WOOHOOO WE'VE MADE IT THROUGH WINTER!!
The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting nicer. Usually a time we all start to celebrate and shed our winter woes in a 'HURRAY - We've made it through another dark season.' But this spring feels a bit different. There's not much celebrating going on and we're not out and about meeting friends at the park or in the sunshine. We're still hunkered down in our homes, hopefully getting out for a walk here and there, but we're generally stuck inside.
We're not much of schedule people around here but I've been finding it helpful to maintain a little bit of regularity. I have pretty loose boundaries on how my day looks but a few goals I lay out for every day with the kids are to have a good amount of outdoor time, independent play, a structured activity and get something productive done.
Getting Something Productive Done With Children??
I almost laughed as well when I wrote that in the introduction. How in the heck are you productive? Well turns out I use that term loosely, but I try to find the energy to get at least one thing done productive WITH the kids. This could look like anything from 'sweeping' the house, 'folding' laundry, 'cleaning' the windows, making snacks. I try to instill that we have to do a few chores within our day and suprisingly my little guy is very receptive to this. I use quotation marks above because naturally folding laundry and truly cleaning with a child is a bit of a joke.. I sometime call my little guy the anti-cleaner or anti-folder when it comes to laundry. But with a bit of time and effort he at least joins me in the task.
Our favorite all time way to be productive is cooking. This is a super bonus for me, or 2 birds with 1 stone as some may say. We are always preparing energy-type balls or little snacks to eat throughout the day. He helps by scooping things into the food processor, and then rolling the balls and placing them in the container. He loves this. Please we get delicious and healthy treats to boot. As he's getting older it's becoming more fun as he experiments with the ingredients that he wants to put in them. Energy balls (any energy ball recipe can be made into bars if you prefer) could be a blog post on its own. We make up a lot of our recipes because we know the general consistency they need to be, but for some inspiration here's 20 Kid-friendly energy ball recipes.
Structured Activities? That sounds like a lot of effort!!!
For us a structured activity doesn't need to be over the top and extravagant, it's simply a different activity that I set my toddler up with and we play together with a bit and after I put a bit of effort in it allows him to play on his own and the activity has the ability to spiral in to a LONG amount of play. I am by no means the most creative mom and I have a few activities that my little guy loves and I tend to have them on repeat. I want to share just a couple of these simple activities with you for some inspiration and ideas.
Water Based Activities
There are so many fun things to do with the different properties that water allows, some of these activities are best done at the sink or in the bath but I will specify.
ICE ICE BABY - Freezing toys in ICEWhat you will need:
Toy that is able to get wet
Container of choice to freeze toy in
Exactly what it sounds like; freeze toys in ice.
There's a few ways you can do this activity and it varies in the amount of time you want to spend on it. I always like to have a few in the freezer for when boredom strikes. For these I use silicon BIG muffin tins, find a little favorite toy that is able to get wet and fill the cups with water, then freeze. I pop them out of the muffin container when they are frozen and just store them in the freezer.
The other option is to do a BIG frozen toy treasure hunt and freeze a bunch of little toys in a 8x8 (or size of choice) pan.
Once the water and toys are frozen the excavation begins. Get the ice out of whatever container it is in and place either in the sink, tote or big cookie tray depending on the size of ice block (remember the ice will melt so you want to do this activity in an area or tray that has sides appropriate to catch the amount of water melted). We like to use toy hammers and experiment with warm water and salt to melt the ice. Experiment and use whatever works and that your children are in to.
For a spin on this activity add some food colour to the water, we like green to resemble a swamp.
I have been doing this activity with my little one since he was around 18 months and could hit the ice, but let your child guide you if you think they are ready for it. I wouldn't use salt with younger children and always ensure if you are trying to melt with water that it's not too hot.
BUBBLESWhat you will need:
Dish Soap or Bubble bath
Container for bubbles to go into - tote, roasting pan, tuberware, etc.
We Love Bubbles! Here we're talking about bubbles as in a bubble bath just denser and easier to play with. You can do this activity a couple of ways, for ease and cleanliness it can be done at the sink, but we like to do this in a clear tote but you can use anything around the house - we've even used a roasting pan.
To make EXTRA LARGE SUPER FUN bubbles you just need dish soap and water.
Take a 2 TBS dish soap (or bubble bath) and 1/4 cup of water and a hand mixer and mix together. Mix until there is no water left and your results will be ultra fluffy dense bubbles. This activity is so versatile as you can add whatever toys (that are able to get wet) that your child is liking to play with at the time.
For a fun spin on this activity add a few drops of watercolour and have fun mixing colours and defining which colours are which.
If you're needing more details on how to create this easy activity check out Asia from Fun At Home with Kids for great detailed instructions.
Along the lines of bubbles, we also sometimes just fill the kitchen sink with water and dish soap and "do dishes" and take the toys to the "toy wash". This has lent to many hours of fun for my little guy.
I would say this is a 2+ activity as you want to ensure your little one isn't going to eat the bubbles, but again you know your child best, they just may need a bit more supervision the younger they are.
Surprising Foam DoughWhat you will need:
Squirt bottle, dropper
Container for dough to go into - tote, roasting pan, tuberware, etc.
This activity is so fun as it has many different aspects and the lessons can grow and change as your child does. This dough has quite different properties than a play dough and feels very squishy with the texture that you are sure it is made out of baking soda. The first time we played with this my little guy, who I must be honest doesn't always have the longest attention span, played for 2 hours. Record breaking!
The goal here is to make the dough, play with that for awhile and then when your child seems to have had enough add the surprise of the dough being able to foam with vinegar. With older children this can spin into a bit of a science lesson on the properties of baking soda and vinegar. In the container of choice mix 2 cups of baking soda and 2 TBS of salt. Add 1 tsp of soap of choice and continue mixing well. The dough will look a little funny and crumbly at this point, now we're going to add 7 TBS of water and mix well until the dough forms a ball. You may need to add more water if the dough is still too dry, add it slowly 1 tsp at a time until you can mold the dough into a ball.
I usually make the dough and then divide into three different balls and colour them by adding a drop of different food colouring to each.
I then place the dough in the different balls on the big cookie tray we use and the little guy picks which toys he wants to play with. Dough can be molded into things, used to bury and hide treasure, let your little ones mind do the exploring there is no right or wrong way to play with this stuff.
When it seem like your child has had enough, let them in on the little secret that there's more to it. If there's a few toys buried - perfect we'll try to foam the dough and find them.
Fill the squirt bottle or a little dropper with vinegar and begin to squirt on the dough, the result is a foaming reaction between the vinegar and baking soda - SO fun!
I would say this is a 2+ activity as you want to ensure your little one isn't going to eat the dough, but again you know your child best, they just may need a bit more supervision the younger they are.
What you will need:
This is a great activity to help your child's fine motor skills and something you'll definitely have around the house. All you need is a colander with holes in it and a string. Very similar to a child's sewing care but more basic equipment. Take the string and tie a knot at one end and begin to thread the string through various holes in the strainer. As simple as that. your child can make their own designs and weave along the edges or go back and forth and make a web inside the colander.
There are so many simple at home activities to do with children with convenient items that you probably already have. We hope that give you a bit of inspiration on these days spent at home with the kiddies. What are your favorite and simple activities?
We're so excited!
Owl Gator Baby has added a TOY section.