Saturday, July 29, 2006

Keeping toddlers busy!

These ideas came through on a homeschooling list that I am part of. Although I have no need to keep my toddlers "busy" while I am doing schoolwork with my older kids, I thought some of the ideas were good and could be used just to have fun! I believe that the key to playtime activities is to have them appeal to many age groups, of course what else would you expect from a mom of eight???

Here a few favorites that came through the list:

1. Providing bread dough, rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc. You can either use an easy recipe for bread dough or you can buy it frozen. Give them cinnamon and raisins or dried herbs for flavor and you have yummy (?) dinner rolls.

2. A bucket (usually an ice-cream bucket!) with warm soapy water and an old toothbrush to "clean"...whatever. In the warm months, it's often an outside activity. During other times of the year, they can scrub bathroom faucets, baseboards, or potatoes for dinner (minus the soap, of course!).

3. Turning chores into games! Delivery Trucks is a favorite for the little ones taking clean laundry to their proper places. (Unfortunately no matter how I try to disguise chores, the older ones catch on!) The kids are given a small plastic basket that is "loaded" with clothes (don't forget to make the appropriate sound effects), they are given a "destination" and they make their "delivery." Sometimes there are "accidents," but that's part of the game!

4. Many meals have been prepared while the "baby" took a bath in the kitchen sink. We have found even a two-year old with a couple inches of water in the sink while the faucet is trickling along with some measuring cups and spoons can keep them occupied for quite some time.

5. Play "Office." A little plastic basket, or an old purse is filled with "important papers" (i.e. junk mail). Throw in some "stamps," "stationery," and an old checkbook, and they're ready for business.

6. We have enjoyed and occupied toddlers with a rice container. (A gift from an Aunt)! We use a decent sized rectangular clear plastic bin with a lid. Fill it 1/2 way with rice and fun containers, a spoon, funnels, plastic animals, etc., It is dry and sweeps or vaccums up easily. Dry pasta or beans work well too. You can dye the rice with vinegar and food coloring and place a table cloth under the container for easier pick up. They play with it in the middle of the kitchen floor.

7. I put a few inches of water in a different tub occasionally for water play. Again in the middle of the kitchen floor with a bath towel near by!

8. We also like play dough with tools and cookie cutters.

9. Another favorite maybe for 3 year olds and up is to cut out pictures in magazines (animals) usually and paste them on to paper. We have made zillions of these free style colages through the years. Our 3 year old uses child safety scissors and cuts and cuts and recuts paper gluing it every which way.

10. Recipe for bubble solution (in a gallon jug)
2 cups Joy dishwashing detergent
6 cups water
3/4 cup Karo light syrup
Combine, shake, let settle four hours (Best results, use only Joy and Karo).
Have kids blow bubbles with plastic frozen juice container (ends removed) or use straws or plastic berry containers.

11. Ask your local appliance shop for a free refrigerator cardboard box (or box from other large appliance). Cut doors and windows in the box to make a playhouse. Allow kids to decorate it with crayons, markers or paint.

12. We have built pillow houses in our family room out of couch pillows, bed pillows and sheets which we drape over them and the family room furniture. In the winter, we have used the deck cushions set on their sides for "walls", covered them with a sheet and viola, A maze! They can bring their favorite stuffed animals into their house or whatever their imaginations can come up with. Our kids have played for hours on end in these.

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