Cabin Fever Fun

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cabin feverI 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)

Materials:

  • paper
  • red/orange markers 
  • tongs 
  • 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 

 

Letter Matching

Materials:

  • paper
  • 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

Materials:

  • 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!

What are your favorite ways to beat cabin fever? 

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Janine is a stay at home mom of four, two on earth and twins in Heaven. She grew up in Stratford, CT and now lives in Port Chester, NY. After graduating from culinary school in 2010, she went on to be an executive pastry chef, a cake designer, then a corporate sous chef in NYC. Janine started her journey to becoming a Mom following her 2012 wedding. After struggles with infertility, she and her husband turned to IVF and were blessed with identical twins. Her twin boys grew wings on 6/26/14, after being born severely premature. Overcoming the darkness of infant loss and finding a new normal were very trying. Janine and her husband welcomed a rainbow baby in August of 2015, who’s name means “pure light.” Their daughter brought so much joy and light back into their world. In November of 2017, their second rainbow and miracle, a boy, was born. Janine works very diligently, as a mother of angels, to make sure her boys are always remembered. She is a facilitator for Hope After Loss, a support group in CT for grieving parents, and honors her boys every day in special ways. Janine loves to do yoga, cook for her family (homemade baby food and all), drink wine, and is always up for a cup of coffee. She is also in the beginning phase of co-authoring a baby cookbook with a dear childhood friend, and creates custom cakes and cupcakes for special occasions. Her sweet creations can be seen on her website www.neaniecakes.com.