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Spending time with our kiddos is something we have had an abundance as of late. While this time was unforeseen, parents are suddenly faced with wondering what new activities to do with their children. Let us face it—taking the same walking route gets boring after a while, playing with the chalk gets messy, and there is only so much on TV we can watch on repeat. So, what else is there to do? Coloring is an ageless past time for children and adults alike, but there seems to be no more room on the fridge for the daily masterpieces being created. Let us not forget about how the children feel, too. The exciting nature walk becomes the same path, the creativity with the chalk and crayons has started to fizzle out, and they have probably noticed their most recent artwork did not make it to fridge this past creative spark. So, when both parties begin to feel the lack of entertainment, what else is there to do?

Traditionally, we would venture to the parks or tire ourselves out with the indoor mall play area. Seeing as these options are temporarily unavailable, we are forced to think outside of the box for ideas that will keep the children engaged and parents sane. Well, everyone is in luck, because here is a list of five (yes, five!) things you can explore with your children. What is even more exciting for us parents are these ideas being inspired right from the house, meaning very little money is involved, and you are still able to follow the distancing and self-isolation recommendations.

  • Dry rice and extra storage containers: Do you have some dry rice lying around? If you are like me, you have PLENTY and possibly some you have meaning to make disappear but did not know-how. If your home is like mine, you also have food storage containers lying around either missing a lid or simply because you have too many. Fear not—this is the perfect remedy for both of those problems. Rice can be a great sensory activity for children. It is simple, yet you can do so much more to enhance the activity. For instance, adding food coloring to dry white rice can brighten up the rice and assist in teaching colors, measurements, and counting. Using the extra storage containers, add the rice and enjoy the play! Ask your child to assist you in adding food coloring. You can hide small toys in the rice and ask your children to find them. The best part about this activity is the storage—you can place the lid over the container or pour it into a storage bag for later.
  • Dry beans: You can follow those same activities with the rice, adding emphasis on counting the dry beans while playing. Even more fun can come about with mixing the rice and beans, providing more sensory interaction. Measuring cups and extra bowls can assist with fine and gross motor skills, counting, and measuring. The beans can be used outside of the storage containers, as well. Using toy cars and trucks can set the stage for a construction zone. Beans can be a new medium for arts and crafts time, mixed with play dough, or paired with a paper towel roll to make rain shakers.
  • Pots and pans: If you can handle a little extra noise, this activity will inspire your little musician. By simply turning over your extra pots and pans, your little one can create new sounds through the different sizes of the cookware. With this activity, you can explore the different sounds a large pot makes compared to the smaller pot, control the noise level with soft and hard touches, or pretend to cook their favorite meal.
  • Foaming shaving cream: Another fun sensory activity for little ones. Foaming shaving cream can be paired with different household materials to create some new adventures. Used alone, your little one can explore the feel and texture of the shaving cream. Help your little mix food coloring to create different colors. Mixing in glue can create puffy paint, safe to use within in the home or even as a new coloring tool outside in the driveway or on the sidewalk (no worries, it will wash away).
  • Water: Always available, yet often overlooked. Water can be used in different activities besides the regular pool or shower. You can offer a container or sink of water to your children and leave the imagination to them: add small sea creatures and create an ocean; offer clean non-breakable dishes for them to clean; find different toys in the home and guess which ones will sink or float. Using water, oil, and glitter in a water bottle, create a sensory bottle, or you can simply allow your child to splash around.

As we can see, there are endless possibilities within your home to create some new fun! If these items are not readily available in your home, and you want to try these activities, materials are available at the local dollar store. This inexpensive opportunity explores different items within your home in a fun and new way. Do you have other things that you and your youngsters enjoy? This article by Kittie Butcher and Janet Pletcher explains how these fun and simple activities can help your child’s growth and development.

Please share with us other uncommon household items and activities you create!

Written By: Jordyn Hayes, Family Life Intern, Human Services Program Administration, Eastern Illinois University