Member News: Action for Children - Our month-long survival guide for parents with children at home: tips for toddlers
At home with the family? Our parenting coach Joanna Miskin suggests 37 things you can do with your toddlers (ages 0 to five) at home.
1. Share favourite stories and books. It’s a great way to spend time together and help your children with their reading skills, speech and language.
2. Dig out some old socks and make puppets together. Glue on old buttons for the eyes or draw them on for a fun activity that will encourage their creativity. Once you’ve finished your puppets make yourself a theatre out of an old cardboard box and host your own puppet show.
3. Get the paints out and get painting. But don’t limit yourself to boring old brushes - use your hands and fingers to make pictures.
4. Playing with playdough is not only a fun thing to do but is also great for developing motor skills. You can make your own with flour, water, vegetable oil and salt – add food colouring to make different coloured doughs.
5. If the weather is bad, make an indoor picnic for you and your little ones and enjoy some role play – take it in turns to serve or be the chef.
6. Board game sessions are good for everyone and a good way to show your pre-schooler how to take turns and share.
7. If you’re stuck indoors and can’t get out, singing and dancing are brilliant ways to exercise so put some music on and have a disco.
8. Make your own musical instruments from items you have at home. A box and some string can become a guitar or put some rice in a plastic bottle for a homemade maraca. You can even form a band and put on a show with your new instruments.
9. Baking together is a creative and clever way to introduce maths skills – and everyone can enjoy the end product!
10. Dig out the dressing up box. You don’t need to have expensive shop bought costumes for this. What about Dad’s hat or a scarf from Mum’s wardrobe?
11. Head out into the garden and collect some leaves. Count them together for a quick maths lesson before using paints to make a print with them.
12. Tip pasta, rice or lentils into a tray and encourage your child to make a pattern in it or fill up different sized containers. You can play similar games with cornflour and flour although it’s a bit messier so you’ll need your aprons.
13. Allow your child to choose a theme every day or week and base your planned activities around that. Focus on something you know your child will enjoy from “dinosaur” to “under the sea” or “people who help us”.
14. Run a bath and fill with toys that your child wouldn’t normally play with at bath time. If you’re doing “theme of the week”, a funnel and jug from the kitchen or toys could all be good options to adapt.
15. If you can’t get to an indoor soft play why not create one in your front room from pillows and cushions? It will burn off some energy and help your child’s physical development.
16. Help children to have something to look forward to by creating spring or Easter cards for other members of the family.
17. Create “snowballs” from rolled up bits of newspaper and split into two teams. Use a line of cushions to create a dividing line, set a timer and the team with the least amount of snowballs on their side at the end is declared the winner.
18. Collect old newspapers and magazines to make a collage – using scissors under supervision helps with their motor skills.
19. Help your children learn about different emotions by drawing emotion faces on paper plates. Copy those faces in the mirror together and talk about what they might be feeling.
20. Simple puzzles for toddlers can be a good way to spend time together and help with problem solving.
21. Use this time to plant some seeds or small plants for the garden and you have an activity that can be carried on throughout the spring and into the summer. It’s also a good excuse to be outside.
22. If the weather is good enough take a football for a kick around in the garden to get them moving – count the goals and it becomes a maths lesson too!
23. Warmer weather is also an excuse to wrap up and head outside with a blanket to do some cloud watching. What shapes can you see in the sky?
24. Pretend you’re all heading off on a camping adventure and make a den in the front room with duvets, pillows and cushions.
25. Grab a packet of plain biscuits and some icing sugar and get decorating. Not only does this develop creativity and motor skills, but everyone gets a treat at the end!
26. Collect up all your toy motor vehicles and create a mini car wash in the sink or a bowl.
27. Take it in turns to blow bubbles. When it’s your turn to blow ask your little one to run around and pop them to get them moving as well.
28. Make a touchy-feely box by picking up different textured items from around the house and then asking your child to reach their hand in and describe what they can feel.
29. Depending on your child’s age, play a round of musical chairs or musical cushions for the much younger ones.
30. Blow up some balloons and set a challenge that they’re not allowed to touch the floor during a game of catch.
31. Have a tea party for teddies and dolls. Ask your child to share out food such as breadsticks with all of them, counting as they do so.
32. Practice cutting skills by making shapes out of folded up paper.
33. Become a fashion designer for the day and get them drawing on an old plain t-shirt.
34. Dig out some face paints, or maybe old make up if you like, and get them face painting. Perhaps something that fits with your theme of the week?
35. Come up with a treasure hunt and leave clues around a room for your child to follow. The treasure at the end could be anything from some fruit from the fruit bowl, costume jewellery or a teddy bear.
36. Play a game of Simon Says to get them moving - ask them to do Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes or the Hokey Cokey.
37. For slightly older children in this age group put up a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. If they don’t like being blindfolded then just ask them to close their eyes instead.
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