Keeping Your Toddler Busy During The Cold Seasons
Kids have about a 2 minute attention span... if we're lucky! So, as parents, we are always looking for ways to keep them happy, active, and busy. When the weather is warm and sunny, this task may seem a little easier. We can always take them to the park and let them play on the multi-colored slides and swings, or even to the beach where the child can occupy himself by just wiggling his toes in the sand. Then you can enjoy your afternoon watching them play while you soak up the sun, right? So what happens when the sun goes away and the leaves start falling? Well the fun shouldn't stop there. There are so many activities available for fall and winter that we as parents can absolutely create for our children if we just use a little creativity.
So autumn is not necessarily freezing in most states. There are still a ton of fun things to do when the leaves start to fall. Here a few ideas on what you can try to spark delight on your toddlers face.
Collecting leaves and sorting them out into color piles can be extremely stimulating for a toddler. If he is learning his colors, then this will pose as a fun activity for him because he can use his new found talent of shouting colors every time he finds a RED leaf, ORANGE leaf, or BROWN leaf. Then have one pile for each color. By the time he gets bored of locating leaves, ask him to find small twigs or sticks (just keep a close eye on them and don't let them run with the sticks in their tiny hands... Safety first!). Let your kid tell you whether each stick he finds is a big stick or a small stick. This will make it more fun for them to be able to yell out SMALL STICK, or BIG STICK (kids love yelling at the top of their lungs, may as well have them do it outdoors). By now your toddler is probably pretty tired and his little nose is chilly, so time to head inside for a snack and some juice. After his snack, he will be ready for his next activity and mom is ready for a break, am I right? Well, before you come back indoors have him pick out a few of his favorite leaves and twigs so that he can make a present for Daddy! Give him some construction paper and supervise him while he glues the leaves and twigs to the paper making it his own. If you tell him it is a present for Daddy (or Grandma or whoever he is close too!), he is liable to work hard on it and have fun while creating his "masterpiece"!
Another obvious fall favorite is jumping in giant leaf piles! So the question is, how do we make this even more fun? Well, while you or your spouse, or whoever is raking the leaves into a pile, give your child his old beach toys (shovels and rakes he normally takes with him to play in the sand with over the summer) and ask him to help you "rake the leaves". Most toddlers love to help with anything their parents are doing. When the piles are ready to be jumped into, you guessed it.... JUMP into them! Grab your kids and toss them into those piles they will absolutely love it! When you and your little one have had enough jumping and it's time to clean up, put the piles of leaves into giant black garbage bags. Bring glitter pens and stickers and let your little boy or girl decorate the bag into whatever wild, sparkly creation they can think of. They will love playing with all of the shiny and sticky stuff! By the time they finish, it will be time to go inside for dinner followed by a bath and bedtime.
Apple or Pumpkin Picking is always a great way to spend some quality family time. Most places have areas and activities set up for toddlers and kids of all ages. Look for the farms with family friendly activities such as train rides, corn kettle sand boxes (my 2 year old loved playing in this), and mazes! After you get through all of these fun undertakings, let your child pick out which apples or pumpkins he or she may like. It's like picking out toys to them! Also be sure to get some apple cider donuts while at the farms (or really any of the goodies they have there, kids love treats, but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that).
Have you ever been to a Pumpkin Patch?
Indoor Jumpy Houses are a fun and exciting spot to take children. They love all of the bouncy houses and games and ball pits that have. If you research online I'm sure you can find an affordable Jumpy house located close enough that you won't have to drive too far in the harsh weather. Some places to try looking up are Money Bizness or Jump Zone! Both are age appropriate for toddlers and even older children (brothers and sisters) can have fun in these places.
Community Park Districts sometime offer winter programs for toddlers. These range in daddy-daughter dance classes, mommy and me time, paint classes, and much, much more. Depending on the size and availability of your Park District they may have a variety of activities for children to participate in that you never even knew about. It will be fun for your toddler to socialize with kids his own age while learning new games!
Bubbles in the living room! That's right bubbles in the living room! I do this with my daughter all of the time, as long as your floor is carpeted then there is no threat of them running and slipping on the bubbly residue left after the bubbles make their crash landing. Your child will have a blast running around chasing the bubbles all around the house! Tell them to try to catch one, try to count them, and try to pop them! Bubbles are fun indoors and out! When the bubble action has calmed down, give them some crayons and paper and let them draw circles symbolizing the bubbles they have been playing with. It's a fun and easy way to teach them shapes when you include something they love to play with!
Build indoor forts! Remember before all of the technology when kids actually used to use their imaginations to create an adventure. Well, help your child create his first fort with couch cushions and blankets! They will love hiding in the "tunnels" and going through the pillow mazes! And a bonus for the parents, it’s an easy clean up! Just toss the cushions back on the couch and take a load off!
Well, these are a few of the happenings I like to do with my toddler during the colder seasons. If I can make my daughter smile, I feel like I have done my job. I hope this list helps to get you through ever-changing seasons!