I mentioned a few weeks ago that we took Maya out of daycare because we were worried about her immune system not being able to withstand the winter’s germs. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard and exhausting, mostly because I’ve been working in the evenings once Michael gets home to take over. But she’s also stayed healthy, which was and is the goal! I’ve written enough about the terrible flu season in the last few weeks to know that we made the right decision. That said, I’ve needed to be a little more creative in keeping her busy and active and learning, and in case you also have a cooped up toddler who needs some action, I thought I’d share a few of our winning activities with you.
While the weather in Houston has been pretty good, we’re still cooped up at home a little because Noah naps so often and (sometimes) for so long. He’s also stopped napping in the wrap or carrier (FOMO much?) so it’s not as easy to just up and go to the playground when Maya starts to get stir crazy. We still try to get out every afternoon, but that leaves some long mornings to fill with educational-ish activities.
In the few weeks since she stopped going to school two days a week, I’ve tried out a lot of new activities with her. Some have been great, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you have a cooped up toddler needing some distraction. We also had one total fail, which I thought was hilarious, so you’re getting that one, too. You’re also getting primarily grainy photos from my phone of Maya with bedhead. Unless we’re going somewhere in the morning, we don’t do hair until after nap time.
My friend Jamie sent me this recipe for slime that doesn’t require buying a giant box of Borax that we then have to store for the next 10 years. Instead, it uses contact solution and baking powder! At first, I thought it would definitely be a recipe for a giant mess, but she claimed it wasn’t so we decided to give it a shot. Turns out, it’s less mess than play doh! Maya loves to play play-doh but it does leave tiny bits of the stuff everywhere for days. Slime, on the other hand, stays mostly contained. We’ve been able to reuse it for at least a week by keeping it in a sealed plastic bag.
We made this recipe for slime, minus the glitter and halved. It was a cinch and she could do almost all of the stirring herself.
Pouring colored water
Another friend suggested the instagram account Busy Toddler, which I’ve found myself scrolling through whenever we’re feeling a little tired of playing baby dolls or farm animals. Pouring colored water in a giant tub using different size vessels was an idea found there. We have concrete floors, so I don’t worry too much about getting them wet and mopping them up again. We set the tub on a towel and she scooped and poured for a while. She started with blue and red water and eventually exclaimed, “Purple!” so maybe there was a subliminal message in there, too.
Washable markers on giant paper
I haven’t wanted to spend much money on my new daycare project, but I did stock up on some more art supplies, including washable small markers from Crayola. Those aforementioned concrete floors really come in handy. I should really pick up some kraft paper but I used a giant piece of brown paper that came in a package and she drew for a long time.
Flash card mail
We had a set of bilingual flash cards already that she enjoys looking at and organizing into their little pouch. I decided she could “mail” them if I cut a slit in an empty water jug. We’ve kept the same jug around for weeks because she’ll keep going back to it. I just cut a trap door in the bottom so she can take them out again and start over.
Now for the fail: Shaving cream painting
I’d seen on Pinterest (famous last words, eh?) an idea for painting with shaving cream. Essentially, you put the shaving cream into a baking tin and squirt on some paint. Then the toddler can use the paint brush or her fingers to swirl the paint around. Here’s the problem. Once she stuck her fingers in (I’m pretty sure she never touched the paint brush), she couldn’t get the shaving cream off and she got all clogged up. Pretty soon it was all over her stomach from trying to wipe it off and then we just moved the whole ordeal to the tub because it was clearly heading toward disaster levels. Maybe an older child would do better with the shaving cream painting, but a word to the wise if you do try it. Get unscented shaving cream. That stuff is stinky in large volumes!
Have any toddler activities (minus the shaving cream) that have worked for you?