Toddler adventures in lockdown

Cookie cutters and water beads, and saving my own sanity.

Gosh none of this is easy right now is it? Staying at home has lots of positives and time together is a special thing. But with winter and some rough weather, the pressures of home school, jobs, businesses, the house (or the dump as it is more commonly known now!), and everything in between, it has felt very very tough at points. Lockdown 3.0 is a bumpy ride.

We are an outdoors family through and through. By that I don’t mean we are always to be found outdoors climbing mountains or camping in the wild (although those things are awesome). We love movie days and cosy afternoons playing games. We have a strong affection for hot chocolate and baking, and our pyjamas are our favourites… But we do love being outside. It is our natural choice, our happy place and just what our very energetic two boys need on a daily basis!

So, being confined to a small area and being forced to spend a great deal of time at home has definitely presented its challenges as well as its joys. We make sure we go outside every day. And I genuinely do mean that. We go out somewhere every day, even if it is a 30 minute walk. Fresh air and time in nature is like a bit of magic and it always makes us smile.

We cannot, however, be outside all day every day at the moment, and with a 9 year old to support with home schooling it has been a real challenge to find ways of entertaining and engaging our toddler. He is very much a ‘doer’. He is lively and inquisitive and wants to be doing something at all times… so with that in mind I have tried to find some little activities that will give him what he needs. Some are activities where he needs my involvement, others are very much self-led, so that I can get on with some urgent work or more importantly get on with the home schooling!

These ideas are not revolutionary by any means, but they have meant for some perfect little ‘at home adventures’ for our little one and as such I thought it was worth sharing. If just one little idea sparks something for you then that would be an amazing result of me sharing this. I hope it does. Any ideas you have for an energetic and chatty little 3 year old please do let me know! Half term with no adventure days out is going to be another challenge!

Toddler Adventure One:

Cookie cutter painting. We are very much missing our family and hugs, as I know we all are. So this week we decided to make some little Valentines Day cards to send out to Ralph’s family. I found a heart shaped cookie cutter we had buried in the drawer, some red paint and a pack of brown kraft cards. These are always in my craft box as they make a fantastic resource for sending out little personalised cards from the children, and free of glitter and plastic they feel like a much nicer alternative to shop bought cards. I simply set them all out and let Ralph do his thing. He absolutely loved putting the cutter in to the paint and then ‘stamping’ it, and he could be as creative as he liked. Perfect for small hands, and they made some lovely patterns. You could do this with different coloured paints and different shapes. Endless possibilities.

Toddler Adventure Two:

Themed water bead play. Well aren’t water beads just the best? Ralph will play with these for AGES. He loves having lots of different sized bowls, spoons and ladles, and will sit mixing and moving the beads quite happily. With opportunities to get them in all sorts of colours, they lend themselves perfectly to some themed play. We had an animal theme last week and focussed on polar animals for this activity. I gave Ralph a bowl of white beads and a bowl of blue, along with smaller bowls and a range of small polar animals that he has. They are Happy Land animals from ELC and perfect for this. We talked about the weather and the cold, the ice and the water, and the types of animals that lived there, and he then happily played with them, moving the animals, making them swim in the ‘icy water’ for ages. It was a perfect self-led activity for him, that I could watch him do, whilst supporting my other son with his home schooling. A big win for us this one.

Toddler Adventure Three:

Bird feeders. We were very excited to take part in the Big Garden Bird Watch this year with RSPB. We used it as an opportunity to find out a bit more about some of the birds we might see in our garden using the fabulous cards from At The Cherry Tree. Ralph has loved spotting the Robins that come and visit our garden every day and so he was very excited to get involved. We cut some oranges in half and scooped out the flesh. I then gave Ralph some wild bird seed, porridge oats and peanut butter to mix. If there is something to mix, he is well and truly on board! We added that to the empty orange halves and dotted them around the garden. They have been a big hit and it was a lovely hands on activity.

Toddler Adventure Four:

Ice Decorations. I was inspired to do this by a lovely account on instagram and had seen several people talking about it. There are endless opportunities with this, and lots of ways to do it, but I will share how we did it and then the world is your oyster!

We selected a range of dishes (we found that flan and cake tins worked well) and then pulled together lots of foliage, including holly, left over bits of Christmas tree, leaves and berries. You could use whatever you can find though. The boys chose what they wanted to put in their tins and then we filled them with water. One essential part is to loop some wool or string at the top of the tray so that once frozen you can hang. We had a very cold night so left them outside over night, but you could pop them in the freezer if needs be. It was a wonderful activity because they were really excited to come and see them in the morning and discover how they had turned out. Now frozen, we were able to remove them from the tins and hang them in the garden. They looked spectacular on a very frosty morning, and a bit magical to be honest. You could make hanging decorations like us, or perhaps lanterns for a candle, you could use flowers or any natural treasures you have in the garden. This was a wonderful way to explore and appreciate winter.

Toddler Adventure Five:

Adventures in Space. We have a huge fan of Buzz Lightyear in this house so space is a well loved theme. It is a wonderful theme for toddlers because it offers so many opportunities for creativity and small world play, and this activity, once set up, was a really good self-led one. Before setting this up we had used some recycling to make a rocket. A toilet roll, some cardboard wings, stickers and pens and you are away. Then I set up a tray lined with foil, some sprinkles, play doh, stars and cotton wool. This along with the rocket and a mini Buzz figure kept Ralph engrossed for ages. It has great sensory elements and wonderful opportunities for imaginative small world play. He loved it. The rocket is still going strong too!

So there we have it, 5 easy to prepare toddler adventures at home, and hopefully a bit of inspiration. Stay strong brilliant people. It is easy to think we have to do it all and we just can’t. Having some fun where we can and all coming out of this smiling is what counts. Happy adventuring, Emma x

  • I promise I have included activities that are genuinely easy to set up and really engaging for little ones – so hopefully nothing too epic in what is already a totally ridiculous time! We are in no way doing activities like this all day every day, but a couple a week are really helping me so that I can focus on school work with the eldest or fit in a few work emails. The juggle continues…

Ralph’s ‘Find Your Wild’ sweatshirt is available in a range of colours and sizes – just click here!

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Emma and the Adventure Boys xx