By: Kara Wood
Autumn is here and it’s time to say goodbye to the long sunny days of playing at the beach or chasing our little ones around the park. Are you freaking out too?
With the cooler weather on it’s way I took a trip to my local dollar store and found a goldmine of supplies for our rainy day box.
10 Easy and Super Cheap Activities for You and your Toddler
Here are 10 easy-to-prep and super cheap ideas for when your little monkey is climbing furniture and you really need a break, and a coffee.
10. Pokin’ Pipe Cleaners – Provide a handful of colourful pipe cleaners and an upside down colander. Show your bean how to poke the pipe cleaners through the holes. More advanced tykes can sort them by colour.
9. Threading for Little Fingers – Don’t put away those pipe cleaners yet! Your little one may not yet be ready to thread beads on a string yet but many will be able to thread large beads on a pipe cleaner… just bend the end so that that they do not slide off. Hurray for fine motor skills!
8. Bubbles! Did you child love blowing bubbles outside? Or did they mostly scream for the bubble mix and then pour it all over the ground like mine did? Either way this is a fun one with surprisingly little mess. Squeeze some dish detergent into the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Spray cool water into the bowl and fill it right to the top so that there are lots of bubbles. Use your hand to keep the bubbles in the bowl while draining the water out. Give the bowl of bubbles to your child on the floor with a dry cloth. Young toddlers may pretend to wash themselves (or others…) while older toddlers can be shown how to build bubble castles. Any bubbles that hit the floor can be wiped up easily.
7. Sensory Tub – Place kid friendly cups, bowls, spoons, measuring cups etc. into a shallow bin or tub. Fill it up with rice and put items like large dry pasta, smaller toys like Duplo, anything you have on hand that can be poured will work. Watch your toddler dump and fill and mix the items to their hearts content. My little one proceeded to take her creation and “feed” it to the kitty. Gotta love her imagination!
6. Open and Close – Raid your house for items that little fingers can open and shut independently. Suggestions: empty vitamin bottles with large caps, old change purse or wallet, CD holder, baby food jar, travel shampoo bottle with attached lid. Place all of the items on a tray or in a shallow bin — your child will love it!
5. Sticky Letters – Remove the backing from large sticky foam letters and let your toddler stick them onto paper (or to their fingers, face or your arm… etc…). This is a cool tactile experience that also lets you and your child talk about ABCs.
4. Learning to Cut – Provide wooden popsicle sticks and homemade or purchased PlayDoh. Show your little one how to cut the Playdoh with the popsicle stick like a knife. The lid to Playdoh can also cut out circles or you can provide plastic cookie cutters. Older toddlers can use child-safe scissors to cut the dough — much easier than cutting paper.
3. Drumming to the Beat – This is a classic. Place upside down mixing bowls or pots on the floor and provide a variety of drumming utensils such as wooden and metal spoons.
2. High Chair Art – I don’t know about you but I cannot yet trust my sweet little girl to resist the temptation of colouring on the walls or painting the cat. I place her in her high chair with just a diaper or covered in an art smock and use masking tape to attach paper to the tray. I then give her crayons or dollops of finger paint and she makes a mess…but it’s fun!
1. YouTube – I know there’s been debate about whether toddlers should watch TV or use electronics. I admire parents that can spend a day with an accident-prone, emotional, sometimes spinning-in-circles toddler and never take a TV break. So let’s congratulate them, and now talk about great educational clips available online. I recommend searching Super Simple Songs — these are musical and education videos that are perfect for young children.
There you have it mama. Bookmark this page to keep on hand when you need to come up with quick and easy fun for you and your toddler. And while these activities are safe, constant supervision is recommended.
When you have to stay inside because of the weather you might as well have fun!
Kara is the mom of Norah, a spirited and sweet toddler-aged little girl. Kara lives with her husband Joel and their cat (and Norah’s best friend) Milo in Langley BC. Together as a family the Woods love to explore the beach for treasures, play at local parks, and go on camping adventures. Kara works part-time as a mental health therapist and Joel is a research economist. Joel loves to fish, Kara does yoga, and Norah loves to do crafts and dance to all types of music.