Playgroups, gym time, art classes and park days are all fun activities for children aged 2 to 4 years, but, if done too frequently, can be overstimulating and lead to tantrums. Creative activities around the home as part of a predictable schedule give little ones a confident grasp on the small world around them, making them feel safe to grow and explore.
Take your child on a "nature walk," collecting leaves, sand, flowers, or sticks in a little container. When you get home, give him a popsicle stick, big piece of heavy paper or cardboard, and some glue to stick everything to the paper to make a nature collage.
Grab a piece of chalk and trace each other on the sidewalk. Now you both can add the details to make self-portraits.
Give her some water and a paint brush or roller in a bucket. She can "paint" the sidewalk or fence with water.
Give her some Cheerios and a Coke bottle. Have her put the Cheerios in the Coke bottle, helping her count. If she's older, she can try to throw the Cheerios into different-sized containers.
Build a fort out of sheets and blankets inside or outside.
Stack a bunch of cardboard boxes and take turns crashing into them.
Make an obstacle course out of boxes, pillows and ropes or a tiny race course for toy cars.
Hang a sheet and put on a show with music and dress-up clothes or a puppet show with homemade paper bag or sock puppets.
Clean out your cupboards and fridge and make "yucky soup" in a big mixing bowl. If it's nice outside, make the "yucky soup" from water and things from the garden.
Forget about fingers. "Foot painting" is fun if you have a roll of blank paper. Just paint his feet and let him go for it.
Give the dollies a bath. Fill a bucket with water and dish soap and let her wash all of the dollies.
Pull out all of your old make-up and let her give you a makeover. It'll give you a chance to close your eyes for a few minutes.
Take turns laying down and playing "doctor" using safe kitchen gadgets, like measuring spoons, whisks, spatulas. You go first to demonstrate how each one "works." When it's your turn to be the patient you can get a good 10-minute nap!
Read books in your fort.
Give him or her a pedicure. Children love to soak their feet and have them rubbed. They'll sit still for a good amount of time, too.