Going a bit stir crazy? Crafty mama Joan arrives to the rescue with her favourite at-home activities to beat the haze and keep little ones learning and having fun!
Being stuck indoors with young children this hazy season, we mamas are pulling out all the stops to keep them entertained, prevent fights, and avoid hearing the dreaded ‘Mummy, I’m bored.’
In times like these, screens (e.g. smart phones, tablets, televisions) seem to be the greatest gift to mama-kind. However, according to Baby Center, doctors say that over-exposure to screens can impact a child’s attention span and concentration.
Trust me, mama, there ARE fun and engaging alternatives! Learning is maximised through ‘hands-on’ experiences with materials. This explains the power of sensory play (involving touch, smell, taste, sight, and /or hearing).
To help us survive this season with a smile, here are some of my favourite no/low-cost ideas to keep little ones happy and entertained:
Messy play involves interesting textures such as liquids, ice, anything gooey, sand, etc. While it can be a bit tricky to clean up (newspaper is definitely your friend here!), it’s so worth it when you see the look of sheer delight on your little one’s face. I’ve outlined a few messy play favourites below:
Goop: A solidy-liquidy substance, made with 3 ingredients – water, cornstarch and food colouring. This is my favourite Goop recipe!
Milk colour mixing: Add drops of food colouring to whole milk. Dip some dish soap in using a toothpick, and be fascinated by the magical movement of colours. Detailed instructions here.
Water: Just water and any ‘equipment’ you have around. Add in baby bath for a bubbly good time.
Jelly: Make jelly in a few different colours and mix them up in a big container. Provide spoons/containers for scooping if desired.
Make toys out of recycled materials, encourage creativity, and then retire them without too much heartache once the novelty wears out.
Cardboard stove: Use a cardboard box, container covers, and bottle caps (include the top part of the bottle so that the caps can turn).
Functional sink: Use an old shampoo bottle as the ‘tap’ system, and a plastic bowl as the ‘sink’. Cut holes in the bottom of the plastic container and shampoo bottle for water flow (an original creation after days of dreaming!).
Milk bottle slotting: use a craft knife to cut various shapes for different objects to be slotted through (e.g. buttons, ice-cream sticks, etc.). *Never leave child unattended with the small objects.
Busy bags are little bags of educational, fun activities to keep young children entertained and engaged. They can be pulled out for independent or accompanied play.
A good range of affordable, ready-made busy bags is available at online at BusyTotsBags starting from just $4 per bag. Each of the busy bags at BusyTotsBags have a learning objective, with many of them being Montessori-inspired.
I like to keep a library of various types of Busy Bags, and rotate them to keep them fresh. Reserve the new ones for ‘desperate times’!
There are heaps of free printable resources available on the Internet, including Play Dough mats, alphabet tracing/colouring materials, counting, shapes and much more!
Finally, there are lots of ideas available on the internet that require nothing more than objects you’ve already got lying around the house – perfect if you don’t want to go out in the haze! Some of my favourites include paper plate and paper cup crafts, toilet roll crafts, and painting. Try searching Pinterest for inspiration!