Friday, April 18, 2014

Playing Inside

I've talked before about how much MC loves to play outside. But obviously we can't go outside every single day - due to weather or timing or whatever - so I'm always looking for fun activities for her to do in the house to keep her entertained. I've found most of these ideas on Pinterest or other blogs for toddler activities; I look for simple activities that use things we have on hand at the house. It's important to me that we have some enrichment activities beyond her usual toys and books - to develop fine and gross motor skills, color recognition, counting, etc. It's all about learning through play at this stage.

We have a set of plastic mixing bowls that are designated for MC's use. These are used for a variety of pouring, scooping, sorting activities. One of her favorites is various shapes of dry pasta noodles and a spoon or scoop of some type. This will hold her attention for quite a while - she scoops and pours between all the bowls, and we talk about the different shapes and sizes; we count the pasta; we sort the pasta shapes - there are many possibilities that combine play and learning.

Another activity with the bowls is also scooping and pouring, but this one is also a sensory experience for her. I put out several different types of dry food - in this pic it's oatmeal, white rice, and yellow lentils. She loves to dig her hands in and feel the different textures. This one is much messier than the dry pasta, but it also provides the opportunity for her to help with the clean up. She has a kid-sized broom and loves to sweep and hold the dust pan. I have to be vigilant to not get smacked with her broom handle, but hey...what's a black eye for Mama in the name of Toddler Learning Experience?!! (Also, on the days I don't have the patience for the clean-up process, I put down a beach towel before we start and then just shake it off into the trash.)

This activity uses pipe cleaners and a plastic strainer. I started off by pushing a bunch of pipe cleaners through the holes in the strainer and letting her pull them out one-by-one. When she got bored with that, I showed her how to push the pipe cleaner through on her own. That takes a lot of concentration and fine motor skills for a toddler! She gets a little frustrated with this one, so we don't do it too often. We also talk about colors and count the pipe cleaners while we work with them.

For another pipe cleaner activity we use an empty Parmesan cheese container. The side of the lid with small holes is perfect for poking the pipe cleaners through. When she's got all the pipe cleaners in, I open the other side of the lid and let her shake-shake-shake the container to get them all out.

I saved up some empty cylindrical shaped containers to make a "race track" for pom poms to travel through and fall into a big bowl. (You can see it is adhered to the wall in a very professional way. Only the best for us!) We have several different sizes of pom poms so we talk about big/little during this activity. And she loves to reconfigure the track using all of the different pieces.

So much fun to be had with just regular stuff we already have around the house!

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