Tag Archives: simple activities for toddlers

Simple Summer Fun: Seashell Painting

Simple Summer Fun Painted Seashells | Mama Papa BubbaWhile cleaning out our vehicle yesterday, I realized that we still had a big stash of beach shells we’d collected a couple months hiding in our hatch (you know you’re a parent when…)  We’d originally collected them with the intent of painting them, so that’s just what we did.  

IMG 0693First, we gave our shells a good scrubbing in some hot soapy water and laid them in the sun to dry for a few minutes.

IMG 0691Then Miss G chose a few colours of acrylic paint, and we got started.

IMG 0694Since acrylics will stain clothes, Gracen often wears a painting shirt or no shirt at all while using them.  And with the Okanagan weather being as hot as it has been lately, going without was a perfect option.  She quickly chose a shell, a paintbrush, and her colour, and got started.

IMG 0699While I often like setting out an activity, letting Grae discover it on her own, and standing back to see how she engages with the materials, I love sitting down and creating with her too.   I find that many times, some of our very best conversations take place when we’re sitting beside one another, hands busy.  Today we chatted about our upcoming move to Kuwait and some of the changes that will soon take place.  Just as it’s always been, she seems nothing but excited about it all.  We talked about her new bedroom, how she’d like purple things in it, how she’s anxious to have her very own bathroom, and how she’s looking forward to being closer to Uncle Daniel (our very dear friend who will live just 7 floors above us).  We also chatted about how, although we’ll be in the exact same apartment we had last time, the nursery she had as a baby will no longer look the same (she was excited to jump in her baby crib, but everything was sold when we left and we’ll be returning to an empty apartment).

IMG 0707Our conversation carried on shell after shell…  While we talked, Gracen experimented with different colours, colour mixing, paint layering, and painting both the insides and outsides of her shells.

IMG 0704Here are some of our colourful creations in progress.

IMG 0701After seeing my pink shell with aqua polka dots, Miss G wanted to do some polka dots of her own.  She painted her entire shell aqua, waited patiently for it to {mostly} dry, and then dabbed blobs of purple on top.

IMG 0710Like rock painting, collecting seashells and painting them seems like a summer staple to me… Something that just begs to be done year after yet because of its simplicity, beauty, and all of the possibilities. 

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Moving Fun for Miss G

Simple Ways to Keep Kids Happily Engaged During a Move | Mama Papa BubbaIn order to get through our move, Miss G spent a lot of time playing independently, which is difficult when the majority of your things are packed and life as you know it is being turned upside-down in front of your eyes.  In order to make things a little bit easier for her, each day that we spent packing, I’d set out a couple of very simple invitations to play with whatever was around at the time.  I have to say, she handled the situation very well and even created a few fun activities of her own.  Here’s some of what our little lady did last week…

BubblesAdd a few taped-together straws to some homemade bubble solution!

Sink playThere are endless possibilities when it comes to sink play.  See some of our favourites here.

Box fortsFlip a large box on its side, add a pillow and blanket, and you’ve got a cozy little space to curl up in.  Miss G also brought markers and chalk inside of hers and decorated the walls.

Pool noodle blocksSlice up a pool noodle and you’ve got fun, inexpensive, and *silent* building blocks.  See some other ways to use them here.

Straw beadsChop up some straws, find a piece of string, and you’ve got an engaging beading station.

Drawing on butcher paperA large piece of brown paper taped onto the ground is the perfect canvas for all sorts of artwork.

Fresh mint playIf you’ve got some fresh herbs growing in the yard, this is a breeze to set up.  Add some scissors, bowls, and water, and scented ‘soup’ will be rolling out of the herb kitchen in no time.

BathsWho says you have to be dirty to have a bath?  Pop your babe in the bathtub and you can get all kinds of work done in the bathroom.

Peek a booA cardboard box + tissue paper = ridiculous amounts of fun.

