As Fall approaches, so does the cooler weather. Families with small children may find themselves feeling cooped up inside. Being the mother of two children, one who is not quite two years old, I’m well aware of the force of a toddler’s pent-up energy. Sometimes I feel as though a tornado has ripped right through my living room, leaving a trail of toys, books, and stuffed animals in its wake. The best solution I have found to this cooped-up feeling is to plan organized activities with your toddlers. Toddlers are not too small to participate in fun indoor activities, especially if you make a few preparations beforehand and keep the activities simple and appropriate for their level. Here are a few that I host in my house, I hope you enjoy them!
Items needed: Art supplies of your choice: crayons, finger paints, paper, tissue paper, and a smock or dad’s old t-shirt. Set up a special area with a disposable tablecloth and newspapers or an old drop cloth on the floor. Protect your child’s clothing by having them wear a smock or one of dad’s old shirts. Spread out the paper and let their imaginations go to work. Watch them carefully so they don’t eat the finger paints. One thing I have discovered about toddlers is they love tissue paper! Let them crumple it, crunch it, toss it, and enjoy the bright colors.
Items needed: Dance music and cd player, various dance party decorations. I learned this from my son’s preschool teacher a few years ago. Kids love to dance! Set up a “dance floor” by sliding some furniture out of the way if you need to. This is a great time to bring out any old party decorations you may have laying around. Give the kids some crepe paper strips, pom-poms, scarves or handkerchiefs, or anything they can wave with their arms to get their whole bodies engaged in the activities. If you have these, bring out any colored lights or even a disco-ball to add to the excitement. Play your favorite dance music and watch them wiggle! This activity is good for releasing pent-up energy and exercise.
Not really a “class” but a fun way to get lunch or dinner prepared. Have your child “help” you in the kitchen. Even if they never touch the actual food you are preparing, a toddler can be entertained with a bowl and large spoon while you cook. Let them pat, knead, or stir something. And tasting is strongly encouraged. Using seasonal vegetables such as pumpkin or other squash is a great way to appreciate the season with your child.
Items needed: A large flat sheet, imagination. And old favorite from my own childhood – build a fort! Using a large flat sheet, drape it over furniture, weigh the corners down with pillows or tuck them in the cushions. Leave an opening for them to crawl in and out, and let their imaginations go to work.
Home-made Building Blocks
Items needed: Empty boxes, tape, colored paper. Collect the empty boxes, all shapes and sizes as long as your child can pick them up. Shoe boxes, cereal boxes, etc., will all work fine. Tape the tops down, and if desired, wrap them in colored paper. They make excellent large building blocks that your little one can use to make stacks as tall as himself. They are big enough for small hands to easily handle, yet light because they are empty. They are great for building hand-eye coordination, as well.
There are many ways to enjoy the season as the weather changes. Switching to indoor activities can be fun and easy. Have fun!