The playgrounds may not be calling you on those wet and cold days, so here are 6 go to activities that can get you through the day.
Before you get started here is one simple tip to keep your clean up quick and the mess a little more contained. Use an large tray as your child’s work surface, this will catch an enormous amount of mess making your clean up so much easier.
Remember it is all about the process at this age, NOT the final product. Some activities may only last a few minutes but leave it set up as an invitation to play and you might be surprised, that they may just keep visiting it throughout the afternoon.
Activity 1: Playdough. Homemade or store bought, this is an excellent sensory activity that kids of all ages enjoy. Put a few drops of lavender oil into the mixture and see the calming effect it has on a long afternoon. Provide cookie cutters, a rolling pin or even plastic knives and forks and a cupcake tin and see what happens as they squish, push, pull and roll. You can find an easy to make recipe on the side of the Cream of Tartar box on any supermarket shelf.
Activity 2: Washi Tape and an old plastic milk bottle. A plastic bottle gives a child a different surface to work on other than a flat piece of paper. Using a sharp knife cut the top off the bottle so there is a small cup shape left, wash and dry the container completely. Now then let them wrap the tape around and around to make a beautifully (preschool style) decorated container perfect for your bits and bobs.
Activity 3: Sensory Trays. This is such an easy activity and only takes a few minutes to set up. Using a deep tray add a bag of rice, or pasta, or cotton balls, or cornflakes – what ever you have in your cupboard. Then add small cups, a muffin tray, some deep spoons or a pair of tongs and let them pour, tip, pick up and fill to their hearts content. Don’t throw this tray away as the next day, add a few animal toys, a digger or cars and as the children become familiar with the new textures the sensory play will continue.
Activity 4: Water Colour Paint and Newspaper. Water colour paint don’t create as much mess as other paints. First fill a jar with just a little water and wet the paintbrush. Show your child that you need water to use water colour paint and to get a vibrate colour you must swirl the brush around and around to fill it with paint. Then they can paint. Let them paint the newspaper mixing the colour on the paper any way they like. Don’t throw it away as once it’s dry they can practice their cutting skills and make a pile of strips that can be glued together to make a paper chain.
Activity 5: Threading and Beading. If you have a pile of pony beads in the cupboard these are fabulous but if it’s raining and you don’t want to go out with a toddler and your preschooler go to the pantry and dig out your Paccherri pasta or any tubular pasta lying there and get threading. Add an extra dimension and paint it with water colour or even use your felt tips pens to brighten it up before they start threading. Mix it up and thread it onto a skewer or a pipe cleaner until they develop their fine motor skills and can use a piece of string.
Activity 6: Fiber Art. Make a rainbow stick. This is simple enough if you have a bag of wool or even a pile of fabric scrapes. If you don’t you could always use a few old t-shirts from the back of the cupboard and cut them up into long strips of fabric. Take a stick from your last nature walk or from the front garden of your unit and start winding the thread around and around, encouraging them to change colour as they go. You may need to help with the knots on this activity so it doesn’t unravel. Otherwise finish it off with a piece of pretty tape to hold it in place. The more independence they have the better. Once you have a pile of stick complete display it in a vase for everyone to admire.
If you have a child that gets pretty good at winding the string they could even move onto a pompom. But perhaps that could be another afternoon activity.
One bonus wet weather activity that every child needs to experience is the fabulous joy of a homemade cubby made from cushions, sheets and a mountain of stuffed toys. This will guarantee a room full of mess but they may just get so comfy they fall asleep for 15 minutes or so and give you a chance to drink that cup of coffee too.
Article provided by Liz Larrea.
Liz is a wife, mother of 4 and owner of the process based art studio Hello Little Artisan located in Beacon Hill. With a background in Primary Teaching in England and Australia, English Language Teaching in Australia and Spain and a decade of Facilitating Playgroups on the Northern Beaches it was time to focus on my passion of all things arts and crafts- which is what inspired me to open a studio for children to come and play, create, make and get messy in a clean safe environment where they can enjoy the beauty of process art.