When I first started staying home, I was 4 months pregnant with my second and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Within two weeks, I was bored. My two year old was bored and there were only so many parks in the state of Oregon. I knew I had to get some sort of routine in place and figure out what my purpose was (and how to survive) at home.
I turned to Pinterest and found an unbelievable amount of inspiration. I started with activities that were easy, fun and educational. This has since turned into what we refer to as “Tot School” but these are still my go to tricks to do whatever I need to do….you know…take a shower, do some laundry or just drink a hot cup of coffee.
I don’t know what it is about Pom Pom’s but they have some sort of toddler magic woven throughout….whatever they are made of (I literally have no idea) but I pull these out for so many different activities. You can buy them here. When I bought these, I don’t even think I knew why but here are just a few of the things I have used them for:
- Pom Pom Drop: Take empty toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes and adhere (I don’t care how…I used Zots) to Kraft paper or directly to wall (DON’T use Zots on your wall)! Give child pom poms. Let them drop them through the tubes with their hands….tongs…whatever they want. If you really want to make it interesting….give them a few containers to move around to catch the pom poms.
- Pom Pom Sort: I’ve used muffin tins, shape sorters & egg cartons. We sorted by size & color. We counted. We scooped and poured and transferred to our hearts content.
- Pom Pom Launchers: my husband and I may or may not have played with these after the kids went to bed.
Alright….next up is Sensory Play. When I first started incorporating sensory bins into our daily routine….I did it just to keep Lucy occupied. However, as our Tot School journey has evolved, I have learned so much about the benefits of sensory play! Essentially, sensory play is any activity that stimulates your senses. Touch, smell, taste, sight, sound. Sensory play or in this case….”bins”…allow your child to explore and process their surroundings while they investigate and explore their environment. This kind of exploration supports and strengthens their motor skills, their ability to complete more complex tasks, language development and problem solving skills….and you may even get to enjoy a hot cup of coffee…like after you made it….not microwaved it for the 42nd time.
First things first, this is what I use for all of our sensory play: Sterilite Underbed Storage Container
At first, I just grabbed whatever I had around the house. The first time…I think it was pinto beans. It was magic. I turned to Pinterest. Next was rice. Then it was dried peas. Cooked Spaghetti. Black beans. Water beads. Moon sand. Kinetic sand. Seriously….just throw whatever is in your pantry into a tub and let them at it. Alright…too far. Please be safe but you get the idea. Sensory play is such an easy activity to facilitate and the benefits are crazy cool and long term.
Sometimes I don’t have enough filler and I just use a casserole dish but we’re classy like that….what can I say? Wait….what? You don’t want to eat your enchiladas with a side of toddler slime? Well….don’t come to dinner at my house. No, seriously…don’t come to dinner at my house….because you might end up eating toddler slime. You’ve been warned.
Our favorite “bins” have been slime, water beads, snow, moon sand and then rice. The kid loves rice. She is not crazy about cooked spaghetti.
SENSORY SLIME is magical. A God send. Here is my favorite slime recipe!
- 1 bottle of Elmer’s Clear School Glue
- 1/2-3/4 cup Sta-Flo Liquid Starch
- Liquid watercolors
- Fine glitter in a variety of colors
WATER BEADS: Order them HERE —- JUST ORDER THEM —- my kid won’t stop talking about them.
MOON SAND: Here is the moon sand recipe we used!
- 8 cups plain flour
- 1 cup baby oil (or any oil if you’re concerned with using baby oil)
This snow was amazing. I probably played with it just as much as Lucy! We turned it into a Frozen Winter Wonderland because…yes…my kid is obsessed with all things Frozen.
Snow Ingredients & Recipe:
- 3 cups of baking soda
- 1/2 cup hair conditioner
Frozen figurines were Amazon Prime…duh.
Now….sensory play can be messy….sometimes expensive…and sometimes….not successful. However, if this is something you would like to introduce but really aren’t sure where to start….there are (of course…because these days….there is a box for everything) sensory subscription boxes you can look into. Here are two options for you to consider:
Alright….now here are a few “activities” I keep in the pantry…ready to pull out whenever I need them. My kid (and her friends) love them. They’re easy and you might even already have what you need.
Stickers! I pick them up anywhere and everywhere. Dollar store, Target, Winco…you name it…I’ve probably bought stickers there. My kid RESPONDS to stickers. In a bad mood? Stickers. Fell down? Stickers? Don’t want to nap? Stickers. I have a gallon sized Ziploc bad that is packed full of stickers. I have a small spiral bound notebook I keep inside with the stickers that we refer to as her “sticker book”. I pull this out any time I need it….it’s my secret weapon. Stickers solve problems. Throw up a piece of Kraft paper….give them some stickers and you should have a good chunk of time to do whatever you want. Go to the bathroom alone? Brush your teeth? You’re welcome.
Balloons & Fly Swatters – Dollar Tree! Some call this balloon tennis but I call it preparation for nap time. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Lucy laugh quite like this. This works with just us….with friends…this works with just Lucy! This is an awesome rainy day activity to keep in your back pocket! Original post here.
We use this for painting, coloring, stickers, race tracks and more. We had a roll in our garage that the previous owners had left that I never thought I would use. Then, when I stopped working to stay home and was desperately searching on Pinterest for something to occupy my toddler I was thrilled to find several amazing ways to use Kraft paper:
Here is a Kraft Paper Village I put together for a play date:
I put it up on our sliding glass doors and I basically let her stick whatever she wants to it. Yarn, tissue paper, leaves….beans, noodles, straws….I’m not kidding….anything. Here are a couple ideas of people who actually know what they’re doing:
There you have it. A handful of activities to get you through the day…………and if all else fails = MOANA
If you try anything out….tag #milkandmascara so we can follow you on your journey of surviving motherhood!