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January 30, 2013

8 Winter Boredom Busters for 1-year-olds

Update Jan. 2016 -- This post was written before we really started on our Montessori journey. If you are a Montessori family, many of these same ideas will still work! I wouldn't recommend, however, introducing letters to such a young child. 

8 activities to keep toddlers busy indoors during the winter. These easy ideas are perfect for sensory play.

Here in Minnesota, it's the middle of the winter. Most days, it's too cold to go outside, too snowy, too icy, or just plain wet. Plus, I hate being cold so even on days where Henry could tolerate it, I tend to stay inside. So, we need to stay busy. Here are some things I do to avoid seeing that face above and some links for more information or additional activities.

Sensory Bins: I've talked a lot about sensory bins and some tips on successful sensory play. Sensory bins can really be anything you want them to be. We sometimes do themed bins, but a lot of the time, the bins don't need to be something elaborate or special. Just putting a bunch of related materials in a bin together seems to open up a whole new world for toddlers. A bin could be all one color, a group of different textures, natural materials, or kitchen tools. 

Mess Free Painting -- This is a great activity especially for younger toddlers. And you can make some pretty cute projects this way. Best part -- it really is no mess!

Glow Sticks --Toddlers love these! Go to a dark room, crack a few of these and have fun. Henry likes to play hide-and-seek, name the colors, or just whip them around. These are also perfect for that hour between dinner time and bedtime -- minimal mess, minimal cost.

Baby Doll Bath -- Get out the tiny baby bath tub from your storage room and give a baby doll a bath. I put some warm water, bubble bath, and a washcloth in and let Henry do his thing. I also had a towel, baby bottle, comb and blanket waiting for after they were done. Henry loved scrubbing that baby, drying him off, and starting over.

Rainbow Rice -- Not only is rainbow rice easy to make, toddlers love it. You can use it in a sensory bin, or on its own. Its perfect for colorful music shakers, for pouring, scooping, or just making a mess with. For older toddlers, it would be a great thing for them to help you's really that easy. 

Water Beads -- These little gel beads start out small but after a few hours in water they are perfect for toddler play. They are kinda wet, but not water filled...smaller, but not tiny. The texture is so cool, I could sit and play with them for hours. They store for several days and are pretty cheap. 

Bathtub Painting -- Put some dabs of finger paint all over your bathtub. Let your toddler loose. They can paint all over the place. And the paint becomes perfect for drawings. When the fun is over, just turn on the bath and the toddler and the tub get all clean. 

Scooping and Transferring: This is another activity where you really have total freedom. Henry loves to just transfer objects from one container to another. You get to decide the object to transfer and the containers. We've done the glass jars and buttons.

But the objects can be anything like beads, coins, beans, water, baby food lids. Or for younger toddlers, ball pit balls. The containers can be be big with small openings, big with big openings, glass, plastic, metal...pretty much anything. To add a little more challenge add a spoon, dropper, or tongs for the toddler to use while transferring. 

Hopefully these can keep you busy until the weather warms up! How do you keep a toddler busy in the winter?

And don't miss my Young Toddler Pinterest Board for a lot of great ideas for keeping little guys busy!

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Amy said…
Love your ideas! I like the paint idea, and keep telling myself that I am going to do this one day! You can also use shaving cream the same way, although you probably already know that - and if you are in for a little bit of a mess, you can put the shaving cream straight on to the table. or use it in the tub the same way as the paint. My childre also love to 'play grocery shopping' with real food from the pantry, although we have adapted this to a school game, where they have to use magnetic money (bought at the Dollar Tree) to pay for their food. :)
Unknown said…
I'd be worried my daughter would eat/choke on the water beads. Obviously I'd be there to supervise, but do you end up saying "no" and redirecting more than they get to play with them?
Anonymous said…
I feel the same way. I have twins & I feel like I never try new things but it's a battle sometimes.