baby and toddler activities, Lists

10 simple toddler crafts and messy play

It feels like there are loads of articles and daily inspiration full of ideas to help you and your kids get through lockdown. On one hand, I apologise for adding to the list. On the other, I’ve shared stuff I’ve found easy enough for crafting novices like myself to try.

This quick top 10 is based around activities which are engaging and fun for toddlers, and which (mostly) use stuff you would have or gather in the house.

paint-rainbow-lockdown-nhs-toddler-craftRainbow making

You’ve probably done this one already, displaying it proudly in the window in support of our fabulous key workers during lockdown. But who says you need to stop at one? We’ve made more for grandparents and there’s always the option to post some through your neighbours’ letterbox, or create some rainbow greetings cards to cheer up some family and friends. Another way we’ve managed to make rainbows is to get creative with some chalk rainbows on the pavement to bring a smile to those out on daily exercise. Obviously the rain washes it off, which is an unfortunate common occurrence in Scotland, but that’s just an excuse to get out and do it again with your toddler!

Loo roll superheroes
If you were one of those panic buyers at the beginning of this pandemic, you are well sorted. If not, you probably have the goods in your recycling bin that may or may not have been emptied by now. The basics needed here are loo rolls and crayons/pens/paint. However if you’re feeling fancier, why not add some crepe paper capes, pipe cleaner limbs and some googly eyes, pompoms and more if you have them. Superheroes aren’t the only characters you can make either – some families have made their favourite football team in loo rolls. Others have made loo-rock-and-roll bands.

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Painting stones
We are lucky enough to live close to a park, so stones are easy to come by. Whether it’s from the garden, park, beach or anywhere else, good, chunky stones are great fun to paint. We painted minions on ours, and housed a particularly large one outside our front door like an ornament, but there are infinite ideas on what you can create and do with them – your imagination is the only limit! I have seen other people create the characters from Monsters Inc and other kids’ favourite Disney films, painted animals and much more. Other ideas for what to do with them include placing them in an area of your garden, leaving in gardens for friends/neighbours/family and we have even seen painted stones appear in the park with the instructions to re-hide them.

bird-feeder-simple-toddler-craftBird feeder
Another really easy make, taken from an infographic shared by Scottish Canals. There are three difficulty options, which you can choose based on your child’s age and ability (or, if you’re me, your own creative abilities!). We enjoyed making one with an apple and it’s handy if you have fruit which is getting past its best, as fruit is ripening quicker in the warm weather at the moment.

Butterfly feeder
Again this has come from an infographic shared by Scottish Canals. It’s really simple and uses an old glass jar (we always seem to accumulate these from pasta sauces, jams and even dips jars) along with some cotton pads, sugar, water and basically anything brightly coloured you can decorate with.

Flour drawing
If you’ve been one of the lucky ones able to get hold of a bag of flour (or maybe you were more than a lockdown baker and had a stash anyway) this is a fairly easy lockdown activity. All you need is flour – any kind will do – and a baking tray, or any other sort of tray really. You can use paintbrushes or wooden spoons to give your child something to draw with, or let them go wild with their hands, creating their own Art Attacks in the flour. If they’ve mastered it, why not get a straw and show your toddler how to blow the flour to make more masterpieces?

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Loo roll flowers
Since we’re all a fan of loo rolls these days (heaven knows we’re using more at home 24/7!) why not make some loo roll flowers too? This really simple one involves a grown-up cutting around 1-1.5 inch lines upwards into the loo roll all the way around. The more lines, the more petals your flower will have. Choose which colour you’d like your flower to be (or choose multiple colours if you have numerous loo rolls!) and squirt some out into a large circle on a plate – paper plates are ideal in size if you have them. Fold all the lines on your loo roll out so they are at right angles (or close to right angles) then dip into your chosen paint colour and print onto paper. Use a paintbrush to make the inner circle yellow and voila, you have a flower!

