Kids are some of the most creative and imaginative little creatures, so why not find activities that will encourage this further?!
It can be a lot of fun to watch our children explore all of their different senses and to spark curiosity that allows them to grow and learn.
When we support our children’s creativity and imagination, we are helping to cultivate new ways of thinking and problem-solving skills. These are essential skills to thrive in life and it also promotes physical, emotional and mental growth.
On the other hand, sometimes we just need to keep our children entertained and hope they do not burn down the house in the process.
Mama is tired and needs a few minutes to herself. I hear you. I am you.
I have found, what I believe, to be 10 of the best activities for young children that they will actually enjoy for longer than 5 minutes.
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The great thing about Legos is the variety for all ages. For younger toddlers, Lego has Duplos, which are bigger and easier to handle, and not a chocking hazard. There are sets available that can really get little ones excited about building. You can turn any child into a Lego fan – there are car sets, trains, Minnie and Mickey, Disney Princess, Toy Story, restaurants, animals and so much more.
There are legos available for all ages (my husband even gets the architecture sets)! What I love so much about Lego goes beyond the hour-long self-directed play sessions, but the learning that takes place. Legos make learning fun. When building, children are exploring their creativity, practicing problem-solving skills, fine motor perfection, and for little ones, even numbers and colors. By encouraging your child’s curiosity, you are teaching them lessons that go beyond that of a school classroom.
Water tables can be used for more than just water play! Allow your child to use their imagination and see what they come up with. If it is a rainy or chilly day, bring the table indoors and use kinetic sand.
Add a little dish soap for some bubbles and have a car wash station, or add a few drops of food coloring to make the water look murky and add alligators and sharks.
Take the kids outdoors and have a nature scavenger hunt. Luckily, we live near many creeks and ponds with walking paths, so nature is everywhere! Otherwise, head to the nearest park. Encourage your children to collect sticks, rocks, flowers, etc. These items are often the best for self-directed play, because children can turn them into anything they wish! Print your copy here.
Find as many rocks as you can in various sizes for the kids to paint and decorate. Trust me, the kids will have just as much fun hunting for rocks as they do actually decorating them!
Kids love different textures, colors and scents, so keep them entertained with play snow. This is a great activity no matter what the season. We don’t get a lot of snow here in Kentucky, but it sure gets cold enough. So this activity is also exciting for my little ones. I also use this particular activity when our elf visits from the North Pole.
This play snow recipe is easily doubled and stores in a tupperware for a few weeks, no problem. It is cold to the touch, soft, but not sticky and it smells amazing.
My 3 year old plays with her little figures in this snow recipe, but has also used barbies, my little ponies, lego minifigs, Peppa and more. This is also a great writing activity for older children who are practicing their letters. Take a popsicle stick and draw a letter in the snow, and have them imitate that.
Coloring, drawing, painting, glueing etc are all great creative outlets for children. All it takes is a sheet of paper and a few crayons or markers. Stickers are a great accessory to keep on hand as well, especially for the little ones.
Artistic expression is so important for kids on many levels. When children express their creativity, they are also learning basic math skills (colors and numbers), motor skills (paint brush stroke, crayon grip), decision making and problem solving skills, as well as science (mixing colors).
Most importantly, allowing a child to simply experiment and make mistakes can also boost their self-confidence; becoming more willing to take risks.
My son loves to turn art into a game. He often plays the “3 marker challenge” with us or friends.
How to play the “3 marker challenge”:
Close your eyes and choose only 3 markers from the pile. The markers you choose are the only colors you can use. Each participant has the same picture to color or object to draw. Sounds simple, but it’s a fun challenge!
For littler ones, grab an art easel and some washable paint. Try shaped sponges, or even allow them to finger paint. This is one of the best activities for summertime, because when they are done, just hose them off!
Racetrack From Tape
My favorite part of this activity is my children helping to create the track. Grab a roll of colorful painters tape and create a track on the floor. We do this on our family room floor because it is carpet and super easy and quick to clean up.
Grab the hotwheels or any toy cars and trucks and allow your children to create their own little town. Mine like to make bridges out of legos, add trees, houses and people.
This is a great activity for a rainy day!
The Floor is Lava
My kids cannot be the only ones who absolutely love this activity! We take the pillows and cushions from our couch and place them randomly on the floor. The point of the game is to stay off of the carpet, because the floor is lava.
This activity is fun and a great way for my kids to play together. There is minimal arguing and a lot of teamwork. They must work together to get from one cushion to the next, practicing their communication skills. Communication and social skills are important in every situation throughout school and into adulthood. By allowing the kids to set their own terms for the games they play, they are also displaying leadership skills and problem-solving skills.
This one is just as it sounds – turn on some music and have a dance party. My kids love this because they get to choose the music and can show off their awesome dance moves too.
Dancing is great exercise and completely FREE. Use your TV, Alexa, computer and radio and have fun!
A fun extra: turn off the lights and add glow sticks/necklaces. To encourage the activity to last longer, have a “dance-off”. Try a 10-minute challenge where the kids have to dance for 10 minutes straight – they will have so much fun that they’ll want to keep dancing.
Sensory bins are not just for toddlers. My (almost) 7 year old enjoys them as well. What I love most about sensory bins is you can literally put anything in them! Use a large rubbermaid, or other plastic containers. I’ve even used deep sheet pans before.
What to add to a sensory bin:
Honestly, the options are endless. Just encourage kids to be creative and curious. One of our favorite bins is a two-section bin with half mud/dirt with plastic animals or cars and the other half with soap and water. The kids can get the toys super dirty then wash them off.
I know a lot of kids today much prefer video games and television over actual play, but I remember enjoying board games when I was little. We had a family night every Friday with pizza, games and a movie.
Have a variety of games on hand, ranging from interactive games like Soggy Doggy and Shark Bite, to card games like UNO and Go Fish. The kids can play together or even solo. My daughter loves getting the games out and just moving the pieces around and talking to them. Again, let their imagination run free.
When we encourage learning through play, we are cultivating creative and imaginative children who will thrive in life. Children need an artistic outlet to express themselves, promoting problem-solving and communication skills. As children grow in their ability to create and problem-solve on their own, they also grow in self-confidence and self-esteem.
What are some of your child’s favorite activities?