Inexpensive toddler activities that will entertain your child and stimulate him while helping him learn and have fun.
Finding ways to entertain your sometimes rabid offspring can be a daunting task. It also has the potential to be a very expensive undertaking, and with parents constantly under pressure to keep their young ones stimulated so that they can get ahead in a crazy world, sometimes we forget that there are easy ways to keep the little ones entertained with limited cost to ourselves, and maximum fun for our kids.
Small children are discovering their world and all that goes with it. As their understanding of vocabulary is minimal they rely on their senses more at this age than at any other age to come. This is wonderful because it means that you can use his various senses to keep him out of your hair and away from your feet.
On a warm day try taking a large tub or bowl and fill it with ice, run water over it so that no one sticks to the ice and gets hurt. Place the bowl in the garden under the sun and let your toddler play and splash with it to his heart's content. The feel of the ice melting, and the different shapes they make will keep him entertained for hours. To make it even more fun (or messy if you are the parent), add food coloring, the more the ice melts the more diluted the coloring will become, and he will be fascinated by the evolution of the ice and the colors. He will learn about cold and warm and light and dark colors.
If you are baking or cooking in the kitchen and your toddler is whining about helping or getting you to play with him, try this:
Take a plastic bowl and allow him or her to mix his or her own version of whatever it is you are making. Children love helping at this stage of their lives (if only we could figure out how to make them keep this trait!), and allowing him to help you bake, or run the vacuum over the floor while you are dusting will allow him to feel useful and as if he is helping mom or dad.
A variation of the above theme is to get a bowl of flour, add 5ml salt and food coloring. Mix it up so that mess is minimal then hand over to your toddler to stir and play with. Encourage him to use his hands and get them covered in the sticky dough. Show him how to make funny shapes with the dough and then bake them in the oven. Your toddler will be fascinated by the cooked results of his efforts and they can be used as gifts to grandparents and other relatives, as proof of your child’s artistic talents.
Take your children for a walk. Getting out of their home environment has two advantages. Firstly they get to hear the different noises around them. Cars going by, music maybe or different dogs barking. They get to see a different world as well, the flowers not seen in your garden at home, the animals you may not have and, if your kids are anything like mine, the fascinating things on the pavement. The second advantage of course, is that the walks and their accompanying stimuli will tire him or her out and they will sleep like the proverbial baby. Try and keep the walks short as they are small children but even going a short distance will take lots of time as they will want to show you everything they see, remember what for us is commonplace can be fascinating to a child.
Finally, give your children time. Place them on your lap and read to them, allow them to feed you soup, and feed them at the same time. Walk around your garden at home with them and point out the pretty colors. Teach them from an early age that learning is fun and hopefully they will never lose the enthusiasm to learn more and grow. This of course means that after you have spent years bringing them up and finally pack them off to ‘live their lives’, they will want to bring their offspring to you to babysit “because you did such a good job with me, mom”. Except now you get to stuff their kids with chocolate and send them home on a sugar high to bounce off the walls, and let them deal with it in a nurturing fashion!