Shake Out Your Sillies

Young children need plenty of opportunities to move around. They need time and space to run and romp. You can usually meet this need by allowing your child to go outside, but what do you do when the weather is bad? Here are some indoor activities that will give your child a chance to burn some of her pent-up energy.

Beanbag Toss

This is a classic activity that will help your child develop motor skills. If you don't have beanbags, you can simply use rolled-up socks.

  • Give your child three or four beanbags and show her how to gently toss them.

  • Be creative in choosing a receptacle. Empty boxes or laundry baskets work well.

  • Let your child toss the beanbags into the receptacle.

Activity for an individual child or a group

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

Several beanbags

An empty receptacle, such as a box or basket

Shadow Dancing

Here is a great way to get your child moving.

Perhaps you can get the whole family to join in.

  • Position the lamp in the middle of the room, leaving plenty of space between the lamp and the wall.

  • Turn on the bright lamp and darken the rest of the room. Aim the lamp directly at the wall. Stand your toddler in front of the lamp so that her shadow is cast clearly on the wall.

  • Put on the music and encourage your child to dance so that her shadow dances, too. For a cool-down activity, show your child how to use her hand to create simple shadow puppets.

Activity for an individual child or a group

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 15 minutes

A light-colored wall

A bright lamp

Favorite music recording

Indoor Obstacle Course

When your child is stuck indoors, you will be happy to have an activity that helps her use her large motor skills and burn off steam. You do want to stress to your child that this is a special activity that can only happen with your approval and supervision.

  • Find a safe place in your home to set up a miniature obstacle course.

  • Set out pillows to use as stepping stones or hurdles. Use blankets to create tunnels. The path may also make your child navigate furniture, such as crawling under a table or climbing over the ottoman.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 30–40 months

Duration of activity: 30 minutes

Pillows

Blankets

Toddler Twister

Here is a simplified version of the classic game that will help your child with color recognition. You can still use the commercial game mat or create your own playing space, as described below.

  • Tape the colored circles onto a hardwood or linoleum floor.

  • Call out one simple direction at a time — for example, “Put your foot on a blue spot.” To add a challenge when your child has mastered the basic game, you can cut some of the circles into different shapes to test shape as well as color recognition.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 30–40 months

Duration of activity: 15 minutes

Circles cut from construction paper (the size of a paper plate)

Masking tape

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