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?***


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