Well, it’s been quite the week with the US presidential election, but can we all just take a moment to appreciate how amazing it is that the Vice President of the United States is a woman of colour! Amazing. 2021 is already looking up.
While it’s been unseasonably warm in Toronto this week *yay* winter is coming and it’s likely you may have the kiddos home for a while over the Christmas break so I wanted to share a list of 11 fun ways to keep your kids busy at home this winter.
1. Exercise: Keep them moving
Get outside, even in the winter. It’s so helpful for kids brain development, energy and just re-setting any bad energy. Head to a playground, go skating or sledding. Play soccer or go for a bike ride.
Some organizations are still running group classes with social distancing including Little Kickers.
2. Read: Read with/to them
There are countless benefits to reading to and with your children on a daily basis starting from infancy. Reading helps children with language development, communication, social skills and promotes bonding between the parent and child. If your home library needs a refresh we can help. We have hundreds of books in stock and can happily order most titles commercially available for you as well.
Until November 14th you can take advantage of our amazing Book-A-Day advent calendar offer. Get 12 or 24 age appropriate books hand picked for your child.
3. Imagine: Encourage imaginative play
Imaginative play is so great for kids (and for you). It allows children to stretch their mind, develop important communication skills and process things happening in their lives through playful scenarios. Imaginative play is also thought to help children with program solving and self-regulation. Bonus for the parents: it’s often independent play and whether or not you’re involved you get a glimpse into their mind.
You don’t actually need much for imaginative play but some of my favourite toys are: a play kitchen, stuffed animals, play vehicles and role play or dress-up items. Toys like fancy Play-Doh sets, Lego/Duplo and the Fisher Price Little People sets are also awesome for promoting imaginative play. Below you will find some of our favourite items.
4. Music: Encourage them to sing and dance
Music helps children learn about rhythm. It helps improve their memory, allows them to express themselves and is just plain fun. You don’t need much for this activity. Youtube and all major music streaming services have tons of songs for kids. In my house we also use the Top Dance playlist on Amazon Music frequently for family dance parties.
For older children there are virtual music lessons where they can learn an instrument. Checkout Orrett Music Academy or your local music school for more information. For younger children there are amazing interactive zoom classes teaching fun songs, rhymes and rhythm. Fun with Music Together and Rainbow Songs both have virtual and outdoor options.
5. Puzzles: Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles
Puzzles help kids with concentration, spatial awareness, shape recognition, colour recognition, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, memory and self confidence. We have a huge range of puzzles for all ages -> check them out below. We also have some 500+ piece puzzles in our adult section.
We also carry puzzle books for older children, which offer many of the same benefits as physical jigsaw puzzles.
6. Cook: Make a meal together
Cooking together as a family promotes bonding, communication and teaches a life skill. For younger kids it is fun for them to help and for older kids it helps with reading and math. This activity can be done without anything special, just include your kids in one of the meals you’re making.
For younger kids a kitchen helper stool is amazing but pricey if you need to factor in shipping. Check local buy-sell groups or make one yourself.
If you have an older child, why not ask them to help with the meal planning or even cook one meal per week. We’ve all seen Masterchef Junior right?
7. Science: Conduct a science experiment
Not sure what kind of science experiment to conduct? Checkout these amazing activities for some inspiration.
8. Games: Play an old fashioned board or card game
Board games teach children about rules, decision making, communication, problem solving and consequences. Strategy games have become hugely popular for adults and now many are available in kids versions too. Checkout 401 Games for the best selection and prices of board games in Toronto.
We carry a small collection of memory matching and card games, as well as two board games part of our Eric Carle collection.
9. Create: Encourage your child to express themselves through art
Creative expression promotes confidence, fine motor skills, creatively and problem solving. It doesn’t have to be fancy, open art expression is great for kids imagination.
If you’re looking for a more guided way for your children to express themselves checkout Spark Journals’ Heart of a Hero Journal (linked below), which was designed by two Toronto-based Moms to promote confidence, gratitude and creativity.
We also carry a number of craft kits in a variety of medias. The Kiss Naturals kits are extra special because they are 100% natural, made with sustainable materials and Made in Canada.
If you’re looking for high quality kids art classes checkout Create Art Studio, offering virtual classes and birthday parties!
10. Technology: Teach technology
I am actually a parent who doesn’t do much screen time with my kids but my 3 year old loves Microsoft Word. Technology has a place in our lives. She is learning to spell words by typing them out because she loves feeling important typing on my laptop. I’m more than ok with this. For the older kids, use an online program to teach them how to type properly. Or have them make a powerpoint presentation for you. Better yet, teach your kids about coding because it’s going to open so many doors for them and is amazing for brain development of logical thinking.
We carry some early coding books that you can start with kids as young as 4 and of course some books geared towards older kids. Regardless of how old your kids are it’s never too late to start learning. Or checkout Little Robot Friends for kid-friendly coding classes.
11. Sensory Play: Get messy
This last one works best with younger children. Let them get messy and explore different media. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
- Put a blanket down and fill up a Rubbermaid container with water
- Give them some plastic measuring cups and let them practice pouring
- Add food colouring and teach them about colour mixing
- Add ice for fun
- Checkout water beads for a really fun sensory experience (note: these are a choking hazard for small children)
You can use rice, died lentils, Kinetic Sand and Play-Doh for other fun sensory games. You can even make Dr. Suess’s Oobleck for a really fun time.
That list should keep you busy for a while. Remember, you can do a lot with what you already have. Focus on the 11 types of activities listed here and get creative.
Did I miss anything? Drop a comment below with your favourite activities for kids.