Handimals
You may know them as something else, but I love the term ‘handimals.’ These are essentially animals made from handprints, with added Sharpie and imagination. For example an upside down orange or brown hand print can easily be turned into a cheeky monkey by adding some facial features, whilst an orange hand the other way could be a lion with a big mane. If you’ve got googly eyes lying around, why not stick them on too for added fun. And if you’re feeling adventurous and imaginative (and are up for more mess!) then why not do ones with footprints too?!

Playing-with-rainbow-rice-indoor-toddler-craft-activitiesRainbow rice
We found this one on Made For Mums – which has LOADS of great ideas of things to do and interact with every day – and it’s surprisingly easy to do, as long as you have rice and different coloured paints! They suggest adding rice and paint (or food colouring) into sandwich bags – a separate bag for each colour you use – and shaking until all grains of rice are covered. We didn’t have sandwich bags so just used some old poly bags that were past their best for shopping and they worked just as well. Once the rice is covered, you need to lay it out until the paint dries. Then add all the colours to a big baking tray or similar, and let your child go wild with the colours and textures.

Marble painting
This one is a bit messy but fun. For this you need a baking tray (or other deep tray like a big lasagne dish), some paint, paper and some marbles. In the absence of marbles why not use bouncy balls, toy cars or anything round and/or on wheels. Lay the paper down on the tray and add some splodges of paint at random. Then roll your marbles along the tray – the momentum should carry them through the paint – and make some crazy works of art!

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baby and toddler activities, Parenting

5 Free Activities for Toddlers

At this time of year, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a mix of indoor and outdoor activities on-hand to keep your toddler amused and learning. The list of things you can pay to take your kids to, or things you could buy to amuse them is much vaster than this. However, unless you’re a millionaire it’s just not practical or possible to fork out every time your kid is bored or needs some stimulation.

Here are 5 go-to activities that cost nowt, but will keep your child amused, active and learning.

Feed-the-ducks-toddler-activity1 Feed the ducks

Maybe I’m showing my age, as maybe it was something to do with Rosie & Jim, but I always loved going to feed the ducks as a child. Watching all the ducks come up for bread, sometimes getting a glimpse of little baby ducks and feeling a bonus thrill if swans or geese dropped by was often enough to make it fun. However if you feel like making it more of an educational experience, why not count the number of ducks and swans with your child, or point out the different types of birds that are feeding.

2 Playpark

Failsafe option every time. Playparks are always a winner, as kids never seem to get bored of swings or slides! Plus, playparks these days seem to be getting more and more impressive by the minute – flying foxes are all the rage in my neck of the woods! That’s not to mention the elaborate climbing frames, sandpits and trampolines that have become more commonplace in playparks. Usually there will be other kids around in the park too, meaning your toddler can enjoy playing with other kiddos too.

Playdate-toddler-activities3 Playdate

If there’s no other kids at the park, why not get in touch with a mum friend and arrange a playdate? I’ve already written about how much of a saviour playdates are, but don’t just take my word for it, experience it for yourself! Whether you go to their house, they come to you, or you meet in the playpark (weather permitting!), there are loads of benefits for mums and toddlers.

Messy-play-crafts-toddler-activitied4 Messy play/crafts

The same toys and the same cartoons in the house can get boring and repetitive after a while, and your little one might need some more stimulation after a while. If the weather is putting a dampener on any outdoor activities, why not get the crafts out or make some messy play? This doesn’t have to involve buying loads of craft material in – I bet you have plenty of items in the house that could be used. From basic colouring and drawing, to experiencing shaving foam, soapy bubbles and other interesting textures, your household items could become a great hub of crafting and messy play for an afternoon!

5 Bookbug

Another activity which I think is great for babies and toddlers is Bookbug. Run in Scotland in local libraries, Bookbug classes last around 45 minutes and consist of story time, rhymes and play. The aim is that parents and children will also check out books for their child and encourage reading from an early age. Classes are suitable from birth until around three years old, and take place weekly throughout term time. You can find out more about this great free activity in my Bookbug Week 2018 post.

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