These dollar pom pom balls from Target were a hit with both my one year old and three year old. They are so simple to use, mess free, and oh so versatile. This is also an amazing fine motor skill activity for both kiddos.
What you will need:
Tweezers (if your child is ready for them)
It’s pretty easy to get this sensory bin up and going. Dump all the pom poms you have into the container, put some cups inside, and you have a sensory bin. The more pom poms you have the better. You can also getting different size pom poms to add even more fun to this activity. Let your little one explore the bin.
Depending on your child’s ability, have them sort by color or just dump the pom poms from one container to another. For my oldest, I gave him some tweezers to make it just a little more challenging. He not only had to sort the poms by color, but also use his fine motor skills to transfer the poms from the container to the cups.
Each of them had a blast playing with the pom poms and this will definitely be a sensory activity we come back to! It took my oldest 10 minutes to sort his pom poms. Ten minutes of concentration, hard work, and silence. I sat there is awe watching him maneuver the tweezers and pom poms. He had so much fun and worked so hard. He was so proud of himself and I was proud of him too!
There are few things more stressful than dragging kids to a place they don’t want to be, and having to wait there. The doctor’s office, DMV, oil changes, etc. We don’t always have a choice to go solo, and we can’t make the wait any shorter. Plus, we don’t want to be there either! Even during family outings we find ourselves with downtime in which we need to keep our kiddos busy, like waiting for food at a restaurant or waiting in line for a fair ride.
Here are some tried & true ways (aside from sugar & screen time) to fun up those un-fun environments for kids:
Old School Games
Our parents used to drag us everywhere, and didn’t have tiny TVs or gameboys to hand us. Have we forgotten so easily? Sometimes when we struggle for the answer with our littles we just need to look back. In this case, look back to what our parents and grandparents did.
One of my favorite things to do with my preschooler while we are waiting somewhere is play “I Spy.” We once had to wait 3 hours in Urgent Care and the silver lining was getting to learn more about how my child’s mind works. We played “I Spy” for about 2 hours. We took turns and started with colors and then moved on to shapes and patterns. Even, “I spy something clear” or “I spy something with a dog on it” and she had a blast! I had a few laughs too at how clever her finds were. If this is too advanced for your child, simply name colors an have them point out something red, blue, green, etc.
We also like to list out animals. Animals that have a tail, animals that “roar”, animals that have fur. This isn’t as popular as “I Spy” in my household, but it gets your kids thinking and comparing. For older kids, bring out the ABC’s and tie in whatever they are into. ABC animals- aardvark, beaver, cat….ABC automobiles- airplane, boat, car…and so on.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Have your kid copy your actions. They’ll think it’s hilarious and you can keep them in line. If you are somewhere very public like a pharmacy waiting room, stick with facial expressions and hand movements. If you are confined privately to say a doctor’s exam room, break out the dance moves!
Work of Art
I always carry a few crayons and some scrap paper in my purse, but even those limited materials can be challenging to break out. One of my new favorite things for waiting rooms and car rides is Melissa & Doug’s Color Blast or Magic Wow coloring books. One mess-free marker and a neat little book is all you need, and it keeps kids busier than handing them some blank paper and a few crayons.
I know, I know, stickers can be ridiculous, but hear me out. For toddlers and preschoolers, even up to elementary school-age kids, the right sticker book can be a game changer. Hop on Amazon and search “sticker activity book” and see which strikes your fancy! My oldest loves the Sticker Dolly Dressing collection.
You can also print out our own matching game. Search online for free printables or use characters from your kid’s favorite movie to make your own. Puzzle and maze print-outs work well too! I often grab extras of these at restaurants or the public library. Here’s a website I stumbled across that has some cute activity worksheets you can print for free.
Real Life “Where’s Waldo”
This is kind of like a version of “I Spy” with people, so if you are somewhere you can people-watch, this can be pretty fun. We once had our car inspected at a building with a lot of sidewalk traffic outside, so we looked out the window and saw what we could see. I would tell my daughter, “Find someone with glasses,” or “Find the orange cat.” It’s surprisingly fun for adults too!
Re-Imagine a Favorite Book
Waiting around makes for some great reading if you ask me, but if you have little kids with you who can’t read on their own, bring a favorite book or two of theirs. I like to pack two that are full of possibilities, aka have very busy illustrations. You can use a book in so many ways. Find things in the pictures, ask your child to point out all of the letters that are in their name, make up your own story, etc.
Classic Deck of Cards
My daughter doesn’t quite understand all of her numbers yet, but loves counting and matching. While trying to keep her busy one rainy afternoon on a family beach trip we realized the magic of Crazy Eights. Ever played? If not, look up the rules! It’s the perfect card game for preschoolers. All they have to do is match the cards (same number or suit) and they can basically play unassisted. (Jumbo cards make it extra fun.)
