5 Simple Activities to do with your Toddler or Preschooler

Do you ever forget about the simple things you used to do to entertain yourself as a child? I’m convinced that this world has gotten far too complex. In the quest to always get better, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty that comes with tried and true activities that have brought joy to children and adults alike for decades.

While I’m all for improving upon things, I’ve learned one incredibly profound thing when it comes to doing activities with my son. He loves the simple things. He isn’t impressed by cute fonts or the latest idea for teaching him to count.

I like cute things, and I’m sure he will too as he gets older, but in the meantime, I need to relax sometimes. So I’m working to find a balance between embracing the old-school ideas and occasionally adding some new flare to them. Here are some of our favorite classic things to do together.

1. Playing with playdough. The possibilities are endless with this ball of squishiness! If you want to make your own, a friend of mine passed along a recipe that is superb. I know she found it on a blog somewhere, but unfortunately I do not know which one. If you know, please let me know so I can give appropriate credit.

Playdough Recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tbs. cooking oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
food coloring if desired

Mix all the dry ingredients.  Add cooking oil, water, and food coloring.  Cook in an electric skillet on low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Continue cooking until the dough becomes a large ball.  This process takes no more than 3 minutes.  Empty the dough onto waxed paper and knead until smooth and cool.  Store in a plastic bowl or zip-lock bag.

2. Hide and Seek. All participants have so much fun playing together that they forget more is happening than fun. Kids are learning counting skills and critical thinking skills by coming up with new hiding places as well as memory skills by remembering your tricky hiding spots from last time.

3. Make and fly paper airplanes. There are a million tutorials on YouTube if you need a refresher course.

4. Create an original picture. Put away the printables and agendas for making something specific and get out the crayons, paper, and glue. Help your child make the masterpieces they have stored up in their minds.

5. Cook together. Is it messy? Most of the time. Will you feel a bit stressed? Probably so. But it is so worth it to share those memories with your child. I’m grateful that my mom wasn’t afraid to let me get in there and help in the kitchen as a little girl. Learning to cook was not intimidating to me because it was something I had always done. I try to do the same thing with Dash. We have had egg on our floor and milk poured all over the counter instead of the mixing bowl, but honestly, this only happens rarely. He generally shows incredible self-control, and in the meantime he’s learning skills in following directions, sequencing, and math.

I love and appreciate the millions of creative new ideas out there, and we do incorporate them into our list of things to do. In fact, I’m hoping to share some of our favorites finds from the minds of creative, loving moms out in Internet land sometime soon. But in my quest to spend quality time teaching my child, I pray that I never forget about the simple things. Learning and joy can come without laminating, pinning, or planning.

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