Hanging Around at Home

We’ve arrived back home, and I was a bit disappointed that there isn’t more snow here. Did everyone see this super-cool time lapse video from New Jersey?

The other day, the TU’s Parent-to-Parent blog had a reader asking what she should do with her 4-year-old daughter for the long winter break. At the time, I didn’t comment because: 1) I was too busy running around, getting ready for Christmas, and 2) they oh-so-kindly linked to their previous post, which had linked to an AOA post that I had written, coincidentally, about what to do with kids over winter break.

But it got me thinking about things that you can do to entertain little kids around the house. And so I thought that I’d share a list. Now, some of these might be way too obvious for you. But I’ve occasionally noticed that when I’m in a bad parenting spot, it is the ridiculously obvious that has helped to solve my problem. So if you are in the particular I-have-a-preschooler-and-we’re-home-bored-and-playing-in-the-snow-only-takes-up-an-hour-of-our-day,-tops parenting spot, here are some solutions for you.

Enjoy the cold weather from the comfort of your warm house:

  • Bring a couple of big bowls or buckets’-worth of snow inside and dump it in the tub. Let scantily-clad small child play with snow. Add warm water as needed.
  • Bring clean-ish icicles inside. Let child eat said icicles. Remember that you are building a strong immune system.
  • Make an Ice Sun Catcher. Basically, take a storage container or pan, add decorating items and something for hanging, add water, and put it outside to freeze. For details, this link and this link have directions and pictures.
  • Make Snow Ice Cream. Yummy.

We love icicles.

Putter around the kitchen:

  • Bake bread, preferably a recipe for two loaves. For one half, attempt a nice finished product. For the other half, just let child knead and steal tastes with abandon.
  • Make play dough or mix cornstarch and water. Here are some recipes. I love corn starch and water, but it’s a complete mess, I’ll admit it.
  • Other simple-but-engaging crafts are macaroni necklaces or bean collages. Here are directions on how to color dried noodles–just make sure you choose ones that have big holes and are easy to string. Goya and other brands sell multiple-bean soup mixes, so you can have plenty of variety for crafting at a bargain price. Or just clean out your pantry.
  • Let your child smell every spice and extract in your cabinet. Or pick out a selection and ask them to guess what is what.

Go to the usual places, but make it more fun:

  • Go to stores where you shop often, but don’t hurry. So if your child always wants to look at the seasonal aisles at the big-box store and you hurry him along, let him linger. Or go someplace with a snack bar that you refuse to buy from on principle, and actually buy the kid a hot pretzel.  Just clarify that it’s a special occasion, and grab a trashy magazine to peruse so you won’t be too bored.
  • At the grocery store, let your child pick out any kind of produce that they’ve never tried before. Go home and try it.
  • Take a quick walk through a store and surreptitiously take pictures of things with your phone or digital camera. Then show your child the pictures and have her lead you in a search, scavenger-hunt style.
  • Go to a store that’s a destination by itself. Read books at the bookstore, look at the pets at a pet store, or push your child on a bike at the bike shop.
  • Visit your local library and do something different. This Library Secrets post has some ideas.

Take on a project around the house, or just spend a little quality time, with the kiddo.

  • Have a tea party. This can include real tea or not, real food or not, and real or imaginary attendees.
  • Make a blanket fort. Get this one started and your child is liable to want to stay there even after you sneak off to get something done.
  • Look through photo albums or sort pictures with your child. Either you’ll enjoy the time explaining who everyone is to your child or you’ll actually get something done, but don’t expect both.
  • My daughters’ favorite is always tickle monster. They could play that for hours daily.
  • Sort through your old magazines and catalogs. Your kids can do cutting-and-pasting with the reject pile. Get them started with a specific idea. They can cut things out that they’d like in their rooms, see how many different animals they can find, get samples of colors to make a rainbow, or find a picture for different letters of the alphabet.

Also, for any of these, you can always invite a friend along for some adult conversation, especially if you’re going nutty.

How about the rest of you? Do you have favorite toddler-to-preschool activities to share? Any favorite projects or activities around the house?

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