Warmer weather is coming. The days are getting longer. Spring fever has officially hit the Martin house. I can tell just by how the boys have more wiggles and giggles. But with a little bit of winter left and spring showers forcing us to stay indoors lately, I have had to get creative.
It seems like lately we have been on a constant cycle of two to three pretty days followed by four to five day stretches of cold weather or rain. My boys are used to free play and being outside, so when we have to stay indoors they are bursting at the seams with energy.
I feel like I must not be the only mom going through this with their kids, so I want to share some fun ideas of activities we have started doing inside to get wiggles out and minds working when we are stuck inside.
Painter’s Tape Has Become My Best Friend
Seriously, the things you can do with this no residue leaving tape are endless. My four-year-old even comes up with his own uses sometimes, which can be pretty creative. Below are some ways I have used it to set up an hour or two of free play for the kids.
Inside obstacle courses: It only takes me a few minutes to set up and turns into hours of play. I take the tape and make different zig-zag lines on the floor, a hopscotch board, and leaping spots. The boys take it from there following along the lines, hopping, and getting some of their energy out. When they are done, I peel it up easily; sometimes I leave it for a day or two so I do not have to reassemble.
Scavenger hunts: We are currently working on colors, size comparisons, and numbers. To make this fun for the boys, I lay down four squares using the tape. From there, I give each square a certain instruction. For instance, in square one, I place a red piece of construction paper and then place different colors in each of the other squares. The boys then have to go around the house and find things of each color to go in the square. This could be easily changed to items that start with certain letters, etc., based on what your child is currently learning.
Fine motor skills activities: This is so good for little ones working on fine motor skills with their hands. I place the painters tape on the wall (sticky side out) and lay out small toys or magnets for them to place on the wall. It seems so simple, but it keeps them so entertained.
Roads and parking lots: We have what seems like one million toy cars and trucks. The kids love it when I use the tape to lay down roads and parking spaces for them to play.
Art: Have old shipping boxes or pizza boxes laying around? Help your kids create a design with the tape on the box, then let them paint over the tape and all over the box. Peel it off with them and see how excited they are to see what they have created.
The creativity limits are endless with painter’s tape and can create hours of play indoors. *Mom tip: Get your painter’s tape at the Dollar Tree. You are not actually painting, so no need to spend a ton on the tape.
If you are an anti-screen time parent, this tip may not work best in your house, but it has been so much fun at ours. We recently found Danny Go on YouTube, and it has been so helpful for getting us up and moving together as a family. With fun dance videos like “The Floor is Lava,” “The Robot Dance,” and much more, we can get a full hour of continuous exercise without even realizing it. Get in there with them to really see them smile. Moms need to get their wiggles out and laugh, too.
I have a love-hate relationship with sensory bins. I see videos of elaborate bins and fancy tables, and my mind automatically goes to, “What a mess!” But they work and get all of the little creative minds going.
I take the simple route and have my limits when setting them up. For example, I do not do sand or water beads in ours. It helps cut down on the mess. Below are some simple ideas that are a little bit less messy. Also, you do not have to have one of the fancy tables as seen online. I use plastic shoe size boxes from the Dollar Tree.
Cereal dig and find: I have an 18-month-old, so I have to be very conscious of what I put in our bins. Even with me supervising, small pieces can get in his mouth in one millisecond, so cereal has been a great addition in making these bins. I take their smaller dinosaurs, lay them in the bottom of the bin, pour the cereal over them, then give the boys their small shovels and bulldozer to save the dinosaurs. I try to do this when I have cereal that is close to going out of date to be less wasteful. Also, if you use a bin with a lid, when they are done you, can reuse them for a few days.
Ice skating toys: Learning about winter weather can be fun. You can take your bin, fill the bottom portion with water, place it in the freezer overnight, then let them use their toys to ice skate the next morning. We talked about winter weather and water’s three different forms in this activity.
Spring bin: I will be doing this activity in the coming weeks with my older boys. We are going to use dry beans, potting soil, and rocks I let them collect to build a garden. I can’t wait to see how creative they get and what they decide to place in it while working on it.
I had forgotten how fun simple playground games can be. Getting to play these games with my kids has been a blast! Below are a few that can be played inside.
Quiet Mouse with a twist: Set up a dining room chair in the middle of the room. Hide a small (non noise making toy) under the chair. One of the players has to sit in the chair with their eyes closed while the rest take turns trying to be a quiet mouse taking the toy out from under the chair without the person in the chair hearing them. With my kids, there is always giggling and peaking, and they have a blast. The person who successfully gets the toy without the other kid catching them, wins.
Simon Says: I had a huge mom win when teaching my kids this game. This works on their listening skills and helps me get some things done around the house while they are playing.
Follow The Leader: This is another great game that can be tailored for inside and gets the whole family involved. It is so fun to see what my sons come up with when they get to be the leader.
Family Board Games
We just hit the age where we can start playing board games tailored to littles. It has been a huge hit and brings us tons of laughs. My oldest boys are four and almost three, so competition can get fierce. I have listed below some of our newer family favorites that are great for families with toddlers and young kids:
I hope this has been helpful for the moms who are also stuck indoors with their kids during this time of year.