Running out of ways to keep your little one entertained when it’s cold and wet outside? These five play ideas will help see you through until spring
When you’ve got a little one cooped up inside, cries of “I’m booored”, are never far behind. Try these ideas to get their senses going even if they’re stuck within the same four walls – just make sure you offer proper supervision at all times.
1. Shaving foam sensory play
Toddlers love sensory play and the messier the better! Grab a can of shaving foam and squirt some into a plastic tray or bowl. Hide objects underneath the foamy gloop and then set your little one the task of finding them. They’ll love the feel of the soft foam on their hands – just like playing with clouds. Or for a different texture, try mixing some shaving foam with some clean play sand for a fluffy tub of sensory squishiness that’s hard to resist! Just make sure it doesn’t end up in their mouths or eyes.
2. Create an indoor maze
Create an indoor maze using cardboard boxes as the walls and tunnels, then hide some ‘treasure’ for them to find along the way with a prize at the end – carpet offcuts and other touchy-feely textures add an extra dimension along the way. If you’ve got lots of boxes to use, spread the maze out through a couple of rooms to keep them busy for longer, or if you don’t have any cardboard, tape out a maze pattern on the floor and see if they can stay within the lines, stick to the path and find the treasure.
3. 3D Pasta play
Use dry pasta to make a 3D picture! All you need is a few different shapes of pasta, some PVA glue and a sheet of card or thick paper. Try some fusilli pasta twists and farfalle pasta bows and see what crazy pattern they can create. Once the glue had dried they can paint the pasta or use some glitter glue for a sparkly masterpiece. Or try an old favourite and use dried pasta to create a necklace or bracelet – stringing tubes of pasta onto wool or string is great for hand-eye coordination. For a more colourful creation they can paint the pasta beforehand.
4. Prints, paints and rubbings
Craft sessions might start with a piece of plain white paper, but there are plenty of exciting ways to fill it in. Let your little one explore different wintry textures – they can use crayons to create rubbings against rough wood and stick soft and fluffy cotton wool as snow or clouds.
Instead of using brushes to paint, let your little one experiment using different objects you can find around the house to print with. Try slicing a potato in half and cutting a shape into the flat side. Little hands will love dipping the potato into a tray of paint and then pressing it onto the paper to see the shape come alive. Other good options include using different-sized pieces of Duplo or Lego dipped in paint and then printed on paper or dragging some string through paint and then pressing it onto paper – hours of fun. Just remember to put an apron on them and lay down some old newspaper to catch drips and spills.
5. Shake-up soap jars
Creating a soap jar can be lots of fun for toddlers. Fill a plastic screw top jar (like a peanut butter one) or a plastic bottle half way with water and then let your little one sprinkle in some food colouring. Next let them add a few squirts of washing-up liquid and then put the lid back on and screw tightly (or glue it shut if you want to prevent any leakages). Hand it back to your toddler to shake and see their little faces light up as it turns into a colourful, bubbly mixture. For added fun, sprinkle in some glitter or sequins and see what happens. Once they’ve had enough of shaking and watching the ingredients settle, you can roll the jar back and forth to each other to see the mixture swirl up and down.
Finally as long as there isn’t a storm brewing, getting outdoors even in bad weather can be good fun in small doses and is a good excuse for a warming cup of hot chocolate when you come back inside. Wrap up warm and let your toddler have a quick splash about in some muddy puddles at the park or head into the garden to see if you can spot any signs of spring – they should be just around the corner!