Bring a String
Okay, call me crazy, but my daughter can entertain herself with a string for ages. She “ties knots,” drags it around, puts things on it. It sounds nuts, but sometimes simple objects bring out the most in their imagination. I have this car dash gripper for placing things in your car so they won’t roll around and she asks to play with it all the time. She pretends it’s a camera, folds it up different ways, all kinds of things. So toss a shoestring in your purse the next time you think about it and break it out when you’re waiting somewhere and let me know if your kid keeps busy too!
We hope this helps ease those unwanted waiting times. If you have any genius ideas, please share them with is! It takes a village!
Sometimes using paintbrushes or our to paint can become mundane, so we switched it up. I found a pair of cheap water guns that the kiddos could use easily and an idea was born : Water Gun Painting.
Who said water guns should only be used for water? Not I, so we used them to paint. Neither kiddo had ever used a water gun, so I knew this would be a really fun experience for them. While Gray dove right in, Charlie needed a bit more assistance working her water gun.
What do you need to get started?
Large pieces of paper
Easel (or fence)
We used acrylic paint, but you can use washable paint to save your little ones clothes. First, you want to dilute that paint and create a 50/50 water to paint solution. You can just eyeball it, it is not an exact science.
Then you want to load up your water gun with the paint/water solution. I squirted the water gun in the sink a few times until the paint started shooting out. That way when the kiddos start spraying it works instantly.
I brought our easel outside, but you could also tape a piece of paper to your fence. Once your piece of paper is secure, let them go to down.
Gray noticed that when you sprayed the blue on top of the yellow he made green. If you had three water guns it would be a lot of fun to use the primary colors to show how colors are made.
Repetition is a great tool to use when teaching your child their alphabet, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same activity over and over again. Creating new activities for Gray keeps him interested and his wheels turning.
So, I put two of his favorite things together the dotters and a simple sensory activity
To get started, fill your container with the beans. Stick the letters in the beans so that the tops are shown. Let your little one pick out a letter and then find it on their paper.
Once they have found each letter, let them go to down with the dotter. This was of course Gray’s favorite part. He chose different colors for each letter and made it his own. Unscrewing and screwing back on the tops is also a great fine motor skill activity.
He was so proud of himself once he had found all the letters. We will definitely be doing this activity again, but maybe with numbers next time. I have attached 3 files for you to choose from! Click here to see them.
Sometimes we overthink and over plan activities for our little ones. The simplest of activities can result in hours of fun. These super simple paper tunnels were just that and Grayson loved them.
Grayson loves cars, trains, and airplanes, so our road became many different things. “Look Mama a race track!” to “Check out my runway!”. His imagination went wild!
While his little sister was napping, we often try to find quiet activities. The idea of tunnels popped into my head and thus we created his tunnels.
All we needed was some construction paper, tape, and painters tape. Oh, and a hard surface to attach them to. First, we created our road with the painters tape. Then, all we did was grab some construction paper, fold up little tabs on each side, and tape them down to the floor to create our little tunnels.
Easiest activity EVER! Grayson collected some of his automobiles and started playing. It’s still on our floor now, ready to use after nap time.
Because the tunnels are made out of construction paper Grayson had to practice being gentle and slow with his cars. This is not a task that comes naturally to him, so I little practice goes a long way.
Ready to dig into some fun St. Patrick’s day activities? Well then you have come to the right place! We have put together a few fun and easy project for you and your kiddo.
Work on those fine motor skills, while sharpening their cognitive skills as well. Of course, it’s also fun for them! Print out a picture of a rainbow, like this one, grab some dot markers, and fill the circles with whatever your child is learning. Are they into shapes? Awesome! Fill the circles with different shapes and have them follow the key. Do they love numbers? Then use numbers! We are working on lowercase letter, so we used them! The best part is you can easily adjust this activity based on theme, difficulty, and ability. Oh, and it’s pretty much mess free. We love to continue to our rainbow theme with our wooden rainbow.
2. Make soda bread!
Does your toddler LOVE to be in the kitchen with you? Mine sure does. So, we decided to make some delicious Irish soda bread. Let me tell you, it was easy and actually super fun! I know keeping a toddler on task for more then 5 seconds can be a challenge. But, I have noticed when they have their little hands moving they seem to last a whole minute. Helping in the kitchen isn’t just fun, it is a great way to introduce math and how to follow directions to your children. For step by step instructions, click the link above. Her recipe was super easy and delicious!
