Out And About With Your Toddler Or Preschooler
Trying to find exciting and new activities for young children is a challenge for us stay-at-home-moms. Well, anyway, it is for this SAHM. Although I would just as soon stay in the house and write half the day, I also want to make sure Benjamin gets out and experiences life. And I also want to make sure that if I take the time to drive somewhere, it will be to a place he actually enjoys.
Happily, finding “exciting and new activities” does not always have to mean driving somewhere. Listed below are nine activities for young children that are not only fun and enriching to your child’s mind, but relatively easy and (usually) inexpensive for you to implement.
1. Water/sand table.
A winner for kids of any age below six years, a sand and water table can keep them entertained for a longer period of time than most toys–and they began to develop concepts of measurement to boot!
2. Bike rides.
If you have a bike, like to ride, and the weather is generally favorable for bike-riding, a bicycle trailer may be a good investment for your family. Most kids love the ride, and taking a bike allows you to explore your surroundings at greater distances than simply walking.
3. Trip to an urban farm.
If you live in an urban area, there is probably a farm somewhere around either created specifically for urban kids to experience farm animals, or a small family farm that encourages visits. I recently had to nix our trips to a local farm that was an hour away because Benjamin screamed the entire way home the last time we went. After he asked to “see the goats” numerous times, Jerry and I finally took him to a suburban farm that a friend had told us about. With horses, goats (which Benjamin got to feed), chickens, cows and donkeys galore, Benjamin had the time of his life. And it took less than fifteen minutes to drive there.
4. Local arts and crafts festival.
I remember being fascinated as a kid, watching a glass-blower create a beautiful vase at an art festival. As well, these types of festivals usually include specific kid-friendly activities, such as face-painting or pantomime artists. If your child is at least three years old, he or she would probably enjoy it for at least a little while.
5. Chalk drawing.
Benjamin enjoys scribbling all over the deck in our back yard with sidewalk chalk. Although it’s a bit too sedative of an activity to keep him engaged for very long, it keeps him out of my hair for ten or fifteen minutes a few times per week. 😉 He might even stay with it longer if I bought him some Crayola 3-D Chalk. Hmmm…
6. Baby basketball.
Get a few small, soft balls together (crumpled up used paper would work, too) then something to serve as a basket. A cardboard box or empty and clean wastebasket will work fine. Take turns throwing the balls in with your child. Make it even more fun by throwing the balls in backwards or with dramatic flourishes.
If your child is old enough to understand, you could also do a relay. Each one of you has an equal number of balls, then you try to throw in your balls as fast as possible. Hint: Let your child win once in a while. 😉
Nowadays, you can buy all sorts of contraptions that blow bubbles. Whether using a more high-tech version of bubble-blowing, or the old-fashioned bubble wand, kids of all ages can spend hours playing with bubbles.
8. Balloon kites.
Kites can be frustrating for the little ones, as they don’t stay up without proper cooperation from the weather and skillful handling by the kite operator. So why not run to your nearest grocery on a nice but windy day and buy a helium balloon? Tie it to your child’s hand, and run together through the yard or a nearby park.
9. Nature walk.
You don’t have to go into a forest for this one–walking down a neighborhood sidewalk will do. Simply arm your child with a bag and give her permission to fill it with whatever stones, sticks, seeds, etc. strike her fancy as you walk down the street or through the park. Talk about what the objects are and where they might have come from as she picks them up. Depending on the age and maturity of your child, let her play with them for a while when she gets home. Be sure to give some guidance and safety rules, and keep an eye on her as she plays.
There you have it–nine activities for young children that are engaging, educational (mostly) and sometimes even fun for you! Any you would like to add?