Indoor Activities for Little Ones
by SM Ford
Want to keep your young children busy indoors? Without handing them your cell phone or putting a movie on screen? Try these ideas and not only will your children be entertained, but they’ll have the opportunity to expand their own creativity.
ACTION SONGS AND POEMS
Sing action songs. “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes” have great appeal even to babies, especially when you involve them in the action. Toddlers quickly learn to imitate the motions you show them. Many ages enjoy listening to silly songs. If you don’t know many songs, discover the variety of good DVDs, CDs and CD/tape book combinations at your local library or bookstore. Many books include ideas for the motions.
Recite action poetry. Rhymed poems are easy to remember, i.e. “Pat-a-cake,” and sometimes even teach a simple lesson: “Five Little Monkeys” teaches children not to jump on the bed. If you don’t remember nursery rhymes from your childhood, children’s books and magazines are a good source. Don’t forget the classic Mother Goose rhymes, too.
CREATIVE MATERIALS AND ART
Have creative toys available. Blocks that fit together or stack, connecting beads and rings, and puzzles give your child the chance to make and build. Toys where only her imagination is the limit are especially important and can keep a child occupied by herself.
Let them sew. Start with sewing cards where he can weave “thread” through holes in cardboard or wood. Create your own cards with cardboard and a hole-punch. Use shoelaces or yarn with taped ends for the thread. Fabric scraps, felt, buttons, yarn can be glued to make a fun creation, too. As your children get older, allow real needles (large size) and thread.
Supply more than the basics of crayons and paper. Color books, marker books and washable markers, sticker books, paint-with-water books are great starters. Also offer colored or construction paper, safety scissors, tape, glue sticks, stencils, etc. Water paints or finger-paints take more of your supervision time, but all of these materials can give kids wonderful outlets for creating.
Don’t forget modeling clay or dough. You can even make it at home. Let those small hands shape, squish and form. Provide simple tools from your kitchen: cookie cutters, plastic silverware, rolling pins, molds and straws. You may even have more unusual tools such as a garlic press to make strings, or a meat mallet to make patterns. An egg slicer is fun, too. Consider using a plastic table cloth on and under the table to protect the furniture and floor. Supervise at first to make sure children use the dough appropriately.
Make a dress-up box or basket. Scout your closet or garage sales for shirts, hats, dresses, scarves, vests, gloves, purses, bags and more. Let your child combines these items to make fun costumes for hours of pretend.
Make or purchase puppets. Stuffed animals may get to play roles in your child’s productions, too. The stage can simply be a blanket strung between two chairs, the back of the couch, or a large box with an opening cut out. Be prepared to be the audience.
Read to your children. From board books to novels, the more you read to them, the more likely they’ll become readers later. At the library encourage them to pick out their own books. Readers can entertain themselves anywhere, anytime.
Yes, this is more work than plopping an electronic device in your child’s hand, but the rewards will be well worth it.
About the Author
SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, who has also lived in the Midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.
Sue likes traveling and animals, especially those in the cat family, and has a dog and cat who own her.
You can read Sue’s “Real Parenting” column on the 4th Thursday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.