50 ways to [engage] your kiddos

1. Make a superhero armband out of a toilet paper roll, a piece of cardstock, or anything you can find lying around.

2. Convince your kiddo that her superhero armband will make her swing higher.

3. And that superheros can blow really big bubbles.

4. Set up a tub outside [or inside with some extra splash protection] and let them wash all the dishes of their play kitchen. Or some plastic plates and cups from your kitchen. Use bubble bath instead of dish soap to protect those little eyes.

5. Go for a walk. Talk about what you see.

6. Eat your snack outside. Maybe after your walk. Change the scenery.

7. Play with blocks. Ask them what their building.

8. Go for a bike ride. Or a trike ride. Or a car ride. Or a stroller ride.

9. Make paper hats out of newspaper. Or paper crowns. Let them decorate the hats. Let them make one for you [and wear it!].

10. Try out a new playground. Invite some friends along.

11. Let the kiddos try on your clothes. Your shoes, your jewelry, your hats. And then feel flattered that they want to be a little like you.

12. Build up your play clothes bin. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Some silk scarves, hand-me-down crowns from older cousins, and a few random dollar store finds make up our play bin [princess robot anyone?].

13. Blow up a balloon. Use your imagination.

14. We love these kid-friendly tweezers [We split a pack with some cousins]. Here’s a transfer activity using some erasers we found at the dollar store.

15. Cars! I think almost every kid loves them. We like to get out all of our cars and sort them [i.e. Can you find all the red cars? What about all the cars with people in them?]

16. Trains! Set up little towns. Talk about all the roles the people in the towns have.

17. Read a book. Set up a book nook so that there’s a comfy spot whenever the desire to read strikes.

18. Wrestle with daddy [or mommy, but I am more of a tickler].

19. Plan an outing with some friends. Pick somewhere with lots of hands-on activities. We love our zoo.

20. Then plan the same outing with different friends. Say you went to the zoo with a friend who has kids the same age as yours. The next week go to the zoo with a grandparent. It will be a much different experience for your kiddos in an environment that’s not totally unfamiliar.

21. Kid art! We love kid art around here. Set something up. Prepare yourself for the fact that it might get messy.

22. Hang out with Dora. Or any of your favorite characters. Set up a bunch of pillows and blankets on the living room floor and watch a show [or two]. It’s good. Watch it with them. Talk about it. If Dora tells you to march in place… well, march in place.

23. Create your own board game. Make it as easy [or hard] as your lovely needs it to be. Make it perfectly align with their interests. Try to learn something. Be okay if they don’t.

24. Set up a tent. Build a pillow fort. And keep it up for a while. It’s okay if it’s a little messy.

25. Have your kiddo help you create a new-to-them snack. Lucy loves a corn tortilla topped with steamed broccoli and vegan cheese. Play with food.

26. Be creative [or google it] and create scenes on their lunch plates with food. Trees, cars, spell their name.

27. Toddler trust exercises. I’m kidding, sort of. He looks scared, right? Do something they’ve never ever done before. And be right there with them. And then talk about it.

28. Let them help you with the laundry. Yes, maybe it will take longer but you’ll get to hang out and they’ll begin to understand that household chores are something to share.

29. Let them help you sweep the floors and clean the mirrors. Even if you have to go back and do it again you’re showing them all the things you clean and you’re spending time with them [something you want to do] doing something you have to do.

30. Lucy loves to sort. Look through your house and find cups and bowls in a variety of colors and let them sort their toys. Make sure to tell them what important work their doing. These counting astronauts are from the thrift store and Lucy likes to assign names to them. So I ask her who each one is and see how many names of friends and family she can remember.

31. Do some puzzles. Over and over and over and over.

32. Add some food coloring to foam shaving cream and let them paint the bathroom walls. *Warning: this dyes my grout for a few days, but it bleaches out.

33. Go pick something. Take them to a farm. Show them where food comes from.

34. Give a doll a bath. Let your kiddo take care of the doll just like you take care of them.

35. Put on some music and dance. Dance with them. Dance together. Dance individually. Dance silly. Dance serious.

36. Stamp with stamps. Stamp with toys. Figure out shapes.

37. Make them a sensory bin. Have it be about something you’ve done lately [gone to the beach]. Listen to them play. Ask them if they remember anything about the beach.

38. Give Barbie a check up. Talk about things that really happen at the doctor. Let them create some things that don’t happen at the doctor.

39. When Barbie is all healthy invite her to a tea party. Make invitations. Sit at the “real” table. Make a menu.

40. Bake something together. If it’s vegan let them lick the bowl. Talk about what you’re doing. Let them do stuff.

41. Open up a juice bar. Or a smoothie bar. Be wacky. Ask for ingredient suggestions. Doesn’t always go over well. :)

42. Give them their own shopping list and go to the grocery store. If they can’t read have the list be pictures or old labels.

43. You probably noticed we do a lot of activities and not so many worksheet type things. But Lucy does love it when we create worksheets together.

44. Video chat with someone you love, close by or far away.

45. Play with play dough. Give them lots of “tools” to manipulate the play dough.

46. Make play dough together. Here’s my favorite recipe.

47. Give them some dried beans and let them pour them from one container to another.

48. Make your own construction site. Get out your trucks. Get out some poms. Use your blocks to create buildings.

49. Play catch. Play catch outside or in. Even if you’re just throwing the ball in their direction while they giggle.

50. Create shapes and patterns with the blocks and have them copy.

Whew, tired yet? Parenting is a lot of work! This list came about because Lucy asked very sweetly, “I want to play, Mommy.” And at that moment my brain was empty of any activity to play together. I’m certainly not saying you should be engaging those sweet little lovelies all day [that wouldn’t be healthy for either of you] but next time we’re looking for something to do I’m sure I’ll be glad I made this list. Are there any activities that are favorites around your house?

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4 thoughts on “50 ways to [engage] your kiddos

  1. Angela says:

    Great list, Thanks for sharing! You’re such a great Mommy!!

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