With wind chills reaching -30 at times today, most Chicago schools including VOCEL were closed. Since schools will be closed again tomorrow, many parents may be feeling anxious at the thought of another day cooped up inside with an energetic young child. Here are some ideas for simple indoor activities you can use to keep your little ones engaged and learning!
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Most preschool-aged children are especially active, so keeping them inside and entertained all day can be a challenge. Here are seven educational and fun activities you can try out at home this week to keep your youngster happy and out of trouble. Most of the activities require minimal materials and are simple enough that an older brother or sister can lead them if you’re at work.
- Shaving cream artists – Most preschoolers are sensory learners meaning they love anything they can touch, smell, hear, taste or see, and they learn best when they’re using their senses. You might have noticed that you’re constantly asking your preschooler to keep their hands to themself. Take advantage of this and spray some shaving cream on the tabletop (or on a baking sheet if you want to keep it contained). Suggest they draw a picture or work on writing their name. Your children will love rubbing their fingers and hands around in it and when they’re finished, they can help you wipe it up. Bonus? The table will be oh-so-clean and smell great!
- Make reading special – Your children may be used to reading, but are they used to reading in an igloo? Use couch cushions to make a small hut and cover it with a few blankets, being sure to leave space for the child to enter and exit. Climb in with your child and read a book together in their personal igloo. Don’t have any new books at home and too cold to get to the library? Click here for a website with access to free e-books for preschoolers.
- Indoor “snowball” hunt – Have your child cover their eyes and count with them to 30 while you hide a cotton ball somewhere in the room. When they open their eyes, give them directions like “turn,” “stop,” “take 8 steps,” “look up,” “look down” and others to help them locate the snowball. Let them celebrate with their own “touchdown dance” when they find it. Next, cover your eyes and ask your child to hide the snowball. Then it’s their turn to give you the directions.
- Melt & count – Take 10-20 small objects (paper clips, pennies, uncooked noodles, etc.) and place them in a plastic bowl. Don’t let your child see how many you put in. Then fill the bowl with water and put it into the freezer. Tell your child that when they wake up from nap or after they eat all of their dinner, they’ll be able to solve the mystery of how many objects are in the bowl. After the ice has frozen, allow your child (with your supervision) to pour warm water over the ice until it melts. Then support them in counting the objects, making sure they say one number for each object they point to.
- Ice painting – Take an empty ice cube tray and fill it with water. Add a few drops of food coloring to each cube and cover the tray with plastic wrap. Then cut small slits in the cover and stick a popsicle stick in each cube. Place the tray in the freezer, and once the cubes freeze, children can paint with different colors of ice.
- Don’t have food coloring? No problem! Provide your child with a regular ice cube and a piece of colored construction paper and prompt them to draw a picture using the melting ice cube as their “paint.” See how long they can draw before the ice becomes too cold or too slippery to hold. Let their painting dry and allow your child to see how their picture disappears. Time to start over and create another piece of art!
- Ice investigation – Take a few cups from the kitchen and add some ice cubes to each cup. You can even label the cups 1, 2 and 3. Ask your child to suggest a few places to put the cups (perhaps one just inside the front door, one just outside the door and one in their bedroom near a heater). Ask your child to make predictions of what will happen to the cubes in the different locations. Set a timer for a few minutes and ask your child to check on his or her cups. Write down what happened. Set the timer for a few more minutes and check again. Talk with your child about their observations.
Gross Motor / Exercise
- Indoor ice skating – Have your child put on his or her favorite socks and go “ice skating” together around your home. Suggest they move their feet quickly and then slowly. Talk about what it means to “glide smoothly.” Give them directions like spin in a circle, skate in zig zags back and forth, and skate slowly to one side of the room and then back.
We hope you have a chance to try out some of these activities, and let us know how your children (and you!) enjoy them.