Staying in is the new going out...
...for the foreseeable future anyway. For us with children, it might be a little daunting to think about how we can keep our little ones from climbing the walls and running rings around us while we are spending more time at home. The positive is that it’s more quality time with our loved ones and we're all in this together; so how can we make this time fun and imaginative without splashing the cash on new toys.
Aside from reading stories, having some screen time, puzzles and playing with their toys, we jotted down a few outside the box ideas, DIY's with things around the house, recyling projects, crafts, sensory play, learning games and more - here's our round-up of 20 fun indoor play ideas
1. Make an Obstacle Course
Grab your bean bags, cushions, boxes, a row of chairs (for crawling under) laundry basket (for jumping in and out) washi tape and whatever else you can think of and set up an obstacle course in the comfort of your own home. Your little one will have so much fun jumping on everything and going up and down on the boxes and in and out of furniture!
2. DIY Cardboard Games
Sometimes it’s not the most expensive toys that create the most fun for our little ones. Ever noticed how your child will choose household objects like pots and pans over their actual toys? It’s the same kind of thing with a cardboard box. There are lots of things you can do with an empty cardboard box to create endless fun games and activities, here are two of our favourites.
3. Fridge Magnets
While you are in the kitchen, child-safe fridge magnets are a great way to keep those little hands busy. If you already have a few, try some new ones, in animal, letter and shape form. This will be a chance for your child to familiarize themselves with the names of colours, shapes and animals and will be a good hand coordination task for them. Cooking to do? Your child will love the look and feel of their new magnets which will keep them occupied while you crack on!
4. Paint Stones
Find some large pebbles that are smooth and let little ones paint to their heart's content. You could paint a set as a theme such as characters from their favourite story, with noughts and crosses or numbers and let dry. Give them a coat of a sealer such as PVA or Mod Podge to ensure these will last ages in the great outdoors. A great activity to use outdoors when dry.
5. Sensory Trays
Sensory bins are a great form of messy play for both babies and toddlers. Fill with dried rice, pasta, lentils along with pom poms or hidden toys for a hide and seek game or you could fill with warm water and a drop of bubble bath for them to give their plastic toys a bath.
6. Stepping Stones
We may not be able to get out to the playground right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative with ideas for little ones to practice their balance skills inside. Simply, take whatever leftover fabric you may have to hand and cut into circles or squares then place around the living room with a gap in between for little ones to try to step or jump to each without losing their balance.
7. Hand Print Rainbow
Find a large piece of paper and something circular such as a plate. Place the plate onto the paper and get little ones to draw around the outside of it to create a semi-circle. With child-safe paint, paint little hands in the various colours and to place them onto the paper to create a rainbow. Pop in your window to show others you are playing at home.
8. Paint Potatoes or Egg Shells
If you like the idea of getting messy after your hand prints, try and do some potato or eggshell painting. After cutting your potatoes into shapes, the potatoes will be really easy for your toddler to handle. Using different colours and painting onto the potatoes or egg shells will be a chance for you to practice colour names with your toddler too.
9. Toy Hide and Seek
Find a stuffed toy and hide somewhere in the room. Get your little ones to close their eyes and ask them to count to ten. They will love the thrill of trying to find the toy. Hide over and over again in different places or go room by room.
10. Let’s Bake!
Baking is the perfect activity for you both to enjoy at home. Rice Krispie cakes or fairy cakes will bring tonnes of mess but tonnes of fun.
Chocolate Rice Krispie cakes step by step:
• 60g/2oz Unsalted Butter
• 3 tbsp Golden Syrup
• 1x100g Bar of Milk or Dark Chocolate
• 90g/3oz Rice Krispies
1. Melt the chocolate in small bursts in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
2. Add the butter, cut in to small pieces, stir it in till melted.
3. Add the syrup, stir.
4. This is the bit they’ll love- Add the Rice Krispies and stir in to the chocolate mix it all up.
5. Help them to Spoon the mix in to the cases.
11. Magic Drawings
This is a really engaging activity for children and the excitement of a hidden number appearing right in front of their eyes is pure magic. Simply grab some paper and crayons. Using a white crayon draw numbers, letters or whatever your child is into. Then, with the remaining colour crayons get them to scribble all over until the hidden drawing appears. For younger children this is a great number learning game, for older children you could write simple words out and get them to work out the word. A great phonics game for a rainy day.
