Fun in a Pinch
This post is for my good friend, Lauren, who loves to do fun things with her girls, but like most moms, doesn’t always have supplies on hand for crafts and made up games. Here are a few ideas of things that require very little in terms of materials, but make for a great way to engage our children.
1. Taste testing: One of my kids favorites, it is a great way to introduce them to new foods or allow them to have a small treat. My son recently learned he likes pistachio nuts from this. Just get 5-10 small food items (1 marshmallow) and have them see if they can guess what it is. You can also talk about if it is sweet or salty and if you liked the taste.
2. Building with food: This could be icing and graham crackers, or we like to build with toothpicks and raisins or mini marshmallows. We have made houses, numbers, words, and even people out of just toothpicks and raisins!
3. Who am I: This is a dress up game we play and the kids LOVE it! Basically we take turns dressing up as something and the other person or people have to guess who or what we are. My recent favorite was that my daughter was a “Sweetie” she wore a sundress, dress up shoes, and a big hat. Needless to say, I had trouble guessing that one!
4. Magazines: We use old magazines for a number of things, collages, cutting out letters or words we know, or cutting out a picture and making up a story about that person. It is also fun to have magazine races. Who can find a picture of a dog first? A piece of pizza?
5. Face Charades: Take turns calling out a feeling and have your child show you what their face would look like if they felt that way. My sons happy face is hilarious, as is my daughter’s scared.
6. Poems: You can make up a poem about anything. We are currently working on colors, but I think poems with their names will be next. We started with red. I asked my son what he wanted to say about red. Here is his very basic poem (sorry no pictures, we are working on getting a new computer as all our pictures are on that)!
Like a fire truck
Or an apple
But mostly I like it for Spiderman!
Simple, yet very fun to write and read! We wrote them on construction paper and then we will put them together like a book when we are done. It would also be fun to display these in a play room or make some up about relatives and send them to them in the mail.
7. Spicy Soup: My kids do love to cook. One thing we did recently, was make soup with spices. I gave each of my kids a big bowl filled half with water and then gave them several old (over 5 years old!) spices and had them shake them in and make their own soup.
8. Bath Tub: We have had pretend beach parties, with swimsuits, towels, sunglasses, and beach balls, in the tub. It is also a good place to do sink vs. float. Just collect several water friendly items from around the house and experiment with seeing what sinks and what floats. Ice cube melting races. Have each person get an ice-cube and put it in the tub and see which one melts the fastest. We have even used salt and toothbrushes to “help” it melt. It could also be a boat or water slide depending on your child’s imagination.
9. Contests: Since my son is super competitive I like to have little contests with them. Who can stand on one foot the longest, find a stuffed animal first, hop all the way to their room and back, who can keep from smiling, do the most jumping jacks, empty all the trash cans? Hey, I think it is great fun to combing chores with fun!
10. Food Painting: Use yogurt, pudding, or even peanut butter and have your child paint a beautiful and delicious picture.
11. Read: Yes we know reading is good but there are so many great things you can do with a good book! When you are done reading act out the story, let each person have a part (this is great for retelling the story). You can also make up a new ending to the story. This is a fun way for kids to get creative and feel like they have a part in it too. Make connections. After the story is over see if you can each tell a story relating to it (making connections with books makes for great readers too). You could also look for words or letters in the book or see how many times a certain phrase is said.
12. Bean Names or Letters: I used to do this when I taught kindergarten and the kids love it. Write out your child’s name on a sheet of paper (or allow them to do it!). Have them trace the letters in glue. Glue dried beans on the letters. If you do not have beans you could use macaroni noodles, cheerios, candy, etc.
13. Measure: I gave my kids a small bucket of blocks and had them measure different things in the house. How many blocks long is my bed? Kitchen table? My leg? It is fun to use nonstandard terms of measurement. It could be Barbies, books, socks, whatever you have handy. You could also measure your house. How many steps does it take to get from the couch to the front door? How many hops?
14. Cleaning: My kids actually do like to help clean, for now, I know I better enjoy it! I like to give them a wet rag and have them wipe the baseboards of our house. They also really like to “mop” the floor! Making my bed is another favorite as they get to get trapped in the sheets and jump around on it. They also enjoy cleaning out the fridge. As I take the food out, they wipe the shelves.
15. Rock Band: Not the video game, but we have our own band. My son usually plays his batman castle (AKA the drums), my daughter on keyboard, and I get to be the guitar. We take turns picking out songs and singing them. It is a great way to learn new songs, my son even likes to make up his own! This usually leads to a dance party…
Hope these things are helpful. Happy Playing!