Cloud dough8 parts white flour, 1 part oil (baby oil and vegetable oil both work great), and a whole lot of fun

Popcorn shopAll that’s needed is a bowl of popcorn and some paper bags!  {See more here.}

Play dough and silicon mouldsWhether it’s  with play dough (in this case gingerbread play dough), coloured rice, water beads, or another sensory material, silicon moulds are always a huge hit in our house.

Packing peanutsPacking peanuts in a bin… That’s all.  Gracen created this sensory bin, then took off her dress and dove in. 

StickersStickers and a big piece of brown paper.  Simple fun.

PhotoSimple matching games made with dot stickers.  We’ve done this forever with doodles, shapes, numbers, and letters and Miss G never gets enough.

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{Simple Fun} Sink Play

Simple Fun Sink Play | Mama Papa BubbaI forgot how trying and time consuming this whole Kuwait documentation process is… We’re currently in the throws of police clearances, medical tests,  notarizations, and phone calls, which isn’t all that fun.  Add in a very busy, wanting-to-be-on-the-go toddler, and it’s that much more difficult.   Today, between Embassy calls and trips to the police station and medical lab, I pulled out one of my favourite tried and true ways to keep Miss G happily engaged while we got a few things done – a sink full of water.  It’s a super simple invitation to play and is a hit every single time.  Today it involved a couple of drops of blue/green food colouring, a couple of rocks, some glass gems, and a bowl of plastic creepy crawlies.  That’s it.  We set it up together, she pulled her little Ikea stool up to the bathroom sink, and the play began.  

IMG 0262The best part is that it’s not at all limited to a bug swamp.  In fact, the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few of our favourite sink play ideas…

1.  Baby bath – Grab a plastic doll, a wash cloth and/or sponge, some watered down shampoo or bubble bath,and a small towel and the baby doll will be cleaner than ever.  For extra fun, add in a toothbrush and hairbrush for when bath time is done.

2. Ocean – Add a couple of drops of blue food colouring to the water, then add some rocks, seashells, driftwood pieces and plastic ocean creatures.  Instant fun!

3. Floating building station – Place several pool noodle pieces (sliced about an inch thick) in the sink and let your little one experiment with building floating structures – towers, pyramids, ‘trains’ – anything goes!

♥ 

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iPhoneography // Simple Rice Tray Play

Simple Rice Tray Play | Mama Papa BubbaThis morning I had a little bit of housework to do and Miss G suggested that she’d play with some freshly coloured rice I’d made while I got my clean on.  It’d been a quite a while since she’d last opted to play with a rice bin or tray, so I was happy to hear that she was still excited about such a simple sensory activity.  While I put the rice into small containers, she picked out items she wanted to use while playing with it.  She gathered up a divided plate,  heart-shaped ice cube tray,  cup, scoop, bowl, and funnel and we laid everything down on a large blanket in the living room.

Photo copy 2She got to playing right away and immediately mixed the different colours in the bowl while using the funnel.  Watching the individual colours mix into speckled sea of rainbow colours is always so much fun (and so is crazy bed head ☺).

Photo copyThere was a lot of mixing, dumping, and pouring, but the favourite of the morning was definitely this little scoop paired with the funnel.  She quickly learned that using the two together was a great way to fill the little heart-shaped ice moulds and we later on we even experimented with extending our funnel using a bubble tea straw.  

After she was through playing, we scooped up the rice, added it to the bin of coloured rice we keep in the solarium, and shook the remaining grains off of the blanket outside.  Easy, simple fun.   

To see how we make our coloured rice, click here.

♥ 

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Simple Outdoor Fun: Painting Sidewalk Chalk Shapes With Water

Painting Sidewalk Chalk Shapes With Water | Mama Papa BubbaWhile we’ve done plenty of regular mess-free painting on our sidewalks and fence, today Gracen asked if I’d draw her something to paint.  While maybe not as open-ended as I’d usually aim for, I do find that sometimes she prefers having a jumping off point, so I drew an assortment of shapes on the ground using sidewalk chalk.  The activity was actually perfect for her new found interest of colouring in the lines, and when the water dried, it left our cement pad covered in beautiful, watercolour-esque shapes.  So simple, but she enjoyed so much that she’s already asked to do it again.