3. Lucky Charms Sensory Bin.
This Lucky Charms sensory bin is easy, edible, and so much fun to do! It took me maybe 5 minutes to put together and had my toddler and infant busy for at least 30 minutes. It is the prefect way to teach sorting and fine motor skills.
What you’ll need:
Plastic Letters or anything to hide
Just place letters in the bottom of the bin and poured the cereal right on top. Then have your kiddo start sorting the marshmallows into different cups, while uncovering the hidden letters. As the letters become exposed have them place them into the puzzle. Such a fun and yummy way to teach sorting, pouring, and the alphabet all in one!
4. Go Outside On a Scavenger.
We LOVE to go on scavenger hunts! So, I created a simple list for St. Patrick’s Day. We headed outside in search for all things St. Patrick’s Day! When we found all that we could outside, we began our search indoors. We found everything on our list, even those tiny leprechaun footprints! It was so much fun searching high and low for everything. Seeing the excitement on his face was priceless. These toddler years can be a handful, but they sure are fun! If you want to head out on a scavenger hunt with your kiddo, I attached the PDF below. Happy searching!
There’s no where my kiddos would rather be than outside; running, screaming, and exploring. They would spend the entire day outside if they could, and sometimes we do! However, there are days when we just can’t do outside. It’s too hot, it’s raining, or maybe it’s too cold, which doesn’t happen often here in North Carolina.
Regardless of the reason, all of their bottled up energy needs somewhere to go, and I’d prefer it not be them jumping from couch to couch. Of course, on these rainy days their old toys no longer interest them and they are all over the place. Thankfully there are plenty of fun, easy, and quick to put together activities to keep your little ones busy right inside your home.
1. Sensory Bins:
Sensory bins are a great way to let your little ones explore different textures, colors, and concepts. Everything is contained in a big plastic tub, or so it’s supposed to be, which makes for easy clean up! Find a plastic tub you have laying around the house and fill it with whatever interests your child. We currently LOVE construction of any kind. So, off I went to the garage, got some soil and rocks and ta-da! A sensory bin was created!
Some other fun themes are: holidays, individual colors, and seasons.
2. DIY Dry Erase Board:
Have a glass door or window? I’m sure you do! Well guess what, you also have a dry erase board. Grab some dry erase markers and let your little one draw a picture. Make sure you remind them markers are ONLY for the door or window, otherwise you may end up with a lovely Picasso-esque mural adorning your walls. When drawing their own picture loses your littles interest, draw shapes on the door, then begin naming the shapes, while having them erase or circle the shape you named. You can do this with anything: letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc you name it!
3. Alphabet & Number Games:
We have been focusing on our numbers, letters, and shapes for a while. Over time we have narrowed down some of our favorite games. Do you have an old cookie sheet you no longer use, alphabet or number magnets, and a sharpie? If you do, you have a new game at your fingertips. Take a sharpie, write down the alphabet (or numbers) and have your kiddo match them up! How easy is that?! If you don’t have magnets, grab a piece of paper and some paint! Write the alphabet or numbers down and have your kiddo trace them with paint. Both activities are simple to put together and will keep your little ones busy.
4. Cook together!
Cooking together doesn’t have to be elaborate! Have them help you make breakfast, or lunch. Measuring, dumping, and stirring help build fine motor skills, it also builds memories together. Bonus, my toddler also seems to eat more of the food when he helps!
5. Painters Tape Race Track!
Cranes, trains, and automobiles are just a few of our favorite things. With that being said, we have a TON of vehicles throughout our house. These vehicles sometimes need to place to go (other than under my feet!). So, we grabbed some painters tape and created a race track! But, what’s a race track without some tunnels and bridges?! Thank you solo cups! The tracks don’t have to stay on the ground. Up the walls, over the couches, and down the kitchen drawers are all fun places for their cars to travel.
6. Bring Nature Indoors!
Not literally. But when all your littles want to do is venture outside, you can still let them scope it out from the sidelines. Talk about the weather, look for wildlife with a pair of binoculars, grab a bird book and identify birds at the feeder, watch and learn about the types of clouds. If you live in a larger city or busy neighborhood, people watch! These little window-watching conversations will introduce new fun, and even new vocabulary.
7. A timeless classic…Build a Fort!
What kid doesn’t love a fort? They are ripping your house apart anyway, might as well do it intentionally! Gather all the pillows, blankets, cushions and get to work. Have flashlights or lanterns? Great! Stuffed animal role players? Awesome! Forts aren’t an everyday occurrence over here, so making a rainy day extra special with this family activity is always a blast. Leave them up all day, eat lunch in there, watch a movie by lantern-light. It only takes a slight departure from “normal” for kids to think something is magical.
Now it’s your turn!
Choose one or a few of these rainy day activities for your little one and go have fun!