- Storytelling/ Read A Loud
Children love to hear stories. You can tell stories about your own childhood and how it was like growing up. It’s a good chance for the kids to get to know the younger you. You can use simple story books. Don’t be afraid to be animated and to act out the story. Just imagine you are the child and you’ll know how to read the story well! Oh, don’t do it perfectly or else, you’ll have to do that again and again for many, many bedtime nights!I have to say that this experience has been one of our ( my hubby Gilbert and myself) most favorite times with our children! And countless stories, relayed again and again, have bonded us indeed for life!
As they got older, I began to use chapter books which was read one chapter at a time.
2. Pretend Play
No wonder places like Kidzania are a hit! Smaller children love doing pretend play. They become “kings” as they pretend and they can out their imagination and enjoy. So create scenarios! Sometimes it could be as simple as pretend conversations but on other days, do the works and go all out with props and costumes !
Act out favorite stories! You may also include popular Bible Stories with important character lessons.
4. Messy Time !
For many years, “Mess” seemed like our 5th child. It went wherever we went. Oh, but we had so much fun with all the mess. We always had regular play dough time ( dough was either home made or store bought) We would create stories out of our creations or make play food and pretend we were in a restaurant. Or toys can actually have a party, play dough with plastic animals was always a winner.
I also made sure we had good quality, washable tempera or poster paint, brushes, sponges, mixing plates or palettes and all kinds of painting surfaces. Aprons were easy reach.
Involve your children in clean up. My kids loved cleaning paint brushes and they were thrilled to see how all the colors mixed! They also enjoyed using sponges with lots of foamy cleaning soap !
5. Water Play
This can be done using a water table or a giant basin on top of a toddler or preschool level table. Or it may be done during bath time. Just provide all sorts of water containers and gadgets (plastic pails, measuring cups, squirt bottles, water gun, watering cans, 50 or 15 ml syringes ( without needles, ok?) Some stores sell ” water toys” like a water and sand mill . Give the kids a treat by adding drops of water color to your water.
You may even disguise this time as a s fun ” cleaning time” where kids wash their toys or even shoes.
6. Sand Box Time
If we lived in countries where play sand is easily accessible, we can really maximize “sand play”. Returning home from a 2 year stay in London, I packed a bag or two of play sand for our two toddlers. This water and sand table from Early Learning Center London could be used for either water and water toys or sand and sand toys. It was our gift to our son who turned 1 year old. It was so useful for us as 3 more kids used it as well.
In Manila, we purchased a giant crab sandbox with cover and had a whole lot of “sand play” in our earlier homeschool experiences. We would recreate scenes like farm life with plastic animals and plants. Even use a small basin as a pond! Or we would create a “beach scene” with water animals.
7. Wooden Blocks/ Wooden Train Time
Wooden blocks, trains and tracks offer limitless possibilities. From building a castle or a fort , to using the blocks/connecting tracks to create a whole town; toys that can be used and reused, created and recreated are simply the best toys.
8. Kitchen Time: Cooking/ Baking
Toddlers or preschoolers can be able to help with simple baking or cooking duties like mixing, breaking the egg, measuring some simple ingredients, forming cookies using a mold or cookie cutter. For cooking, preschoolers can cut simple vegetables or fruits. They can help tossing the ingredients into the recipe.
9. Dance & Movement
10. Go Outdoors.
Take a nature walk. Go out into the rain! Visit the park. Fly a kite. Catch an insect. Go to an open field, set up a picnic and run around on a cool and windy day.
Oh, this post made me really look back with both a smile in my face and an ache in my heart. The toddler and preschool years were really one of a kind and may you make the most of this season as you think of activities to bond. Hope this list helps!