♥ 

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Bubble Wrap Exploration

Bubble Wrap Exploration | Mama Papa BubbaSometimes, or better yet, many times, it’s the simple things.  This afternoon, my freshly napped bubba woke up to discover a new package by our door.  She excitedly asked to open it, not caring about which actual item may be inside, but rather which packing material was surrounding the item (both bubble wrap and packing peanuts are huge in our house).  To her satisfaction, she found a fresh new sheet of bubble wrap inside, just waiting to be enjoyed.

IMG 8090After a good long time poking at it with her little fingers, I asked, “Are there any other ways we could pop the bubbles?”  This is what she came up with…

Elbows and blocksFirst came stomping on it with her feet, then she moved to digging her elbows into it and stabbing it with a wooden block…

Bead and TwistingNext she tried rolling beads on it (which actually worked fabulously when a good amount of pressure was applied) and twisting it forcefully.

IMG 8102Lastly was placing a borrowed book (sorry library!) on top of the bubble wrap and standing on it.  The good news is that this didn’t work very well at all, so it was short-lived.  

This much fun from a piece of bubble wrap is a wonderful thing.  ☺

♥ 

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Indoor Balloon Badminton

Indoor Balloon BadmintonThis may very well be the easiest activity to throw together ever, but Gracen thoroughly enjoyed it.  All you need is a couple of paper plates (ours are made of styrofoam, which I absolutely despise, but they, along with many other party supplies, were in the cupboard when we moved into this house, so I don’t feel quite as badly about using them), 2 large popsicle sticks, some masking tape, and a balloon.  To create simple racquets, all you have to do is tape popsicle stick handles onto the bottom sides of the plates… Then you’re ready to play!  Partner pass, keep it up, and distance contests are all fun.

IMG 7731This is a perfect activity for a rainy day and great for helping your toddler burn off some energy if getting outside isn’t an option.  The other perk is that it is relatively quiet (especially when played independently), so it could make a good quiet activity for an older sibling whose little brother or sister is napping.

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Impromptu Drum Circle

Household Object Drum CircleToday as I was organizing the mess of mason jars in our hallway catchall closet, my curious Miss G spied some old wine gift tubes in the bottom.  Naturally, she yanked them out and began drumming on them.

IMG 5665Before long, we’d yanked out all kinds of pots, containers, and bowls out and created an impromptu drum circle for the budding musician in our family.

IMG 5669Maracas, rhythm sticks, wooden spoons, a xylophone, and background music were added in along the way too.

IMG 5667Perhaps not the most neighbour-friendly activity if you live in a small apartment or have basement tenants below you (ours weren’t home), but great fun for a rainy day.

Here’s our little musician jamming out…

♥ 

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Painter’s Tape Jump Boxes

Painter s Tape Jump BoxesWhile we had our painter’s tape out for our indoor roadway, we also lined our hallway with this… A little series of jump boxes.  Grae adores the jump mats they have at our Strong Start program, so she’s very pleased to be able to jump her way down our hallway now too.

IMG 2955IMG 2940IMG 2950

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Painter’s Tape Roadway

Painter s Tape RoadwayThis afternoon as Gracen and I were working on our ribbon wand project, Miss G asked for a “biiiiiiiiiig” piece of painter’s tape.  I obliged and asked her what she was going to do with it.  Her response was, “Stick it on da floor”.  Bright idea, my girl.  

IMG 2987I’m not quite sure how it all happened, but before long, we were both sitting on the floor ripping off pieces of tape and creating this little indoor roadway.

IMG 2934As I snipped pieces of tape in half lengthwise and begun adding our lanes, Miss G gathered up her car and tractors.

IMG 2920She started driving her vehicles around on it as soon as she could and we even had a few “races” {and collisions}. 

IMG 2985This is such a simple {and inexpensive idea}, yet it brings hours of fun and endless possibilities.  Brad came home from work and immediately commented on our dead ends, so there may revamp in our near future. 

IMG 2936Of course, when it’s not being used as a roadway for cars, it can aways be used as a roadway for people.  ☺

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