Like many of you, the team at Sawyer has found ourselves at home trying to balance work and parenting. Despite our best efforts, it’s hard to plan out the entire day, especially when little ones have limited attention spans.
We’ve collected some of our favorite DIY at home children’s activities for all ages. Think of this as your guide for when you need an additional boost of creativity and something to fill a bit more time! The goal is to use materials that are found around the house and appropriate for attention levels at each developmental stage.
Activities for toddlers (18 months to 3 years old)
Activity duration: 5 to 15 minutes
1. Shaving cream art
Super simple! Put some foamy shaving cream on a plate. Let your child trace designs, feel and compress the foam, and squeeze it between their fingers!
2. Masking tape art
Pull a few sections of masking tape and tear apart a few pieces of construction paper. Show your toddler how to tape things with masking tape on a table or wall. They can tape up construction paper or rip off the tape.
3. Ball in a salad spinner
Place a ball in a salad spinner and have your toddler press on the top. Once they get the hang of one ball in the spinner, feel free to add more!
4. Stack cups
Who knew stacking cups was so fun? This is great for toddlers, especially if they love to hear things crash to the ground! Place 5-6 plastic cups on the ground and have your little one stack them up and knock them down.
5. Glue or paint in a bag
A great sensory activity for children. Place glue with food coloring or paint into a bag (double bag it if you have particularly dexterous little ones!) and have them squish the product around in the bag.
Activities for pre-school children(3 to 5 years old)
Activity Duration: 10 to 30 minutes
Using an an opaque bottle, box or tupperware, find a variety of things from around the house (rice, jewelry, colored pencils, etc.) and put them in the container. Have your child try to guess what the object is by using their senses (shaking, weighing, looking to see if there are shadows, etc.). To make it more accessible, take one of the items out of the container and have them use a process of elimination.
Yoga is great for little ones! Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. Mentally, it helps them channel their energy into slowing down and their breath.
3. Lacing cards
Take a shoestring and poke two rows of holes. String the lace at the very top and encourage your child to lace up the “shoe”. Get creative and make multiple designs!
4. Put them in charge of snacktime
Let them choose a snack for the entire household! Whether it’s crackers or carrots, have your little one count out servings and deliver them to each member.
Activities for school-aged children(5 to 10 years old)
Activity Duration: 15 - 45 minutes
Designate a small corner or table for a "makerspace" for your child. Keep a variety of objects there (simple things like boxes, toilet paper rolls, buttons, string) and encourage your child to construct whatever they like. Challenge them to think through what their creation is used for, what makes it special, and who is most likely to find it useful!
2. Household labels
If you little one has started to learn to read, encourage them to find things and label them around the house! Create a list of 10 items with labels and encourage your child to find them and stick the labels around the house. Get as silly as possible!
3. Home garden
Even though many people are stuck indoors, it feels (well, looks) like spring outside...so why not create a small garden on a windowsill? Some great quickly-growing plants that are great for children are snap peas, radishes, and basil. Invite your child to water the plants and pick the leaves when you need them. If they’re a bit older, they can count leaves and keep a daily record for how their plant is growing!
Activities for the entire family
Looking for ways to all play together? Here's how we’re having fun…
1. Cook together
Children are great at mixing, gathering, counting, and timing! Cooking is a great way to come together as a family and create something for you all to enjoy.
2. Jam with the band
Create a band for your family! Assign roles to each member, create DIY instruments, come up with a name, and learn a new song together!
3. Create a fort
Gather pillows, blankets, tents, and more to make a fort that can fit the whole crew. Once your masterpiece is finished, you can have a picnic, watch a movie, or just enjoy a little quiet (or not so quiet) time together.
4. Obstacle course
Create obstacle courses throughout your house using couch cushions, pillows, and other child-safe materials that your children can race through. Make it a friendly competition or just for fun!
A few additional tips:
- Set a theme for the day: Dream big and play into your child’s interests! Are they obsessed with Frozen or have recently taken a fascination in unicorns? Adapt all of the activities into a single theme to make it even more fun.
- Create a schedule and review it with your family: Even if it’s short and simple, structure their days like they’d be in school or in a class. It helps foster a sense of control and predictability for everyone in the household.
- Use technology to your advantage: At the moment, technology may, briefly, need to be your child’s best friend — and teacher. Don’t feel guilty about this. Use what works when you need to!