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Activities and Supplies?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Micromom. Show Micromom's posts

    Activities and Supplies?

    Summer is coming and with two kids (2 and 4) at home, I'm going to need some activities.  In addition to a lot of outdoor play, and field trips, I'd like to have some simple stuff to keep them busy at home (arts & crafts, water play, cooking etc).

    My kids don't seem to be interested in plastic, electronic toys, they seem to like cardboard boxes, blocks, exploring, drawing, etc.

    I'm looking for suggestions on activities, and also stores for affordable, creative toys and supplies.  Any ideas?

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Micro - Some folks here have mentioned Discount School Supplies ( as a good resource for all types of activities. I have never actually ordered anything myself, though.

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from clc51510. Show clc51510's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Micro - check out Christmas tree.  I bought a container of 24 pieces of sidewalk chalk for $3 last week for DS's birthday party.  The little kids loved it!  Also, do you do pinterest? I always find amazing ideas on there.  If not it's definitely worth checking out but be careful you'll get hooked!


  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from ml2620-2. Show ml2620-2's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    My daughter can entertain herself for an hour if I put her in the tub with shaving cream I sometimes add a few drops of food coloring to make different colors. She'll paint the wall and herself and it all rinses off clean.

    Mama to 1 beautiful girl! age 2 

    I get tons of ideas from this website.

    My daughter has liked alot of these ideas, actually the biggest hit has been cleaning pennies, since we don't typically let her touch or play with money. (Emptying out the piggy bank and putting the money back in actually got me through folding 5 loads of laundry with her).

  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    I haven't tried it yet, but we recently purchased a very simple puppet making kit as a gift for our 3 y/o niece.  It doesn't really require a kit though.  The idea is to take white paper bags, and let kids decorate them.  Put faces on the bottom of the bags with googly eyes, and color the bags to be different animals.  

    I think the kit includes colored tape that the kids can adhere to the bag in patterns to make animal stripes, nose, mouth, etc.  Then when they are done, they can play with the new puppets.  Seemed like a fun and easy craft for toddlers, and that stuff could easily be purchased at any craft store.

    I'm still pg with my first kid, so this isn't my particular area of expertise! A while ago someone on these boards (CT.DC I think??) posted a wonderfully long list of toddler activities that I thought was so inspired, I copied & pasted it into a google doc for reference.  The link to the thread no longer works, maybe due to board migration, but I could copy & paste her wisdom again here, if she wouldn't mind...

  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from rama8677. Show rama8677's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    My DD loves playing at her water table.  (If you don't have a water table, I'd consider investing in one or you could even make your own with a large bucket filled with water).  We have lots of different water table toys - plastic cups, golf balls, tupperware, spoons, smooth rocks and sponges.  She likes experimenting with the different things and predicting which ones will float or sink. 

    One fun activity we did last summer was painting with pudding.  We made the pudding in the morning and took it outside on a kids plastic table in the middle of the yard and let her paint with it on fingerpainting paper.  It was very messy and lots of fun!  Then I hosed her down afterwards (on the gentle spray of course).  You could also do this with shaving cream.  Fun to explore different textures on the paper.

    Another outdoor activity we play is treasure hunt.  Get a bucket and make a list of common items that you may be able to find outside - pinecone, rock, stick, leaf etc. and have your daughters search for those items in the yard or on a walk.  Or, have them pick up rocks (or shells) and paint them or color on them.  My DD loves drawing on shells.

    Buy a bunch of balls of different sizes - my kids love to play with those.

    Chalk and bubbles are always a hit.

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    for rainy days we like Play-doh - and I got some simple plastic cookie cutters - they love having me roll out the dough and then they cut shapes.

    We also use Crayola paint - it is available at CVS and the Stop & Shop as well as Target etc. It's very washable. I put a plastic table cloth down on the kitchen table and let them go at it.

    I get lots of paper and stickers at Michaels.

    Lego Duplos keep us occupied for hours on end

    We recently did a sand art project and they loved it! Pouring the different colored sand into a plastic bottle and making designs was a seriously good time!

    We like baking cookies and brownies - they love to help! Of course sugar cookies are fun too - they can cut out the shapes with the cutters. I've even just bought the Pillsbury stick of dough at the store and rolled it out for them.

    My kids love to help plant things too. Get some herbs, a tomato plant or some flowers and let them help dig holes and water the plants afterwards.

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    I second play dough.  I remember seeing how to make it on Mr. Rogers, and we made it that night.  It was the best play dough ever - it felt far better in my hands than the commercial version, and I remember making it with my great-grandmother...special memory.  I was 4.

    Discretion is the better part of valor.
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from Micromom. Show Micromom's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Thanks so much everyone, these are great ideas, and I'll be using every single one!  Please keep them coming.

