a) encourage independent play
b) involve little to no technology
c) are free
Here's what I've come up with:
I swear Sam was a fish in another life. When she had colic it was the only thing that guaranteed a few minutes of peace. She constantly asks to "wash hands" and loooooves taking a bath.
various spoons, cups and containers
This activity is something I like to do when I just need to sit (read SICK) or am cooking. She plays with this until we stop her- like when she's blue from the water being too cold.
Toys child has lost interest in
Ok, so this isn't a novel idea, but I've been meaning to do it for a while and it's worked out very well. Sam's shelf and toy basket are virtually empty as we speak. My new rule is, if she can't see/reach every single item at a quick glance, then there are too many items and they need to be stored away. So I boxed everything into 5 big boxes and every Wednesday we rotate new toys in. Today was the first day of a swap. It went something like this:
Sam: "Ahhhhh! Mommy! Ahhh--ooo, blocks."
Egg Carton Play
Turn the egg carton upside down, stick the items listed though each "mound" and let the child go to town!
I got this idea from this book (now ordered as I didn't like sharing it with others at the library anymore).
Various items with a lid
I've been collecting anything with a screw top lid. I clean them out, let them dry, and when I feel I have enough I lay them out on the floor with the lids on their own pile.
Obviously, if your child still likes to put everything in their mouth, you might want to skip this activity.
Child with too much energy
I basically get Sam all excited to go run and touch something and come back. When she runs away and comes back I get all excited. By the third time her excitement pretty much carries itself and she continues until she's worn out. If you have a large area, encourage them to run around a large object (like a table). The circular pattern keeps them going, as they really don't know where the "end" is.
Edible Play dough
Edible Play dough recipe with items you have on hand
Things to poke/play with dough
I made this around snack time one day. Sam got confused at first because I gave her a few forks to play with, but eventually got the idea when I showed her how she can make designs and roll it. I "caught" her tasting it a few times when my back was turned. She gave me the wide-eyed "I don't have anything in my mouth!" look. I couldn't help but laugh and told her she needed to play with it too.
Ok, so this isn't really an activity per-say, but it does keep the child occupied for a while and is a very portable snack. Basically, string cheerios into a necklace, put it on the child and let them go to town! Sam specifically asked for "cereal neck" tonight when I asked her what she'd like for a snack.
There is something to be said for the saying "Music soothes the savage beast". I can't tell you how many times Sam is being extra clingy and I realize we haven't listened to any music in a while. Even though she is telling me "NO!" while I'm putting it in, by the second song she is spinning, bouncing and playing. I highly recommend interactive music- stuff that tells you to do something like "clap" or "stomp" or "roll over".
What do you do to keep the little ones entertained?