KEEP YOUR TODDLER BUSY AT HOME
Being at home 24/7 with your toddler can be overwhelming. Children (especially at that age) need to play outside every day to move, explore and release some of their energy. To get through this times of lockdown in the best possible way we need to bring the outside world inside our walls and make the most of it. How?
We structure activities into 5 different categories of play. If you can fill out this list with one activity on each category you will have a great plan for the day or week. Every type of play has different benefits and you can adapt the order of the activities depending on your child’s moods and needs throughout the day.
|Physical play||Jump, dance, move, crawl, freeze, climb…
Hide and seek, musical statues, youtube videos of exercise for kids, yoga, obstacle course…
|Role play||Pretend to be other people, animals or things. Shopkeeper, scientist, fireman, dogs, mummy and daddy, doctor, astronaut, dinosaurs, superheroes, etc.|
|Messy play||Explore materials, combinations, textures, colours… Paint, water play, foam, playdough, pasta, sand, rice… curiosity and thinking figuring things out.|
|Creative play||Learning through art. Create things to play with (masks, costumes, characters for role play, etc.) or decorations (pictures, frames, themed art for Easter, Christmas, birthdays, etc.), or just enjoy the process of combining materials (paint with sponges…)|
|Quiet play||Puzzles, blocks, printables, playdough…|
|Practical life||Helping with the home chores like loading the washing machine, emptying dishwasher, cutting or washing vegetables, hanging clothes, making their bed…|
|Conversations||Have a space for conversations. They can be started from questions, books, family photos, magazines… Conversations are included in every type of play but sometimes we are too busy to really be fully there and listen to the kids to see what their thoughts or worries may be.|
You don’t need to plan activities in order to learn specific content (you can, but it’s not essential). Learning happens no matter what you do and it’s not your job to analyze the learning behind the actions. Skills like communication, problem-solving, hand control, coordination, creativity… will improve with every activity whatever it is that they are doing, and all that learning consists on basic life skills that will help your kids to be more independent in life, isn’t that great?
Here is how we plan our days:
- Pick a theme that kids are interested in (dinosaurs, fairies, superheroes…)
- Fill this table with one activity for each type of play. Here is an example
|Physical play||Obstacle course in the sitting room (jump on the couch, over the rug (pretend to be water), under a chair (bridge), throw fire on a window, freeze a teddy…|
|Role play||Along with physical play pretending to be superheroes|
|Messy play||Create a village with blocks and little people. Add rocks and pasta as if there has been a meteorite attack. Superheroes have to catch all the rocks and lock them in a container to save the people. They can use spoons or tongs to pick them up. They can put them inside an empty bottle or a box.|
|Creative play||Create superhero masks and capes with old fabric.|
|Quiet play||Playdough – make clothes for their superheroes.
Printables – superheroes colouring pages and practice letter S for Superhero.
|Practical life||Help at home with whatever is needed. One task at a time. Alternate this with all of the other activities throughout the day.|
|Conversations||Pictures about superheroes, talk about their powers. Ask questions (what power would you like to have, what would you use it for, would it be a nice power or a bad power? How could you use it to help other people?)|
You can use this template for a few days; you don’t have to do it all in one day. You can also add some extra activities of any type to make it last longer if they are enjoying the theme. Other things will come up during the day but having a plan where you can safely go back to for ideas is really great. Having to constantly improvise can be exhausting.
Decide what activity you will do based on how excited or calm your child is. Sometimes they will wake up and they just want to run so you can start with the exercise and physical play activities. Some other days they feel tired or more relaxed so you can start with the printables.
When kids get used to having a routine, they know what comes next and what to expect and that makes them feel calmer and more secure (just like us adults) and are more likely to join us with all the activities. It might take time for them to get used to all these types of play if they are not familiar with them, but I can assure you it will be worth it! Creativity has no limits and this will prove so.