Ideas for stuff to do with kids at home

I was going to direct this question to SAHM's, but I'm sure there are working moms with great ideas too. I know deezee has posted some good ideas in the past, so hopefully she will chime in.

Anyway, I feel like I'm in a bit of a rut with what to do with my kids at home lately, especially Solomon. We usually fall back on playing with his toys, reading, or (gasp!) letting him watch Sesame Street. When my husband's home, they wrestle a lot. We also go outside when possible, either for walks, to play with his sand table or on the swingset, or in the neighbor's driveway with their kids. Anyway a local mom I know gave me some good ideas that I haven't tried yet. I figured I could share those and get other good ideas too.
  • Having a "craft" day where the child can draw/paint/color/whatever. I like this idea but need to come up with a good way to contain the mess. Solomon's written with pen all over our furniture so I'd like to prevent that happening again.
  • Playing with homemade play-dough (or store-bought).
  • Making a felt-board by covering a board with one color of felt, and cutting out shapes in various colors that the child can stick on the board.
  • Making a "sensory table" with flour, oats, water, whatever and a few bowls, cups, measuring cups, spoons, so the child can play with the stuff with their hands or utensils. Solomon would LOVE this - he loves pouring water from one cup to another in the bath. Again, I'm trying to think of a good way to contain the mess. Maybe laying a sheet under the table on the floor?
Any more ideas are greatly appreciated. Bonus points for activities that I can do with him OR he can do independently. I hate that I often have to put on Sesame Street when I need to get Abram down for his nap. I'd love it if I could get him started on an activity, then he could continue on his own for a while.

I'd also love to get Sol involved with cooking/baking, but I'm not sure how. My husband lets him help with breakfast on the weekends by letting him stir eggs, chop them up with the spatula while they scramble, and "helping" flip pancakes by putting his hand on the spatula while he (my husband) flips them. I'd like to let Sol help me cook/bake but knowing me, it would end up with a huge mess.

Abram's only 6 months, so I mostly just read to him or play on the floor, but any fun ideas for him are appreciated too.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
I'm still trying to figure this one out. Sandhya is great at playing with her toys independently, but Karan still needs to be entertained all freaking day long.

I can't seem to keep either of them on a particular task for more than 30 minutes, so I don't try anything elaborate. We have activity boxes that are self-contained: colouring, play-doh, stickers, chalk drawing, bubbles, lego/blocks...

I think I started baking with Karan when he was closer to 3 years old. I would pre-pour close to the right amount of flour or chocolate chips into a cup and then have him "measure" and pour it into another cup or pour it into the mixing bowl. I'd let him stir. He could put muffin sleeves into the tins. Mainly he just wanted to wear the apron.


First off, don't beat yourself up over your kids watching t.v. - they learn a lot from the stuff they're watching on t.v, so if you're putting them in front of something that is even somewhat educational, you aren't doing them a disservice.

Plus, I respect that they need a little zone out, down time too. And if you ever feel guilty, just think of me. My t.v. is on all. day. long. They're extremely limited on any plain cartoony show, but PBS and Nick Jr or Sprout are always welcome.

Cooking anything. Kids love to help cook. Anytime I bake something and they can help crack egg or mix, etc, that's a blast for them. Cracking eggs, or pouring in the pre measured stuff. Hubbs is way more patient with the cooking than I am, but then, I'm not so great at it to begin w/, so to have a little one help gets a little frustrating. I only have her help if we are specifically making something for her to help make.

We do some preschool workbooks. We color. Play games like CandyLand, Shoots and Ladders, Go Fish, Guess Who, Hide and Seek.

I have them clean up their own rooms, or make their beds.

I think kids need to learn that parents have 'jobs' to do while they're home and the kids need to occupy themselves at times too. Sometimes they are planted in front of the t.v., or told they can play on their own while I'm cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, folding laundry, whatever.

We have a "craft box" with pieces of paper, glue sticks, sticky shapes, pom poms, googly eyes, construction paper, safety scissors, etc - they can pretty much pull that out and safely do any kind of collage or craft that they want. Sometimes I'll cut out shapes or make things up the night before for them to have the next day.

I've done up alphabet and numbers charts and hung them on the walls to help them learn those.

I always leave the box of crayons, a couple of coloring books, and blank paper on the table for them to use whenever.

We do a lot of puzzles. My 3 year old can put a 24 piece together by herself in like 5 minutes. My 5 year old is up to 150 pieces.

We sometimes have movie times where we'll set up pillows, pick out a movie and make popcorn.

Sidewalk chalk! Hopscotch.

I'll spray a little vinegar/water on a rag and let them wash the windows.


