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5 Easy DIY Toddler/Preschooler Activities

Tried and true – these 5 sensory activities help keep little ones busy and engaged. Great way to wind down from the holidays!

1. Homemade Play-dough

Kids always love squishing, rolling, cutting and moulding dough. Just mix 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons veggie oil, ½ cup of salt and about a cup of lukewarm water. Add more water or flour to get the consistency right. Divide the dough into several balls, make an indentation in the middle of each, add a couple drops of food colouring and knead to distribute the colour. Store in an airtight container; dough should keep for a couple of months without refrigeration.

2. Coloured Macaroni

A few varieties of medium-sized pasta (macaroni, fusilli, wheels, etc.) in different colours can keep a toddler engaged for some time, sorting, scooping, displacing and scattering. Dye the pasta by placing it in sealed jars with some white vinegar and a few drops of food colouring (one colour per jar). Shake to distribute the colour, and spread the pasta out to dry. The pasta will keep for a long time – our set is over two years old and still good for pretend kitchen play.

3. Sorting Station

Pick up some coloured pom-poms from the craft shop (or a variety store like Daiso), hand them to your tot with a muffin tin or multi-compartment container, and let the sorting fun begin! Cotton balls, large buttons and Fruit Loops also work well; toddlers can be instructed to sort the items by colour or size or anything, really. See what they come up with!

4. Water Play

Make your own water play station on the terrace or in the yard. Fill a large plastic washtub or storage container with water, and outfit it with water bottles, ladles, small buckets and bowls. You could also pre-make some ice “boats” by freezing coloured water in shallow containers. When launched into the water, the sensory activity becomes more interesting for small children.

5. Recycled Paper

Papermaking is another simple activity but it’s a bit more involved that the above. You will need old newspapers, a piece of window screening and some kitchen items. Get the kids to tear the paper into small pieces and soak them overnight in a dishpan filled with warm water. The next day, add more water and beat the mix into a pulp (or use a blender to pulverize it further). Add in whole flower heads, petals, small leaves or whatever the children have gathered, to add texture to the paper. Spread the pulp evenly on the screen, place a towel underneath and press out excess water with a flat object, such as a cutting board. When the sheet is dry, peel it off and use it for cards or gift tags.

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