Entertaining tiny humans and trying to get dinner made can sometime feel like a noteworthy feat.
Let’s be honest – there are those days where the rain/snow/sleet/unsavory weather just doesn’t let up, you’ve all been trapped inside for what feels like days, and you’re feeling tapped out. Sometimes you need a new idea. Sometimes toys have lost their appeal and you’ve got to get creative with things around the house, things that you already own, to entertain the kiddos. So behold! Here is a list of 10 quick & easy ways to nab their attention long enough to let you finish that cup of coffee or fold a load of laundry –and hopefully even a little longer!
Most of these activities I started doing with my eldest daughter Delaney (now 3), when she was just year or so old, (maybe a tad older depending on the specific activity). We are still doing these activities today but now with two toddlers, both my 1.5 year old and my 3 year old. To this day, without fail, if I suggest one of these activities I instantly have their attention and they’re all too willing to participate.
So without further ado, some of our favorite…. “We’re-Getting-Creative-And-Pulling-Out-All-The-Stops” Activities:
1. For the life of me, I wish I knew where I originally came across this activity but it’s repeatedly been a godsend and allowed me to get dinner made while keeping a close eye on my girls. Plus, the pride on their faces’ when they get that tape pulled off the floor is the sort of thing parents live for. Pretty simple: Masking tape or Painter’s Tape on the floor, let the toddlers go to town peeling it all off.
2. Practice threading beads onto dry spaghetti noodles standing upright in Play-Dough. (This is a total hit! No beads? No problem! Try threading other noodles like penne or rigatoni. Use whatever you’ve got. I’ve even cut disposable drinking straws into 1/2″ pieces to make makeshift “beads”.)
3. Homemade Chutes & Ladders: Some empty toilet paper, paper towel and wrapping paper tubes along with some Painter’s Tape to hold them to the wall to make a toddler height Chutes & Ladders game for sending Cheerios, toy cars, bouncy balls and other toys racing down. Can you say: “All Day Entertainment?”
4. Indoor “Sandbox” –When it’s too cold to go outside to play in the sandbox, I bring the “sandbox” inside! I use my biggest, deepest roasting pan and some uncooked white rice for this activity. A 20lb. bag of white rice from Wal-Mart has brought on hours of endless fun for these girls. It makes a bit of a mess but nothing that can’t be easily vacuumed up. This activity offers so much entertainment I don’t even mind running the sweeper when it’s done. Throw in a couple measuring cups, spoons, and some toys to bury and they are in heaven.
5. Unweaving pipe cleaners from a cookie cooling rack = an Easy-Peasy activity to set up + tons of quiet playtime for a problem solving little. (Look how serious she is):
6. Pretty simple- just a button box made of an old Tupperware container with a small slit cut into the lid. We practice the pincer grasp but also talk about colors, shapes, sizes and sort shiny or dull buttons etc. This silly little activity has bought me many a shower. On more than one occasion the baby would be napping and I’d ask the toddler if she’d like to play with her buttons in the bathroom. Then she’d sit on the floor next to the shower with her little button box and all the buttons spilled out on the floor and she’d spend 10 minutes talking about and sorting buttons while I showered away. (Side Note: this activity is for certain kiddos & certain ages. I could never do this with my youngest because she puts everything in her mouth. My older one has never been an orally fixated child. Please be advised.)
7. Post-It Note Scavenger Hunt – After cleaning out my old office I found dozens of promotional sticky notes I’d amassed over the years as giveaways, from vendors, clients, etc. They found their way home with me and on one particularly rainy indoor-day I put them to good use. I stuck notes all over the lower kitchen cabinets, the floor, on furniture, doors, everywhere within reach the toddler could find. Then I invited her to help me “hunt” for them. I was sure to make a big deal and act totally delighted in every one she found. This went on all afternoon. (After she’d collect them all I’d recycle the same stack of notes to repeat the game over and over. No need to use new ones every time.)
8. Corn Starch Slime: A little cornstarch, a little water a drop of food coloring and my oldest will entertain herself in her highchair for as long as I’ll allow. She often comes to me and asks for “boo (blue) slime?” or “people (purple) slime, Mommy?”
9. Clothes Pin Letter Recognition – Lately, Delaney’s gotten really into her ABC’s. She’s always pointing to letters and words saying, “Look Mommy, ABC!” So I thought it was time to help her recognize specific letters, starting with those in her name. I wrote her name on a scrap piece of paper and gave her a set of clothespins, also each with the letters to her name on them. We worked on matching up the letters in her name, learning the name of each letter, as well as putting them in the correct order.
10. Paint the sidewalk with water and paintbrushes. (Okay, so maybe this one is not a cold weather activity, but certainly worth the mention. As soon as the weather will allow, you can find us painting like Picasso on the patio!) And if you are fortunate enough to have a heated garage or an unfinished basement this one could be done year-round!
So that’s what I’ve got! A few of our tried & true keep-’em-busy-till-the-weather-warms-up activities. What about you? Any no-fail, junk drawer, household object fun ya care to share? This momma would always love to add a few more to her arsenal!