And yes, most of these things make a mess. KIDS make a mess. The older the baby gets, the more kid messes we have. I don't think I could keep up with cleaning if we had any more!!
I LOVE this web site for ideas!

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/
"...just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face." ~Harry Dresden

We have one of those little peel and stick chalk boards for the wall in our living room. S can spend a lot of time doodling on that.

I also have all her colors and markers and paper in a box. The box stays on the table as do the supplies. Some days she will color and draw for an hour.

She also likes watercolors. I put down a towel and give her several cups of water and a thing of washable water colors and she sometimes paints on the table, sometimes paints on herself but she can entertain herself for ages.

Ooblek is fun. Get a big container and add about 1.5 C corn starch then start pouring in a little water at a time and let him mix it.
http://www.kinderteacher.com/oobleck.htm
If you use a container with a lid, you can usually get a few days out of it. Keep adding water and corn starch as he plays with it because the texture varies a LOT. Super fun.

Finger paints are fun.

You can get a lot of mileage out of craft pom poms, Dixie cups, and string. S will eventually have everything in the living room tied to everything else, but she will spend AGES tying and re tying and lacing the string from point A to B. She's kind of out grown it, but for a while it was a lot of entertainment for her.

This is something you have to supervise but S enjoys it, possibly because I embroider a lot so she's seen me do it - I use any scrap of cloth, some extra embroidery floss, a needle and a hoop and let her go. She doesn't make any "design" yet at all (but I have used her drawings as patterns for me, but that's another project) but I hold the hoop and she pushes the needle through and "embroiders" randomly. The "stitches" are so big and messy, you can't really use it for much of anything but she will work on the same scrap of fabric for weeks and weeks till there's just no place left to put a stitch.

As for cooking, if you remember we had a lot of discussion about uncooked "cookie bars" - those are GREAT for letting kids help! They can scoop out most of the dry ingredients and it doesn't matter if the amount of add-ins are exact. And there's a lot of stirring and pressing into a pan.

Have you tried planting anything with him? S really enjoys that, esp if it's something she can eat like tomatoes or strawberries.

I also like the crafty crow blog for craft ideas.
I think kids need to learn that parents have 'jobs' to do while they're home and the kids need to occupy themselves at times too. Sometimes they are planted in front of the t.v., or told they can play on their own while I'm cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, folding laundry, whatever.
Originally Posted by iroc
ITA...Danae will help me with what chores she can handle, but she has to occupy herself when I have other things to do.

As for ideas for things to do, we've been having a blast with our garden this summer. We have 6 or seven hanging containers (tomatoes, peppers, little pumpkins, and some herbs). We go out and water the plants daily and check out their progress. It's been a lot of fun. We have an attachment on our hose so that Danae can do the watering.

Play-doh and watercolors are other big favorites at our house. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk are good for outdoors. Danae plays computer games on the Nick Jr. and PBS Kids websites, too. She's very good with the mouse and keyboard now. She also enjoys making art with MS Paint.
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First off, don't beat yourself up over your kids watching t.v. - they learn a lot from the stuff they're watching on t.v, so if you're putting them in front of something that is even somewhat educational, you aren't doing them a disservice.

Plus, I respect that they need a little zone out, down time too. And if you ever feel guilty, just think of me. My t.v. is on all. day. long. They're extremely limited on any plain cartoony show, but PBS and Nick Jr or Sprout are always welcome.

Cooking anything. Kids love to help cook. Anytime I bake something and they can help crack egg or mix, etc, that's a blast for them. Cracking eggs, or pouring in the pre measured stuff. Hubbs is way more patient with the cooking than I am, but then, I'm not so great at it to begin w/, so to have a little one help gets a little frustrating. I only have her help if we are specifically making something for her to help make.

We do some preschool workbooks. We color. Play games like CandyLand, Shoots and Ladders, Go Fish, Guess Who, Hide and Seek.

I have them clean up their own rooms, or make their beds.

I think kids need to learn that parents have 'jobs' to do while they're home and the kids need to occupy themselves at times too. Sometimes they are planted in front of the t.v., or told they can play on their own while I'm cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, folding laundry, whatever.

We have a "craft box" with pieces of paper, glue sticks, sticky shapes, pom poms, googly eyes, construction paper, safety scissors, etc - they can pretty much pull that out and safely do any kind of collage or craft that they want. Sometimes I'll cut out shapes or make things up the night before for them to have the next day.

I've done up alphabet and numbers charts and hung them on the walls to help them learn those.

I always leave the box of crayons, a couple of coloring books, and blank paper on the table for them to use whenever.

