Here in central Illinois, the nicer weather is wrapping up soon, and before we know it, the frigid weather will force us indoors.
Before the cold weather hits, it’s good to have a plan for keeping toddlers entertained while indoors. This keeps me from defaulting to screen time, which the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting, especially for ages 18-24 months.
It’s important to offer toddlers a balance of fine motor activities, as well as gross motor activities. Fine motor activities use the small muscles, such as the fingers, while gross motor skills involve larger muscles. Both involve the brain learning to work together with the muscles.
Here are some ideas for indoor fine-motor activities:
- Stringing Cheerios on a pipe cleaner.
- Chunky puzzles are great for fine motor development.
- Melissa & Doug created these adorable dress up “dolls” for endless fun.
- Sorting is a great activity for fine motor skills. Little ones can sort M&Ms, colored pom pom balls, or blocks.
- Toddler love to play with stickers, and they are also great for fine motor skill development.
- These Boon jellies are a great way to work on fine motor skills while playing in the bathtub!
Here are some great ideas for indoor gross-motor activities:
- Teach you little one to do jumping jacks. (They won’t be perfect, but it will get them jumping and moving their muscles!).
- Use painter’s tape on the floor to make a “road” for toy cars to drive on.
- Use the painter’s tape on the floor as a “balance beam.”
- Indoor tunnels are a great way to have fun indoors, especially since they fold up for easy storage!
- Play together by rolling a ball back and forth down the hallway.
- Put on some music and dance! Singing songs such as Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes, Wheels on the Bus, and If You’re Happy and You Know It are all ways to get kids moving to the music.
- A simple game of Simon Says can get your toddler moving indoors too! Try prompts such as “Simon Says, touch your toes...jump up and down, reach for the sky," etc.
Anything that gets the brain and body moving is going to be a great activity for little ones! Get creative, remember to laugh as often as you can, and try to enjoy your indoor playtime this winter!
Wendy is a breastfeeding, baby wearing mom of four who lives in central Illinois. She blogs at TheMessyMom.net.