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As the weather grows colder, the leaves fall from the trees and being indoors become more common, I’m always searching for simple, at home activities to fill the day with my toddler.
While my child finds it challenging to sit still for any one activity, I still try new things to keep the days a little more interesting (for everyone).
Sure, there is always coloring, drawing, building with legos/mega blocks, pillow forts and many other activities that are indoor friendly. But here are a few ideas for, hopefully, unique and fun times together.
I also love to cook with my toddler (no matter the horrible mess).
Fall Tree Decorating
This is one of the easiest and cleanest of my proposed activities to do with your child! Refer to the image at the top of this post! Here is all you need:
- Clear contact paper (usually found in housewares at local stores)
- Brown sharpie (and any other colors you want)
- Small, fake fall leaves (I got mine at the dollar store!)
- 4 strips of tape (painters, masking, whatever you have on hand that won’t damage a surface it is used on)
- Cut about a 3 foot strip of contact paper and place it paper cover side down on a table (the side you peel off the sticky part)
- With your sharpie(s)*, draw a large tree and scenery (to your liking – could be a dirt ground, clouds in the sky with the sun, etc)
- After your drawing has dried, peel the paper backing off
- Place the contact paper, sticky side out, on a flat surface (like a wall or, my favorite, a window). Tape the 4 corners to the surface
- Hand your fake, fall leaves to the kids and let them decorate!
There is no wrong way to decorate this activity, and the kids can peel the leaves off to re-place them as they like. Since it’s fall, the leaves can blow in the wind, sit on the ground or still hang on to the tree.
*I found permanent sharpies to work the best. If you don’t have any, try whatever you have on the back of the contact paper to make sure the ink will dry. Dry erase will not dry on the paper.
While there is very little mess, there’s bound to be some play on the ground for toddlers.
So you can’t use the water table in the backyard – bring the water play inside! This activity has no equipment requirements other than any form of the following:
- Freezable container (could be as simple as a freezer baggie)
- Random items or toys to “discover” or “free” (examples: pipe cleaners, small toys, marbles, legos, pinecones, rocks and more)
- Old ketchup bottle (or anything else your child can use to squirt warm water)
- A bowl to collect melting water
- Place water in your freezable container
- Toss in your toys/items (if they all float or sink, you may want to freeze half and then do another layer)
- Throw it all in the freezer until frozen through
- Fill your squirt bottle(s) with warm water
- Run your frozen water in the container under hot water until the ice pops out
- Place the ice in your bowl, hand the warm squirt bottle(s) to your child(ren) and get them spraying!
A few additional thoughts:
- You may still want to place a towel under this activity or at least pepare for a wet floor.
- While you can add some food coloring to the water before you throw it in the freezer to bring a little life to the ice, this can create quite a large mess and can stain clothes.
- If you have multiple kids, have them race to see who can free three marbles (or whatever the toy) first!
This one is an oldie but a goodie. My son is obsessed with rocks – OBSESSED! He will carry a rock all around a grocery store that he found in the parking lot, refusing to relinquish it until he is forced to (rocks are not allowed in the car).
While this is the least clean activity of the bunch, these activities can be just as enjoyable (if not more so) for adults.
There are a few different things you can do with rocks (though there are more!). Make sure to wash each rock (if found in the garden) before any of the activities:
Yup, just what you think it is – get some paint and some rocks and have at it. You can help the older kids find a design online or draw a unique design on paper then recreate it on their rock.
Make sure to allow extra drying time for any rocks painted by a toddler – sometimes the paint is merely scooped on top.
Salad Spinner Rocks
All you need is a salad spinner, paint and rocks. Just place some paint drops on a rock, throw the rock in a salad spinner and give it a whirl! Each rock will come out unique and slightly tie-die in style.
Creature Creation Rocks
This one can be as easy or complex as you would like. I suggest hunting through your craft supplies (and/or dollar store) and finding puff balls, felt, pipe cleaners, googlie eyes and anything else you can think your child can use to turn a rock into an animal or creature. Depending on the age of your child, he or she may need help cutting and gluing items onto the rock. You can always paint the rock and then decorate each to become a different creature (maybe inspired by the color choices).
NOTE: for any rock activity that includes painting, you can get a clear spray finish or modpodge to seal the paint from bleeding or chipping. Ensure the rock is completely dry before sealing the paint.
I hope one one of these activities helps keep little hands busy for you this fall!