    Siena09, I'd love that list if you've still got it.

    I'll add an idea of my own, after moving we had a lot of boxes.  I keep them in the basement (folded flat), every once in a while I take them out and the kids use them like giant blocks to build huge forts, color on, etc.  When they get bored, I just fold them up and put them away for a while.  I pick up new boxes as I come across them, to replace the ragged ones.

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    If it's sunny you can always have them paint the boxes (outside on the lawn, in their undies).  If it's warm there's easy clean up (hose the kids off/put on the sprinkler) after and then the boxes are there to play with once they're dry. 

    Check out your local public library to see what kind of drop-in activities they have.  Many have at least one story hour a week.  My library is air conditioned and has a big playground outside too.  It's great for at least 3 hours worth of fun.

  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Okay, here I'm copying & pasting the old post.  I think the credit goes to CTDC, but I didn't write that part down. Sorry if the formatting is funky. 

    look at this website and buy products from them:


    this is where we buy many paint, paper, etc. supplies and they sell in large and small quantities.  I'm not sure if it's less expensive than buying paint, paper, etc. from staples, michaels, toysrus, target - I think it is, though.  buy WASHABLE non toxic tempera paint - it's much easier to wash off.  also do NOT buy the magenta or aqua blue colors - for some reason even though they are washable they leave a residue of color on white walls, hands and clothing.  the other colors don't, but aqua blue and magenta do.  wierd.  


    lots of great ideas added above, I'd add doing lots of open ended painting and gluing projects  - rather than making a 'something' just buy paper in long rolls, cut to fit kitchen table, give them each a brush and a small amount of paint in their own paint cups and let them go to town.  if one has red the other uses blue when they mix together they'll get purple...  science! blue and yellow make...   


    when you do open ended activities you aren't focusing on the right way, or even having a right way - they are simply learning and exploring the various media.  markers, crayons, tempera paint, water color paints - all do different things and produce different effects - it takes lots of experience and kids love just using them.  


    do buy a few chubby paint brushes, but you can also paint with other things, like sponges (small), plastic forks, pinecones, small plastic cars and trucks.  if you use black paper with bright colored paint and use forks for painting you have art worthy of framing (great father's day gifts)


    save catalogs and calendars for kids to rip to shreds now - and start using small (blunt end) scissors for cutting.  yes, cutting... the rule is they must sit still, and you sit with them - your daughter might enjoy this, your son would probably get into the ripping.


    have a shredding party with newspapers - toddlers just love to rip stuff, and this is legal ripping.


    buy a cheap shredder and after you shred various documents - or just put colored paper through the shredder - you get really fun stuff to glue onto paper!


    also, take plastic cars, legos, bristle blocks, etc and for painting - cars make great tracks in the paint, and legos etc. make great prints.  it's interesting for children to see their legos, cars, in a different light. cookie cutters make good prints once children get used to doing it.  


    foot painting - but only OUTSIDE with twins!  put paper down in the driveway, a low baking dish with just enough paint to wet the bottom, then they step in and walk away.  you can do this in the kitchen, and we do this with about 3 or 4 children at a time, but it's messy and our center is designed to get messy - your livingroom carpet is NOT.  and with twins....  I'd not try this inside yet.


    buy clear contact paper and they can stick lots of things to it, including collecting leaves, sticks, pine needles and stick them on their collage.  using contact paper makes it less messy.  the shredded paper is fun to stick on contact paper.  they can rip tissue paper and stick it on the contact paper, then hang those in the windows for a stained glass effect.  you can buy foam shapes and they can stick them to contact paper... and when you're ready, use glue.  children have a hard time with glue, because it doesn't stick instantly, and they get confused.  use paint brushes to spread the glue on the paper (it's too hard to squeeze those bottles at this age) and then they can stick anything to the paper.


    you can buy dot paints which are fun to use - they are like bingo paint dots used in bingo halls, you can either just buy the bingo dot painters or refillable ones (discount school supply sells these, we buy them).  I sometimes find the refillable ones aren't all that great, just easier to buy various colors of bingo dot paints.  but they are cool and you can HIT them to the paper and make splotches!  but you can also drag them on the paper and make lines...  very satisfying.  


    put down contact paper upside down on the kitchen floor (you'll need to tape it to the floor with masking tape or clear packing tape) and walk over it in bare feet, then also drive trucks over it - stick legos, etc. to it - this is a fun and less messy activity.


