Welcome to the November 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Indoor Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared ideas and inspiration to keep families happy and healthy while cooped up indoors.
With the winter comes the cold. And wet. And soggy. When you have littles under the age of 3 you can spend from breakfast until afternoon nap trying to wrestle on snow suits and hunt down the missing mitten which, as it turns out, was never really missing but was tucked into the arm of the boy’s winter jacket which he was already wearing. You pull it out and set it aside. You continue dodging kicks, stuffing what seems like leg after leg into snow pant legs. All the while your child is shrieking like a feral cat. But finally you make it. The satisfying “ziiiipppp” of the last zipper and they are all trapped in their snowsuits whether they like it or not. A sigh of relief. Victory is yours. *sniff sniff* What’s that sm… Someone pooped. Ughh.. Fantastic.
So by now you’ve concluded prepping littles to go outside and “enjoy the snow” is about as easy as herding wild chickens and have promptly abandoned such lofty ideas. You’ve decided to pack it in until spring. Seal the windows, seal the door. Stay. IN.SIDE. I don’t blame you. And I must say, Mama. You are not alone.
But I digress.
Without further delay, I present to you 13 tried and true Boredom Busters for the 13 loonnngggg cold weeks of winter. These suggestions are geared at littles from 10 months to 3 years of age. Some of them seem painfully simple, but sometimes the most obvious ideas are the ones we don’t think of.
High-Five, Mama! You can do it!
1. Amateur Photography Hour
Most of us use our phones to take pictures now… Which means most of us have an obsolete digital camera sitting around somewhere, right? I gave mine to my 3 year old. This was the result:
2. Pudding Painting
Grab a paintbrush and a chocolate pudding cup. Plop your nearly nude littles in the bathtub and let ‘em go to town! They will paint the tub, the walls and each other. I’m sure a little will be eaten as well. Clean up is simple: Just turn on the water!
Pouring, stirring, mashing… It’s a toddler’s dream! Try baking something like this! The smell of lemon will freshen up the stale air of your winter prison… i mean, home.
4. Look Out the Window
Name things you see and explain what’s happening. Point out imaginary things. (eg. “Look at the dinosaur across the street! It’s going to eat that car! Look out!”)
Grab a muffin tin and an assortment of objects to sort into the different holes. (ie different types of dry pasta, toy cars, blocks etc) Babies will love just shuffling objects from space to space while older kids can be encouraged to sort by shape or colour.
6. Build a Slide
We have a hardwood dining table with a removable leaf. We also have a hard wood coffee table in our living room. Voila! A slide! Place a piece of no-slip rubber or carpet padding between table and leaf at the top, and leaf and floor at the bottom (if you don’t have carpet). Place pillows on either side of the “slide” and don’t forget to supervise!
7. Take a Bath
Fill up the tub and give them various kitchen utensils including strainers, whisks, bowls etc. to play with.
8. Cardboard Box Fun
Find a large appliance box at your local home store. (washer/dryer boxes are fun, or a fridge box if you have enough space) Most store associates will be happy to hook you up, though if they don’t have any on hand ask them when their deliveries tend to come in and when a good time would be to come back. Cut windows and doors or cut the top right off. Build a sailing ship, a club house, a spacecraft… let your imagination take control. Offer paints or crayons to decorate and then let them play inside for the rest of the day (and likely days to come!)
9. Circle Time
Choose a theme and find toys/props, stories and rhymes/songs to sing that are all centred around the theme. Eg. Bugs – Sing itsy bitsy spider, read a story about a bug and do show and tell with some toy bugs or find bugs around your house (admit it— you probably have bugs in your house. We do.)
This activity was inspired by an old show called “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, a comedy improv show hosted by Drew Carey way back before he lost all that weight and became Bob Barker. Pick an obscure object from around the house, preferably something durable and big enough that they can’t eat it by mistake. Take turns acting out as many different uses for the object as possible.
11. “Ginger Bread” Houses for Cheaters
Cut pieces of cardboard and cover them in tinfoil for bases. Using graham crackers instead of gingerbread and royal icing, pre-assemble one small gingerbread house per child. Buy some candy or if you’re health-conscious, use nuts and seeds. Divide royal icing between some small ziplock freezer bags and work the icing into the corner of each bag. Twist it and then fasten with a twist tie or clip. Come craft time, cut a tiny hole in the corner of each baggie. Arrange different items in a muffin tray in the middle of the table and let kids squeeze out icing and stick on treats to decorate their houses. For younger ones you may try squeezing the icing out for them and encouraging them to place the treat.
12. Make Shakers
Gather different types of dried beans, seeds, pasta or rice. Place different things into small plastic storage containers and snap the lids securely. Try shaking them to hear the different sounds. Smaller things like rice will make a higher sound than bigger things like pasta. Sing a few songs and dance around or try saying this rhyme:
“Shake it up high,
Shake it down low.
Shake it really fast,
Shake.. it.. real..ly.. slow.
Shake it to the East,
Shake it to the West.
Shake it to the one who you love the best!”
13. The Sweeping Game
Kids love to sweep. Use coloured painters tape to tape off a square on the kitchen floor (1ft x 1ft works) and then scatter some large pasta. Have your child sweep all the pasta into the square.
So maybe there’s not enough here to occupy your littles for all 13 weeks. But there’s certainly enough to get you started! Hope these ideas help keep you in the zone. Please share your own ideas in the comments section. I would love to post an extensive list divided by ages and stages sometime in the future and could use your ideas. Happy Winter!!
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: