Saturday, April 20, 2013

40 Free Things to do with Preschoolers on a Cold or Rainy Saturday at Home (without electronics)

Photo: Puzzling behavior on Saturday morning!It is Saturday morning in mid-April and it is COLD in Indiana.  In fact, there has been some snow today. YIKES!  The zoo in Fort Wayne opens this morning.  It is also the Maple Syrup Festival in Wakarusa.  A lot of people had outside plans for the morning.  So now that plans are changing, my dear sweet cousin just asked on Facebook, "What should I do this morning?"  she has a 1 and a 3 year old and does not want to roam the really fun festival in the cold.

So I got to thinking about what kinds of fun things we like to do when we feel like we are not ready to spend our day outside.  I thought I would share for her benefit (and as a reminder to ourselves on the next too cold Saturday).

1. Pull out the puzzles!  Not old enough to do them alone?  Help your child do puzzles - what a great learning and bonding activity with the family.

2. Grab clean sheets (or some that need to get cleaned today) and build a tent.  Get flashlights, sleeping bags, and marshmellows.  Go camping together in the bedroom or living room.

3. Snuggle up and read favorite books.  They might be even willing to read chapter books - try it out.

4. Play Dough is a favorite at our house.  Don't have any?  Look up recipes - it is super cheap and extremely easy to make.  Want play dough toys?  Use popsicle sticks, cookie cutters, dough rollers, forks, plastic knives, scissors.  Let them go wild with their imaginations.  *Watch the little ones mouths* Show them how to make simple shapes - a ball, a snake, a pancake... then get more complex and marvel them.

5. Make pancakes together.  They can help pour and mix.  Add in food coloring for fun designs or chocolate chips, blueberries - use your imaginations.  Have fun making pancakes together.

6. Bring outdoor toys inside.  We have a small house, but 1 or 2 outdoor toys in the house really livens things up.  They really love the little plastic pool filled with balls for "swimming" when it's cold.

7. Play in the tub.  Make simple bath paints with flour, water, and food coloring.  Give them paint brushes, let them go wild.  Take some favorite toys to the tub, let them have a pool party.

8. Dance party.  Turn up the tunes and dance with your kids.

9. Break out the crayons and coloring books or printer paper.  Sit down and color together.

10. Practice responsibility.  It's a great day to clean the hamster cage, cat box, dog kennel, etc.  Help them learn how to be responsible for their pets.

11. Cut or tear paper.  This is a great skill for preschoolers and it will entertain them for quite a while. Get really daring and give them some glue as well.  They'll have a blast gluing paper pieces together.

12. Wash dishes together.  Need to get some chores done?  Invite your preschooler to stand on a chair and wash dishes with you.  Even if you have to rewash everything he has washed, he's learning a new skill and feels proud for helping you.  My 4 year old always tells me how much he loves to wash dishes together.

13. Dump out the bucket of mismatched socks.  Have preschoolers help you find matches and put pairs together.

14. Build with Duplos or Legos.  Encourage imagination by helping your child create a new design, or help her learn to follow written directions by putting together a lego set.

15. Paint. Finger paint, water color, or otherwise.  Give them freedom to make a special piece of art.

16. Make cards for grandma or friends.  Use construction paper, markers, stickers, stamps - whatever you've got.

17. Play soccer.  Yep.  Break the rules, kick the ball around in the bedroom or living room together.

18. Make a pizza.  Come on, you think breakfast is the only mean your preschooler wants to help with?  She can make peanut butter sandwiches, pizzas, noodles, soup, all kinds of foods with you - you just have to tolerate a little mess.  You'll help her gain confidence, independence and knowledge.

19. Practice writing his name together.

20. Make a simple pinecone bird feeder.  Tie yarn to the end of a pinecone spread peanut butter on it, roll it in bird seed.  Don't have a pinecone?  Use a toilet paper roll instead.

21. Play board games.  There is a huge market full of preschool games.  If you don't have any, head out to garage sales on the next warm, dry Saturday and pick up a few super cheap games.

22. Build a race track with recylclable materials.

23. Race cars (with or without a track).

24. Let her give you a makeover! This might take some courage.

25. Tell stories together. Take turns adding to a story about your preschooler.  Make sure to include his favorite things.

26. Have a picnic inside.  Bring in the little picnic table or spread a blanket out on the floor.  Serve your favorite picnic meals.

27. Go on a treasure hunt.  Hide something special in the house.  Make a map to find it - or give clues about where it is hidden.

