With the weather so erratic these days, it’s getting harder to bring young kids out for some fun in the sun, especially if you don’t own a car! The pitter patter of raindrops is often a SAHM’s worse nightmare when you have a cranky toddler to amuse, and no energy to play cars, dolls, or hide-and-seek around the house. Here are three fun and energy-saving projects you can do with your toddler in the comfort of your own home.

cooking with your children

Tip: The kitchen is a great place to do these activities as it’s relatively easy to clean up, and your little one is in no danger of ruining your expensive couch or wetting the carpet.

#1 Water Play

Set out a small bath tub or big pail with water, along with some other large empty vessels, such as mixing bowls, baking trays etc. Give your child a soup ladle, a plastic bowl or a measuring cup, and let him or her practice scooping water into all the vessels. It’s a surprisingly attention-absorbing activity for kids, and an informal way to introduce the concepts of size, volume and balance to young minds.

For slightly older kids, you can consider adding stones, pebbles or marbles to the water, and getting them to scoop those up and transfer to the smaller containers.

#2 Salt Dough Cookies

All you need are flour (any type), water and salt! Mix equal parts of salt and flour, and add water slowly until you have a consistency of dough that you like. (Typically about 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour and ½ cup water).

Your toddler can get involved in the mixing of the dough, as well as in the kneading process! And once you’re done, you’ll have a beautiful ball of squishy for him or her to get creative with.

You can roll out the dough on a floured area of the floor, about ¼- ½ inch thick, and let your child cut out ‘cookies’ using floured plastic cups or bowls or cookie cutters. Or simply let your child have fun squeezing and breaking the dough into whatever shapes he or she fancies.

Older kids can be guided to shape the dough into actual objects, like a cup or a flower. Once all the shapes/cookies are done, transfer to a tray lined with a baking sheet, and bake in a pre-heated oven at about 120deg Celsius for 3-4 hours if you want them to harden up for keeping. After they are baked and cooled, you can always dress up your creations with acrylic paint, glitter, and a coat of nail varnish!

Tip: This is a great activity to do just before Christmas – simply poke toothpick holes in your shapes before baking, and string them up on your tree when they’re done!

Painting with hands#3 Body Art

Cover the kitchen floor with a big sheet of paper. (I recommend investing in a roll of Mala paper from Ikea.) Get your toddler to lie as still as he or she possibly can and trace his body’s outline on the paper. Then give your child a whole range of art materials and let him get creative by filling in his ‘shape’ however he fancies!

Finger paints, bits of scrap paper and glue, glitter and crayons are some materials you can consider using. Along the way, use the activity to point out to your child where his eyes would be, and his mouth, and his belly button… etc. It doubles up as a fun way for him to learn the different body parts!

By Dorothea Chow

This article was first published in The New Age Parents April / May issue