Beat the boredom: Four fun activities for the under 5’s

So, the weather has trapped you and your little one(s) inside for the day. Play-doh is passé. Lego lethargic. Board games boring. Yes, all the cash you’ve invested to tackle the tedium of being stuck at home is failing you, but you’re not beaten yet. Here are some innovative ideas for simple preschool play that will have your little ones captivated for long enough to get that coffee you’ve been thinking about all morning.

1.      Spider web scavenger hunt

Think you need to be outdoors to do a successful scavenger hunt? Think again! All you need to create this amazing indoor activity is a ball of wool or string, some paper and a bit of creativity. Simply string the wool all around your living room (or the whole house if you really want) and attach some cut out ‘bugs’ or plastic toys here and there.

Give your kids a finding sheet, asking them to help Mr. Spider find his dinner and show how many of each bug type they need to locate. You can tailor this activity for little ones (e.g. find 3 green bugs, 2 red bugs and 4 black bugs) or for older children (find 2+3 red ones, 1+2 green ones etc.). It’s simple, mess free and a lot of fun for all.

2.      Fizzy science fun

If you can get your hands on some vinegar, baking soda, food colouring and a turkey baster (or eye dropper) this one will be a winner. Spread the baking soda in a roasting tin and give your child a small dish of vinegar stained with a colour of your choice. They can use the turkey baster to splosh drops of vinegar into the baking soda which will fizz and bubble beautifully!

The act of transferring vinegar to the roasting tin itself is great for fine motor skills, but if you want to add to the learning experience, try to use food colouring of primary colours. You can let them use just red, yellow or blue to start with, and then ask the question of what colour it will make when the two are mixed together. Fizzy fun, and learning too.

3.      Cornflour cloud dough

When Play-Doh just isn’t cutting the mustard, try a twist on the traditional with simple cornflower and shaving foam dough. You can start off with a fantastically fun messy play activity with either the corn dough or the shaving foam… just pop them in a tray and let your little ones go wild. Add a car or dinosaur to the mix to make it twice as fun!

Once they’ve had enough of whatever ingredient you started with, add the other. Around half a cup of cornflower will mix well with a cup full of shaving foam, so bear this in mind when starting the activity. Mix it well, and you should end up with some wonderful, mouldable, crumbly cloud dough, perfect for making models, cutting out shapes or just squishing to your hearts content. Add some food colouring for extra fun!

4.      Sink or float?

This is so simple, but so effective. Grab a washing up bowl or any large container and fill it half way with water. Ask your kid to grab five or six toys that don’t mind getting wet (watch out for things with batteries or fluff that will take ages to dry). They simply have to figure out if that toy will sink or float?

Younger kids will literally have no idea. It might sound like a simple experiment to you, but to them it’s all new and wonderful. Older kids may have some idea, but maybe you could add in some red herrings, such as a plastic bottle with the lid off, or on. It’s fun, wet and will add to their understanding of the world in so many ways.

Playing indoors, especially messy play and experimental play, is so much fun, we guarantee you’ll be loving it too. These activities should not be restricted to nursery or playgroup because they’re too much fun to take part in yourself!

If you’re worried about clean up, don’t be. With an oilcloth tablecloth you can ensure the mess stays where it should be and is quick and easy to wipe up. However, we don’t offer any guarantees about your children, so be prepared with a nice warm bath once they’ve finished their play!