28. Play Barbies together (or action figures - whatever).  She won't forget that you took time to do this.

29. Make smoothies!  Everyone loves smoothies when you throw in their favorite foods.  Not only do they taste great, they're fun to make and can be incredibly healthy.  Not sure about the mess of a smoothie?  Put the mix into a popsicle mold and give them special cold treats.

30. Get out circle shaped cereal and make necklaces for snack.  Use some yarn or string and help your preschooler lace the o's until they have a good amount.

31. Plant stuff.  Start a garden indoors.  Get seedlings ready for your summer veggie garden. (Walmart has seed packets starting at 20c).

32. Have a puppet show.  No puppets?  Make some with socks or paper bags!

33. String pasta.  Beading is fun even for little hands!

34. Bake cookies for a neighbor.

35. Have a jumping contest.  See who can jump the highest, longest, fastest, farthest, funniest.  Wear them out with lots of jumping fun.

36. Sort toys. Dump all the toys onto the floor and help him sort them into categories.

37. Take all of your cardboard boxes out of the recycle bin.  Let him have fun building with them, using the as boats, houses, cars, towers, etc. You may be amazed at the ways your child will use a few boxes.

38. Start a band. Do you have music toys? Take them out and sing together.  If you don't have music toys, look up simple free instrument designs on Pinterest.  You would be amazed how many things you can use around the house to make a drum or guitar!

39. Go fishing.  Get a stick from the yard and some string.  Put a paperclip on the end and see how many toys you can pick up with your pole.

40. Look at old pictures together.  Go through photo albums and look at pictures together.  They love seeing themselves and their families as they have grown and changed.

***What do you like to do with your preschoolers when you're stuck inside on a cold or rainy day?***

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Photo from
It seems only appropriate that today, on what would have been my grandfather's 92nd birthday, we were visited by our first tufted titmouse of the season.  

At the end of his life, when he was recovering from a stroke, grandpa and I sat in his room at the nursing home, looking through a bird identification book.  He would pause on occasion to tell me about one bird or another.  The Robin, "she's a nice one".  Then we got to the tufted titmouse.  He wanted me to remind him of the name, then tried to repeat it.  He could not get the sounds right and we laughed.  He laughed so hard there were tears in his eyes as he repeated again and again "piss mouth"... "piss mouth".  He couldn't convince his own mouth to form the right sounds.  I love that man still.  He's been an influence over my life from the time I was so very young.  I am thankful for the reminder of my grandpa, especially on this day of memory.

Above are my grandparents, surrounded by most of their grandchildren, a few great grandchildren, and some in-laws.  My grandfather was a family man.  He adored his big family.  He overflowed with joy at each opportunity to spend time loving on each individual, or (on rare occasion) the whole gang.  Grandpa was a musician as well.  He played a variety of stringed instruments, and repaired them for all string players in the county - and visitors to the county.  Because of this business, my grandparents hosted visitors from around the country.  

I learned so much from my grandpa.  I really hope my children will have the same admiration, adoration, and love of their grandparents that I had for mine.  My grandpa was a hero in my mind.  He was a leader in my faith.  He was someone I want to emulate as a parent and some day as a grandparent.

Happy Birthday Michael Billey!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Unexpected #Mamavation

Mamavation Mondays

Oh boy, this weekend (and start of the week) has been full of the unexpected!  I won't bore you with all of the crazy details - we'll leave it at this: We're "stuck" at my work for a few days while our van is in the shop.  Work is a little over an hour from home.  I'm so thankful that I have a place to stay while I'm working!

So anyway, I'm talking about unexpected as it relates to Mamavation.  Mamavation is a push for healthy mamas that are raising healthy kids.

Let me tell you something: being stuck at work unexpectedly does not always inspire healthy behaviors.  With a full kitchen, I tried to quickly scheme up some "healthy" meals that we could grab from a local store.  Since I've been kind of "down for the count" this weekend, I had difficulty thinking beyond convenience and comfort.

Ahh, we'll get there, we have several weeks of living at camp in the near future - we're working toward simplicity and health.  Real Foods, Plants.

Because of my physical issues I have also missed out on exercising - actually - on Saturday I strained and pushed my body to exhaustion - I shoveled rocks all morning and helped clear some brush out of the road in the afternoon.  I felt it in my arms and shoulders - hard work is good.  Sunday, however kicked me in the butt, knocked me flat on my back (well, as flat as a recliner goes - I had to stay close to the bathroom).

