Your toddler depends on play to help him learn language, develop problem-solving skills, discover more about the world around him and, yes, burn energy. But what happens when you’re stuck inside for days — or even weeks — on end due to the coronavirus outbreak and you also have to work?

In a time when “social distancing” is strongly encouraged, keeping your little one entertained presents caregivers with a new and unique challenge: stimulating their toddlers so everyone can stay happy, healthy and sane.

If your patience is waning and you're fresh out of ideas to beat that cabin fever, turn to these creative parents for inspiration: 

1. Make a xylophone

Fill stemless wine glasses with varying levels of water and add a few drops of food coloring to each to create a rainbow xylophone, then try your best to play your favorite songs.

2. Make crayons

All those stray nubs of crayons? Unwrap them, place them in silicone molds and heat until they melt together to form new and colorful crayons.

3. Make cupcake liner flowers

Use colorful cupcake liners and cotton balls or pom-poms to create a bouquet of “flowers.”

4. Make playdough

No molding clay on hand? It’s easy to make your own with a few pantry staples, including flour, cream of tartar, salt, vegetable oil, food coloring and essential oils for fragrance.

5. Create a race track

Open up an old cardboard box, then draw roads and other features your toddler can zoom cars around.

6. Make handprint art

Use paint to create handprints, then turn them into animals or otherworldly creatures like aliens using basic craft supplies such as googly eyes and pom-poms or yarn.

7. Give toy animals a bath

Create two bins — one filled with “muddy water” and the other with clean water — then let your toddler get to work cleaning his dirty animals. 

8. Make a cardboard animal

Use old egg cartons or packing materials to create barnyard animals.  

9. Practice matching colors

Help your toddler draw a fun and colorful picture, then give him coordinating tokens to match to each section of the drawing. 

10. Make dinosaur tracks

Use natural-colored playdough to track dinosaur footprints through the “sand.” For added fun, bake the tracks to create fossils.

11. Learn shapes

Cut out felt shapes, then snip them in half. Encourage your child to match up the proper sides.  

12. Create sensory bags

Use zippered plastic bags and duct tape to create squishy bags full of an array of stimulating textures.

13. Make a colorful pom-pom shoot

Attach empty toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes to poster board using washi tape to create a slide for pom-poms and other small toys.

14. Create a drop box

Save empty containers of wipes to make a fun drop box. Toddlers will love opening and closing each one and taking items in and out.

15. Make a lava lamp

Combine vinegar, oil, baking soda and food coloring in a clear container with a tight-fitting lid. 

16. Let kids “cook” 

Give kids a piece of bread and a small cup of colored water (use food coloring) and let them paint their slice. 

17. Make rainbows

Have your child sort cereal by color to create rainbow art. Finish it off with a cloud made from crumpled paper or cotton balls. 

18. Build a construction site

Fill a bin with oats and construction vehicles. Kids will love digging, pouring and moving the “sand” around.

19. Practice yoga

Apps like Cosmic Kids Yoga make it easy to burn some excess energy right from the comfort of your living room.

20. Create a Jell-O treasure hunt

For sensory play, whip up a batch of jiggly Jell-O and hide some small figurines inside. Let kids dig for “treasure.”

21. Build sensory bins

Fill a plastic storage container with rice, lentils and an array of textured toys and craft supplies.

22. Make toddler-friendly slime

Create a bouncy slime toddlers can squish and mold to their heart’s content.

23. Teach kids about their emotions

This matching game teaches kids about patterns, plus helps them understand emotions.

24. Create colorful explosions

A twist on a classic science experiment that combines vinegar and baking soda to spur a reaction.

25. Make coffee filter butterflies

Use washable markers or food coloring to dye coffee filters, then secure with a black pipe cleaner. 

26. Build a maze

Glue paper straws or pipe cleaners to a piece of cardboard, then place it inside a zippered plastic bag with a marble to create a maze.

27. Practice counting

Encourage older toddlers to match numbers to cookies with the respective number of chips.

28. Make a sticker lineup

Draw a path on a large set of paper and encourage your toddler to place stickers along the line until he reaches the end.

29. Play the drums

For a low-maintenance and hands-off activity (that admittedly requires patience with excess noise), let your toddler use a wooden spoon to bang away on your pots and pans.

And finally, come and join my Facebook page for more information and support: Pregnant during the Covid-19: York and Surrounding Areas Support Group

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