Jun 2, 2008

Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

Anyone who reads my blog knows I adore my 2 1/2 yr old grandson, Brayden Lee. I babysit for him two days a week, from 7am to 5:00pm. We spend about 50% of our time outside, 15% of our time doing some kind of activity or game, 25% of our time doing "chores" including both housework and gardening, and 10% of our time with Brayden playing quietly on his own with whatever he wants to play with. But then, there are rainy days and I suddenly have to find new things to do with the 50% of our time that's normally spent outside. I thought I'd share some of the things we do. I found age-appropriate computer games at our local library. One in particular that Brayden has enjoyed for several months now is called "Giggles Baby - Animals and Friends". (You can find more info here - no affiliation!) He can make mice race or kitties meow or gophers pop out of holes. I put his high chair right up to the computer so he can easily access the mouse and keyboard. He will sit for 20 or 25 minutes playing these computer games by himself, and sometimes 20 or 25 minutes of a two year old playing quietly by himself is a Godsend! We have visited a few web sites on the Internet -- Noggin and Mickey Mouse Club House, for example -- which Brayden really enjoys. For both these sites I sit with him and and he can point to what he wants to do and I click on the mouse for him. Attention span on each site is about 10 minutes. Another great website we have tried is called TumbleBooks and it is online animated storybooks for little ones! You'll need to have a flash player installed to view the books, but it will be well worth it! If you have a little one that loves books, these are just perfect. They page through automatically, with an audible reader, and each page of the storybook is animated. I loved the AbraCadabra and the Tooth Witch story, myself. Once you get to the initial screen, click on "StoryBooks" to find the books for younger readers. They also have several "Caillou" animated books, which always have such a nice "message" to the story. If you have a little one in your life, you won't want to miss this web site. Oh, and there ARE books for older children here as well! Another cute site for older toddlers and pre-schoolers is the ABC site at StarFall. You click on any alphabet block, and a little animation comes up about that letter. Cute way to introduce your toddler to the alphabet! Think it's impossible to play "peek-a-boo" on the computer? Babies and toddlers will love this web site! Check out the entire Kneebouncers web site while you're there -- lots to do for babies of all ages! Non-computer things we do: Cooking - Brayden likes to dump things into a bowl, so I take advantage of it and we sometimes cook something as easy as cupcakes, or as difficult as homemade soup. Anything that needs to be chopped with a knife is done beforehand, so there are no knives in the area. Crockpot recipes are as good as homemade soups. You need something with 8 or 10 ingredients that can be "dumped" and stirred. And don't forget to have them SMELL -- spices, onions, everything! Explain what it is they are smelling. The Missing Game - I get any four objects I know Brayden can identify verbally. Last week we used a ball, a block, a marble and a gyroscope (he says diediscope). I line them up on the coffee table, and have him say the name of each object. Then I cover them all with a cloth, grab one item and pull the cloth off, with the item hidden in the cloth. Then Brayden tells me what object is missing. He loves playing this! The Front Door game - We have a glass storm door on our front door, so we can do this in any weather. Our staircase is just a few feet from the front door, so I open the door and we sit on the stairs together and talk about what we see. First, I'll say, "Oh, I see so many things! I see..." trees, grass, flowers, a neighbor's truck, a school bus, etc. Then I ask him what he sees. When he tells me something he sees, I'll ask him what color it is... We try and cover blue skies, green grass, yellow flowers -- just to reinforce his colors and his verbal skills. Music - If you have a toddler in the 2-5 year old bracket, you need to have them listen to the music of Laurie Berkner... great stuff! Some of Brayden's favorite songs -- Drive My Car, The BumbleBee Song, Laurie's Got a Skunk on Her Head and more. Check your local library -- they may have it and you can copy it on your PC :) We sing, we act out the music...we chase each other to "I'm gonna get you so you better run..." Good stuff. Sandbox - I took a medium sized cheapo clear plastic storage container that's about 2 feet long, 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep, and bought some sandbox sand ($3 a bag) and filled the container with sand down in my basement. I brought down some kitchen utensils and a dump truck... and away we go. Brayden will play in this little sandbox for at least an hour. Go the the Library! Our public library is one of my very favorite places, so I was overjoyed when Brayden was finally old enough to attend weekly Story Hour, but that's stopped for the summer. So we just go to the library to enjoy ourselves. Our library has board books and toddler books in boxes on the floor, and Brayden picks out 3 or 4 and we sit in the tiny sitting area in the Children's Room and read. He is allowed to take 2 books home with us (one book for each year old is a good rule). If you go to the library, please be sure and teach your child library manners - no pulling books off the shelves, no running, no talking loudly, etc. As someone who has worked at the library, I know that a large majority of parents forget that step and it makes it difficult for everyone. Grocery Shopping - You CAN go grocery shopping with a toddler, honest! I don't do a two-hour monthly shopping marathon, but I can definitely keep Brayden happy for 30 to 45 minutes in the grocery store. Just as we're about to enter, I give him two "jobs" -- "Brayden, your job today is to find Bananas and Yogurt" for example. I choose foods that he eats on a regular basis and knows by site. As we move through the aisles, he's doing his job -- trying to find yogurt and bananas. We talk about things we see, especially in the produce aisles. I let him smell things -- apples, oranges, cantelope, flowers, spices, air freshener, etc. Every once in awhile I remind him of what his job is and ask him if he's found them yet. I generally go to other aisles for 5 or 10 minutes, then go down the aisle that has one of his foods and let him find it. I make a big deal about what a great job he did -- and remind him of his next food to look for. That usually gets me through another half of the grocery store while he's looking. When I'm almost finished we go down the aisle where his last food is located and he's happy all over again. Then we're ready to head to the register and go home. Grocery shopping done, toddler happy, and he wasn't focused on what we weren't buying (junk food, toys) because he was too busy looking for the things we did buy. Completely avoid aisles that you know are going to cause confrontation (candy aisle, toy aisle). When we arrive at the check-out I pull out any "squishable" food and then put Brayden in the cart and have him help me put the food on the check-out counter. This keeps his eyes in the opposite direction of the candy at the check-out lane! We do lots of other things -- coloring, "writing", reading, play-doh and if I'm terribly tired or if he needs something to quiet him down before naptime -- Baby Einstein DVD's. Very rarely do we turn the TV on and very rarely is Brayden ever bored!

1 comment:

Tipper said...

Great tips-wish I had thought of them when my girls were his age-would have helped me.