It's Winter Break...Fun Activities for Your Infant and Toddler
It's winter break time! This is something that I never experienced as a child, growing up in South Florida. Apparently, this is a time to go skiing with family and engage in other various winter sports and activities. If you have an infant and/or toddler, your idea of engagement might be a little bit different.
There are so many fun activities that you and your child can participate in, simply with objects you already have at home. For example, one of my fondest memories of childhood is playing in the kitchen cabinets that housed the plastic containers and lids, while my mom cooked. If you have child-proofed your home, as most of us have, perhaps leave the lock off of one of the cabinets. Inside, you could have plastic bowls, wooden spoons, and other containers, cups, and lids. This makes for an excellent play area for baby while you are cooking, washing dishes, etc. And don't forget to narrate what you are doing; babies are always listening. Just think of how many vocabulary words they will understand before even beginning to speak.
Another fun activity for babies is library time (provided you aren't snowed in). Despite being able to access numerous books online, the library continues to provide benefits in the areas of sensory, language, and social skills. Babies can use all of their senses to explore the library; the smell of the books, the vivid colors of the children's area, checking out some touch and feel books, and listening to story time. It will be interesting for baby to hear another reader, other than mom or dad; different accents, intonation, cadence. The library is also a fun excursion for toddlers. They will be exposed to those school-readiness skills, like learning to sit and listen, being quiet in certain areas, and developing a love for reading.
If you are stuck indoors with your toddler, there is no lack of websites showcasing fun and educational crafts. Some of my favorites include: homemade snow (with conditioner and baking soda), simple cutting and gluing, making a pillow/blanket fort, making slime, finger painting, and painting with figurines or cut up potatoes.
If you are stuck indoors for a week or more, a great idea is to have a theme each day and/or week. For example, first choose an age appropriate book to read with your little one. Discuss the characters and the action in the book, then follow it up with a craft that aligns with the book (If you are reading about a pig, perhaps your child could finger paint a picture of a pig). For the grand finale, make a food item that goes with the theme (dinosaur shaped sandwiches for a dinosaur book, planets made out of fruit for a book about the solar system, etc.). To make these activities even more fun, create a sensory box (a colorfully decorated or wrapped cardboard box will do). The sensory box could contain the books, crafting activities, and even some of the food items. This could be a box that comes out during bad weather or when mom is too tired to go to the park, mall, library, etc.
Don't forget about toys with a purpose (e.g. balls, blocks, books). Be sure to always have these items on hand. For more ideas on how to use these basic toys more effectively, check out the Our First Year activity cards that are included in the Our First Year infant backpack and toddler tote.
Surviving the winter weather with your little one...it's all in the bag!