We get it—you’ve been cooped up with the kids for weeks now. Tensions are high, and everyone’s maxed out on screens, but you still have conference calls to dial into. To keep your little ones occupied for more than five minutes at a time, take a look at the toys and supplies you already have in the house, says Beth Rosenbleeth, the owner of Days with Grey, a popular kids’ indoor activities blog and Instagram account. You can repurpose stuff you already have into new indoor activities for your preschooler or toddler. Here are five ideas to get you started.
1. Magnetic bowling
Line up your magnetic tiles, grab a few different kinds of balls and get ready to bowl. Begin with a simple prompt of, “How many pins do you think you can knock down?” and watch this activity lead to endless variations of play. We knocked down tiles, added a score card, and then built structures to see which ones were able to withstand the knockdown by different sizes of balls. Magnetic bowling will not disappoint. Click here for more.
2. Pouring station
Practice life skills like pouring the milk or adding syrup on pancakes with this simple water pouring station. Find some recycled containers and add painter’s tape to mark the different pouring amounts. This play prompt encourages a steady hand, hand-eye coordination and water play, which is almost always a winning combination for fun. Click here for more.
3. Paper-less painting
Painting with your toddler does not have to be a huge, scary mess. In fact, it will most likely calm the chaos on a long day. Here, I grabbed an under-the-bed storage bin and let my two-year-old create his masterpiece with washable paint, right on the plastic of the bin. When he finished exploring, I washed out the bin in the sink, and we were cleaned up in no time. This is a fun intro to painting. Click here for more.
4. Transportation toy sort
Some painter’s tape and whatever transportation toys you have on hand (planes, trains, boats and cars) will get this sorting game going in a flash. Add three lines with tape and add “water,” “air” and “land” categories to the top of the line. Place transportation toys in a pile and invite your child to play. Don’t get discouraged if your preschooler finds a few variations. You’ve inspired sorting skills and independent play, and that’s a huge win already. Click here for more.
5. Domino loop
This domino track is a great way to keep bigger kids adding and counting while school’s out. Lay out your dominos and write the total amount of dots in each space on the track. Push the dominos to the middle and have your child add up each side to place on the correct value on the track when finished. You can also play this game with multiplication for even older children (or with colour matching for younger kids). Click here for more.