Pediatric Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapists Inspiring Play

10 Engaging Activities During Shelter in Place to Keep Your Pre-School Aged Child BUSY

10 Engaging Activities  During Shelter in Place to  Keep Your  Pre-School Aged  Child BUSY

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This “shelter-in-place” situation has turned out to resemble much more of a marathon than a sprint. Myself and the other therapists have been working safely from home for ~2 months now. How is this possible?

In the beginning, I had a very rosy idea of the perfect “preschool-like” setting and routine for my 2 1/2 year old Chloe. I jumped from activity to activity, quickly discovering how limited the attention span of a 2 1/2 year old can be. I found myself re-heating my coffee numerous times and constantly picking up toys. Sound familiar?

My energy and creativity with these activities have had their highs and lows. Like many moms I’m searching for ideas of play that will keep my energetic, spicy, demanding child busy.

So…We’ve compiled a list and examples of some activities and ideas for play, in hopes that it will help lighten your load a bit. As always, our activities focus on developing skills and playing with a purpose, but with many of these, you may find that you can set your child up with the activity and let them take over and develop some independent play (while you’re providing adequate supervision, of course!).

1. Toy Wash!

It’s no secret, kids love water. On days when Chloe needs lots of distraction water is my “Go-To”. We love to give toys a bath and scrub them, whether it be in a bowl on the kitchen floor, or plopped in the sink.

There have been days when she is more interested in “big girl” jobs. On these days, she washes dishes! (nothing glass or sharp of course!)

2. Cereal Necklaces

Work on lacing skills and snack at the same time? Win Win!

To make lacing with twine a little bit easier put a little painter’s tape on the end to stiffen it.

You can also try with pasta. Look at our friend Noemi go!

3. Make Your Own Play-Dough

Our OT Amanda’s recipe for play-dough is the absolute best! We recently made play-dough together in the kitchen, dyed it, and then made bug prints! This activity kept us busy for 1 hour and a half!! I’m sure most of you know, but that is literally like 10 hours in “2-year old time”.

We’ve been on a bug-kick recently, but you can press anything your kiddo is interested in. Get creative!

4. Scavenger Hunts

This has been a big topic since the beginning of “shelter in place”. There are so many different things you can do to make your daily walk more engaging. Making a point to get outside everyday has been a huge help for us, and the best way to burn some energy. Here are some ideas that have been a “hit” for us.

Take a spray bottle and “water” the neighbor’s plants
Pick those neighbor’s flowers (shhhh) and make your own garden in kinetic sand!
Go on a Bug Hunt!
Go on a rock hunt and decorate them! Then hide them again!
Draw a list and keep track of your findings!

5. Painter’s Tape Animal Rescue

This is the perfect activity to set up when kiddo is napping.

Hide their small toys around the house.
Strengthen those hand muscles by wrapping them up tight for an extra challenge.

Painter’s tape is amazing! Click here for more ideas with Painter’s Tape.

6. Throw Your Favorite Superhero, Toy, Princess, or Pet a Birthday Party!

Sometimes, we find ourselves to just be in desperate need of a special day or occasion.

Our friend Kaylee throwing Snow White a birthday party!!
Make a Play Foam Birthday cake and…
…invite all of your friends!

7. Make a Puzzle Obstacle Course

If your kiddo is motivated by puzzles this is a great busy activity! Empty out one or multiple puzzles on one side of the room, and place the empty puzzle boards on the other. Throw some pillows, hurdles, couch cushions in between and you’ve got yourself a busy activity!

This is what happens when your mommy is a PT and you’re stuck in quarantine.

For puzzle recommendations based on developmental level check here.

For more ideas on Purposeful Play Activities check here!

8. Sticker Scenes

Chloe loves stickers! Anything she can decorate with stickers is a guaranteed win.

Melissa and Doug makes amazing Sticker Pads that are a guaranteed busy activity!

Here are some of our favorites:

Recently, we’ve been making our own!

Painter’s Tape Band Aids to cover up Boo Boo’s

9. Magnatile Fishing

We made our own fishing pole and then sorted our “fishies” by color. I don’t know what it is, but kids love to fish!

For more Magnatile ideas check out our blog post.

10. Balloon Party!

Balloons + Music is sometimes all you need!!

We truly hope this list is helpful for you guys during this time.

Share with us some of your busy activities and tag us on Instagram (from one tired parent to another!)

-Rhea, and the Walk, Talk, Play Team

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