obstacle course. Over, under, around and through, obstacle courses are fun to do. Use what you have; it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. When the kids help create it, completing it is more fun! So pull out the pillows, cushions and other supplies and get going!
[ ] Build a fort. Who doesn’t love a good fort? They can drape a bed sheet over chairs or other furniture, then crawl inside with flashlights and pretend they’re in a mountain cave or secret room. Offer props to enhance the play, like pillows, plush animals or toy cars. If you build it, they will come...with imagination, excitement and even more ideas!
[ ] Take a walk. Even though the first inclination may be to go to the movies or make a batch of cookies, getting out in nature does a lot more for a case of the winter blues.
[ ] Go on a bus ride. It doesn’t matter where to – it’s the adventure of the journey that counts!
[ ] Light games. Carefully poke holes in the bottom of a paper cup to form a design. In a dark room, shine a flashlight into the cup to see the pattern that was created. Add colored cellophane for interest. Spin the cups to create a kaleidoscope effect.
[ ] Pile couch and chair cushions – or even bed mattresses – on the floor. If your toddler is just learning how to walk and balance, this activity will help to strengthen muscles and build stability. If your toddler has been toddling for a while, climbing and jumping off cushions will be a squealing treat that could last hours.
[ ] Create necklaces. String cereal onto yarn to create an edible necklace. Or thread tubes of pasta onto string to make some pasta jewelry.
[ ] Paint the snow. How to: Fill a squirt bottle with water and a few drops of food coloring. Spray the snow for a painted effect. The kids will love it and this works even if the snow is too dry for snowballs.
[ ] Play “Hide and Seek” backwards. One person hides while everyone else seeks. As the seekers find the hidden person (one by one) they join them in their hiding spot until everyone is crammed (like sardines) into the same spot.
[ ] Decorate the windows. Use washable window paint or dry erase markers.
[ ] Make homemade pizza. Ingredients for pizza dough: 1 package yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup warm water, 2 Tbs oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and add oil. Combine flour and salt. Pour yeast mixture over dry ingredients and mix. Let rest five minutes. Roll dough onto greased pan. Add favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
[ ] Visit the animals at the zoo. When the weather cools off, crowds are smaller and animals are more active.