by Erin Sweeten
There you are, in the house, with bored kids either getting into stuff they shouldn't or clinging onto you like barnacles. The family needs a change of pace. Here are some simple, engaging activities to break up the normal routine. You can do all of them with things you probably already have at home.
1. Make paper snowflakes.
You don't have to wait for winter! For younger kids, fold a square piece of paper into fourths diagonally so they don't have too many layers to cut through. If your kids can't do scissors yet, they can try ripping, or even biting shapes into a folded tortilla. For older kids, you can find folding instructions here.
2. Do Edible Finger Painting
Mix some food coloring into vanilla yogurt and let your kids paint on waxed paper or tortillas. My kids love licking their fingers as they go along, so I give them each their own set of colors to experiment with. This activity doubles as snack time.
3. Pull out the painter's tape.
Use brightly colored painter's tape to make targets on the wall. Your kids can toss bean bags or small stuffed animals at them; try to see the highest x they can reach; or use it at a giant connect-the-dots game, unrolling the tape from x to x.
You can also use it to make roads for their cars on the rug or for start and finish lines for races.
Or just get a roll started and let them stick tape all over the wall however they want.
4. Freeze toys in ice.
Take some little plastic toys and freeze them in bowls of water. Release the ice into larger containers and let the kids use spray bottles, squeeze bottles, and turkey basters to melt the ice and free the toys. My kids like to compare the effects of cold water, ice water, and salt water. Make sure each kid has their own ice chunk to work with.
If you are feeling ambitious, you can put plastic dinosaurs inside balloons, fill the balloons with water, and freeze those to create dinosaur ice eggs.
5. Experiment with milk and soap.
This is a family favorite- it's just so gorgeous and exciting! Fill a plate two thirds full of milk (2% or whole). Add about 8-10 drops of different colors of food coloring. Dip a cotton swab in dish soap and then into the milk. Watch the colors race away, swirling in beautiful patterns. The science is that the soap repels the fat molecules in the milk, causing them to move. We like to shout, "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" to the fat molecules when we do this activity.
6. Paint with water.
If you have a shady patio or balcony, fill a bucket with water and let your kids "paint" the wall and concrete with paint rollers or brushes. When my twins were toddlers, they were perfectly to stay happy indoors with dry paint rollers that they used to "smooth out" the floors and furniture.
Older kids can make hopscotch games or mazes on the pavement, and race to complete them before they fade away.
7. Wash the toys.
Fill one large bin with soapy water and another with rinse water. And sponges, brushes, and bath puffs, and let the kids splash and scrub on all their water-safe objects. Make sure you put down plenty of towels, though, or the floor will get dangerously slippery. We put our wet toys on a picnic blanket in the back yard to dry.
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