Toddler/Preschool Activities that Keep the TV Off

DIY/Recipes / Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

So I have a love/hate relationship with our television. In fact, I have that relationship with the television, phone, iPad, Kindle, you name it! Why? Yes, I know my daughter can learn, and is learning, amazing things from different shows she watches and games she plays. Yes, I do love the fact that any of those technological “helpers” can buy me some time to, well, you name it: cook, clean, laundry, feed the baby, take a shower, eat…

BUT I very much dislike how still she gets when she’s playing a game or watching television. She just flops around on the floor, her brain getting sucked out through her eyes…While I do believe there is a time and place for television, I do not like it being on for a long duration of time. So when she asks “mom, can I watch TV?” after she already watched cartoons in the morning and the typical suggestions of puzzles, play doh or play kitchen don’t work… I bust out the big guns. Below I’ve listed my top FIVE favorite activities to do to keep the TV off:

  1. Pipe Cleaners and a Strainer : This game is so low maintenance and can be repeated as often as they like! We turn our strainer upside down and feed pipe cleaners through the hole to make a silly hat. Be sure to take pictures of your goofball! Then we either take them all out and repeat or use the hat to start a game of dress up and make-believe. You can also practice your shapes with pipe cleaners (we turned ovals into glasses here) or make jewelry by threading beads onto the pipe cleaners. As you can see, we love pipe cleaners in this house. Best part? She gets to work on her fine motor skills and concentration and it was all so cheap! I didn’t even have to make anything ahead of time 😉
  2.  No Mess Paint Mixing: Again, super easy, fun activity that won’t break the bank. Get your Ziploc bags out and put a squirt of paint in them. You know how it goes: Primary colors in each bag then add another primary (Red and Blue, Yellow and Blue, Red and Yellow) then seal it tight with as much air out of the bag as you can manage. Then let your toddler poke, shake, trace, and squish the bag until the colors are completely mixed. Again, I love this activity because they learn about colors while playing hands-on with little mess! And it’s so easy to whip up in a pinch. You can extend play by adding white and/or black to see the color get lighter or darker. Extend the activity even farther by giving them a paint brush and letting them use their newly mixed-up colors to paint a picture…though now the cleanliness factor is out the window!
  3. Tracing: This idea may make some of you shiver but hear me out. My daughter has an art easel where she has to keep her dry erase markers. For little minds like hers, this can get boring and so the markers have lost their excitement. To make a new game out of it, we use my sliding glass door. *Gasp you can’t be serious!* I AM serious! It’s easy to clean off, it has fingerprints on it 24/7 anyway, and my daughter is so good at keeping rules it’s fun to let her break them every once in a while. So here’s what we do: we talk about where we will be drawing (the glass sliding door) and where we will NOT be drawing (the couch? no. the walls? no. the tv? no). And then we begin. First, I draw a letter, a shape, or spell her name. Then I let her trace however she sees fit. As we repeat I offer a little more guidance on where to start tracing and how to follow the lines. This activity can be extended by adding play doh. Make a simple shape or letter out of play doh and squish it on the door. *Double gasp!* Let let your child trace around the playdoh.
  4. Real Kitchen Recipes: Nothing makes my daughter more happy than helping mommy in the kitchen. Unfortunately, when it’s for an actual meal, I’m often too crunched for time or I get too nervous about having her around an open flame (we have a gas stove). Our solution? Have a recipe that’s super simple that you need almost every week, or that can be prepped and placed in the freezer. For instance, I love a protein snack right before bed (I got into the habit when I had gestational diabetes and I can’t stop). And if the snack can be semi-sweet, even better! So I use this recipe to make protein balls. I put the ingredients in measuring cups, my daughter pours them into the bowls and mixes them. PS she loves her Mommy’s Helper Tower…see the items by Amazon below if you’re not sure what I’m talking about!
  5. Pom Poms and Pinchers: Last but not least, another super simple game that can be played with several children. Depending on the age of your preschooler, you can use tweezers or clothes pins for this game. Give each child a cup and a clothes pin. Dump different sized pom poms on the floor and then have your kids pick them up with the clothes pins and place them in their cup. For older children, make it a friendly competition by playing music in the background and see how many they can collect before the song is over. To extend the activity, after they collect all the pom poms, have them sort the pom poms out by color. Then, arrange them on the table or floor in the shape of a rainbow. See what other pictures they can come up with by rearranging the pom poms.

Now, as we all know, children are unpredictable. What may keep them occupied for an hour one day, may only work for fifteen minutes the next day. The way I see it, any time with the TV and electronics off, no matter how long or short, is considered a victory. Happy Crafting!

Lord bless this busyness~ Jenn