Tag Archives: Fun Activities at Home with Kids

Guest Post: My Favorite Preschool Age Toys for the Pandemic Age

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, a local mom, writer, and navigator of pandemic life with two young children.]

 

It’s that point in the pandemic winter where I just want all the things that will keep my little ones busy. And I mean busy quickly, independently, and for extended periods of time. The allure of the @busytoddler DIY sensory and creative play has faded as pandemic-fatigue has left me with little set-up and clean-up energy to expend. My son is also in the “sudden burst of throwing everything” phase. He can have his rice sensory bin this summer, outdoors.

Over the past year, my almost 2 and 3.5 year-olds have gone through many play phases and explorations. My daughter’s puzzle obsession has left us with cabinets full of them for another day. Our crafts corner is fully stocked, waiting for the moment it will finally be utilized unprompted. A supply of Legos is ready for its heyday, and stronger hands. Only a short list of items have risen to the top for us, consistently used eagerly and unsolicited.    Here are my tried and true items for preschoolers.

 

Climbing Rope Swing

This rope swing may be my best purchase of 2020. I had seen them around my neighborhood hanging from large trees — which we don’t have. After some assurance from Pinterest that they could be used indoors, we installed one in our basement this past fall. My 3-year-old has sustained enthusiasm for it since then, and even sneaks off downstairs to use it unprompted. It has a long life ahead holding up to 120 lbs. 

 

Magnetic Tiles

Magnetic tiles have been a household favorite for awhile but made a big resurgence when my son was old enough to join in — aside from being the tower destroyer. Now, both kids will play with these together for up to an hour. We recently added a set with gears to our collection, plus some window and door tiles, and are on the lookout for more accessory sets like this

 

Melissa & Doug Activity Pads

This brand is a classic for a reason! Their activity pads are my favorites, giving us lots of extended and/or independent play. My kids can do these Scissor Skills activities (with assistance) for an oddly long time, and do these reusable Puffy Sticker books over and over again. These Seek & Find sticker pads are my go-to when I need some uninterrupted time, and this one has quiet time written all over it. The painting pads with built in watercolors like this are genius. 

 

Board & Card Games

We’ve tried a dozen games during the past year but only a few are in heavy rotation. The trick has been finding ones that don’t exclude my youngest child, and bonus points when it’s mildly entertaining for the grown-ups. Zingo is as good as you’ve heard. We’ve had success teaching our little ones to play Go Fish, even if they are playing with open hands. Disney’s Eye Found It! is a winner, and there is a board version.

 

Playdoh

I had an aha moment with Playdoh at the start of the pandemic but it went out of favor after I realized it had to be cleaned up and capped — quickly — to avoid drying out, and also monitored to make sure someone didn’t smush ten new colors into one brown blob. After trying the alternatives, I brought the ‘doh back into the rotation, and I get it again. It just works so well for all preschool ages, especially if you add the right tools to the mix. 

 

Bath Puzzles

At some point, every parent realizes that bath toys are no good. The mold is annoying at best and dangerous at worst. I recently discovered bath puzzles with foam pieces that stick to the tub and walls without holes to collect or squirt water. Perfect for a much-needed extended bath time! After a quick search, I have a few more on my wish list like this alphabet set and this numbers set. This one is cute too.

 

Honorable Mentions

Building toy alternatives like Flower Gardens and LeapBuilders products (more toddler-friendly than Duplo’s) have given us lots of independent play. My eldest preschooler enjoys workbooks, particularly the mazes which don’t require much assistance, and the dry erase ones where mistakes are welcome. 

 

*What are your go-to items? Share in the comments and help a mom out!

 

 

 

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Filed under Coronavirus, COVID-19, Educational, Guest Post, Indoor Play, Preschoolers, Social Distancing, Toddlers

Social Distancing Survival Tips for Parents with Toddlers

[Note: These tips are from KFDC contributor, Emily Moise, mom of two little ones. Most of my strategies have been more for school age children, so Emily brings a fresh perspective to this new socially distanced world we’re all still figuring out how to navigate.]
 

If you’re like me, you’re seeing the plethora of virtual events, free online courses, streaming exercise classes, and binge-worthy TV recommendations, and thinking, “If only I didn’t have two toddlers!” Even though many of these offerings are geared towards preschoolers, a screen opens Pandora’s box for my nearly 3-year-old daughter and isn’t doable for my newly 1-year-old son.

Here are my social distancing survival tips for parents and caretakers of kids in the 1-3 range, using minimal or strategic screen time:

Change the scenery. Toddlers physically cannot stay in the house all day. It just ends badly. If it’s nice out and above 40 degrees we get outside (a nursery school rule), at least two times a day. Back yard, front yard, open field, tennis court, or “nature walk.” If stuck indoors, we change up the scenery there as well. Whether that’s making bath time a foam party, setting up a tent, or just moving playtime from room to room.  

FaceTime. This was always part of our little ones’ routine for family in NYC, but now we’ve added friends, more family, and even a whole nursery school class to the mix. Using a smartphone as a phone feels good! Kids get to converse or listen to conversation, see friends they miss, and then we can hang up without them wanting to scroll or watch videos. If your preschool class has yet to schedule a live group chat, encourage them to do it! We used Lifesize.

Hone in on the distraction-proof activities. My child can do puzzle after puzzle only looking up for you to hand her the next one, but give her an easel and paint and she’ll be done, paint spilled in about two minutes. We haven’t given up on painting, but we are really playing up the things that give her laser focus to kill an hour. Tip: Search the Facebook Marketplace for more puzzles, Play-Doh supplies, etc. You won’t have to wait for shipping…just be sure to sanitize well!

Choose your parent-DIY activities wisely. There are so many crafty ideas for toddler activities circulating out there now—but some can take way more time to create than use. I recently discovered @busytoddler on Instagram and her ideas using stickers (like this one) was an aha moment for me. My daughter loves stickers, as in she loves to just peel them off one by one until the sheet is done—five minutes max. With @busytoddler guidance, I’ve since created sheets of words and landscapes for her to match stickers to.

Aim for 45-minute intervals. The majority of those gym and music classes our children cannot attend at the moment are just 45 minutes long. For us, on non-school days we would have one or maybe two classes/open gyms on the schedule. If we can set up one of our social distancing activities and go for 45 minutes, I consider that a win and there is less pressure on the rest of the day. This is a good way to think about digital activities like Cosmic Kids Yoga. You can also try starting an activity with 20 minutes of your own “circle time” using music like this.

Love thy neighborhood walks. When the workday is over, we’re likely strolling through our neighborhood with the little ones in a wagon. We find neighbors out on every block willing to have a 6 foot-separated chat, or giving the kids a friendly wave and smile—much needed, real-life face time! The sidewalk chalk art movement is making these walks even more cheerful for everyone. Tip: Search your toddler’s favorite characters on this drawing tutorial site and be amazed at your sidewalk art skills.

Lastly, find your child’s TV obsession and milk it for all it’s worth. My daughter is fan-girling over Paw Patrol at the moment. Our routine is to watch two episodes in the morning and two in the afternoon (~40 minutes total). So now that’s all she asks for rather than an endless stream of requests. If she asks for more we say, “But you already watched four Paw Patrols today!” —which sounds like a lot. We have a stash of activity and reading books to support the fandom without the need for more TV.

What are some of your strategies for this social distancing with toddlers? If you have some good tips to share, please do so in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2020, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend