Is it still cold where you are? Or already getting too hot, like here in Arizona? Need ideas for entertaining the little ones? The good news is that it costs very little to nothing, because toddlers and preschoolers are the easiest to please!
The trick is to find things you already have in your home and encourage creativity. Construction paper, crayons, stickers, and pipe cleaners yielded this:
Caden didn't care for the fingerprinting, but most kids do. (Try making animals only out of fingerprints!) Caden loves tracing his hand though. The "C" next to his hand was an attempt to trace his elbow.
If your kids want something more crafty and structured, then gather your supplies and figure out what you can make. I found cotton balls (saved from medicine bottles), ribbon scraps, buttons, and pipe cleaners. I think you can guess what we made:
Maybe with your items you can make lunch-bag, popsicle-stick, or sock puppets. Or puzzles by coloring pictures, gluing them to cardboard, and cutting them up into weird shapes. You can also find tons of free printable crafts online. The simplest ones require just coloring utensils, scissors, and glue or tape. If you don't have something, improvise! And the best part about using or recycling things you already have or buying supplies at the dollar store is that you don't feel guilty when the kids break or lose the projects or when you have to throw them away to make room for more.
Not the crafty type? There are other fun activities you can do indoors. I read on another blog giving rice, beans, a muffin tin or cookie sheet,
and measuring cups for toddlers to play with. I'm not one to encourage
playing with or wasting food, so I found some beads and buttons and put them on shoebox lids. Caden loves pouring the buttons in and out of
the jars and measuring cup/spoon. He's been playing with them every
day. Yesterday we also put beads on the pipe cleaners--great hand-eye
coordination exercise. You can also turn it into a sorting game to review colors, shapes, and sizes.
A few weeks ago, my mom gave me her old flannel board. Preschool felt cut-outs and lessons can be pricey, so I found some cheap pre-cut felt circles at Jasmine Blossom Crafts and wrote letters on them with a Sharpie marker. You can also do numbers and shapes or leave them blank and review colors. Caden likes spelling words and making them look like caterpillars.
You can also make your own play dough or finger paint with few ingredients, blow bubbles, squirt water out of spray bottles (outside if it's hot or in the bathtub if it's cold), and play dress up out of old clothes and costumes.
Play games together too. Caden loves hide and seek. If you prefer something less active, try a simple card game like Go Fish, Memory, or Uno (turning it into a sorting game instead).
Happy playing! Share any ideas you have.