We do a lot of puzzles. My 3 year old can put a 24 piece together by herself in like 5 minutes. My 5 year old is up to 150 pieces.

We sometimes have movie times where we'll set up pillows, pick out a movie and make popcorn.

Sidewalk chalk! Hopscotch.

I'll spray a little vinegar/water on a rag and let them wash the windows.


And yes, most of these things make a mess. KIDS make a mess. The older the baby gets, the more kid messes we have. I don't think I could keep up with cleaning if we had any more!!
Originally Posted by iroc
I like and do all of these...except leaving crayons out for whenever use. Nope. Learned my lesson w/ that. That has to be a supervised activity.

My kids also like to do dress up. My daughter (5 y/o) LOVES that and she basically makes her little 2 y/o brother do it, too. And he doesn't mind. They have a bunch of old Halloween costumes, princess dresses, character towels, hats, Hawaiian leis, plastic jewelry, handbags, etc. They dress up and then dress the dolls up, put them in strollers and play. Then those outfits come off and they start over. They could do this for hours, unsupervised.

I also get my 5 y/o to practice writing her alphabet, writing small words and numbers to 100 and drawing specific things I ask her to draw...while I work w/ the little one on his colors, shapes and body parts.

Then when he takes his nap, I work w/ her on reading comprension, cutting fabric, sewing and cooking.

In the car, we look for roadkill and practice saying the months of the year and nursery rhymes.
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Swimming! The little one loves, loves swimming. When I was a kid, I lived in the pool in the summers... lol
Thank you all for the great ideas! Nallia, that website is fantastic.


Swimming! The little one loves, loves swimming. When I was a kid, I lived in the pool in the summers... lol
Originally Posted by Wile E Coyote - Nut Soaker
We don't have a pool. Sol loves to play with the hose though and he and DH (and half the kids in our neighborhood) play with water balloons frequently too. We also take the boys to the pool at the YMCA every Sunday.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
My kids spent a lot of time in the summers "painting the house" when they were little. I'd give them real paintbrushes and a pail of water and was always amazed at their industriousness. They'd paint the house, the deck, the patio, the fence, the lawn furniture. Everything.

I'm into preventive housekeeping, so craft time was always outside (for the really messy stuff), or confined exclusively to the kitchen table. Getting down with the markers/crayons/playdough was not allowed and attempts to do so were met with taking away crafting privileges.

Felt and glue are a lot of fun to work with...cheap too...and kids can make wonderful and very durable artwork with it. Buttons, ribbons, macaroni, various doo-dads, all look pretty when glued on felt. No glitter though...too messy.

Clay. Oh the wonders of modeling clay. We made whole street scenarios out of clay.
Just some helping suggestions. If you don't want a mess...put a big tablecloth (plastic is best) to cover the table.

I bought our kiddos one of those regular normal water sprinklers for 6.00 at Wal-mart. So much more fun than any of the kiddy water sprinklers...lot more water sprays out.
Another one I thought of is that Solomon loves to look out the window. He's wild about trucks, tractors, school buses, anything with wheels really. So we keep a stepstool in front of the window and he goes running every time he hears a vehicle. School buses are his favorite, which is great because we have kids of all ages in our neighborhood which equals lots of buses. Sometimes I'll stand at the window with him and we'll talk about all the different things we see (trees, houses, cars, a pile of dirt, etc.).
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy

Ooblek is fun. Get a big container and add about 1.5 C corn starch then start pouring in a little water at a time and let him mix it.
http://www.kinderteacher.com/oobleck.htm
If you use a container with a lid, you can usually get a few days out of it. Keep adding water and corn starch as he plays with it because the texture varies a LOT. Super fun.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
This was what I was gonna say too. The kids looooove to play with this. My older ones still get excited when I bust out the corn starch
High Priestess JessMess, follower of the Goddess of the Coiling Way and Confiscator of Concoctions in the Order of the Curly Crusaders

My son is 5 and right now he's all about helping me out around the house. At 34 weeks pregnant, I'll take all the help I can get! He likes to sort laundry (whites, darks, towels etc). I have one of those silverware holders with different compartments for spoons, forks, knives, etc. so when I empty the dishwasher, I'll give him the basket with the silverware and he gets to sort and put it away (of course I make sure to take out all the sharp knives first). Sundays is pancake day and he loves to help me crack the eggs and stir the batter.

He's loves arts and crafts so we have a big basket filled with markers, crayons, craft paper and kiddie scissors which we pull out. Stuff like paint and playdoh he's only allowed to do at the kitchen table and I have a big plastic table cloth I use for that.

