free-fun-indoor-activities-toddlers
baby and toddler activities, Parenting

5 Fun Free Indoor Activities for Toddlers

Spring has almost sprung, but if like me you live in a country where the weather is increasingly unpredictable, spring can be a gamble in terms of plans to make with your toddler. A few times in the past couple of weeks we have planned to go feed the ducks or visit farms, go on woodland walks and a number of other outdoor activities. Sadly, between rain, hail and even snow, it wasn’t meant to be.

However, with cancelled plans comes the panic of what to do instead (in my case anyway), as I always fear my little one won’t be as stimulated with the same toys, no fresh air, too many cartoons and the like indoors. I’m probably mad, but I think it’s important to introduce new toys and activities to keep kids interested and entertained.

Here’s my top free indoor activities to keep toddlers amused and learning:

indoor-toddler-activities-storiesAnimate stories

Storytelling needn’t be solely a bedtime activity – reading books can be fun at any time of day. Travis cannot get enough of books and stories, especially books where there are things to touch (aka all the “That’s Not My..” books which he loves), as the interactive experience adds a new level of enjoyment to the book. Another way to do this is to animate the stories you read. For example, if it’s a book about animals, I’ll get down on all fours and pretend I’m the animal, making the noise it makes. We also use teddies to act out the story. Of course this doesn’t have to accompany a book, you can make up stories or simply tell them from memory with props, sounds and actions.

Flashcards

Flash cards are a great way to add an educational element to staying indoors. Whether your toddler is young or almost at pre-school age, flash cards can be used to introduce word association, encourage speech and, as your toddler gets older, they can be used to complement any reading or spelling they may be learning at nursery or school.

build-a-den-indoor-toddler-activitiesBuild a den

Is there anything better on a miserable, cold, grey day than diving under a fort and getting all cosy? Whilst it may not be the relaxing, quiet blanket-fort you’d envisage for an adult, you can create a den for the kids and transport them out of the living room/bedroom for a little while. Bigger toddlers can help building the fort, whilst smaller ones will enjoy exploring inside. Why not pretend you’re camping in the woods and the teddy bears are coming for a picnic? Or maybe you’re in the jungle and the tigers and lions are just outside? You can even combine activities, like reading inside the den, just to mix things up a bit.

Word Tracers

As your toddler develops, you may want to introduce reading and writing activities. Word tracers are ideal for this. What’s a word tracer I hear you say? Well they are exactly as they suggest – practical sheets which allow toddlers to explore and create words that the sheet outlines. Want to print one for yourself? Here’s one with action words.

Toddlers are always on the move, so this action words word tracer is perfect for them. Word tracers are a fun way for little ones to gain practice with their fine motor skills and beginning letter recognition. They can even act out the words as they trace. For even more fun educational resources, check out Education.com.

indoor-toddler-activities-make-pretendMake and pretend

It’s time to get out the cardboard boxes and dig out some of the recycling material and get ready to make and pretend. Rice or lentils in a plastic bottle becomes a musical instrument, as does elastic bands over an empty tissue box. Bigger boxes can be cars, planes or rocket ships that fly around the room. If you’re more crafty, why not use some of the old toilet roll tubes, empty egg cartons and yoghurt pots to make your own space ships or princess castles or whatever your imagination chooses!

 

5-free-indoor-activities-for-toddlers

Parenting

Playdates; the winter saviour for toddler mums

Its winter, it’s miserable, it’s dark and there’s nothing exciting like Christmas or New Year left to get excited about. The temperature is sub zero and unpredictable; will it be ice or snow, rain or hail in the morning?

Chances are, you and your toddler aren’t getting out to the park, because even when the sun is shining it’s still Baltic outside and you fear that their bum will freeze to the swing or something (just me?). Nursery is fun and all, but as a fellow mummy friend pointed out, we don’t get to see our little ones play there and we don’t get to join in and play with them.

Watching them play and interact
That’s just one of the things that make play dates so great. You can watch your child play and interact with another child, and get a sense of how they are developing and playing. You can join in and offer any guidance on things like sharing and “being gentle” with younger or smaller kids.

Time with other mums
Adult company is so important for all mums, whether that’s first time mums, new mums, mums of toddlers, teenagers or a whole football team of kids. Whilst the adult company is treasured no matter who it is, there’s nothing like trading stories, worries and advice with a fellow mum. You can talk about your wee one without fear of boring the bum off them (like with co-workers or childless chums) and can enjoy hearing about their wee ones progress or simply lend an ear if needed.

Exploring and learning new things
Play dates in different locations can involve lots of exploring of new surrounding, new toys and new faces. This is why it’s a great idea to switch play dates up between parents houses and places like soft play. Your child will not only enjoy uncovering new toys at their friends house, they will also discover new ways to play with their own toys with a play pal.

Making the day more exciting
In the winter, it can sometimes feel like days blur into the one same monotonous routine, guided by the weather. This often means staying in or finding indoor activities to amuse your child. Playdates take the boredom out of the repetition of staying indoors, making the day that little more exciting for your child. It might not seem like much to us, but even the addition of just one friend and mum into their usual daily space can add much more excitement and fun to their playtime.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why playdates are an absolute godsend for toddler mums, all backed up with scientific evidence and everything, but these are the things I’ve found to work and benefit out little family. I’d be interested to know if you have any other points to add or different ways you keep your toddler amused and learning in the winter!

 

PS Shout out to my mum pal who inspired this post after a play date with her and her little bear. Check out her videos here.