Our lives get busy, our schedules get full, and sometimes we forget to do the simple things with our small children. We forget how much fun it is! We forget how much kids love learning with us. Simple activities can provide lots of learning, fun, love, and memories.
- You can use plywood leaned against the fence for an “easel,” trash bags for art smocks (cut holes for head/arms), and egg cartons to hold paints. Grow some artists!
- Chalk on the driveway, sidewalk, or patio. Draw favorite things, real or imaginary. Some choices are houses, towns, places, people, and pets!
- Blowing bubbles is always a favorite!
- Skates, bikes, scooters. These are good for ages two and up.
- Activities include kicking, throwing, fetching, and bouncing. These can also be fun with a dog. It’s a win-win!
- ABC photo project. Find something to photograph or draw in the house or yard that begins with each letter of the alphabet. (You can frame your results or make them into a book or album.)
- Pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, Legos, and blocks. Get creative with these; there are so many things to design and build!
- Nature walks. These provide great exercise plus a lovely chance to observe the beauty of creation!
- Rocks, sticks, and leaf collecting. All types of collecting can be fun and educational.
- Chase them and talk about all the beautiful colors.
- Enjoy finding all types of wildflowers, and pick them where permitted.
- Watch for and listen to birds, and try to match your findings to pictures or recordings.
- Have a picnic! Snack or meal in backyard or the park! Always a hit!
- Choose and install a birdhouse and watch to see which birds are attracted to it!
- Place magnetic letters on the refrigerator or metal baking sheets. They can spell the names of family, friends, and pets. Even a non-reader can match magnetic letters to what you have written.
- Make music. Use kids’ instruments or pots and spoons to make a joyful noise!
- Sing kids’ songs together. Kids love these songs, and you probably have good memories of them too! There is plenty of time later for more pop and adult types of music—let those wait.
- Read aloud. Reading is almost the most important thing ever! Read stories that show your values regarding families, adventures, and service to others. Keep reading aloud until they’re grown!
- Learn a foreign language. Learn basic words of a foreign language or some simple sign language. There is no better age to start this!
- Do crafting. The Internet is full of ideas for crafts!
- Play educational games. These can be with video, computer, or phone apps. They can be fun, but you will probably want to set limits!
- Prepare and cook food. It’s so easy to squeeze lemons to make lemonade or bake something sweet. You can even find no-bake recipes. Kids love to be in the kitchen.
- Make a drawing for a friend or relative. This can be just for fun or actually to send or deliver as a birthday greeting. (Other refrigerators need children’s artwork too!)
- Record the kids singing or speaking a birthday wish. You can save it to text folks when their special day comes—so special!
- Visit an older friend, relative, or neighbor with your children. This can be such a blessing to all involved! You might want to take them a drawing, some fresh-picked wildflowers, or a jar of fresh lemonade.
- Use dress-up clothes to act out Bible stories.
- Memorize a Bible verse that begins with each letter of the alphabet! Review them often!
- Watch videos that are worthy of your time and encouraging to your children. These can be missionary biographies and other chosen themes!
- Make sock puppets. Glue or sew buttons, yarn, or other types of trim onto stray socks, and put on a show!
- Boost your animal knowledge with animal flash cards. You get photos and facts, and children love them!
- Learn and practice saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Take photos of you and your small children doing many things together. Don’t forget to include pictures with friends and pets.
- Make a photo album every year that includes many of your pictures. You’ll thank me later.
When your children are old enough to read this list, let them choose what they wish to do with you, a sibling, or alone.
When your school-aged children are on summer break, make a modified list for them to choose from. This list prevents the “I’m bored. What can I do?” chorus from repeating all day! For example, you might have requirements for each day that can be from the list below.
- Educational games
- Pet time
- Musical practice
- Exercise and play outside
- Free time for game systems or to call friends
It’s so much nicer to just say “check the list,” and let your children find meaningful things to do each day. They are still learning and still having fun! Now is the time! Remember the simple fun! Gather your small children and get started today! You can have lots of learning and lots of fun! Don’t waste a minute! They’ll be grown too soon!
Dava Banner has been married for thirty-seven years and has three fine sons. She and her family live on a small farm in Crouse.