Keeping small children out of trouble’s way can be challenging indoors. Here are some easy ways to keep your preschooler occupied, with little or no expenditure, while also having fun
By Suganya Malar Mani
Time flies when you are having fun or when you have an energetic toddler to take care of. Children aged 3-5 years of age are live-wires, who are exploring things in the house, wreaking havoc on your carefully selected furniture and pouring their creativity on the walls and the floor. They also have a sponge-like mind, observing and mimicking anything and everything they see or hear. Preschoolers need constant monitoring at home, as they are at an age of wonder and inquisitiveness. It is a great time to teach them interesting activities that will hone their skills, while also keeping them entertained at home. All parents need a plan (or several plans) and careful forethought while dealing with their adorable but sometimes overwhelming preschoolers.
Read on for easy and inexpensive activities to keep your kids occupied at home:
Kids love experimenting with colours. The problem is the cleaning and scrubbing work that needs to be done after they are done with their paint, crayons and colour pencils. But painting can be fun for both the parents and the children, if you take precautions like spreading newspapers on the floor, making kids wear slightly old clothes and assigning an area for painting. Invest in a blackboard or give the kids some A4 sized sheets to paint on. You can later save their artwork in the form of pictures.
Puzzles are an integral part of early learning and keeps your little one mentally sharp. You don’t even have to buy expensive puzzle games from the toy store. All you have to do is neatly cut out different shapes from pages of a magazine or old picture book and tell them to put these together. The more puzzles you give them, the longer it will keep them engrossed. And they will also have lots of fun.
Who doesn’t love making interesting stuff out of paper? Even adults find it fun and relaxing to fashion out intricate toys in animal shapes, flowers and so on. Give your preschooler pages from old comics and get them started on making paper planes, boats, various shapes, puzzles and much more. Show them how to do it and once they watch you, the little ones can do it on their own.
Kids love playing with water and messing around in the mud. Keep a few potted plants such as aloe vera, button rose, money plant and so on in your balcony or backyard and give your child the responsibility to water them regularly. Getting them a few seeds and pots filled with mud, so that they can get busy sowing the seeds, is a good idea. They will love watching the plants grow and look forward to this activity each day. Give them a background of each plant and how they are useful and support and encourage them with kind words and advice. It might get messy at first but eventually it will be a well spent effort.
When you are cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, chances are your little one will follow you and try to do something in the kitchen as well. Encourage it. Give them small tasks such as plucking greens, removing peas from the pod or mixing some ingredients. Put a few dry items such as rice or certain spices into a pot and encourage them to do mock cooking. They will be distracted for a long time.
If you have the space and the interest, install a swing in your courtyard or get them a tricycle to play with. They will have a great time swinging or cycling and this will keep them out of your way for sometime. Apart from it being an outlet of their energy, this activity will also keep them physically active.
Play peekaboo, ringa-ringa-roses and bounce the ball with your child at home. Put some fun dance videos on TV and make them dance to the music with you supplying some moves. Involve them when you are searching for something. These small games do a lot for your child’s all round physical and emotional development. It will also help you bond.
When you are reading the newspaper or articles online, make sure your little one has something to read too. Invest in some picture books or short stories or join a library, so that you inculcate in your child, the habit of reading at a tender age. Encourage them to read aloud or to point out pictures that captures their imagination. Once in a while, sit with them and participate in the reading activity.
Occupying little ones at home is not an easy task. But with some ingenuity and creative ideas you can keep them entertained at home, without investing on expensive toys and gadgets.
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