We all have those days when you don’t make it out of the house. Whether it is because of weather or because it is just one of “those” days and you are still in pjs at lunch and no one is listening, having a no-fuss activity you can pull out without thinking is so helpful! I have a few fun activities with varying levels of mess that I try to always have ready to go. I know I will be throwing a few things in my cart soon in preparation for the school breaks coming our way sooner than we would like. Most of these can be prepped for a dollar or less and can be stored on a shelf out of the way until you need them.
Mess is okay if it keeps me in sweats.
Fill a plastic tub with something to scoop and pour. Pinto beans are great for this because they don’t travel very far when dropped on the floor. I typically throw an old sheet on the floor first. I also like to use salt for this activity. It is cheap to buy and easy to vacuum up afterwards. I have watched my daughter stay engaged in the salt for almost an hour. It is fun to draw in the salt also, if it happens to spill on a table. For littles who enjoy tasting their way through the world, salt isn’t delicious and is somewhat edible.
This one can get super messy but is also easy to clean up once it is dry. Take a box of cornstarch and throw it in a plastic tub. Add water until you have a fun texture somewhere between a liquid and a solid. The key is to NOT add any coloring. While all the videos of dancing rainbow oobleck look like a good idea, coloring makes the cleanup much harder. Since this is just cornstarch and water, once dry it vacuums up amazingly well. Add a colander to this activity and even the grownups will be engaged in this way longer than they would care to admit.
I would rather keep it neat today.
Watercolor, the easy way:
My kids got these as a gift a few years ago and they have saved me on many days when I am sick, need to write a blog post or am just done with parenting for the day. These are like coloring book pads but they have paint strips on the top so all you need is a cup of water and they are set. Melissa and Doug makes some really fun sheets (find here) in a larger size that we love. I have also found smaller versions in craft stores themed for different holidays. Q tips work just as well as paint brushes if you don’t have one handy.
I just can’t today with the mess.
Address Label Art:
This one is really fun! Give your child a sheet of white labels and some crayons (or markers if you are comfortable.) Let them go to town as if they were drawing on a sheet of paper. Scribbles or abstract designs are best. Once they are getting bored, give them a sheet of construction paper and show them how to peel the stickers up. Let them arrange on the sheet of paper however they want. Add a name and hang it proudly. These look good enough to send to Grandma in the mail.
Finish the picture:
My kids think this is a hilarious way to spend an afternoon. Glue heads cut from ads, junk mail or old magazines onto a piece of paper and have your kids draw the rest of the picture. You can prep this activity two different ways. I like to get a few ready to go and keep them for when I need them. Alternately, give the kids a magazine and scissors. Last time we did this we actually cut and pasted and then traded papers before drawing the rest. I’ve seen some pretty interesting creatures come from this one.
I hope these help you occupy those long days this winter. Do you have any other quick and easy ideas? Please share in the comments!