Keeping an active toddler entertained is a full-time job Ã¢â‚¬â€ and even then it’s a challenge. My mother helps me with Pumpkin while I’m working, but despite a bevy of toys and books, the two of them can run out of things to do. After all, after a morning playing ball, reading board books, building towers with blocks, having conversations with the animals from Noah’s Ark and sorting shapes, what’s left for the afternoon?
To figure out an answer to that question, I recently purchased “The Toddler’s Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 1 1/2- to 3-Year-Old Busy” by Trish Kuffner. There’s a nice introduction with suggestions for stuff to include in a “busy box,” “rainy day box” and “job jar.” Lest you worry about child labor laws, the “jobs” include tasks like stacking towels and picking up toys. I really liked the two pages listing stuff to save that can be used in play, including aluminum foil, bubble wrap, cereal boxes, milk cartons, old toothbrushes, paper towel tubes, empty soda bottles, thread spools, wrapping paper scraps Ã¢â‚¬â€ and many more.
The activities in the book are sorted by type, like “Rainy Day Play,” “Early Learning Fun” and “Outdoor Adventures.” A lot of the activities are pretty simple to arrange, but have the potential to be a lot of fun. I went through the book and put Post-Its on the pages with ideas suitable for someone just over a year and a half old. A lot of the ideas are too advanced for Pumpkin now, but will be worth a try when she gets older.
One really, really easy idea is giving your toddler the sheets to play with on the day when you change the beds. The sheets can be used to make forts and tents. A more elaborate idea that I’m keen to try involves an empty 16-ounce soda bottle. You’re supposed to fill the bottle one-third full with water and add a few drops of food coloring and glitter. You fill the rest of the bottle with baby oil, and voilÃƒÂ , itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a Ã¢â‚¬Å“wave bottle.Ã¢â‚¬? (Kuffner wisely suggests gluing the cap shut.)
My mom already tried one idea: Line up empty soda bottles and “bowl” with a large ball. As a real bowler, I think my mom was keen to get Pumpkin started on the hobby. I didn’t get to see the game, but I heard it was a hoot.
If your kids are past the toddler years, Kuffner has also written several other idea books for older children, including “The Wiggle & Giggle Busy Book: 365 Creative Games & Activities to Keep Your Child Moving and Learning” and “The Children’s Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 7- to 9-year Old Busy.”
Have you ever used an activity book with your child? What books can you recommend to parents reading this blog?