Tired of being stuck inside and running out of ideas for indoor play? Grab some household items and bust that boredom with these easy and cheap activities!
#1 Fun with Shaving Cream: Squeeze some foamy shaving cream onto a tabletop, tray, mirror or plastic bin. Encourage your child to use his/her fingers to draw pictures or practice writing letters, words and numbers. Give your child different utensils to use (e.g. eraser end of a pencil, plastic orange peeler) if your child does not want to touch the shaving cream. If your child doesn’t like the smell, place some shaving cream inside a large Ziploc bag before playing with it.
#2 Bed Sheet Swing: Have your child lay inside a sheet and, with another adult, grab the ends, lift your child slightly off the ground and gently swing him/her back and forth. Count out loud for each swing or incorporate nursery rhymes. Or, play some soft, soothing music and turn down the lights while swinging slowly to help calm your child.
#3 Pouring and Exploring: Grab some kitchen ladles, measuring cups, pots, Tupperware containers and plastic bowls. Put the items into an empty plastic storage bin. Add some dry foods (e.g. beans, noodles, cereal, oatmeal, salt, rice) and encourage your child to transfer the dry food to and from the different containers. Feeling brave? Instead of dry food, use water and add a variety of cups, pitchers and a turkey baster.
#4 Parachute Play: Use a flat sheet as a parachute. Throw some balloons or soft, light toys (e.g. stuffed animals, balls, small bean bags) on top and have fun bouncing them around together. Have your child sit underneath or on top of the sheet and shake the sheet fast and then slowly.
#5 Flashlight Games: If your child is comfortable in a dark room, dim or turn off the lights and have fun playing with flashlights. Take turns shining the flashlight on the floor while the other jumps or stomps on the light. Give your child the flashlight and ask him/her to find an item in the room to shine the light on. Read a book in the dark by shining the flashlight on the words. Put on some music and have fun dancing with flashlights. Make shadow puppets or move your body to make your shadow dance on a wall.
#6 Cleaning Toys: Lots of kiddos love to help out and often feel pride when they do. So, why not accomplish two things at once? Give your child a plastic bin filled with water or fill up the sink or bathtub. Then, have him/her help wash hard, plastic toys (e.g. Legos, animals, vehicles, blocks, magnetic or foam letters, action figures, dolls). Just add a little soap (kid’s shampoo will also work), water, sponges, rags, toothbrushes and/or dish scrubbers and let your child wash away! You’ll be surprised on how much fun he/she can have. J Place the toys on a towel or tray to dry.
#7 Buried Treasure: Bury small objects like beads, pennies or, our favorite, wiggle/googly eyes into Play-Doh and have your child pull and stretch the dough to collect each one. Use the empty Play-Doh container as a place to put the found objects. Take turns and allow your child to hide the items for you to find.
#8 Balloon Play: Blow up some balloons and have fun hitting them back and forth to each other. Kick it up a notch by using fly swatters, cardboard tubes (wrapping paper or paper towel tubes work best) or foam pool noodles to hit the balloons. You can also tie the balloon to a pool noodle to make it easier for beginners.
#9 Slapping Post-Its: Grab a fly swatter and some Post-its. Use markers to scribble colors, draw shapes and write letters, numbers or words on the Post-its. Then, place the Post-its on a wall or door. Call out a color, shape, etc. and let your child use the fly swatter to slap the Post-it that matches the label. Add a second fly swatter so a friend or sibling can join in on the fun!
#10 Bedsheet Hammock: Knot the ends of a bedsheet together in the middle of a sturdy table to create a child-friendly hammock! Give your child a cuddly toy and some books or a device to lay back and unwind with for a while.
About Our Guest Blogger: Melissa Ames has over 16 years of experience working with children with autism, SPD and other needs in both home therapy and school settings. While serving as a dedicated Early Childhood school teacher, ABA home therapist and case manager for home therapy programs, Melissa naturally supported parents of the children she worked with. She observed that parents lack hands-on, ready-made resources to help them be more successful at home, as well as better connect and have fun with their child. Melissa became the change she wanted to see in the world by starting her own company, EarlyVention, which designs fun and interactive subscription activity boxes for children with different abilities and the parents who love them. EarlyVention also provides vocational opportunities for adults with special needs, who help assemble the activity boxes, creating an ecosystem of impact.