    texture activities are also fun.  buy them each a low dishpan (so they don't have to share and have enough space to work) and fill with flour, oatmeal, uncooked noodles, rice, beans, lentils - it's so much fun to feel a texture, then use small scoops and spoons to fill and dump, and small trucks to drive through the texture.  they just feel really good and children love textures. plus, different things behave differently with spoons, scoops, cups, etc.  like using a sandbox at the park, only inside.  you can reuse the textures - just store in a container that is labeled - for play only, not for dinner (ugh). for children who are frustrated, angry, hyper - texture play will usually calm them down. it works for mothers and teachers - plunge your hands into a bucket of beans and your blood pressure instantly decreases, it's amazing!  that's also true for playdough, but you said you do that already.  


    if you mix cornstarch and warm water you get ooblick.  go slow with the water, you don't need much - it will look like white liquid on the top, solid under the white water, and when you take it in your hands and roll it or move it, you can get it to form a ball, but when you stop moving it it turns back into liquid.  SO COOL!  each child gets their own in a small bowl.  when it splashes on a shirt, floor, table, etc. once it dries it just brushes off so it is really easy to clean up.  just let the lumps and mess dry in place, then sweep away. don't add food coloring to this, though, because the food coloring will ruin clothing and stain tables, walls, etc.  


    cook with children - if you can stand it, which i cannot, but cooking is science at it's best.  and it's science - adding vinegar makes things foam up, liquid when added to flour changes the texture, cracking eggs is cool - you can make cookies, dump it cakes, banana bread and other easy things.  they can do lots of the work, like stirring, dumping after you measure it, pouring the liquid in, etc.  all of this is good for cause and effect, fine and gross motor, delayed gratification, etc.


    buy bean bags and music for listening - can you put the beanbag on your arm? on your shoulder - on your head - you can lead it at the beginning, then there are CDs with songs do this, too for older children.


    play simon says - only you won't try to "catch them' yet - simon says touch your head, touch your nose, wiggle your fingers...


    I also made up a chant and do this whenever they have to wait - tap tap tap your nose, tap your nose, tap your nose, tap tap tap your nose, tap tap tap.  wiggle, wiggle, wiggle your fingers, wiggle your fingers.....  ad nauseum.  it keeps their interest, and they are learning various body parts and actions, too.  then they can take turns picking something to do and being the leader.


    buy rhythmn sticks and the CD that goes with them for tapping and listening skills.  these are NOT to be left down all the time, but when you are guiding their play.


    buy inexpensive and not heavy flashlights, turn off the lights and have light shows. kids love to shine them and see what happens.  you could introduce shadow play, too, if you have a wall they can see their shadows on as they wave their arms, touch each other's arms, their head, etc.  


    paint on shoe boxes, rocks you collect outside, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, small boxes, etc.  if you have LARGE boxes it's really fun to paint on those - since you get to stand up to paint.


    you may want to buy them an easel, each child paints on their side for days when they juts can't get along.  at this point put out 1 or 2 colors each, they can increase to having more colors as they get used to painting and staying STILL at the easel.  


    biuy small chalk boards and their own erasers and chalk (both sidewalk chalk and regular sized chalk) to use at the table.


    markers and crayons - your son might like washable markers more than crayons as markers require less pressure to make your mark.  even just taking off the covers and putting them back on develops good fine motor skills.


    buy small rolling pins, plastic cookie cutters, plastic knives (they are very safe) and plastic forks for playdough so kids can practice cutting, printing, rolling, squeezing, pinching, pushing, and learning about part-whole relationships.  


    yes, buy duplos, bristle blocks, wood blocks for open ended building - buy match box cars so you always have enough cars and can make a garage.  buy small animals so you can build a zoo.  


    they can make instruments out of rice, lentils, beans and put into plastic water or juice bottles, seal with electric tape or glue the covers back on if you feel like they'll open them later - we have these out all the time for exploration in both infant and toddler rooms (we do seal the lids so it's not a choking hazard) - different amounts and different things make different sounds.  Also, make swirl bottles - a bit of food coloring in water, then add a little bit of cooking oil or mineral oil to the water and when you shake them they are different than shaking colored water.  you can add plastic items inside, too, that will move around when you shake them... or add some glitter.  


    stand at the big kitchen sink on chairs and fill it with water, small boats, funnels, scoops - water play is a HUGE hit.  take their shirts off and let them go to town!  sometimes you can put some bubbles in, sometimes they can wash their dolls or a few toys, other times just put various sized funnels in plain (warm) and they'll love it.

    buy small spray bottles and fill with very watered down paint - and spray on paper, or spray on paper in the middle of the grass outside.  it's fun to make splatter paint! add liquid dish soap to the water and it's easier to clean if they spray hits the floor.


    oh, save some diaper wipe boxes, wrap paper inside, put a golf ball inside with a blob of paint and SHAKE!  not only do you make a cool sound, use your large motor skills to SHAKE, but when you open it the ball has made interesting patterns on the paper....  you can use shoe boxes the same way, and they can take the cover off and ROLL the box to watch the ball making tracks.  if you get a larger box they can work together, one on each end, to lift the box up and down, tilting it to watch the golf or tennis ball make paint tracks.  too fun.


