By Tumi Matela
Although we have great, sunny winters in South Africa, there are those days when a cold front keeps everyone in the house. Just a few hours confined indoors can lead to a serious case of cabin fever for the kids (and you!) unless you have a host of activities up your sleeve to keep everyone occupied.
Toddlers are bundles of energy and need some extra hands-on attention from their parents. Each of the following activities is easy to do and should keep them occupied for a couple of hours, before or after nap time:
“Before you think of taking out another boring book, make sure you use all your creative voices and skills to animate the characters and bring your child into the story.”
- Let the creative skills come out. Bring out all the cardboard boxes you at home (cereal boxes, egg cartons, etc.) and allow their imagination to run wild. You can help them use the boxes to create a train, aeroplane, house and more.
- Create a necklace. Who knows, he or she could be a stylist one day! Use a piece of string and something to thread with, such as beads or buttons of different shapes and sizes; or take it back to old school and use pasta noodles. This would be a great creative activity but watch out for choking hazards.
- A play dough date is another great activity. You can make your own dough (see recipe here) or you can buy some. The texture is awesome and the kids will love to manipulate it into different shapes. All that they need is their imagination and a surface to play on.
- Arts and crafts. The thought of giving your toddler crayons can be scary, right? They might chew off the crayon tips or take to the walls as mini Picassos. Introducing arts and crafts is great for learning and development, so try washable markers, chalk or even stickers to get the little artist in them a chance to shine. Designate the surface where they can work and stay with them. Creativity can be messy, but it is almost always fun.
- Books and music. Sometimes all you have to do is take things to the next level. Before you think of taking out another boring book, make sure you use all your creative voices and skills to animate the characters and bring your child into the story. Or, pump things up with some music and have a little dance party in the living room. Find some kid-friendly books and music and have a great time!
- Roleplay. It is wonderful to watch your tot feed their stuffed animals or drive off with their imaginary car. Role-play time is great for growing toddlers, so give them a little space to explore their characters (you can watch from afar). This is super cute!
- Indoor rock climbing. Host a birthday party or family outing at an activity centre to get the adrenaline pumping. Indoor rock climbing (slightly older children) or trampolines will help to release some of their pent-up energy and you can have a break while the staff supervise.
- The ice rink. Wrap them up warmly and make memories as you help your child master their ice skating moves. Show them a move or two (ask someone to help you if you’re not that good on ice) – the kids are sure to love it.
- The Playhouse. Take them to the nearest Playhouse, where there are all kinds of indoor activities for the kids to blow off some steam, have fun, explore and form friendships.
- Kids in the kitchen. Experiment with mystery desserts or let your little chef invent and bake their own. Jelly with Smarties in? Cupcakes with melted chocolate on top? They will need your help executing all their creative ideas but who knows, there could be a young chef in the making.
Find more ideas at: Things to do with the kids in winter around South Africa