We also play a "treasure hunt" game. I'll tell him to go find something square and blue or something you use for something or that matches another description and he runs off searching the house for something that fits that description. He loves it and it lets him run around a bit while allowing mommy to sit and rest for a bit
3b/c fine, thick, porous, protein sensitive
Modified CG, CJ Rehab, JCWDT, KCKT, VO5 Chamomile Tea Therapy, CJDF, HEBE Gel/Mousse, Bioinfusion Rosemary Mint shampoo, occasional protein

Experimenting with BRHG

"If you want the rainbow, you've gotta put up with the rain"
I am always trying to come up with new things...especially since S gets distracted so quickly

You can get a kiddy pool cheap at walmart, ours is super small and plastic, maybe $10 and I put a little water in it and he has a great time.

Boxes. Seriously, the kids LOVES boxes. I can give him one and he will play with it until it is destroyed

Small cooking tasks, S gets distracted very easily, but LOVES turning on the kitchen aid mixer and watching it. He also likes to count as I scoop out the dough

Hide toys in playdough and have him find them.

Have a letter of the day, eat foods that begin with that letter, cut it out from paper and have him decorate it and hang it up, color a paper with other things that have that letter, have him practice drawing that letter (if he has issues, crayon rocks are AWESOME!)

Have him practice cutting, if he cannot use saftey scissors yet, you can get spring loaded ones that are easier to use

Plant a little garden in pots. You can let him pick out the veggies to plant and have him help pot them and watch them grow (you can look at the roots and stuff too)

If he likes cars and trucks, you can get a rug that is like a race track and a let him pick out a few cars/trucks to play with on it.

We are doing parent child swim lessons at the Y right now, and he starts tee ball next week (although I think the age is 3)

I also know Steven enjoys playing with the kids in the play center at the Y. I was very hesitant to leave him there as we have had seperation and other issues in the past. He has never ever wanted me to leave him, and quite frankly, DH and I really do not go out so it is always him with us. We went one day to play in the pool and he asked to go into the room and play with the kids. We go for 30 mins and I run for 15 and then do weights for 10, checking in the window to make sure he is ok...it gives me a little break and he gets to play with the kids.

We also go to parks in the area, elem. school and the like to get him to run around and try different jungle gyms.

Those are our "major" activities for right now



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I put my kids to work when I can. They are 3 and 1 1/2.

Laundry into the dryer
Watering plants
putting different toys in different buckets.
pulling weeds
spraying stuff on stuff
bubble machine (although it takes lots of batteries)
letting them play with my heels and cowboy boots
hello.world.
Those disinfecting wipes are great for kids who like to help with chores. Of course they have to be old enough to know better then to put it in their mouths. Korbin is an excellent scrubber when he's in the mood.

My boys are only allowed pencils and play dough unsupervised. They have caused too much trouble with everything else. I buy them those $1 composition books for sketch books, or to write in. Those workbooks are always loved.

they also have some age appropriate drawing instruction books that they go through sometimes. I found them at Michaels for like $5. They're a really good deal. Here's one. There's a story, and stickers, and a little sketchpad where you finish the drawing.

They have a ton of books. I hit up half-price books regularly. They have a paper airplane book that is always fun. I have to make most of them. But hey, it's fun for me too. After I get a few made that usually keeps them occupied for a while.

After Halloween, their costumes go in the toy box. they love dressing up in them even if they're too small now.

They have bunk beds now. They love making it into a clubhouse.

Then they have some wii and computer games. Most of them are either educational or creative games. Actually most of their stuff is one or the other. DH and I are both geeky artistic types so we naturally encourage it in the boys.
Also, we set up a "reading area" with all of his books in a leather ottoman and a chair for him to sit in. He loves going back there to read.

I also keep his room off limits to C so he has his own place to play without worrying about her taking his toys or not being able to play with smaller parts



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I have 2 girls, so dress up is often play time for them too. I buy halloween costumes on clearance, or stuff I get cheap from the costume store. One year we bought Bailey 5 princess dress up dresses for her birthday. Between her and her sister, they'll get a lot of use out of them. It was worth the money.


I made up a game once where I made little squares with holiday pictures on them - a Christmas tree, a jack-o-lantern, a sun for summer, rain for spring, a birthday cake, etc - then I did a chart of the months of the year and had her put the squares on what month they happened in.

I also keep some toys in the entertainment unit, and I have a big tote of books and a rocking chair in the living room, their kitchen set is in our kitchen, the coloring stuff on the table -

I've set up little play stations around the house since Bailey was a baby. And then I rotate stuff out.
What about one of the ispy bags? You can try to see if WAHM can make you a larger one that is easier for him to use



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