Being stuck in the house is a hard pill to swallow for an adult, let alone for a child who has limited access to the world. Responsible and thoughtful parenting often requires us to get creative when it comes to entertaining our kids. Especially for the exhausted parents of active toddlers, finding unique ways to keep your little ones occupied can be a job in and of itself. Unfortunately, mustering the time energy to research a bunch of activities isn’t always in the cards; and most parents don’t want to simply ship their kids off somewhere in order to provide them with adequate and age-appropriate stimulation. So to save you some time I have compiled a short list of some of my kids’ favorite things to do.
1. One word: Jell-O
It’s hard for me to describe all the different things your little ones can do with this stuff. Since toddlers like to put things in their mouths as part of the exploration process, it only makes sense to offer them something that not only stimulates their senses but also tastes pretty good too. In addition to just letting them explore the bowl, you can easily mold their Jell-O into all sorts of fun shapes or even set up an attractive display for them to destroy at will. Be careful, as Jell-O can stain some surfaces; make sure you set up your children in a place where it’s okay for them to get really messy.
2. Ah yes, the old Cardboard Box Trick
Remember when we were kids and our entertainment came so easily? Well, the times have not changed as much as you might think; and most little kids are still quite enamored by the sight of a big, unattended cardboard box. Can anyone say, “Fort?” I like to turn mine into functional playhouses for the kids, complete with cut-out windows and a flapping door. On nice days I tend to set the box outside and let my toddlers color all over it with their sidewalk chalks, crayons, and watercolor paints while I clean up the yard and enjoy the sun.
3. Behold the Power of Water
There are endless ideas involving water that can both entertain and educate your precocious toddlers. By simply using a little food coloring and some vegetable oil you can make a functional tornado in an old bottle, or you just can set it up so that your kids can play with various cups and spoons. Playing with water teaches toddlers about the natural sciences, physics, and cause and effect, as well as gives them a sense of wonder while fostering their creative thinking processes. There are enough water play ideas available in books and on the web to suffice until your toddler graduates college.
4. Bubble Wrap, Babies, and Bliss
Even for an adult bubble wrap can be very entertaining. This wistfully exciting packing material comes along with nearly everything that’s in a box, and it can provide hours of cheap distraction for you and your babies. Why spend money on annoying toys that will run out of battery, get broken, or be tossed in a forgotten pile? Give your curious toddler the same benefits without having to spend a dime when you hand them over some un-popped bubble wrap. Just be sure you are there to supervise so there are no accidents.
5. Spaghetti and Play-Dough
A little uncooked spaghetti and some dough can go a long way to entertain a toddler. Using either kitchen dough or Play-Dough, give your little one a handful of hard spaghetti noodles. Allow them to push the noodles into the dough, perfecting their motor skills and giving you a few moments of peace in the process. Make sure you keep your eye on the kids though, as they tend to taste test the dough. Making your own dough is extremely cheap, but you can pick up some Play-Dough at your local store for about a buck.
There are innumerable places to get some crafty ideas to entertain your toddler, and most of them cost very little if anything at all. Below are some nifty sites with some awesome ideas:
- · Hands On As We Grow
- · Kid Spot
- · Family Education
- · Toddler Toddler
- · Crayola