I could spend hours on Pinterest just perusing and pinning creative ideas that I will probably never make the time to do. Some of the activities for children are so elaborate that I start researching the materials and skill needed and find myself falling short. Take for example this magnetic travel tin… I stumbled upon this blog post by Meredith at UnOriginalMom. Let me tell you, she should get the “most crafty mom” award. She laid out the steps she took in her blog post, which went something like this. She purchased a package of DVD tins ($94.75 on Amazon), magnetic paper (13.28 on Amazon), and Etsy clip art ($6). She opened the Etsy images in Photoshop, traced them in Silhouette Studio, and reorganized the images to fit on one page, printed the silhouettes on magnet paper using an electronic cutting machine, had the color copies printed professionally on glossy paper, used Photoshop to crop her background image… Oh gosh, I’m exhausted just reading this.
Maybe I’ll just pour some wine and order one of these travel tins off Amazon for $8-$15.
Then of course, there are the ideas that seem really great until you try them with your child. I can’t tell you how excited I was to make this Homemade Color Book.
I had the idea pinned for months. Finally, after a trip to Home Depot and gathering up all our colored stickers, I sat down to do the project. I had this vision of my son and I sitting side by side talking about the colors and putting the corresponding stickers on together. In reality, he stuck some stickers on his shirt and our floor, then ran away. I pressed on and finished the project while he reorganized his toys around the room. I was still excited, convinced that he would be much more interested in the finished product. That was dashed when he immediately pulled the stickers off and crumpled the cards before throwing them on the floor, and stepping on them. At least it kept him entertained for a minute.
So here I am putting together a list (with images) of the activities I think are practical for us average moms with average budgets and an average amount of time (which with a toddler is basically none).
- Putting objects in holes. We have this simple pom pom push activity that my son loves. It only takes a few minutes and minimum dollars to make and has kept my son entertained time and again. I recently came across this option using straws and a grated cheese container over on The OT Toolbox that is pretty fantastic as well. This post on Wildflower Ramblings gives a few more ideas for sorting pom poms and pushing lids through cut outs in a cereal box.
- Sponges in water is absolutely my son’s favorite activity at the moment. I put just a small amount of water in a large container and hand him a pile of dry sponges. He likes to watch the sponges expand as they soak up the water and see the water drip down as he squeezes the sponge. I have various colors cut into shapes so we can practice his colors and shapes as well, but you could use any clean sponge cut into tot size pieces. You can add “tools” such as tweezers, chop sticks, or a spoon to have your LO practice picking up the sponges in other ways.
- Wrap stuff in foil. Seriously guys. Wrap your kiddo’s toys, wrap books, wrap a kitchen spoon, wrap the cat, all in foil. This seriously takes seconds and pennies to keep the kiddo entertained. I found this idea over here on Munchkins and Moms and I have to say it is pretty fantastic.
- Printables! Go for the easy ones, like this caterpillar counting activity, this shape one, or this magnetic clothing printable. Even easier, color yourself a rainbow.
- Along the same lines, practice brushing! I quickly drew Elmo, laminated, and gave my son a yellow whiteboard marker and a toothbrush. He loves “brushing Elmo’s teeth.” If you do not have a laminator you could also use these reusable dry-erase pockets.
- Thus far my son has not taken a huge interest in the oh so popular discovery bottles. He has actually preferred shakers (noisy objects in a jar or bottle with no water). However, this oil and water discovery bottle described on Play Trains! adds a science element that might just be enough to capture his interest.I feel like sensory exploration has been hyped up as THE THING you need to do for your toddler. No toddler is complete until they have dug their paws into a container of blue noodles. Here’s the thing, some kids just like to eat their food. I managed to stop Booboo from eating the blue noodles in his bathtub by convincing him they were dead worms, but smashing cereal with a hammer definitely turned into a second snack time. It’s funny, we spend so much time at dinner convincing our children to eat their food rather than play with it, then we sit them down for an activity where we tell them the opposite.
- Activities that include science, mixing, and creating have been more positive for us. You can find simple recipes for moon sand, play dough, or play snow to entertain the kiddos without creating food confusion. And if that fails, just let them eat dinner with their fingers.
- For anyone looking for crafts without having to actually do a craft, I suggest going the old fashioned route with a coloring book, crayons, stickers, stamps, and paint, or these fantastic reusable stickers, which can be used in the book provided or on any window or mirror (great for travel!).
Do you have an easy activity that your little one loves? Please share in the comments below!!