Winter warm-up activities
Kids love to get outside, whether it's a trip to the local park, a walk around the block, or just a run around in the back yard. But as the weather gets cooler and the rain sets in, you may very well find yourself housebound and wondering how on earth you are going to entertain your exuberant toddler! We've put together a collection of indoor activities to keep the younger members of the family occupied, whilst preserving Mum's sanity!
Kids love to bake, and it's a great rainy day activity because not only does it keep the kids entertained, but the warmth of the stove can help to warm up a chilly house. When baking with kids keep in mind that simple is best, and be prepared for plenty of mess. There are some great kids' recipe books available, but old favourites such as scones and muffins always go down a treat.
Older kids might like to help read recipes, whilst younger ones will have fun hunting in the cupboard for ingredients. Letting your kids measure out ingredients using scales, measuring cups or spoons is a great introduction to the mathematical concepts of weight and volume. Even very young children will enjoy mixing with a wooden spoon or whisk. And the best part of baking is, of course, eating the results! Check out our recipe pages for some inspiration.
Toddlers seem to derive great pleasure from changing their clothes several times a day, so what could be more fun than a big box of oversized clothes and an afternoon of dress ups and fantasy? You can start a dress up collection for your kids by rummaging through your wardrobe for old clothes that you no longer wear - Dad's old shirts are guaranteed to get a new lease of life, and that sparkly scarf you never wore will make a perfect skirt for your fairy princess.
The $2 Shop is a great source of dress up bits and pieces, from cheap jewellery and belts to glitter glue for decorating old clothes, plastic high heeled shoes, fairy wands, plastic water pistols and cowboy hats for your pint sized 'sheriff'. Kids will derive hours of fun from the simplest things. Play some music and dance around dressed in ridiculous clothes, or act out role plays. And dress up is so much more fun when Mum (and even Dad!) gets involved too!
Arts and crafts
By keeping a box of art supplies on hand, you have an instant source of amusement for wet, rainy days. Take a sturdy cardboard box, and have your kids decorate it with paint, glitter, stickers, collage materials, crayons, and whatever else they can find. Then use the box to store all your art supplies. Some basics to include are: crayons, felt tip pens, glitter, glue, coloured paper/card, old scraps of fabric, a stapler, hole punch, stickers, plastic drinking strawers, chalk… The list is endless. Then let the kids loose in the box and watch their imaginations run wild. Don't forget to supervise though - much as you love your child's artwork, it loses its appeal when their canvas is your kitchen wall!
Freshly made play dough is warm and squishy and a tactile pleasure for all children, even the very young. You can find a play dough recipe here. Let your child choose what colour the play dough will be, and keep a supply of cookie cutters, rolling pins, and plastic knives on hand. You can also add glitter to your play dough, or use it in fantasy play, for example to make 'cakes' for a tea party. Play dough will keep for a few days in an air tight container, and when it starts to dry out it can be used for 'messy play' by adding water, baking soda, leaves and flowers etc. Messy play is best for outside though as it tends to be exactly that - messy! Click here for our play dough recipes.
Indoor obstacle courses
Create an indoor obstacle course using pillows, blankets propped over chairs to make tunnels, and whatever toys you have on hand. Add a bit of variety, for example "Everyone must crawl through the obstacle course" or "How many times can you complete the course in two minutes". You can also include problem-solving activities, for example create a barrier and ask your child to think of creative ways to get under, around, over or through the barrier.
Sometimes it can be fun to get outside, even when the weather is cold and wet. Rug up warm with plenty of clothes, and don't forget a warm hat, raincoat and gumboots. Then run around and splash in puddles, or find a nice muddy spot to bake mudpies. Investigate the sounds that water makes on different surfaces for example, plastic, wood, concrete etc. Look for rainbows, or try to find a patch of blue sky "the size of a pocket handkerchief". And when you start to feel the cold biting, race inside for a nice hot bath or shower and a big mug or warm milk or Milo.