5 Snow days (and counting) in two weeks? A 4-day-long "snow event"?! More days stuck inside with nothing to do?? You're beautiful and all snow, but when this California girl's family keeps teasing her with tales of 75 degree weather back home, you are not my friend. Note to my CA friends: a "Snow Blitz" is not as fun as it sounds.
At least we grown-ups have the option of doing a million chores (blah), working from home (hooray) and (if little one ever falls asleep) catching up on our DVRS, but what, oh what, will these stir-crazy babies and toddlers do?
I've listed a few easy ideas for in-home activities with some baby versions when appropriate. So if class is cancelled and open play is a no-go, try some of these boredom busters!
Gross Motor Activities:
One of the hardest parts of a snow day is how little we use our bodies. Toddlers are used to exploring and pushing the limits of their new walking, running, jumping and climbing abilities, so it's no wonder they are bouncing off the walls when they don't get enough exercise. And forget about a good nap!
Living Room Obstacle Course:
Turn cushions into ramps for climbing and pillows into stepping stones, toss all the balls you own into a ring of pillows for a home-made ball pit and throw your exercise ball into the mix to get a little crazy. And is there anything a cardboard box can't turn into? Open it up, flip it on it's side and WHAM! A homemade tunnel!
*Babies - throw everything on the floor. The homemade ball pit still works great for non-mobile babies and the large cushion obstacle course is perfect for crawlers.
Family Dance Party!
Crank up the volume, clear away some furniture and dance the winter blues away! Don't limit yourself to toddler tunes that will drive you batty - put on some music you like with a real beat or whatever inspires you to get up, jump around and Shake It Off! The sillier you get, the sillier they get and the more energy is burned away. And let's be honest - kids recognize and enjoy good music, so crank it up!
*Babies - No change. Dance with them in your arms and give them some support to help them bounce on those delicious baby legs!
You're all bored. There is nothing new in the house that hasn't been played with dozens of times before. We all seek mental stimulation - especially the young, developing brains whose only job is to take in sensory information and make connections about the world. These little brains crave sensory input from the world around them. Plus, different sensory activities will introduce new descriptive words into their vocabulary as you talk to them and describe the material. For example, my homemade cinnamon playdough is "smooth," "squishy," "red," and "smells delicious!"
The possibilities with playdough are endless and it is so easy too make! I've written out the recipe I love and use at Marblehead Parenting, but there are also "no cook" recipes that kids can help you make.
3 cups flour, 1.5 cups salt, 6 teaspoons cream of tartar, 3 tablespoons oil, 3 cups water
Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly on medium heat until dough starts to pull away from the sides. Be careful not to keep it on the stove too long as this will dry it out. Knead the dough mixture until the mixture matches play dough. Add paint or food coloring as desired. Also optional: spices such as cinnamon or essentials oils for scent.
*Babies - play dough is a choking hazard, so make "moon dough" instead! Mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of oil to create a moldable, clumpable dough. Toddlers and grownups also love this dough! For pictures, click here
Sticky Paper Mural:
Nothing beats sticky paper for it's cleanliness. For those of you afraid mess, this beginning art activity is just the thing. Use painter's tape to secure the sticky paper to the wall or table sticky side out. Cut up felt, foam, paper and tissue shapes and get creative! Look for large buttons, yarn, ribbon, small blocks or other toys that might stick to the paper. It becomes a mini-experiment to see what will stick! Beautiful, clean artwork at home! Leave the mess for our Toddler Art class :)
Contact paper works great for this activity.
*Babies - Sticky paper is still a great sensory experience for little ones. Tape it to a mat on the floor or around a ball and let them explore the new sensation of their hands sticking to the paper. Roll cars or other toys onto it (stick blocks on it) for a fun sound!
Keep your toddlers engaged and the mess contained in the tub! What's better than an art activity where you can hose off your canvas and kid when you're done? Check out my friend's amazing, heartfelt blog, Crib With a View for her recipe: Click Here
Bring the snow inside (in bins/buckets in the tub) and let them paint with trays of food coloring-colored water! Use paintbrushes or spray bottles.
Cardboard Box Coloring
Stick your kid directly inside a cardboard box and let them color, stamp, sticker the inside walls of the box to their heart's content!
Hint - when their done interior decorating, pull out their toy tool box and let them hammer, screw and "fix" the outside of their box house
Duct Tape Roads:
Make roads out of duct tape all around your house (carpeted floors are best to avoid residue on hardwood) and make cardboard ramps for toddlers to drive their cars around and around and around.
Real Kitchen Play
Let your babies and toddlers play with real pots, pans, spatulas & wooden spoons. Let them make a lot of noise drumming on the pots or give them some things to "cook": dry rice/pasta, dry beans (for older tots), flour (if you don't mind a little mess) or just plain old water!
Get Shoveling! - Toddlers love having a job to do. "Dig" your sand shovels out of the basement along with some buckets and let your little ones "help" shovel you out!
Treasure Hunt - Hide different toys and treasures around the room and encourage little one to find them!
Tots Yoga - Most of our toddlers are natural yogis. Teach your kiddo new moves like polar bear, butterfly and giraffe pose. Don't know the moves? Come to our next Toddler or Preschool Yoga class and Melissa will teach you! (shameless plug)
And last but definitely not least, check out our schedule of weekly classes and open playtime to shake your sillies out, socialize with other children & caregivers and just escape the house!
*We try our very best to be open, but please check out our Facebook page and Homepage for updates during storms.
More ideas to come! Stay safe and warm everyone!