12. Mystery Box
Grab a cardboard box and cut a hole in the top big enough for your child’s hand to fit but not large enough for them to peep. On one side cut a flap so that you can easily place a toy in. Ask your child to feel what is in the box and describe what they think it may be. This is a great sensory game for little ones to enjoy.
13. Freezer Bag Sensory
If you have some freezer bags at home you can make some really fun sensory wall activities. Simply fill the freezer bags with water and food colouring and fill with sponges, pebbles, beads or anything else you might have. Tape each bag to the wall to allow your child to feel and look at each sensory bag. Once finished you could put the bags on the floor for your baby or toddler to explore.
14. Smash Mash Play
Simply using a bag of instant mash potato, add food colouring and let your little one mash up the potato with kitchen utensils like a masher, or spatula.
15. Herb & Spices Sensory Painting
Children love painting and getting messy but another idea is to use natural ingredients such as herbs and spices in place of traditional poster paint. Safe to eat (watch the chilli!), spices such as turmeric and paprika mixed with a splash of water can create wonderful colours to play around with, but not only that, the sensory aromas will engage little ones and fill your house with wonderful smells.
16. Pasta Jewellery
A simple activity that lots of ages will enjoy. Grab some pasta that has a hole such as Penne and some string or pipe cleaners. Get little ones to thred the pasta onto the string and then tie to make a necklace. Thredding is a fantastic activity for their fine motor skills. You could even dye the pasta the night before with some food dye and get them to see if they can thred all of a particular colour.
17. Superhero Armbands
Hold onto those inner cardboard tubes from loo rolls, they can be transformed into a multitude of play ideas. For those little ones who love superheros this is a great activity. Simply let them decorate two rolls with whatever colours and things you have to hand at home such as tissue paper and then when they are happy with them place them onto their arms for that instant superhero look. For younger children use one loo roll tube cut in half.
18. Junk Mail Role Play
We all get lots of unwanted mail through our letterboxes but have you considered the play potential in these? Children love role play and these can help to ignite imaginative play ideas. So hold onto those pizza menus, garden seed catalogues, DIY tool magazines. These all have the potential to add another dimension to their play. See what comes through your door and think base a play activity around them.
19. Colour Scavenger Hunt
Find a basket and investigate each room of your house to see how many items you can fill it with of a particular colour. This is a great activity for learning about colour as they learn there are a whole variety and shades in the colour spectrum.
20. Pop Up Restaurant
We know little ones love role play and pretending to be a chef can provide endless entertainment for children, it also engages them with food and can encourage them to try new tastes. Why not turn snack time into a pop up restaurant for them to pick and choose what’s on the menu. Our Petit Gourmand Fun Food Shaping Kit allows older children to have fun in the kitchen creating stars, hearts, crinkle cut and spiralised fruit and veggies.
21. Mini Golf
Turn a cardboard box upside down. Cut four holes out next to each other on the side of the box and label each opening with a colour and number. Use child-safe mini golf balls or ball pit balls and enjoy endless fun getting the balls into the holes. A great colour coordination game for you both to enjoy!
22. Ball Drop
Find a shallow box and remove the top cardboard leaving the base and sides intact (you may need to sellotape to hold them together), then, using something circular-cut circles out of the base to create holes for balls to fall through. Pop some ball pit balls in and watch little ones move the box around to try to get the balls to drop through. Great for hand-eye coordination building skills. For older children, you could colour the circles to match what balls you have to make it even more of a challenge.
Guest writer Amelia Cunningham