Ten creative activities to entertain small kids

Keeping small kids entertained and happy can be hard work. Luckily help is at hand from parent coach and all-round creative genius Sue Atkins

Young children - particularly pre-schoolers - are curious little people who love to explore, but keeping them busy and engaged during the day can be quite a challenge. Here are some simple, fun and educational ideas to make life with them creative and enjoyable.

1. Blow Bubbles

Always keep a tub of bubbles handy in the kitchen. You can buy them very cheaply from pound shops and they often come with lots of different size and shaped pipes to make unusual bubbles, which your little one will love popping, catching or blowing. Why not make your own bubble solution out of washing-up liquid to save yourself some money? Let your child stand at the kitchen sink and play with some bubbles too - they'll love getting messy and looking at the rainbows.

2. Make a Necklace

Making necklaces and bracelets is a brilliant way to have fun, but also a great way to develop your little one's dexterity. You can buy large beads or buttons in most toy and craft shops which kids can thread themselves onto coloured wool. I remember my kids spending hours playing with my spare button box and a length of wool! But remember to tape the end to make it easy to thread and at the other end to stop all the beads from falling off. Also make sure they are old enough not to put the beads in their mouth.

3. The Magic Paint Brush

My own kids used to love playing outside with a bucket of water and some paintbrushes, having enormous fun just making pictures with water on the patio that dried up easily with no mess. They can paint in the bath too!

4. Make a Person

Trace the shape of your child onto a large sheet of paper, then let them colour in and draw their own clothes, hair and face. Glue on some wool for hair and use old fabric for their clothes and use real buttons or even real shoelaces on their shoes or trainers.

Keep a supply of things like toilet paper tubes, old boxes, buttons, feathers, sequins and glitter around for creating - particularly on wet days. Just keep an eye on your child when they are creating and working with small parts as you don’t want to end up in A&E if they’ve popped something up their nose!

Potatoes are also wonderful for artistic activities. You can stick all kinds of things in a potato like feathers, twigs or straws, and you can cut out shapes and paint with them.

5. Finger Paint

Kids LOVE finger painting but have you thought of doing it with shaving cream or squirty cream on the kitchen table or in the bath? Or why not try filling a tray with sand, salt or flour and letting them draw pictures or trace letters in it?

6. Scissor Fun

Pre-schoolers love to cut and stick. So get out all your (and their) old magazines, Christmas or birthday cards and help them cut and stick the pictures onto a collage. Just remember to buy plastic safety scissors designed for young children’s fingers to avoid any injuries.

7. Read a Book

Read to your little one every day and sing nursery rhymes. Children love being read to and it develops their language and vocabulary skills, too. Point to words so they begin to get the idea that we read from left to right across the page. It’s a good idea to make sure you have baskets of books always around at their level so they can dip in and out of a book when they feel like it.

8. Paint wax-resist eggs

Get some hard boiled eggs, some wax crayons and food colouring and draw pictures or designs onto the eggs. Then dip the eggs in the dye - the dye won’t soak through the crayon so your child will love discovering their patterns.

9) Pots and pans

Give your kids some clean, empty pots and pans and wooden spoons and let them play. They'll either pretend to cook, or turn the pans upside-down to make a racket! A very simple, old-fashioned idea that kids love.

10. Water Play

Kids love water so why not let them play with it? Fill the sink or bowl with warm water and let them wash saucepan lids, toys and cutlery. It’s a good idea to put a towel under their chair at the sink to soak up all the drips - it also stops them from slipping.

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Find out more

Sue Atkins is the author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" and runs Positive Parents.

You can check out easy to do craft ideas for toddlers at Kids Crafts.

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