1 year old
Let the Good Times Roll
Explore the fun of movement with this simple game.
Materials: Several empty toilet paper rolls; assorted things that roll: toy balls of all sizes, toy cars, a roll of duct tape, etc.
What to do: Set the toilet paper rolls on end in a formation on the floor (think bowling pins). Take turns trying to knock the “pins” over by rolling different items toward them. Make a big hoopla when they fall sown.
Hint: If rolling proves tricky, let your child run and kick the rolls over. Enjoy the clatter they make when they crash.
Variation: Have a car fanatic on your hands? Hold your own demolition derby with toy cars and the rolls. See if you can build a tower of rolls and crash that down. Or try rolling cars through the inside of the empty tubes.
2 year old
Squish it, shape it, discover just how good it feels to play with “snow.”
Materials: Cornstarch (about 16 oz.), shaving cream (about 1 can), white or silver glitter (optional), a plastic tub for mixing.
What to do: Pour the cornstarch and the shaving cream into the plastic tub, sprinkle a little glitter on top. Mix it together until it starts to stick. Have fun squeezing it through your fingers or shape it into balls and build a mini snowman.
Hint: If you’re worried about too much of a mess, consider letting your child play with this in the bathtub, or lay out a cheap plastic shower liner to catch any overflow.
Variation: No real snow where you live? Take the fun outside! Shape the snow into balls and have a snowball fight in the backyard. The snow is soft enough that it won’t hurt when it lands. Hide toy cars or other small toys in the bin of snow and encourage your child to go on a treasure hunt.
3 year old
Good Night, Sleep Tight Cuddle Bags
Make these for yourselves and as gifts of goodness for others.
Materials: Selection of knee socks or thick tights (mismatched are great); baker’s twine; bulk rice; empty toilet paper roll.
What to do: If using tights, cut the top off so you are left with just the legs. Insert the paper roll into the top of the sock or tight to act as a funnel. Scoop rice into the sock/tight until only 3 inches of material remains at the top. Secure the end tightly with baker’s twine. Heat the bag in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to use as a heating pad; or pop it in the freezer for an hour to use as a cold pack for boo-boos.
Hint: Don’t over stuff the bags with rice. You want it to feel like a bean bag so it will drape or settle well over your body.
Variation: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil before tying off the sock. Longer bags work well for draping around a neck or lower back; shorter and fatter ones work better for hugging or draping over an owie. Experiment with different types of socks for a different style.
4 to 5 year old
Goody Goody Gumdrop Architecture
Tap into your inner architect to build a sweet structure.
Materials: Box of toothpicks, assorted gumdrops.
What to do: Using gumdrops as joints, stick the ends of each toothpick into the chewy candy. Connect multiple picks horizontally and vertically to build a structure.
Hint: Start by making a sturdy foundation by building a square using four gumdrops and four toothpicks. Then build up (or out) from there.
Variation: If building structures proves too tricky for your crew, form basic shapes (triangle, rectangle, etc.) or make letters to spell out your child’s name.
This originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest. If you didn’t get a copy and would like your own, you can subscribe to get Hello, Dearest in your mailbox every season. If you subscribe, forward your receipt to email@example.com and we’ll shoot a copy of the current issue in the mail to you for free … just because we like you.
Tally Flint is a freelance writer and editor and the Children’s Nurture Coordinator at Denver Presbyterian Church. She makes her home in Denver, Colorado, where she and her husband are vastly outnumbered by their four children, ages 11, 9, 7, and 7.