**These are all activities that you should be able to allow children 2½-5 years old do on their own, with minimal supervision. You should never leave children that age unattended completely! You should be in the room, but can turn your attention to another task briefly.
Here is a link to some printable play dough mats! http://prekinders.com/play-dough-math-mats/
Traditional PlayDough RecipeIngredients:
- 2 cups of baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup of water
- 1 cup of corn starch
- Optional food coloring
This is a really simple playdough recipe, just follow our explanation.
- Mix the ingredients with a fork until smooth.
- Boil until thick.
- The whole procedure takes about 4 minutes, quick and easy fun!
OR (my favorite)
Cooked Playdough Recipe
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 2 tbsp. of cooking oil
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 cups of water
- ½ cup of salt
- food coloring
- Add the food coloring to the water.
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium size or large pan.
- Cook slowly on medium to high heat and stir until the playdough thickens.
- Done, very simple!
This is another thing you can make yourself if you are up to it. The paint won't last as long, but it is far cheaper. Either way, give your child a large piece of paper and some finger paint and let their imagination go wild! I like to give my son a "theme" to get him started. Ask your child to paint a picture of his favorite animal. Or what he did at Grandma's house when he visited. Lots of fun, and you get to keep the picture!
(For the even younger kids who might be inclined to eat the paint, just use pudding! Still fun and you won't be nervous about them putting it in their mouths.)
Kool-Aid Finger Paint
2 cups flour
2 packages un-sweented Kool-aid
1/2 cup salt
3 cups boiling water
3 Tablespoons oil
Mix wet into dry. The kids love the color change.
PLASTIC BAG PAINTING
If you want to let them paint without the mess, put some paint in a gallon ziplock bag and seal it with duct tape. Make sure to squeeze as much air out as you can before sealing it. Tape a colored piece of paper behind the bag. Then you can either let them use their finger or a Q-tip to draw patterns in the paint. Fun without the mess!
This is also fun if you put a piece of white paper behind the baggie or tape the baggie to a window on a sunny day.
This is so fun! You can find this stuff at children's museums. Making it for your own fun is SO EASY! It provides tons of sensory fun for your child. (place a sheet or tarp under them so the mess is easily cleaned up)
In a large, shallow container measure out 8 cups of flour. Mix in 1 cup of baby oil. Use your hands to really squish it all together so that it becomes easily moldable. You are done!
Allow your child to run their hands through it. It feels just like you would think a cloud would feel. Give them cups in all different shapes and some spoons and let them go crazy!
Take some clean, dry plastic water bottles and each one with something different. Fill one with craft pom poms, one with glitter, one with colored sand, one with feathers, one with rice, one with strips of foil, one with oil and water with a little food coloring. Be creative. Give your child all the bottles at once and ask them to tell you about what is inside. It is fun for them to shake them to hear the different noises they make. Some feel heavier than others. The oil and water one is fun to shake and then watch separate again.
TOY CAR HIDE N SEEK
You can really do this with whatever object you wish. The children should cover their eyes while one child hides the toy somewhere in the room. Then send the kids off to find the toy. Whoever finds it gets to hide it the next time. My son LOVES this game and will play it for a long time!
POM POM & PIPE CLEANER CRAFTING
Get one of those packs of craft poms, pipe cleaners, googley eyes, etc from a craft store or Wal-Mart. They only cost a couple of bucks. Put all of the pieces in a bowl and give your child a bottle of white school glue. Tell them to go crazy! It is really fun to see what they will come up with. They might surprise you! They will end up with a cute little friend to play with also.
(if your child isn't ready for a bottle of glue, squirt some out into a bowl and let them use a q-tip to apply it)
CAR RACE TRACK
Draw a zig zag track on a large piece of butcher paper. Give your child a car and ask them to stay on the track. That's it. It will amaze you how long this will keep them busy. For even more fun with more than one child, draw 2 side by side and have them race each other!
Take a personal sized water bottle and clean it out. Cut a hole just big enough for a straw to fit through into the lid. Put about an inch of water and some dish soap into the bottle and put the lid on. Take a straw and poke 1 or 2 pin holes into the straw around the bottom (this way the kids can't accidentally suck the solution UP the straw!). Stick the straw through the hole and blow into the straw! Kids LOVE this and it won't make much of a mess. For even more fun, put a couple of drops of food coloring in the water.
An excellent sensory activity! This rice can be scooped up and dumped, pushed around, made into piles, etc. It can be a great replacement for sand since it won't be nearly as messy! How to make it!
PIPE CLEANERS IN STRAINER
Give your child a plastic strainer (colander) and some pipe cleaners and show them how to thread the pipe cleaners through the holes in the strainer! Excellent fine motor skill exercise.
BALLOON PING PONG
Glue or tape craft popsicle sticks to paper plates, creating a paddle. Blow up a balloon. Volley it back and forth like ping pong or tennis! This is a blast and can help with eye-hand coordination (and getting a bunch of energy out).
If you have a big, open tile or concrete floor area, this is for you! You can do this on carpet, but it doesn't work as well. Place some paper cups on the floor in a group, like bowling pins. Make a line on the floor a few feet from the "pins" using masking tape. This is where they should bowl from. You can use any ball you may have for this! Smaller, heavier ones seem to work the best. Explain that they are going to ROLL the ball on the floor and try to knock over as many of the "pins" as they can! Let them know that if they throw the ball or bounce the ball, they will lose their turn.