5 Fun At-Home or Daycare Activities Children Can Do with Stuff You Already May Have

The Covid-19 pandemic drove parents to new levels of creativity, home-schooling, and activity-creation, as families holed up at home when parents started working online, schools and daycare sites shut down, and children needed fun and interesting ways to occupy themselves after their online school day ended. Though Covid is waning, schools and daycare sites have reopened, and parents are back in the office, creativity marches on! Here are five easy and fun activities you can enjoy with your child at home.

Ice Cube Painting

This is a favorite of many Chicago-area daycares and will also be a hit in your home. All you need is an ice cube tray, some popsicle/craft sticks, liquid watercolor paint, flour, and some sturdy paper. Make the ice cubes as you ordinarily would but add the paint to the water in the ice cube tray. Add a little flour to make the paint more opaque. And pop in a popsicle stick so your child can hold it, rather than the ice cube, while painting.

Before you start painting, take the ice cubes out of the freezer for a few minutes to just slightly thaw. You can lay down plastic sheets to keep the work surface protected, and let your kids paint and illustrate to their hearts’ content. When the painting is complete, you can refreeze the paintsicles for later. Oh, and don’t forget to set aside an area for drying the artwork so that you can display it later.

Pet Rocks

They are going to be everywhere—in your garden, along your driveway, on the street, in your backyard, and all over your neighborhood. We’re talking about rocks here which means there should be no shortage of supply. You just have to go out and get them. Various sizes that are suitable for kids’ hands are all you need, along with some acrylic paint.

Paper plates will work for holding the paint, old work shirts will make perfect paint smocks, so all you’ll need to add is brushes. Cover the work area to keep it protected and see what creatures are created with the paint. Acrylic will stick to most surfaces, and you may end up with some amazing-looking pet rocks to line your garden or outdoor walkway with.

Finger Painting

There is nothing more hands-on for preschoolers than fingerpainting. It’s an easy one for you because you just need paint, sturdy bowls to mix and hold the paint, and thick paper for painting on. Naturally, you should have paint smocks and plastic sheets to keep things clean but other than that, everyone can get into expressing themselves without the need for paintbrushes.

Finger Painting is a great activity that allows children to explore what happens when they add two different colors together or make different patterns with fingers, thumbs, palms, and nails. Your child may see finger painting as a wonderful way to express themselves, learn about colors, and learn how to clean up really, really thoroughly!!!  

Calm Down Bottles

We’ve covered three paint-related activities. What about those that do not require paint, paint smocks, and plastic sheets? Creating a calm down bottle is a fun and educational activity that only requires a bottle, water, and something to put into the water. And all kids love playing with water. 

The idea with the calm down bottle is to have your child watching what the beads are doing and using their imagination. There are a few variations of the calm down bottle that we will share with you here which are great to build and play with.

Calm Down Bottle with Water Beads

Your local craft store will carry water beads. Get a small bag of light blue ones. Soak them in water overnight and place them in a clear plastic water bottle. The beads in the water should make the water appear to move slightly. 

Calm Down Bottle with Rainbow Loom Bands

Another craft store staple is loom bands. Pick up a small bag of multi-colored ones and add a few to your clear water bottle. These bands sink slowly and will dance around in the bottle creating an atmosphere that will inspire your child’s imagination. The slow movement of the loom bands may also cause your child to relax and become calm.

Calm Down Bottle with Pony Beads

A small bag of clear pony beads purchased from your local craft store will make this fun calm down bottle. Just add some to the water inside a clear plastic water bottle and let your child discover the wonders of swirling beads, shaking the bottle, flipping it upside down to make the beads cascade to the bottom, and much more inventive activity.

Magnetic Calm Down Bottle

Here is an idea that sneaks in a bit of homeschooling in science. Inside your filled clear plastic water bottle, add some paper clips. Then give your child a magnet to hold against the outside wall of the water bottle. The paper clips will cling to the inside of the bottle regardless of where the magnet goes. This will be one that will occupy your child for a good, long time.

Homemade Play Dough

Who doesn’t like creating things with play dough? With this simple recipe, you will always have a supply of this pliable and fun material at hand. All you need is one cup of flour, one tablespoon of cream of tartar, one-half cup of salt, one cup of water, and two tablespoons of food coloring. Mix the ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Once the dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan you are heating it in, remove from heat and let it cool a bit. Knead the dough until it is smooth and you have a batch of playdough. This is soft and feels great. It can also be stored to last for months but you can always make a new batch whenever you need to teach your children something fun.

Final Thoughts

Feeling lost indoors with your children with no idea what to do to keep them occupied? All you have to do is look around your home or prepare in advance with a trip to your local craft store, and you will be able to make some fun with things in your home.

Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.

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