Winter Activities for toddlers


Winter is here, which means we can say ‘adios’ to the park playtime, beach afternoons, and outside water play. And ‘hello’ to frantically searching for ways to entertain our little ones during those rainy days. Granted, I only have the one toddler, so everything is still new to me, but I love a good excuse to get crafty or come up with a new game to play with my daughter.

Now I know many of you mums hear the words ‘paint’ or ‘glitter’ and cringe. In fact I can already envisage your eye twitching at the thought of having to clean up all the mess. Fear not fellow mums! I have included several fun activities that are MESS FREE! * waits for applause *

I’m a busy, working mum. I’m also a FIFO wife, which means I do the solo-parenting gig for half the year. So I need to come up with ways to entertain our daughter that don’t require leaving the house in order to still maintain basic domestic duties for some days of the week (I can feel you all nodding along).

I’m also a slight scrooge – it’s not in my nature personally, its more the university days that have ingrained in to my brain to “SAVE MONEY!”. So these ideas are excellent for penny pinchers as a lot of the stuff can be reused, and found in most households too. #parentingwin

1. Pom-pom patterns

This one is so easy and effortless but has many uses too. All it requires are pom-poms and pipe cleaners. The common game we play is to twist individual pipe cleaners into hoops, then I ask our daughter to match a yellow pom-pom to the yellow hoop and so on. You can also use this to count: adding like coloured pom-poms to one hoop, or lining them up next to the hoops. You can collect a craft set that includes pipe cleaners and pom-poms together. Go for something wacky like HUGE pom-poms for some more fun. Or keep it to smaller pompoms to better their fine motor skills.

2. EGGcellent colours!

This one is my all time favourite to watch our daughter play. All you need is an egg carton (either a 6 pack or dozen, your choice), pop sticks and craft paint. To set it up, paint the underside of each egg holder a different colour. Also paint a pop stick that will correspond to the 6 or 12 egg holders. Once dry, carefully make a cut into the egg holders to fit the pop stick (so you can poke it through). This game may take a few goes for you child to remember which colours match; it’s all in the fun! For an advanced option, write the name of the colours on the back of the pop sticks so they can learn the words too!

3. Disney matchups

If you’re like us and have a plethora of those metal Disney tiles you collected from Woolworths, here is a good game you can play. You will require a sorting process, these can be little bowls or buckets, or if you’d like something a bit more robust, we use the Kmart ‘Counting Money Box’ which is a small $7. Blue-tack a few different tiles on the container, then any that match or pair-up to the first tile can be placed by your child into the container. Our daughter is still a bit young, so it’s more the process of sliding the tiles into the money slots. But for older preschool ages, you could match characters, sort into movies or animals etc.

4. Stick ‘em up or down

This is a really simple one; it’s stickers and paper. A great game for slightly older toddlers (say 2.5 and up) to play when travelling – think long car trips, in which case a clipboard will help! You’ll need a few pages with a basic line or squiggle drawn on each. Then using a sticker sheet (small ones like stars or smiley faces are best), have you child pick up a sticker (you may need to help them) then place it somewhere along the line. It sounds easy, but watching them concentrate so hard to just get it down onto the paper regardless of where it is, is the beauty of it! The idea is to fill up the line before moving to the next paper. I can honestly say my daughter places them randomly on the page, but we enjoy the process together.

5. Poopy pipes

It’s ok, it’s not actually poop! We use empty toilet rolls, but a larger paper roll from the kitchen (cling wrap or tinfoil) will work just as good. Your job is easy: cut holes randomly into the cardboard roll large enough for straws, pipe cleaners or even shoe laces to fit through. The object for the child is to thread these items into the hole, and even through to the other side if they can. This activity does require fine motor skills as they try to aim for the small hole, so use your intuition on that one mums.

6. Chase the pompom!

Now this one may be more suited to a preschool child rather than a toddler, but we’ll see how we go. The objective is simple: blow the pompoms around using a straw. You could try this game on a flat surface or in a bowl – with the mission to blow it out of the bowl. The other game you can play is, instead of blowing the pompom away, you need to catch it! For this, you’ll need a large shallow tub, like a Tupperware or plastic container, filled with out 2 inches high of water. Toss the pom-poms into the water and give you child a small measuring cup with handle – a ladle works well too – and have them try to scoop the pom-poms out of the water. The water version is a fun one to play during bath time, if you’re worried about water going through the house!

7. Cheers to bubbles

Yep, I had to include at least one activity with paint! This one is simple, but opens the doors to other creative ways to use paint with your child. All they’re doing is tapping a cup (face down) into paint and then onto paper, the effect looks like lots of bubbles on the page! We’ve also used cotton wool & pegs to achieve a ‘blotting’ action too. Honestly, once you start looking around there are all sorts of disposable materials in the home you can use!

I could keep going with more creative ideas to play with your child to help them learn and grow, but this is a great start for families on those rainy days. And remember, there’s always the good old play dough too!

*Category images taken and supplied by Stephanie Bolton*

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