With so many families around the world having to stay home with their little ones, we reached out to the super experienced homeschooling mama of 4 Marnesha Augustine for tips to get our toddlers entertained during this pandemic.
Marnesha holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in family studies and can be found over at her blog where you'll find amazing resources for parents who normally homeschool, or are thinking of going that route, or those - like myself- who find ourselves in this new role. Thank you so much Marnesha! We love what you do and commend you for doing it so graciously.
Marnesha, take it away!
First, let’s focus on the fact that TODDLERS ARE SO EASY TO PLEASE! The possibilities are endless! However, given the mandate to stay clear of unnecessary trips out into the world today, I want to highlight a few simple things you can implement with everyday household supplies.
Sensory play is a real thrill for toddlers…
- Start with what you have: Now is the time to search your cabinets. There are many ideas I can provide here, but before I do, I want you to take this time to start thinking outside the box. I cannot tell you the number of times I have looked up crafts from other crafty mamas only to learn I was one supply short. I realized I needed to start with what I had first.
- Move on to what you know: Now that you have a pile of potential supplies, you may feel compelled to search the web for ways to implement them into your day. However, I encourage you to tailor it to your child’s needs, learning style, and interest. Though most toddlers may be learning many of the same things, they each specific needs. Focus on areas to help your toddler improve or on opportunities to teach them something new and run with that.
- Engage: Use this time to connect with your child. I mentioned that toddlers are easy to please. However, toddlers are not so into independent play. We can foster a sense of togetherness, especially during this extended opportunity of stillness in our lives. In fact, “Joint activities help forge a sense of togetherness that is crucial for child development by enhancing relationships and facilitating communication between family members.”
Here is a list of things I implemented this week with my toddler:
- Duct tape
- Masking tape
- Shoe box
- Measuring cups
What we made:
- Wallet: We used duct tape to make a wallet like mommy; the girls loved this idea. If you have a boy, you can make a wallet like dads.
- Dollhouse: We took an old amazon box (however a shoebox works well, possibly better) we then made a miniature dollhouse. You can also use other supplies you’ve come across to make furniture. We haven’t made it to that portion yet.
- Sensory beans: Find a large bowl/bin and fill it with a variety of beans (we used lentils, black, and pinto beans) children love to run their fingers through them. You can also add spoons, measuring cups, and pans for added fun.
- Letter review: You can also use the beans, rice, and whatever other grains you have along with glue to review letters. This week we reinforced the sound of letter B. First we grabbed a sheet of paper, a cup of beans, and then filled the bubbled B with beans.
- Counting practice: The beans also served as a way to practice counting. If your child is ready, you can practice addition and subtraction as well.
- DIY Fairy Portraits: The girls drew a picture of a fairy (if your child needs help, you can encourage them to trace objects like cups to shape the head and so forth.) We used watercolors; however, you can also use water, mud, and their tiny fingers to create a natural color pigment for their fairy. For added effects, you can glue leaves and flowers for hair, clothing, and accessories.
- Race/motor skills and concentration: I started with a line of masking tape and colored it with a marker. Then I placed 8-10 pieces in different directions on top of the initial section (think of pick up stick here) then, once I said go they removed the tape, and the person who ended up with the colored strip won. We played this game with all four children, ages 9, 5, 3, and 1. However, you can easily apply this for your toddler by bending back the ends of tape for simple removal, and they can use it as an opportunity for motor development.
These are just a few ways I applied what we had. I encourage you to search your pantry and feel free to come back and share what you did. This particular list consists of activities for toddlers with a bonus game for all of your children. Feel free to check back and see ways you can implement household supplies with school-aged children as well.
I hope this helps spark your creativity as you enjoy the simple things alongside your toddler :)