Keeping a preschooler occupied creatively is a big task. Children between the ages of 2-5 are most dynamic, active and sharp. They find it difficult to sit idle and parents find it difficult to keep pace with the high voltage play. Parents can play together only till a point and then want the child to play on his own as they get tired and have a lot of other chores to do as well. But the moment they want to leave, the child makes a huge drama because his energy is still bubbling inside and his need to play is not yet satiated. It’s very important to satiate this need else it may get expressed negatively in the form of hyperactivity, aggression, fighting, irritability etc. Children are also known for their boredom that comes with repetition of a game. So all in all, it becomes quite a monumental responsibility to think of new plays and games.
So here comes a list of some very interesting and educational activities that can be played by the child, with someone or by himself:
To do together:
- Read or look at books, children encyclopaedias and photo albums together.
- Collect pebbles, leaves, flowers when you take your child to park or beach. Talk about the various shapes, textures, colors of each thing and their role in nature. Create a scrap book and stick flowers and leaves in that. Color the pebbles and use them as decorative pieces. Your child will learn a lot about environment through this activity and will be thrilled to show off his collection to guests.
- Take a bowl of beans and have him stick them on a picture to make an art-work. This is a good activity for visual motor coordination and concentration.
- Give him an inch-tape and teach him how to measure small distances, like from table to chair or from fridge to the cupboard. It teaches him about comparative distances (far/near) and numbers.
- If you have a weighing scale at home, teach him how to weigh objects. Then give him objects of his choice and let him weigh them. This is a great way to teach comparative weights (light/heavy) and numbers.
- Evergreen role-plays like doctor-patient, shopkeeper-customer, and passenger-bus driver are a good way to teach social skills. If you do role play of child-parent where you become the child and he becomes the parent, you might be amazed to find out his perceptions and ideas on parenting.
- Play rough games like pillow fighting, tug of war using old dupattas, bedsheets etc. It discharges that ‘extra’ energy that would otherwise not let the child sit for a minute.
- Make obstacle course in the corridor using small cartoons, small boxes, and plastic bottles and ask him to run and jump. Time him and maintain a record sheet. He would love to break his own records.
- Hide and seek the toy, Simon says and Pin the tail are some indoor games that a child is bound to enjoy, besides the traditional ones like snakes and ladders, ludo, knots and crosses etc.
- Hide and seek, tag, ocean-island and chain-run are some of the old fashioned but highly entertaining outdoor games that you can play with your child indoors too. You can use a small plastic ball, a plastic bat and a sideways inverted box to play golf too.
- All children love coloring. And they love it even more when it’s done innovatively. Like vegetable dabbing, balloon dabbing, thumb printing etc. make a display board and stick his paintings on that.
- Give him Atta-dough and ask him to roll out chapatti for you, while you cook vegetables. If he does it neatly, cook that chapatti for him. It will surely do wonders to his self-esteem if he can serve that chapatti to other family members.
- Take small cans and put small items like coins, paper clips, sand, and marbles in the cans, making two cans of each kind. Let the child shake any two cans and see if the sound that comes is same. It enhances auditory memory and auditory recognition skills.
- Take cotton balls and put different scents on them like perfume, toothpaste, peppermint, coconut oil etc. Blindfold him and ask him to smell them and recognize the odour. It enhances olfactory recognition skills.
- Put some objects in a box. Blindfold your child, tell him the name of one object and ask him to take it out from the box. It enhances the sense of texture, shape, 3-dimensional feel and visual memory skills.
- Use alphabet stencils and sketch pens and have him trace letters to make a sign board, like ‘welcome’ for the main door, or ‘cold’ for the refrigerator or ‘hot’ for the microwave.
To do alone:
- Give him a coloring book, crayons and plenty of time to color as much as he wants. You can give him wooden puzzles or construction toys to play with too.
- Give him a small box and some wool strings. Ask him to wrap the box with the strings in a way that box cannot be seen.
- Give him a sheet of plain paper and a pencil to scribble on it. Ask him to ‘write’ a letter to his grandparents. Let him have freedom to scribble the way he wants. Make sure to post it to his grandparents later.
- Cover the dining table with a big bedsheet and put some of his toys, favorite finger foods and a pillow inside. Tell him it’s his house and he can play inside for the next, say, 30 minutes.
- Give him a bowl with mixed beans and legumes like chick pea, green moong, red rajma, white rajma etc. Give him 5-6 small bowls and ask him to sort the beans out. Instead of mixed beans, you can use mixed stationary items, cutlery items too.
- Play dough, home made or readymade! Kids can spend hours making colourful stuffs and it’s very good for their visual motor coordination, creativity and concentration.
- Use home made musical instruments like guitar (rubber bands tied on a plastic box), drums (kitchen utensils) and other ready made instruments like ghatam, whistle, musical toys etc. Dress him like a rock star and let him have fun with his musical talents.
- Give him child-safe scissors and old newspapers. When children are allowed to do tearing, cutting like this, their destructivity gets channelized and you get less experiments done with your office files, bedsheets, curtains etc.
- Let him play scavenger hunt. Give him a list of things by drawing the objects. Give him a basket/bucket and tell him to collect these objects from around the house.
- If weather and health permit, give him soap and water and the desired object, like doll, ball, a utensil etc, that needs to be cleaned. Children love to clean and you can surely make use of this!