Rainy days or the endless cold of winter can strike dread into the hearts of toddler moms everywhere. What are we going to do all day? How am I going to keep my children from tearing down the house if we’re inside all day? How can I prevent a meltdown if we’re stuck somewhere that isn’t very kid friendly? These are some of the many thoughts that run through mothers’ heads as they are trying to stay sane as they plan a day stuck indoors. Luckily, I found a few indoor toddler activities that take away the question mark of a long afternoon inside. A great bonus is that many of these activities can also be used on an airplane to survive traveling with young children.
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First things first, we still try to get out every day on the weekend, even if it’s just a Target run, but these indoor activities for toddlers have provided a measure of sanity this winter when it’s just too cold to leave the house. The busy bags also saved us on our last flight to visit family.
Here is my Mamma’s List of a few fun toddler activities you can do or make to keep your little engaged and entertained:
DIY CARD SORTER
I’ll start with the Card Sorter because it has been a staple at our house for a few months already. Little lady LOVES putting the cards in the yogurt container and is an even bigger fan of opening the container and dumping them all out again. This is one of the toddler activities that improve fine motor skills in two ways. First and most obvious is that your child needs to be able to fit the card into the slot. A bonus was that once all the cards were inside my little really wanted them back out, so she had to work to get the lid off the container. We practiced opening and closing the lid a lot when I first created this toy.
How it works
Now, she really likes trying to fit the playing cards back into their original packet, which I keep inside the yogurt container. She’s been playing with this one for months now and still goes over to “play cards” frequently. The best news is all you need to create hours of entertainment is a pack of playing cards and yogurt or cottage cheese container with a plastic lid – and a pair of scissors to cut a hole in the top. I also used a black permanent marker to outline the slot because it makes it easier to see where exactly the cards need to go.
This is a great activity because it allows you to work on colors, fine motor skills, and sensory development for the younger ones because pipe cleaners have a different texture than most other things. My daughter already knows many colors so she had a lot of fun telling me which color she was going to choose to stick in the colander. This was a fun way to do some precision work that we haven’t practiced a lot, and she had a great time doing it!
I created busy bags the last time we took a flight, but the great news is that if you keep them all together and just bust out the whole travel pack occasionally – you have a lot of entertainment for rainy days as well. My only caution is that I’d recommend doing this infrequently if you plan to use your busy bags for travel. One of the main reasons they work so well when you’re on the road is that the toys are novel and only used for a special occasion. However, when you’re in a bind and need something fresh – occasionally bringing out the busy bags is a great option.
That being said, what exactly IS a busy bag? I hadn’t even heard this term until I started researching airplane activities, but they are essentially just little bags of toys or activities you can bring out to keep your little people entertained. They are especially good for travel for the reasons I listed above, and the fact that they aren’t kept in the traditional toy box. If you haven’t already checked it out, see how we packed to survive traveling with a young child.
Busy Bag Ideas
Here are a few of the things we have in our busy bags:
- Blocks (wooden, stackable, and “soft” which are just sponges cut up). Having multiple sets of blocks is fun depending on the mood, or where you are. If you’re in a quiet location, the “soft” blocks could be your best friend.
- Sorting Station (plastic pill box with foam stickers or poms to sort by shape or color) helps with dexterity to open the compartments, can be used to sort shapes or colors, or just to hold stickers that are fun to put on paper!
- Pom Tube Drop – it’s just what it sounds like. A tube (for us that’s a toilet paper roll, but it could be a paper towel roll if you don’t have space constraints) and a bag of poms. You can sort them by color or just pick them all up and drop them in the tube. When you move the tube they all fall out again!
Guys – I got all this stuff at the dollar store. It was amazing to be able to make 5-6 busy bags for less than $20. However, as a busy mamma myself, I know that we don’t all live next to a dollar store and sometimes can’t even find time to leave the house – eek. If you want to just buy this stuff online, Just head to Amazon, add the supplies to your cart and call it a day.
Each of the above activities has provided hours of fun for our little, and the busy bags are fantastic to pack in a carry on bag. Although there isn’t anything that quite beats getting outside and running around to let off steam, these indoor toddler activities are fun ways break up endless afternoons when you’re stuck inside.
Let me know if you have any other great ideas!