Sunday, 31 July 2011

7 cheap or free activities for a toddler

1)  Paint a box - painting doesn't have to be restricted to paper, and for young toddler, using something different frees up any expectations (from the adult) of producing a "picture" and allows the toddler to just experience the paint and mixing of colours.  We used a big cardboard box.  A few weeks ago I cut geometric shape holes in the sides and made it a little den in his bedroom with a cushion in the bottom.  This week I asked him what colour he wanted to paint it, and the reply was red and blue.

2) Jump in puddles, kick autumn leaves or make snow people/animals (depends on the weather!)

3) Wash up - provide a step-stool to stand on, some not-too-hot water, an apron, plenty of bubbles and some plastic bowls and jugs, a whisk and a wooden spoon to "wash".  This is even better if this is actual washing up after a baking session, but they'll often spend more time on the washing up than the baking!  Be aware that your floor will be awash after this session, but it's usually the impetus I need to get the mop out.

4) Feed ducks - take your stale bread and find a park or pond where there are ducks.  Be wary of swans, they are big and can be vicious.  Most towns in the UK have signs up asking you not to feed pigeons or sea-gulls as they can become a nuisance.

5) Harvest - if you grow your own then you probably already do this.  Get your toddler involved in gathering food.  Whether this is as simple as growing a couple of strawberry plants in a container or going blackberrying, or whether you involve them in harvesting runner-beans, lettuce, mint, peas, blackcurrants and raspberries, carrots and potatoes.  Alternatively, you could ask a friend if they need help gathering their apples, or you could aim for the wild harvest and find blackberrys, wild raspberries, wild cherries and more.

6)  Magazine or junk mail collage - Collect a finished magazine or some junk mail and encourage your child to tear it up.  Then get out the glue and stick to a piece of paper.  For younger toddlers go for PVA and encourage them to spread the glue onto the paper and then lay the magazine pieces on however they feel like.  Older toddlers can be encouraged to sort the pieces by colour and to make a picture.

7) Playpark - From the small and rarely used play park in a village or on an estate, to the well maintained and enormously popular, there are playparks all over the place waiting for you to discover them.  Try to get friends to come to, because toddlers learn how to use the equipment by watching what other children do.

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