There are a number of things my son really enjoys. The list includes art, mess, light, sensory play, and looking out of windows (if he’s not playing outside).
I’m going to be completely upfront in saying that today was one of those days where I really, really didn’t want to clean up paint spills. Those who know me can imagine how stressed I must have been, because normally I’m all for at least one messy activity a day.
So how did I handle the struggle of nap time? I combined the art, light, sensory play, and windows that I mentioned above….minus the mess.
It was incredibly simple and kept my son entertained for a good while, which gave me the chance to take a deep breath. The set up was as simple as pouring paint into a zip lock bag (some with one color, others with multiple colors), taping it to the window with duct tape, and letting him squish around the paint.
This project works a lot better when you choose a window that catches the sun well, since the light coming through the paint and makes a sort of stained glass effect.
It was a lot of fun watching him, and even I became enchanted with squishing the paint around to make various designs.
Once again I was in search for a new activity that promoted fine motor development. In all honesty it’s kind of scary how coordinated my son is when it comes to his fine motor skills (I don’t know how long certain child proof measures will last…), but that’s all the more reason to find something that occupies his little fingers.
Here’s an activity that’s super easy to put together, appropriate for quiet time, no mess to clean up afterward, and encourages fine motor coordination.
It is as simple as a pile of pipe cleaners and a colander. Not only was my son intrigued by the challenge of putting the pipes through the holes, but he also discovered that it makes a silly hat as well!
Sensory play is one of the easiest ways to keep children entertained, while also encouraging them to explore and experiment. While it may be a hassle to clean up at times, I think parents can enjoy sensory activities as well. Personally, I love making various sensory boxes for my kid. I love playing with color and texture to make something interesting, and it’s especially rewarding to think that if it’s interesting for me to make, how much more interesting will it be for my child to play with?
Today’s sensory activity ended up being colored rice. It’s ridiculously easy to make, and the effect is colorful and incredibly appealing. I loved looking at the finished product, and the kiddo dove right in without hesitation.
What You Need:
– White Vinegar
– Food Coloring
– A container
– Spoons, cups, and other objects to play with in the rice
– Mix 1 cup of rice with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir in food coloring. Lay the rice out in a pan until it’s dried (I’ve seen recipes that suggest over night, but after an hour it was perfect). Put the rice together in a container, and let them have at it!
I was yet again in need of a simple activity that would distract my son while I cooked dinner. Something that was easy to throw together, not necessarily a breeze to clean up (I just wanted to distract him while I cooked), and not something I had to hover over.
Well, we were in the kitchen weren’t we? Surely there was something I could dig up. A bag of flour ended up being just what I needed. I sprinkled some onto the table of his high chair, added a bit of water for texture, and then turned back to making dinner. The room was filled with laughter, and I was satisfied with being able to get through the task at hand. Sure, the mess in the end wasn’t the easiest to clean up, but I personally thought it was worth it. Sometimes these things in life are all about surviving the moment. In that moment I needed to get dinner done and my son needed some stimulation. Eventually there was another moment where I needed to clean up the flour, but that was after I was able to sit down to my much needed dinner.
You may want to wait on this activity until you know for sure how your child reacts to wheat!
I love children who know how to make a good mess. I really do. Even if I’m the one cleaning up after them. It’s evidence of a child who loves to explore, who loves to experiment, and who has no boundaries or limits distracting him/her from a raw learning experience. A child-made mess is a beautiful thing in my eyes.
But sometimes it’s impracticable. Like when I’m cooking dinner, or prepping for guests to come over, or when I’m already on hands and knees scrubbing after another mess. I’m not going to pretend I’m 100% of the time chipper about letting “kids be kids”. There is a limit to my sanity.
The other day, baby boy managed to reach that limit pretty quickly. I was trying to cook dinner, and nothing seemed to entertain him. Should I let him down so he could completely destroy my kitchen? Normally I would, but I was about to have a breakdown from an overwhelming sense of exhaustion.
Well, water is easy enough to clean up right? With that thought in mind, I began collecting little plastic cups to fill with water, when I suddenly had a new idea. Construction paper is not only bright and fun to look at, but when put into contact with water there is a color difference.
In a matter of moments I had a ridiculously easy-to-clean art project. I gave him some brushes of various textures (the sponge brushes work the best), a piece of construction paper, and a plastic cup filled with water. No paint needed. He simply brushed the water onto the paper.
One of the best parts? When the water dries it’s as if nothing happened to the paper (maybe it’s a bit wrinkled depending on how harshly baby treated it). Therefor, your materials are reusable!
I have a love hate relationship with bath time. Sometimes it’s a very enjoyable experience where I feel both baby and I are having a wonderful time playing games and singing songs. Other times I feel as if I’m really pressing my luck with the entertainment. Those bath toys get old fast, and my mind only has so many songs in the bath time playlist.
Recently I found a new way to make bath time a little more exciting for us. The best part? It’s super cheap.
I’m talking dollar store cheap.
All you need are 3-4 pool noodles (it’s best if you have a variety of color) and a knife. Okay, the knife is obviously not part of the actual activity. It’s simply the tool needed for set up.
All I did was simply saw little O’s out of the noodles, and dumped them into the tub.
I’ll admit that at first my son had no idea what to make of the noodles. The first bath was confusing and uneventful. The second time around, however, he seemed significantly more intrigued. He enjoyed kicking his feet to watch the ripples push the noodle pieces around, and especially liked lining the pieces along the edge of the tub. Now it’s one of his favorite bath time activities.
Storage for us wasn’t too much of a problem. I simply collected the pieces in netting and hung them on the wall. Easy enough!
When he’s a little older, I figured we could use the noodles to practice lessons on patterns by lining various patterns along the ledge of the tub. For now, we’re simply having fun exploring the interesting environment it creates at bath time!