These materials and activity ideas definitely come in handy for keeping the kids busy when I just gotta get something done!
I used many of these easy activities as a way to keep the older kids busy when I was pregnant with Louis. I had been thinking about how in the world am I going to preoccupy the kids when the baby needs to be fed, or changed, or just needs all the attention that a baby needs!
Henry was pretty good about keeping himself busy, but George, a toddler at the time, on the other hand needs a lot of attention and I couldn’t just set up any project and have him do it on his own.
Which is why I was on a mission to find lots of activities for keeping kids busy with minimal effort on my part. I had tried all sorts of activities with George lately to see what kept him busy (and what didn’t) and have found a few winners that can captivate his attention for at least 15 minutes, if not more.
These also have been coming in handy now for when I want to get dinner on the table, or need to work on something quick.
Easy activities for keeping kids busy and happy!
All of these are suitable for preschoolers, but most of them you can also hand to a toddler and just let them explore and see what happens!
Please take into consideration if you have a child that still puts stuff in their mouth a lot.
Here are some more ideas for keeping the kids busy:
Ribbons. Add a bottle to the mix with ribbons. Let your child work on fine motor skills by pushing ribbons in and out of the bottle.
Measuring Cups. Simply a set of measuring cups can come in handy! Throw them in a bowl with some big spoons and they can mix something up for you!
Pots & Pans. Along the same lines as the measuring cups, pots and pans are great too! Let them mix and match the lids or stir something up for dinner.
Plastic Cups. Leftover plastic cups from a birthday party (or two or three)? Just hand a stack to your toddler. They’ll find something to do with them.
A Tub of Water. A simple tub of water. Lay down a towel in your kitchen and set the tub on it. Only fill it as full as you’re comfortable with them spilling. Because if you’re not able to monitor, it might very well end up dumped. Add in measuring cups, spoons, or toys that don’t mind getting wet. Or even do a bathtime for their lovies. Added bonus if you color the water with food coloring! (It may stain though.)
Clothespins. Clothespins and a bucket of some sort that they can clip them onto and you’re good to go. They can clip them on, or fill it up, whatever suits them.
Pipe Cleaners. Add a colander or a strainer of some sort with big enough holes to fit pipe cleaners through and let your child poke the pipe cleaners through the holes. You could also use a spice container with large enough holes to fit the pipe cleaners through!
Straws. If you’re comfortable with your child having a scissors, hand them some straws with a pair of scissors and let your child cut them up. If not, have straws some already cut up handy with some yarn, or a shoestring, and thread away.
Tupperware. Let your toddler raid your Tupperware drawer. Stacking up the bowls will be fun enough, but they can even match up lids to their counterparts. And then take them apart and start over again
Blocks. Get out the blocks! Legos, wooden blocks, whatever you have. Make a game of transporting them from one place to another and they’ll be busy for a while. An older child can do some sorting by color or size, or make patterns.
Craft Sticks. Much like ribbons, crafts sticks are great entertainment to stick in and pull out of things. Try a bottle with a narrow opening. Or cut slits in the top of a plastic lid.
Pom Poms. A muffin tin with pom poms adds a lot of entertainment (think sorting by colors or size), and so does any container with a wide enough lid that you can cut a small hole in it to poke the poms poms through.
Game Pieces. Game pieces such as Dominoes, or Scrabble pieces, have a lot of potential and can be used for the piece itself (to make roads and such) or for what’s on the piece, older kids can sort by numbers or letters.
Recycled Tubes. Save paper towel and toilet paper tubes to hang on a wall as something to drop objects through like the pom pom drop. It’ll amaze them and keep them busy!
Styrofoam. A chunk of Styrofoam can provide countless entertainment! Add tools to the mix and let your toddler ‘fix’ or make things. A hammer and tees are also a great addition. And if you have a bunch of pieces of foam, they can be a great alternative to blocks!
Rubber Bands. Kids love rubber bands! They’re also great for hand strengthening. But add them to a can of food and they’ll be busy until dinner’s ready.
Tissue Paper. A bag full of used tissue paper. Let your toddler rip it up into pieces, sort through it, transfer it from one bag to another, or just throw it around! (Yeah, it’ll be a little messy… but kids love to cleanup with a vacuum too!)
Paper Clips. Paper clips are great for little hands and take kids time to clip together. They can make a chain, or a necklace, as long as they like!
You name a material! Tell me in the comments what you’d add to this list for keeping kids busy!