My boys have been able to run around and climb, jump, slide, and play outside for 3 full days now.  This is the healthy lifestyle I want for them.  I want them to learn to enjoy playing and living in nature.  I love it that when I am here, even when it's unexpected, they are so much more free to be outside than when we're at home in the city with some questionable neighbors.

The unexpected has hit our lives this week.  We've chosen not to let it knock us down, rather to roll with the punches and keep moving.  We are so blessed to be in this place.  In a few days our van will be fixed and the boys and I will go "home" until we're able to get back to this place more.  In another week or so I'll be back on track with fitness and have a good eating routine figured out between our 2 homes.

How do you adjust when the unexpected happens in your life?  Are you able to easily take the punches and move on, or do you need time to struggle through the changes?  Do you let yourself get stressed, or are you able to quickly retrain your mind to think of solutions?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Welcome Goldfinches! (sponsored post)

IMG_20130322_190736.jpgI love the Perky Pets review group!  This month we have been provided with a fantastic feeder for our favorite outdoor friends.  We have the privilege of enjoying and reviewing the "Select-A-Finch Tube Feeder".  Yes, I received the product in exchange for this review.  All opinions are honest, and my own.

This super cool feeder has 4 food ports that can be set right side up, or upside down.  When the ports are upside down, only goldfinches will eat from them!  It has nice, bright yellow flowers on each food port, to help attract finches, and should only be filled with thistle seed.

We put out feeder out about a week ago and waited... and waited.  It felt like we were never going to see any action from the finches!  This week we have a pair of goldfinches visiting our feeder!  They are neat to watch and seem much braver than the birds that visit our other feeders, they don't even get too jumpy when my boys pop their heads up into the window! We enjoy this great feeder.                  

If you're interested in watching finches in your yard, I highly recommend that you check out the selection of feeders from Perky Pets!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Faith & Health: Your Body the Temple (part 2)

I shared last week about the way I learned 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own."  This verse was taught as a reason for "taking care" of the outside of one's body by avoiding things like tattoos, piercings, and hair color.  This really rubbed me the wrong way for a long time.

Recently, I have begun really struggling to improve my health for personal reasons.  In that struggle I have revisited this verse and some others that have helped me to better understand my health challenges as a spiritual struggle as much as a mental/emotional struggle.  In this post I will share about a few of these scriptures and how they are forming me even now.

PhotoBefore I revisit the "temple-body" verse, I want to take a look at some other.  First off is Matthew 22:37-39.  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Okay - so I KNOW that it's important to love God with all that I am, but what does that really mean?  Well, if I'm loving God with all that I am (heart/soul/mind), then it is important to be mindful about the things I am putting in to my body.  Now there is also a second command here that I would be in fault if I skipped - "love your neighbor as yourself".  This means that I first have to love myself.  What does it really mean to love someone?  It means I choose to want what is best for that person.  I make decisions that will benefit the persons I love, in this case - me.  Wow.  I need to take care of me and then others.  This is part of loving God!

Now back to 1 Corinthians - "your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit".  My main beef was about the way it was presented.  As I am able to read it again in a different light, I can easily understand that this is not a verse about my outward appearance only.  (Yes, I said ONLY).  We DO need to take care of our outward appearance because as a person of faith, I am a representative of the God in whom I believe.  Does that mean I think tattoos are evil?  Nope.  Does that mean I think it's a sin to color my hair?  I better not, I do that fairly regularly.  It does mean this: It is important to be taking care of my body.  Taking care of myself, living a clean healthy life, is part of my testimony.  If the Holy Spirit is in me, and I believe it is, then I must choose to live in a manner that is honorable to God - WITH MY BODY.  

Here I sit, yep sit.  I am a leader in faith by trade.  I'm overweight and underhealthy.  I struggle EVERY DAY with making good healthy choices for my family.  I am diabetic.  I have 3 beautiful little boys and want them to learn to honor God with their bodies.  I also want to live to see them grow - and see them grow in healthy ways.  I realize (and this is a painful realization) that I am not always good at honoring God with my body.  When I am not honoring God with all that I am, I don't feel so good about myself.  I have some personal habits to address and some faith areas to work on growing in.  

How do you rectify your beliefs about what God desires of you, and your way of living?  Are you there?  How can you strive to new heights?

Wordless Wednesday: Caption This!

I laughed out loud when I found this among some shots a couple weeks ago.  Please leave comments below with your great captions!