With two toddlers running around my house I am always looking for ways to keep them busy but also help them learn at the same time! A bit ago I posted my first ‘Keeping Busy‘ piece with ideas for at home sensory activities for toddlers and babies – and turns out you all really liked it! So I’m back with some more DIY ideas for helping your little ones learn and have fun at the same time.
Simply put: quick and easy activities are my favorite ones. Because in my opinion, there’s no reason to spend hours prepping a project for your little one since there’s no guarantee that your toddler(s) will play with it long enough to make your efforts worthwhile. I do have a few items I might spend some extra time ‘crafting’….but I’ll share those later on if I decide to take the plunge 🙂
Anyway, a lot of times the best activities are born from items in your house – no fancy purchase required. You’ll see below that our kitchen colanders kept L&H quite happy when paired with some cheap pipe cleaners….easy peasy! And I’m not sure about you but I ALWAYS have yogurt in the fridge (the twins are huge yogurt eaters), so mixing it up into play dough was simple.
Whether it’s these activities or something else, don’t be afraid to take a look at what’s in your kitchen cabinets to find a fun “toy” for your little. A half open box of rigatoni might not seem special to you….but tape it shut and give it to your toddler and it’s an instrument! Empty paper towel or toiler paper roll isn’t just trash in our house anymore….it’s a “toy” drumstick, pounding hammer, telescope, megaphone, etc.
So take a peek at this next edition of Keeping Busy! I hope you’ll find these useful for your littles — and also be sure to let me know what simple household items you use to keep your little ones busy!
Please note, before I go any further the safety of your little one(s) should be of the upmost concern. With some of these activities you are giving your children items that are not traditionally what we would think of as a “toy” for a baby. That being said, please supervise at all times and do not leave your child unattended during these activities.
Yogurt Play Dough
We went to a playgroup recently that had play dough and L&H were very intrigued. L took a liking to licking/eating the play dough (everything goes in the mouth with her!), so I started pondering what it would take to make edible play dough at home.
All it takes is two ingredients – which you probably already have in your kitchen – to make this DIY play dough. Yogurt + Corn Starch is all it takes! If you wanted to get fancy you could add a few drops of food coloring to make it pretty – but be warned that might get messy so I’d suggest covering your little(s) in some smocks (which by the way we have these smocks for messy activities and I really like them! Plus they’re very cost effective, $14 for 6!) or making sure they have clothes on you don’t mind getting dirty.
Put 1 cup of fruit-free yogurt into a medium sized bowl, and stir in the corn starch 1/2 cup at a time. Since the million different yogurt brands out there all have slightly different make ups, the amount of dry ingredients needed will vary. So add in the corn starch 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well in between with a rubber spatula and/or your hands. You want the dough to be malleable and not super sticky. I used about 2 cups of corn starch before mine was the right consistency.
Squishy Window Bags
These squishy window bags are just like the bags I made in my previous Keeping Busy post – except this time I taped them up to the window! L&H loved being able to move the contents around over the smooth surface and the clear glass made it look like the glitter/pom poms were floating in space.
Again, I made these almost the same way I made the other bags – but this time I used gallon sized Ziplock Freezer Bags. I filled each bag about halfway with cheapo hair gel then tossed in some pom poms — I went with a snowy day themed blue and white but you can use ANY color – as well as some glitter. Squeeze out as much air from the bag as you can then seal it shut. I used packing tape to ensure the bag was super sealed – I didn’t want H’s hair standing up in a hair gel mohawk! – then attached the bag to the window using packing tape on all four sides.
Shaving Cream Bags
Okay, so you’re probably sensing a theme here….mess is kept to a minimum by letting your littles play with materials INSIDE a ziplock bag. Or that I just have a love for ziplock bags (which I do…). Either way, yes it’s true – messy materials are explored easily and in a tidy fashion when kept inside a bag. Which is why I love doing Shaving Cream Bags with L&H.
These are very simple to make and are great for both toddlers and babies. Take a Ziplock Freezer Bags – I used gallon sized bags, but you could do a smaller size – and fill it about halfway with foam shaving cream. Any cheapo brand will do like Barbasol Shaving Cream. Add a few squirts of paint – I used finger paints because it’s what I have around. Try different color combos each time like red and yellow so they mix to make orange or blue and red to make purple. Squeeze out as much air as you can then seal the bag. Then run packing or duct tape all around the edges to reinforce it. Then let the squishing begin! The bags will be light – almost like clouds.
Pipe Cleaner + Colander Activity
On a rainy day I busted out some pots and pans to let L&H make music with the lids and pots, but then I realized – I could use our colanders for something a little less noisy 🙂 So I snagged a pack of Pipe Cleaners out of our craft box and stuck them into the holes of the colander. It took no time at all for L&H to start following suit. I was shocked at how long they focused for – working so hard to get the pipe cleaners in the holes and then pulling them back out! It was a great exercise for their fine motor skills. Then when they tired of threading the pipe cleaners in, the colanders turned into wonderful hats 🙂
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