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One of my most popular posts ever is the 64 Sick Day, Rainy Day, Any Day Activities to Do with a Toddler list. I wrote this in March of 2012 for my own amusement. It started out as me keeping track of all the things we did when the girl, who would have been two and half then, was home sick for a day. She’s very active even when she’s not feeling well, and we went through a lot of activities.
I beefed up the list to make it 64 things, because it was March and I was thinking March Madness.
Over the long (extra long, with two snow days tacked on at the end, then one day at school, one day off for ice and one more day on) winter break I started a new list for older kids, because I know it can be hard to keep coming up with activities when you’re stuck in the house for days.
So here’s a new list for preschoolers, which has a lot of the old list on it and some new things we’ve started in the past couple of years. I hope it will help you on your next snow day, sick day or any day you just need something, anything, for your kid to do.
- Put together puzzles. If you have one that’s just a little more difficult than you think your kid can handle (as long as they’ll persist and not get mad), now is a great time.
- Read. Of course. Always.
- Have a tea party. With or without real tea. We still just use tap water and pretend to drink it, but if your kid likes tea, go all out with china cups and real snacks.
- Dress up. This one can go on forever and be repeated indefinitely. If you have big dress up fans in your house you might put aside a special accessory or a new outfit to be unveiled next snow day or rainy day.
- Watch movies. We’re not big movie watchers with the girl yet. She’s seen Finding Nemo probably six times, and over the break she saw Toy Story for the first time. She likes Nemo better. But it can be fun to pile the whole family on the couch with some popcorn and a new-to-your-kids movie.
- Draw on the magnet board. Or use magnets on the magnet board. The girl is very interested in reading and spelling right now, and she got some new letters for Christmas, so this was a good one.
- Play with dress up dolls on the magnet board. Or any other games you might have for your board.
- Use printables. I’m not a huge fan of playing school, but free coloring and activity pages can be found in just about any theme, or using the alphabet, numbers or just about anything else your kid is interested in. If they don’t want to color on their own, this is one way to get them interested in art.
- Felt board. Our felt board doesn’t get a lot of use, but she has a set of letters and a few other shapes for it she sometimes plays with. We also had the felt snowman to play with this time around. Seasonal things are always good for the board.
- Painting. Of course. Fingerpaint, regular paint, add glitter to paint, whatever. Throw in something fun if you like, such as painting with a Q-tip or a sponge.
- Water paint. She’s still loving her little book.
- Dance. (File away for next year: family dance parties lit only by the Christmas tree are awesome!)
- Bake something. We made cupcakes, cookies and banana bread over the long break. It’s always fun to get in the kitchen together, and it’s great for kids to learn directions, math and more.
- Make constructions out of found objects. Twice recently, without any suggestion from me, the girl has made people out of random things she found in her playroom. I love it. And am now hesitant to throw anything away that might be used in a sculpture.
- Enjoy a special snack, whether it’s what you baked, or a mug of hot chocolate.
- If there’s snow, make snow ice cream. Or bring in a tub to play with.
- Make playdough. We made the regular recipe split four ways and colored red, green, yellow and blue.
- Blanket and pillow forts/tents. All the time. In every room.
- Pile up dolls in chairs, on the floor, all over the bed.
- Get in the doll basket.
- Build with blocks. We have about six different sets of blocks, from big cardboard blocks to alphabet blocks, and now magnet blocks and blocks that look like buildings in a town. So this one activity goes a long way for us.
- Play with a train set. Someday I assume the town blocks will go with the train. We’ll see.
- Play board games. We have Candyland, Chutes & Ladders and a Super Why reading game. She loves them all.
- Or card games. Uno (without the special cards) and Old Maid are current favorites.
- Catch ball. Or roll balls, stack balls, count balls, etc.
- Play with vehicles. The girl loves her Harold the helicopter, as well as building a car with Legos.
- Play with clay.
- Color (coloring pages or just paper).
- Bring back some old toys. The girl got into the toys headed for the attic and had a lot of fun with her old pounder toys and some old books and puzzles.
- String beads.
- Put stickers on everything.
- Make music.
- Play with the “calm down jar.” (There are a ton of tutorials for these online, but it’s basically just water and glitter glue. Shake, watch it swirl and chill out.)
- Play pretend. I’ll admit I’m not the best at this, but kids always seem to be game for playing store, library, cooking, dance class and on and on.
- Bring out the plastic Easter eggs. Hide them with random stuff inside or use them as musical instruments.
- Let your kid make up games, even if they make no sense to you. They will probably win. It will be OK.
- Use lacing cards or a learn-to-sew kit.
- Try to take a nap. Or at least have a snuggle together. Kids at this age are precious balls of energy. Savor it for a second if you can.
- Jump up and down and yell (I’m sure it will happen at some point).
This is just the beginning, of course, but it might get you thinking of some things to do next time you’re all getting stir crazy. I’d love your additions to the list.