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