If the children are getting bored at home, you can't get out to stock up on craft supplies and you are losing the fight to hold onto that last shred of sanity... go back to simple and try some of these play and learning ideas for home!
Most of the materials you will probably already have in your cupboard and this collection of play ideas for children at home will keep those short attention span toddlers through to bored school age children busy for hours.
I can't promise this, but you might even get to finally finish that cup of coffee you have been trying to drink since the whole Covid-19 social distancing and self isolation took over your family life!
Keep scrolling down to look through the different play and learning ideas for home I've collected for you and if you would like more information and pictures about how to setup and play, just click on the links and you'll be taken to a new page with all the details you need to get started!
These easy home early learning activities are going to show you that play at home doesn't need to be all complicated worksheets, constant cleanups and tantrums. You can keep things simple yet find yourself with happy and busy children who are learning everyday at home... and you might even get to go to the toilet by yourself for a change!
Let's take a look at some of my most popular play at home activities used by parents and early childhood educators around the world......
17 Easy Play and Learning Ideas for Home
1. Make your own slime - there's no need to buy it when you can make it from household items (safer too!) If you have a baby or toddler in the house who love to put things in their mouth you NEED these recipes! See my slime recipes HERE.
2. Make your own homemade paint for creative play - this is so easy but it can save educators and parents a lot of money over time and as a bonus you know exactly what is going into younger children’s mouths AND it washes easily off skin and out of clothes! I have been using this paint recipe since I started working in childcare over 30 years ago! Get the recipe HERE.
3. Facepainters for the Day.Face painting isn't just for the children! Get out the dolls and the paints and have some fun. See how we set up this activity HERE.
4. Make your own rainbow sensory balls. This is a play recipe that provides a water bead alternative! Why an alternative? I’ve often looked at the activities on Pinterest with colourful water beads but the choking and general safety concerns around using these beads with young children has always made me avoid them as a safe sensory option.
I really loved the sensory aspect to them though so I decided to try and make my own version of rainbow beads that I would feel comfortable allowing the children to really explore and create with. And it doesn't matter if baby or toddler put them into their mouth! See how to make rainbow sensory beads HERE.
5. Make Bubble Foam to Whisk & Sieve. This activity is always very popular with the toddlers and is easily modified to make it a little harder for the preschoolers. A fun way to strengthen finger and wrist muscles and explore colour mixing!
6. Magic Tape Names. Such an easy little activity but children really enjoy the thrill of seeing their names at the end and it's a fun way to explore letters and name recognition See how to set up this fun activity HERE.
7. Colour Ball Run & Sort. One of my all time favourites - especially if you have toddlers because it wears them out! All you need is a few baskets (or bowls or boxes…whatever you have that look basically the same), some coloured paper to line the baskets with and the corresponding colour plastic balls. You can play this indoors or outdoors and it is fantastic for colour recognition and sorting skills. See how we set this one up HERE.
8. Fishing with Balloons. This activity is super easy. Set up a tub of water on a little table or the grass outside, add a few slightly inflated balloons and a couple of wire strainers and you have a simple activity that challenges spatial awareness, hand eye coordination and fine motor skills…… See a few more photos of how we played with this activity HERE.
9. Painting with Sponges - No paintbrushes - no problem! Grab some pegs and kitchen sponges and you have a fantastic fine motor stamp and paint activity! See how to make homemade sponge stampers HERE.
10. Pretend Play Cooking with Corn Flour Paint. Make up a fresh batch of Homemade Cornflour Paint, drop a little into a few bowls, set out some small and large spoons, measuring cups and trays and then stand back to see what they will do!
It is definitely an invitation for some messy play and this one is best done outside....but it keeps them busy for ages so it is worth it! See how we played with this HERE.
11. Wash the Car! Fill a bucket with soapy water, hand out some thick sponges and cloths and let them go! See how we played with this activity HERE.
12. Painting with Potato Mashers. I love potato masher stamping for toddlers…..it is easy, it allows them to get a little aggressive safely, it makes great patterns to talk about and it is fantastic for strengthening fine motor skills! See how we set up this activity HERE.
13. Make Fizzing Fine Motor Trays. Such a simple activity suited to an age range from 3-8 years depending on the materials you provide. Want to give it a try? You’ll be amazed at how quick this activity is to set up! See how to set it up HERE.
14. Foamy Fly Swatter Sensory Play. This simple sensory play activity is fun whether it’s hot or cold and easily adaptable for both toddlers and older children. It not only offers many opportunities for children to explore with their senses but it’s a playful way to strengthen fine motor control, balance, coordination, spatial awareness, colour mixing and colour recognition. See how to set it up HERE.
15. Playdough Sensory Play. Adding sensory materials to dough allows children to explore and use their senses in different ways. Is it hard or soft? How does it feel when you squish and roll the dough? What else can we add that is hard/soft? What does it smell like? Can your fingers find something bumpy and smooth? See some more ways to add to your playdough HERE.
16. Go on a Goopy Bear Hunt - Goop is easy to make and you can add any small toys to make it much more fun and challenge colour recognition, sorting, senses and fine motor skills! See how to make the goop HERE.
17. Bubble Wrap Roller Painting - Don't throw away your bubble wrap! With all those home deliveries you will be stocked up for this activity in no time so... paint with it instead. See how we did it HERE.
Ready to make that cuppa and finally enjoy it? A few moments setting some of these simple play and learning activities up is SO worth it when you see those busy smiles and realise they are learning while they play....without the stress and worry about whether you are 'doing enough' to help them learn at home! You got this!
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