    another hint to extend toddler's interest in an activity:  don't give them all the stuff at once.  for example, get out the playdough and forks.  as they start to lose interest, but not before they do, add cookie cutters, or plastic knives, or legos to make prints.  if you toss it all on the table they tend to use each thing once and then want to move on.  if they have 1 or 2 items they investigate those, you can encourage them to try other things so they develop other skills or investigate ways of using a tool they haven't yet.  Use leading questions rather than showing them how to do it - sometimes you want to instruct, but mostly you want to encourage them to work something out, experiment, etc.  Questions like  Can you cut like this? i wonder what happens if you push the legos down HARD in the playdough?  oh, DD, can you do it like DS is doing?  I'll make some balls for you and you can squish them....  with a paintbrush, you can ask them wow, can you make looooonng lines?  thin lines? thick lines?  ....  not always asking these type of questions, mostly you just want them to explore themselves, but after they have lots of experience and they seem a bit bored with plain ol' brushes, you can challenge them... can you make really thin lines? thick lines?

    oh, you can also paint with toothbrushes, or combs, or apples cut in half.  the trick with painting is not to put too much in the cup or bowl, have them sit across from each other at the table, and have you sit with them, too.  


    yes, invest in smocks, or just take their shirts off.  


    oh!  use cool whip or shaving cream for fun texture play! jello is a fun texture activity, too - they can make some to eat for dessert tonight tomorrow, but another color they can play with.  and if they eat it, who cares?  if they still put lots of things in their mouths or are apt to get it on their faces (smearing faces is fun!) then you should use cool whip rather than shaving cream.... the whipped cream from the spray can is the most fun because of the fun way it comes out of the can.  also, getting that edge gel that changes from green gel to shaving cream when you touch it with wet hands is FUN! again, only if they won't rub it in their eyes or eat it...


    oh, you can also paint on tinfoil, wax paper, fingerpaint paper, sand paper for another texture - the paint works differently on different surfaces.


    oh, and outside, you can paint with plain old water on the house, wall, sidewalk, anywhere - it's just water so it dries but it's cool!

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    ML, I love that shaving cream idea!!

    Siena - thanks for posting CT's email. :)

  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    My kids also like it when I give them construction paper, a glue stick and stuff to glue on - pompoms, confetti, pipe cleaners (which are now called chenille sticks). They also like sticking the pipe cleaners into a styrofoam and making "bugs" or alien spaceships etc.

    Make sure to pick up some googlie eyes at Michaels so you can turn their creations into animals.

  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Yup, that was my post, and I'm fine with your reposting it, of course, everything is public.  wow, that was long.

    Discount School Supplies sells googly eyes, beads, gimp, chenille sticks (although they may still call them pipe cleaners, lol) and you might find it's less expensive than Michael's - I LOVE MICHAEL's but you can spend a million dollars there in about 30 minutes. 

    yes, a water table is the best! Are there reasonably priced ones out there?  maybe discount school supplies? Rama, where did you get your water table?  I know toys r us doesn't have those basic toys, it's all (sigh) about plastic toys with batteries, sound, lights, etc.  I was so upset at a babies r us in their infant rattle section that I almost had a flying come-apart. I couldn't BELIEVE that the rattle/young infant section at Target was so much better than a babies r us which, you know, um, specializes in babies????  And I had to make two freakin' trips because I was already at the stupid babies r us. 

    childcare centers have light tables, sensory tables, sand tables, water tables but we use them for many years and for many children and you'd only get a few years out of them so you need to be careful with what you spend. 

  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Try the dollar store--Good for stickers, markers, construction paper, sponges to cut up to make stamps, fabric flowers, seeds and flower pots, etc.  Also good for cheap dishes, measuring cups and spoons, and utensils for play kitchen instead of getting the toy ones. 

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from rama8677. Show rama8677's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    Our water table wasnt very expensive. I think it was around $39 or so. It is the Spiraling Seas one and comes with little balls and a cup.  I am sure they have fancier ones but DD probably would like a simple bucket filled with water - doesn't have to be fancy. 


    ETA -we got it at toys r us

  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    oh, my, gosh, just googled the spiraling seas water table, it's from  little tikes and looks SOOO GREAT!!!  Yes, everyone, if you have a porch, back yard, deck, or tiny balcony, GET THAT!  wow, with the tubes where you can pour water down, oh, so fun!

    although I know it's a world of plastic, I do love little tikes, so much of their stuff is incredibly durable. 

  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Activities and Supplies?

    I got my water table last July or August at Toys R Us and it was about $15, they were all on sale at that point! We love it!