Lazy Mama Crafts II
ideas to entertain little ones
We've all seen the wonderful ideas for craft projects for toddlers that involve a plastic bottle, sequins, food coloring, small toys, glue, raffia and 2 hours of your time. They are definitely cute but there are lots of days when you don't have the time, energy or ability to do these mama-intensive crafts and you just want an idea that will keep your little one happy for a half an hour.
Here's some fun and easy ideas for entertaining toddlers when you're sick, on bed rest, stuck inside for long periods or plain old tired.
Remember, if you're sick, bedridden or burned out, it's okay to lower your expectations of yourself. Make quick meals. Ask for help. Let the house be messy. Crafts can also be low maintenance and still be fun. It'll keep the kids (and you!) creative!
- Whipped cream in a bag. Put some whipped cream into a ziplock bag and put a couple of drops of one color of food coloring in one corner and then another color in another corner (optional). Seal well and give to the child. Have him squish and knead to mix the colors. When it's mixed, snip off the tip and have him pipe designs onto a cookie sheet. When that's all done, show him how to smooth it with his hand and write in it with his finger.
- Paper snowball fights. Crumple up a bunch of pieces of white paper and lob them around the room together. Set up some boxes or baskets to practice throwing into or just throw at each other.
- Colored salt. Take an empty spice jar and fill with some salt or sugar. Add some food coloring and have the child shake shake shake to color the salt. When colored,
let her paint a design with a paintbrush and water or glue and then shake the salt over the top to color the design. Do two or more colors for nice pictures and color mixing lessons. ;)
- Wet paper and a wall. This one is good outside, in a bathtub or anywhere where the floor can get a little bit wet. You can put down a few layers of towels and do it anywhere though. Rip up some magazines and put a little water into a large bowl or dish (heavy bottom ones are harder to spill). Show the child how to dip the piece of paper into the water and stick it to the wall. Make designs and then just slide it off when finished. (note: I've always done this outside or in the tub, though a friend tried it in her kitchen when she was going nuts. Obviously test to make sure you're not going to ruin your rented apartment's wall with dyes or anything! If you do get any ink on the walls, mr. clean magic eraser should get them right off.)
- Give the child a roll of toilet paper and let him do whatever he wants! He can wrap you or himself like a mummy, run through the house making streamers, get it wet and stick it to the wall (hey, it's special circumstances!), etc. When it's all unraveled, roll it into balls, throw it in the air, get it wet and make a sculpture, etc.
Since you don't want him to start doing this to every roll of toilet paper, mark ONE roll of toilet paper in a big way so he knows he can only do it to that. For instance, take a red marker and draw lines all along the sides.
- Put out an assortment of big boxes and let her play. Make some tunnels and leave some open to be cars. Put some on their sides to be houses, etc.
- Make up easy dough:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 Tbs. cooking oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups cold water
food coloring (optional)
What to do:
1. Mix flour, salt
2. Add food coloring and oil to water
3. Gradually add water mixture to flour mixture
- Play hide the phone. If you have a cordless phone with a beeping function to find it, have someone hide the phone and then press the button so the toddler can search for it. This is good for listening skills. Make it pretty easy for toddlers. Prepare for them to keep trying to call Guam once they find the phone. ;) Alternately, hide a ticking timer.
- Tie a cord around a stuffed animal's neck and show them how to walk the dog, bear, whatever. I don't know why, but my kids always liked this.
- Let her poke things with toothpicks. Sounds lame, but it totally enthralls small children. :) Find anything properly squishy (but not too) in the fridge or fruit basket and just show her how to stick a toothpick into it. It's a great tactile busy game and very satisfying if you find something with just the right squish. You can also do this with anything from biodegradable packing peanuts to cheetos, which I hate to tell you are the same thing.
- Make a busy bag of odd stuff. Get an old purse and put things like a mirrored compact, a whistle, an empty ring box, an old pair of sunglasses, a calculator, a computer mouse, some small toys, a change purse (the kind that snaps shut to hold change), a mini flashlight, etc. and let him just go through it all while sitting by you.
- Record him. If you have a camcorder, record him playing, singing, whatever and also record things he likes to see like you, pets, balls, etc. and you reading favorite books, etc. Little ones love to watch themselves and their worlds.
- Get some tapes of kid songs and activities from the library. Pop them in and let the happy voice play music and tell her to dance and be a bear or whatever. A call to a friendly librarian should be able to get something put aside for someone to pick up for you if you are too bedridden to go yourself.
- As always, piles of books. :) There have been many days that I've had a new baby on one side of me and a big old pile of books and one or two little kids cuddling on the other side of me. Good books keep kids marvelously happy for very long times. Again, the helpful librarian can be enlisted to put aside a big old pile of great toddler books for a good cause.
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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
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