I am completely over the winter! I am pretty sure my kiddos are over it too! With two kids under the age of four, cabin fever has become a real thing over here. We try to get outside every day for at least a few minutes of play, but what does one do with the other 11ish hours of the day? I’ll admit that we allow some screen time and incorporate a lot of reading and open playtime.
My 3 1/2-year-old daughter stopped napping about three months ago, and it has required me to become a little more creative in the entertainment department. She is a child that seeks constant attention (we are working on encouraging more independent play), and at times that can be challenging, especially when household tasks need tending to and a 15-month-old is tugging at my legs.
I recently came across an Instagram account geared toward toddler activities that really sparked my interest. When my daughter was smaller, I focused a lot of energy on sensory play activities. Still, since she started school and my life became a little more hectic with adding another child to our family, I sadly fell off the wagon a bit. This account inspired me to take a few extra minutes to set up some fun learning activities that she could do while I am prepping dinner, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. I can guide her through them, but they encourage more independence and strengthen her motor skills.
Combating cabin fever and boredom with toys and learning at the same time? That is a win in my book. These activities have also resulted in using some toys that normally don’t get a ton of play. I have had a few friends tell me that these ideas were super fun for their preschoolers, so I thought I would share them with you, too!
Hot Lava (fine motor)
- red/orange markers
- small animals (i.e., colored bears, farm animals, dinosaurs)
- colored cups
Draw volcanoes on the paper, and using the colored markers, draw hot lava. Place the animals on the hot lava and have your child save them by picking them up with only the tongs. Discuss that lava is very hot, so they must not touch it with their hands. We sorted the animals by color using cups (if you don’t have colored cups, use colored construction paper). Before counting each color of animals, we predicted which color we would have the most of. This activity sparked my daughter’s interest in the word predicting and in volcanoes.
*encourages counting and color recognition
*strengthens small hand muscles that down the road will be used for writing, cutting, tying, zipping, and so much more
- marker for writing letters
- post-it notes
Tape a piece of paper to the wall and write the letters of the alphabet. On the post-it notes, also write the letters. Have your child match the post-it letter to the letter on the paper. As they place the letter, make the letter sound and talk about words that start with those letters. This activity is great for letter recognition and learning letter sounds, which are the building blocks of reading. We also removed all of the post-its when done, and I had her choose the letters of her name only.
Pom Pom Delivery
- painter’s tape
- colored cups (use construction paper squares if you don’t have cups)
- vehicles (trucks, cars, etc.)
- pom poms or other colored items (cut up pipe cleaners, blocks, Legos)
First, we placed the tape on the floor and made lines to make each strip look like a road. We lined up all of the vehicles and items we needed to transport from one end to another. My daughter loved sorting all of the items, and by the end of this game, she had Legos, blocks, pipe cleaners, bears all making trips to the cups (I never promised this wouldn’t be messy). We also discussed moving at various speeds, and I gave her instructions like, “Please deliver the pom-poms in the dump truck, on the straight line, moving very slowly.”
*uses primary colors, sorting, moving left to right, and connects the mind and body to prewriting movements
*strengthens imaginary play skills
*encourages following directions
Check out @dayswithgrey for more inspiring and fun activities for chilly days and beyond! Happy playing and learning!