Sometimes it can be tricky to think of activities to keep a toddler and small children amused, especially if they’re at the point of giving up naps, or on a particularly rainy day.
There aren’t many children that don’t enjoy bubbles, even if it’s just for ten minutes. How many can they pop? Can they catch a bubble without popping it? Even talking to them about the colours they can see in each bubble is a nice conversation to have and helps them notice details. For older children, you can have a competition to see who can blow the biggest bubble or the most bubbles with one blow.
It can be a very calming activity for a difficult day!
Getting messy with paint is a lovely way to spend an afternoon and can keep a toddler amused for some time. It’s also a good way of trying to get some keepsake handprints, or footprints if you’re feeling brave!
Paint in the form of solid sticks are available if mess isn’t your thing. There’s no need for spilled water pots and rogue paintbrushes. They can even be used on windows! They wipe up easily and children can still exercise their artistic side.
Plain white paper plates give endless arty opportunities, from creating human/animal/monster faces to drawing food to hot air balloons. Use wool or cotton wool for hair and glitter for extra-terrestrial faces or add tissue paper fins to make a fish. You can even cut holes for eyes and make masks.
For more seasonal ideas you can glue two plates together to make a snowman shape.
Like above, use the cardboard tubes from kitchen or toilet rolls to make puppets. You can make lots of themed puppets to illustrate a song, like Old MacDonald’s Farm or Five Little Ducks or the Three Little Pigs, or you can create your own story.
Use paint, feathers, glitter and felt pens to decorate the puppets.
You might see an old cardboard box, but you can create a whole castle with your toddler using some paint and a bit of imagination! Try cutting out turrets at the top for extra points.
This kind of activity can take as much or as little time as you want, depending on the detail you use. Don’t forget the fun your child will have playing inside your castle once it’s finished.
Builders’ tuff spots are brilliant for open-ended play. Try filling it with sand and leaves and using to make a dinosaur land for your plastic reptiles. Waterbeads are a really fun activity or using the tuff spot with shaving foam helps keep the mess contained. Try dyeing cooked spaghetti or dried rice for some messy play or big ice cubes and plastic polar bears!
Even just a small amount of soapy water can keep a younger child entertained for a while.
Making up new games with balls can be really fun for children, especially if they are the ones coming up with the rules. Follow thier lead and it’s amazing how creative they can be. Using a bigger sized bouncy ball makes it easier for young children to catch them and kick them.
How does changing the size of the ball affect the game? How about if you try playing the game faster or slower. There are lots of way to change up a game to keep your child interested.
A bit like the ball games, you can make up silly races using props and obstacles, like beanbags or hula hoops. It doesn’t have to be a win or lose situation. Try introducing the idea of relays too if you have more than one child. Include a variety of moves like running, skipping, jumping, hopping!
Try creating a garden scavenger hunt. Include ideas like leaves, sticks, the prettiest stone you can find, a daisy etc. For smaller children, just give the instructions one at a time.
This can work in other locations too like a beach or park.
This activity is great for younger toddlers in a high chair or as a calming activity for older toddlers. YOu can use chunky threads and beads and then include lacing activities too. If you can have these items to had, try threading penne pasta (you could paint it first too). You can also try threading cheerios onto uncooked spaghetti strands. Stick it upright in a lump of modelling clay to keep it steady.
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