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Keeping toddlers busy during lockdown is such a challenge, activities seem to last only a few minutes and the clearing up never ends! Lockdown is stressful for us all, I find keeping on top of the house, looking after the children, working from home and doing the laundry means my days are so busy, let alone trying to ‘home school’ the children too. Luckily, my girls are too little for formal schoolwork (Violet is 3 and Pearl is 20 months) but they are such busy, active toddlers they really need stimulation or they get unsettled and emotional so I’ve found having a few bits planned does help.
As we are already juggling so much – from getting an elusive food shopping slot to the emotional impact of the global pandemic, I keep all our activities really simple. There is nothing more disheartening than setting up a complicated activity for them to not be interested, so all of the activities we’ve tried are REALLY easy, but amazing for their development and gross motor skills – this post is to share a bit of an idea of what we’ve been up to and hopefully give you some inspiration for simple ideas if you are stuck in a rut like we’ve been many times too.
For all of our printed activities, I use Twinkl, which is free to use for parents during lockdown. In the second week of lockdown I bought a printer, ink subscription and a laminator and it’s been invaluable during this time!
For all of our learning resources I use Amazon – I’ve put a list of the things we love in my Amazon Storefront here (affiliate links).
When the girls weren’t looking, we put a fairy door against the tree in the garden. This lead to much excitement and a fairy hunt around the garden. The girls check the door all the time and try to spot fairies.
I printed and laminated Playdoh mats, which give them a bit more direction when playing with Playdoh – we’ve got mats for creating letters, numbers adding shapes and creating wings for butterflies!
We set up a really simple shop in the garden, using some of the tins and packets from the kitchen! We played shops with items costing simple amounts between 1-20p, we talked about money and learned about different foods – next time I want to make some price stickers too!
We tried this Boredom Buster Kit and made beautiful mosaic coasters. Violet loved creating her mosaic, it held her attention for so long, plus I enjoyed it too! (use code FIZZY10 for 10% off)
There is something so satisfying about kinetic sand. I quite enjoy playing with it too! Just some simple molds and scoops keep them busy for ages. I want to get some of rainbow sets that you can slice, they look so satisfying!
We’ve been hunting for all kinds of things on our walks, from flowers, to bugs, to bark, sticks, flowers and even animal poo, there are lots of scavenger hunts to print online. I laminate them so we can use them time after time.
Violet absolutely LOVES baking – I think it’s her favourite activity ever! We mix it up from trying a new recipe to using the ready mix boxes for a quick and easy bake. We’ve made cupcakes, flapjacks, rock cakes, an Easter cake and more! Next weeks challenge is to try bread making.
We painted our rocks red, let them dry then added simple black spots for ladybirds! (Then I accidentally left them out in the rain so looks like we’ve got new rocks to start again!)
We’ve found so many amazing free colouring sheets online – Twinkl has some brilliant ones but just googling topics like The Gruffalo, Frozen and also rainbow ‘Thanks NHS’ posters comes up with so many free resources to just print at home! We’ve been loving the Crayola Twistable Crayons and Pearl likes the Crayola My First jumbo pencils for easy grip.
Violet is just showing very early signs of interest in letters. She’s only just 3 so it’s very much early days so we’ve started off by tracing her name. I printed her name from a simple Word Document (use Word Art to make it bubble writing) and popped it in a reusable wipe clean pouch so she can keep practising.
The girls really love playing with ice cubes on a hot, sunny day. The night before I freeze any little bits I can get my hands on – little plastic toys, animals, pom poms, pipecleaners, glitter, flowers etc. They then have to ‘rescue’ the bits out of the ice using water and salt. They love using old calpol syringes to squirt the ice (and each other!)
Teddy Bears Picnic
Both my girls are fussy when it comes to eating, so a way to get them to feel enthusiastic about eating lunch is to create a teddy bears picnic in the garden!
The girls love spending time outside so we’ve encouraged them to get involved with the garden. We’ve grown cress, runner beans and tomatoes so far. Cress has been really great for teaching toddlers about growing seeds as it literally grew overnight!
Washing animals / babies
Washing animals or babies is another favourite with the girls. You can make ‘mud’ from cocoa powder and water to make them dirty, then run some clean water to wash them off, remember to add some bubble bath for extra bubbles.
Pizza making is another quick cookery lesson that toddlers enjoy. I bought the bases and pizza sauce from the supermarket but you can make your own if you have time.
We followed this tutorial to make Elmer the Elephant from milk cartons and tissue paper. I think they turned out well – Violet loves cutting and sticking so this was right up her street.
Tin foil painting
Tin foil painting is fun and allows little ones to use their creativity and fine motor skills. We did flower printing then swirled the colours together – they really enjoyed it! I tape the corner of the foil down so it doesn’t move when they are painting .
Jumbo chalks are great to keep little ones busy in the garden! They draw everywhere and it just washes off either with the hose or rain.
A similar idea is water painting in the garden – a bowl of water and a paintbrush allows little ones to paint the patio, the fence, the steps – all without damage.
Rainbows have become the symbol of hope during this pandemic with children far and wide creating beautiful rainbows to put in their windows for other children to spot on their daily walks.
There is nothing more entertaining to a toddler than blowing bubbles! Getting a bubble machine or making mega giant bubbles is even more fun!
Going for Walks
It might seem simple but going for walks is so important and doesn’t have to be boring! There are loads of ways to make walks more interesting by looking and listening to nature, spotting cars, fire engines etc. We’ve created nature trails, learned about road safety, taught Violet to scoot and discovered new beautiful paths right near our house!
I hope this post gives you lots of ideas to get playing this lockdown!
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Your outdoor table is brilliant. Is that a DIY? Please share! Thanks!