Staying home with kids: Entertaining young children


Destinee Sims

While they might not be able to color inside the lines right away, scribbling gives them a chance to develop hand dexterity.

Erin Dailey, Opinions Columnist

  Social distancing is crucial. It is our responsibility to slow the spread so that our hospitals do not become over run.  

  With the decline in daily social interactions, many families are having trouble combating their feelings of isolation. During this time, it is important to find ways to for the whole family to stay in good spirits. For those with young children, they can be entertained with a variety of household items with a little imagination and effort! 

For ages two and three: 

1. Save your amazon boxes. 

  Toddlers love playing with boxes and playing in boxes. With a little duct tape, you can make your child their own little house or maze. This activity can be heightened by adding balloons, that aren’t filled with helium, to the boxes. This can also help children develop problem solving skills and imagination.

2. Make Jell-O and hide clean objects and toys inside.

  Toddlers love this activity. Pulling the items out of Jell-O is very satisfying and stimulating for small children. This activity is especially exciting because the Jell-O makes a tasty treat once the items have been safely removed. Though, be sure to closely monitor the children to prevent them from putting choking hazards in their mouth.

3. Scribble, scribble, scribble!

Destinee Sims
If you have stencils laying around, it is another great way to help them improve their motor skills.

  Scribbling is an important milestone for every child. Try to obtain some extra-large crayons and encourage your child to scribble. If you do not have large enough crayons, you can tie three or four crayons together with a rubber band. This type of exercise will improve motor coordination and creativity. 

   Accompany the scribbling with your child’s favorite music, this will make the activity even more enjoyable and stimulating. As they sing along with the music, it helps encourage them to develop their listening skills. 

4. Make Wheat Dough.

  This activity will help exercise hand coordination. You will need flour, water and a large bowl. 

   To begin, mix water and flour in a large bowl. Next, give your child a bit of dough, and show him or her how to roll small and large balls. Next, teach your child how to flatten and press the dough. You and your child will have a great time with this activity. 

5. Create a pouring station, outside!

  Many toddlers enjoy pouring liquids. On a table outside, fill some large and small bowls/cups with water and leave some empty ones. Start pouring the water from place to place so that your toddler knows what to do. You will be surprised at how fun this activity is for toddlers. 

6. Bubble wrap stomp!

   If you receive any bubble wrap in the mail be sure to lay it down and let your child stomp on it until it is totally popped. The noise that comes with popping the bubbles is extremely satisfying for young children.  

For ages four to six 

1. Go for a walk around the neighborhood! 

  Going for walks is important for children, as the change of scenery is vital. A fun game to play while walking with your child is to create a list of items for them to find.  

  The list can include any items or people you choose, including things you may want them to learn to observe, like wildlife, from a safe distance. This will turn the walk into an adventure for your child. Many children then become excited and feel fulfilled when they check an item off the list. 

2. Create an indoor treasure hunt! 

  Hide fun items, such as toys, around the house and challenge your children to find every item. A prize could also be awarded for finishing the treasure hunt. The prize could be more screen time, a snack, or anything you think of. 

3. Make a glitter jar

Destinee Sims
Toddlers and young children alike will love these jars.

I have completed this activity with many different children. Fill a jar or bottle with water, add glitter or food coloring. Encourage your child to find items around the house that will make a good addition to the jar, like artificial flowers, or other little toys. Children love playing with toys that they have created themselves. 

  I recommend using a durable container, as this prevents any broken glass when the children inevitably drop it. 

4. Create time for learning! 

  It is vital for your child’s development to work on his or her education regularly. Set time aside for learning.  

  You can have your child trace their name, work on counting, or read books together. Try to focus on education for at least an hour a day. If an hour is too much for your child, try intervals of twenty or thirty minutes.  

5. Do some online exploring! 

  There are some great streaming activities for children right now.  

  Zoo animals can be observed live online.  A variety of museums, including some dedicated to topics like Tim Burton films, are offering free digital tours. You can also use Google Maps to explore national parks, like the Sequoias. Children can even check out Mars. 

  To show your children Mars, I recommend using the link 

6. Make a macaroni necklace!  

  This requires pasta that can be strung, string, and optional food dye. You may have made a macaroni necklace as a child. This classic is still a pleasurable time for the whole family to do together. Macaroni necklaces have been entertaining children for years, and can be personalized using anything that can be put on a string. Get creative and enjoy! 

  Whether you try the activities above or decide to research and design your own, these activities should be scheduled in a routine. The consistency that comes with routines helps children learn everyday events and procedures.  Try to create at least one fun activity for your child to try each day. It may be hard on parents to honor a daily schedule for their children, but routines give children a vital sense of stability and security.