Summer is here and with that comes a lot of extra time with your kiddos at home. And by your kiddos at home I mean being stuck inside while your kids go crazy and trying to set limits so your kids aren’t taking in copious amounts of screen time.
The hardest part of being a stay at home mom is trying to get things done when your kids are stuck at home and cant go outside. Easton is a very active three year old so when it’s cool I can count on park time or a walk to calm him down. In the summer I try to get him to the pool as much as I can, but that doesn’t always happen. With a baby going to the pool is an ordeal.
So I’ve come up with a few activities to pull us out of our everyday routine and shake things up. These five activities go beyond the usual playing with toys, coloring, and other regular everyday things that we do around the house. And some of them are even educational!
These 5 activities don’t involve any extra effort, aren’t going to take half an hour to make and then set up, go beyond just playing with toys, and will keep your kids occupied for at least half an hour. Or at least 10 minutes. I promise!
The Floor Is Lava:
Remember being a kid and playing this game? Well you’re never too old to pretend the floor is lava. Even if that involves jumping around on your favorite throw pillows and your nice clean couch cushions.
Easton loves to do this but I think it mostly has to do with jumping and running around on the couch cushions. He could spend all day long pretending the floor was lava. Sometimes I’ll just yell oh no the floor is lava no and he’ll immediately get the biggest grin!
I promise your kids will not only think you’re the most fun ever, but they’ll remember the day you ditched the rules and jumped on the cushions with them.
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but when your kids are trapped inside and have nothing to do sometimes we overlook those no-brainers and just get frustrated and turn on the TV or hand over the tablet (guilty).
The biggest down-side to Play-Doh can be how messy it gets. I don’t love to have Easton play Play-Doh because he’s not great at picking it up off the floor, but he loves it so much. He could spend hours making roads and balls with it.
A couple of the best things I’ve found as far as Play-Doh goes are these construction Play-Doh sets, and this Mad Matter Dough. Mad Matter dough is amazing because it never dries out (which is a huge problem at our house because Easton will go to the bathroom then forget about the Play-Doh on the table and wander off into his room, and then it will dry out before I get the chance to put it away). As a test I left the Mad Matter dough on the table for a couple of days and it’s seriously just as soft as it was when we bought it. It’s a little more expensive then regular Play-Doh but I think it’s worth the price.
There are also lots of great recipes for play-doh on pinterest if you want to make it yourself!
And here are some of my favorite Play-Doh toys:
- This Mad Matter kinetic sand is a great alternative to Play-Doh!
- This Play-Doh Tool Kit
- This fun Play-Doh Town Fire Truck
- Easton’s favorite: Play-Doh Town Power Crane
Build a Fort:
Easton loves to play pretend so one of the ways we’ve been able to play and have fun together is by building forts.
Building forts also encourages his creativity and think outside of the box. We like to build forts with kitchen chairs, blankets, pillows, and the couch. Because they’re soft materials we sometimes have a challenge getting them to stay up or in place. When this happens it turns into a real learning experience and we talk about ideas for how to get the fort to stay standing.
Once we’ve built the fort we can play, talk, eat snacks, color, or just snuggle up and watch a movie. We built one the other night just to watch Trolls before bed. Forts are a great way to connect, have some active play indoors, and they don’t take much work but are super exciting for little kids.
Need some fort building tools?
- This Fort Building Kit is great for older kids!
(Modified) Reader’s Theater:
This is probably the elementary ed student in me, but when we’re bored around the house we like to read books together. Sometimes a fun way for us to get active while reading can be to act out the books we’re reading (you can click here to read more about my favorite kids books).
A great example of this would be by reading and acting along with The Three Little Pigs. It’s an easy enough story to pretend to act out, and you can either go really creative and make props, or you can just use your imagination. Then you can have one person be the wolf, different people be the pigs (or just one person pretend to be all 3 pigs if you’re like us), and act it out along with the story.
Easton really likes the “spooky” stories, or Halloween books, so we tend to act out a lot of Halloween stuff. Or we use his trucks as props when acting out his other favorite stories. There’s usually not a lot of variety unless mom picks. HA.
It leads to a lot of great discussion on characters, plot, storylines, the different variations of stories, and so on and so forth.
This takes as much or as little effort as you want, making it a great activity for kids of many different ages. I love this because my three year old is occupied, and I’m also teaching him about literature so it’s a win-win for mom.
Here are some of our favorite books:
Write your own stories together:
This goes along with the last idea because as you will learn I am a huge literature nut. Especially children’s literature. I think it’s so important that kids are read to and often, but that’s another blog post for another time (you can click here to read more about children’s literature ideas or here to read about some of my favorite books for kids).
Coming up with your own stories together can happen in a lot of different ways. The first is by encouraging your kiddo to create a picture or a series of pictures. Then you can write the words for the picture for them and put it into a “book”. You can also have them tell you a story and you can draw pictures for them to color.
For younger children it may be easier to draw the pictures and have them color them in. Younger children will also probably need help in coming up with a story line that lasts longer than a couple of pages and pictures, so this is really a project that involves working together. This is what we do and it works really well. Left to his own, Easton will rush through it, so we work on it together. It’s really helped him to both develop stories, but to recognize that there’s a pretty specific order to a story.
You can also use these story writing tools:
If you’re lucky enough to live in a hot desert climate like us here in Vegas, or you’re just sick of spending every day out in the heat, these ideas can keep you indoors and comfortable while also allowing your little one to be active, to use their imagination, and even some learning experiences.
Do you have any suggestions for ways to play inside with your kids? I’m compiling a list of resources and would love to share your ideas! Leave a comment or a link to your page below.