If you’re trying to keep your active toddler busy at home during the coronavirus crisis (and running out of ideas!), here are some engaging and age-appropriate activities to try.
Cooking with preschoolers
Cooking is a great way to work on motor skills (by stirring, scrubbing ingredients, cleaning and pouring) and math skills (counting and measuring), and it can give children a sense of accomplishment and pride to see their creations come to life! Here are some relatively simple recipes, like mini lasagna cups, baked spaghetti squash and parmesan zucchini fries, just to name a few.
Storytime is always a winner in our house. Cuddle up with your favorite books; right now, we’re loving interactive books like Poke a Dot Old MacDonald’s Farm, with 30 dots for your child to count and poke, and The Cheerios Play Book. Or you can head to Storyline Online, where celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Betty White read aloud to kids.
Online learning resources
YouTube channels like Alphablocks, Learningblocks and Numberblocks are educational resources that use cartoon characters to teach children about math, phonics and reading with “adventures, songs and silliness.” PBS Kids also offers videos, games and a daily newsletter to help kids learn at home during the coronavirus crisis.
Channel your child’s inner artist, and stock up on supplies like construction paper, pipe cleaners, stickers, glue sticks, toddler scissors, crayons, washable markets and paint. Then get to work on crafts geared for your toddler like paper plate animals and toilet paper roll butterflies.
Sorting is a fun and age-appropriate activity for toddlers; it helps them make better sense of their environment, and develops skills like matching. Many sorting activities can be done right at home, with no need to buy anything. Ideas for sorting include utensils (separating and putting away spoons and forks) or laundry, which can be sorted to wash by color, and then put away when clean in the correct drawers.
Label objects and rooms in your home
Create labels for objects and even rooms in your home to promote language development and letter/word recognition, and then go on a “scavenger hunt” around the house with your child to hang the labels in the appropriate places. If you have a backyard, you also can do this with outdoor objects. This is one mom’s guide to home-decor friendly labels, but you can make yours as simple or as elaborate as you would like.
Play dress up in mommy or daddy’s closet
As a little girl, I used to love wearing my grandmother’s glittery silver heels, and stumbling across the room. Dress up, or pretend play, is a wonderful way to nurture your child’s imagination. Take advantage of the time at home to raid mommy or daddy’s closet, and play dress up. (And you may even find a few old items to donate at the same time!) Some dress up ideas include hats, scarves and gloves, sunglasses, even sheets from the linen closet, and let kids dream up their own costumes!
I-Spy… household items
Play a game of I-Spy with things in your house. The great thing about this game is you can use basically anything at home – objects in the kitchen, toys, etc; you can either name the object then have your toddler find it, or you can provide clues about an unnamed object, using colors and shapes to help guide your child’s search.
Make homemade playdough
Use ingredients that you (likely!) already have in your kitchen to make your own playdough. This “recipe” was shared by my daughter’s teacher.
Mix together in a sauce pan over medium heat:
1⁄2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cream of tartar (You can omit this, but the play dough won’t last as long)
1 cup flour
Store in an airtight bag
In addition to these toddler activities to try at home during this coronavirus pandemic, remember that your child’s emotional well-being is important…and so is yours. Try these deep breathing exercises like “teddy bear breathing” with your little one to stay calm!