Tag: keeping toddlers busy

10 “At Home” Activities For Kids To Do During The Holidays

10 “At Home” Activities For Kids To Do During The Holidays

Previously holiday breaks during the school term were never a big thing, because I worked from home and had my mornings free, it meant that I was on hand to entertain the kids. We would adventure, we would play, we would explore. Fast-forward a few years and now I’m not at home, I’m in an office, (like 80% of South African mothers), and my “mom guilt” is going into overdrive that my kids are sitting watching TV all day. I now fully understand “holiday clubs” at school.

So, I’ve been thinking…. thinking of activities to set up for the boys that they can play with limited supervision. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic nanny to take care of them so they can enjoy a bit of a break from school, but, she has other work to do and is not on hand every single second to supervise activities. Enter good old “google”, and I am shocked. Almost all the “holiday activities” designed for children require mom to be around or set up… Scrap that plan. So, I do what I do best and get to thinking of crafts to keep them busy. That’s why I enjoy crafts so much, they stimulate kids but they also don’t require much supervision. So, they can get on with sticking, creating and crafting and everyone else can get on with their work too.

So here is my top 10 list of crafts (Ok there are 11 but I couldnt choose) to keep your kids entertained these school holidays. These do require some forward-thinking mums and dads. Setting up the night before and putting the crafts out, it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes and are ideally suited to children up to the age of about 7.

Paint and Play Day

Set up some paint and a variety of materials for the kids to paint on and play with. Sponges, brushes, flowers and stamps make great tools for the kids to explore with and play with different texture canvases such as foil, cardboard and bubble wrap. Make sure you place a suitable ground cover down to stop the paint from getting all over your floors.

Create a Collage

Cut up a big piece of cardboard from a leftover box to use as a nice big canvas for little hands. Gather up a variety of items, ribbons, stickers, magazine cut outs, paper doilies, muffin cases, pomp oms, anything your heart desires. Better still I normally do a craft cupboard stock up at CNA before the holidays start. You could get creative and chose specific colours. Kids love nothing more than gluing and sticking. Trust me, it’s a winner every time! Lay out all the materials on a tray for them with the glue and canvas and let them stick to their hearts content.

Create a Scavenger Hunt around the house

Hide a few objects around the house (choose distinctive things or specific pictures). Draw up a list of all the things hidden and tell the kids to go on a treasure hunt! Once they tick everything off their list tell your caregiver he/she can give them a small treat.

Clay Play

Get some good old fashioned air dry clay OR modelling clay. I prefer air dry clay as I can keep their creations forever. You can find this at any stationery store like CNA or your plastic-land/ Westpack stores. Make up a bowl yourself the night before, I often find if I am not there it is easier for my kids to see what to do when they have an example to follow. Ask your caregiver (if you aren’t home) to place down a floor protector and give each child a nice fist sized amount of clay. Let them create to their hearts content and let the final product dry in the sun. Once dry (probably by the time you are home), let them paint it.

Movie Day

I’m pretty sure this is one we have all done before. Surprise them by renting their favourite movie, or download it on Netflix. Layout some blankets and pillows (or a tent if you have one) in the lounge and pre- make some popcorn before you go to work. Let them stay in their PJ’s for the morning and watch their favourite Netflix while snuggling up with some popcorn and hot chocolate.

Create a mini activity centre

This could be done in or outside the house dependent on your situation. Create a “bean bag” toss – put a strip of tape down as the standing line and some “Hoola-Hoops”. The aim is to try and get the bag into the target area. Bowling – If you done have tenpin pins at home grab some paper cups and stack them together in a triangle shape. Using a ball or a bean bag, let your child try to knock down the cups. Golf putting – Simply take a plastic cup to use as your “hole”, the kids must try and put their ball into the cup to sink it. The possibilities are endless here.

Have a baking day

Yes, this is possible, even If you aren’t home. If your caregiver knows how to cook buy some pre- mixes from snowflake or Pillsbury. Easy ones like muffins or brownies. Lay out the ingredients the night before and the kids can mix away and then whoever is home can pop it into the oven. OR if you aren’t comfortable with the “baking” aspect they could ice some Marie Biscuits (Just make up the icing the evening before), or make some Jelly.

Montessori inspired Activities

Have a look at my blog post on my favourite Montessori activities for toddlers around the house. Most of these are independent and allow for easy clean up. Another great “keep busy” one is a good old peg board! Developing those fine motor skills while keeping them focused.

Sidewalk chalk

Buy a pack of good old sidewalk chalk from your local stationery store or plastic land. Let them draw their masterpieces wherever they feel free (outside of course). It’s the only time my boys are allowed to draw all over the walls, and the pavement outside. A quick rinse with the hose, or a rain shower will leave absolutely no trace of Picasso’s masterpiece.

Playdough invitation to play trays

My only disclaimer here would be, if your kids are younger and they will be playing partially unsupervised, maybe make your own playdough. I have a super quick recipe here. That way you can have peace of mind that it is non-toxic and “safe” if they decide to swallow a mouthful. Set out the playdough on a tray and put individual items of interest in separate containers around it. You could theme it, for example; construction you could make a brown dough, add in a few toy diggers and some “stones” (fake or real), some sticks and tools. Let them create their own little universe. Alternatively, pre- order some carefully thought out themed packs from party play dough.

Sensory Trays

Limited supervision required depending on the route you take. I often post up our sensory tray adventures on Instagram and then forget to post them on the blog, so if you are looking for ideas make sure you follow my Instagram account here. Ideas to do could include a winter wonderland (with snow made from Bicarbonate of Soda and white conditioner), an undersea adventure, either made with jelly, cornflour and water or sludge, or an outer space galaxy made with some painted black rice, marbles, stars and figurines.

You can have a look at my sensory mud tray here or a cloud dough experience here.


So there are some activities to get you going, now that I’ve started I have a couple more up my sleeve. Sometimes you just have to write things out a little to get your mind going! I hope I’ve inspired you in some way. The “Mom Guilt” will never subside but we can make ourselves feel a little better.

Montessori Inspired Activities for Toddlers

Montessori Inspired Activities for Toddlers

I’m a huge advocate of Montessori, in particular in the early learning phases of a child’s life. They say people come into your life for a reason and my friend Mandy did just that. A trained Montessori teacher, Mandy opened up my eyes to learning and development in children. We used to have the most fantastic mum and toddler classes all in a Montessori environment and my little one thrived.

I’ve put together my top Practical/ Life Skill Montessori activities. These are specifically tailored for toddlers aged about 15 months to about 3 years old I would say and  have literally saved me on so many occasions, when I just need 10 minutes. My boys really focus and get involved in the tasks. Most of these materials you would already have either in your Kitchen or Bathroom and cleaning up is a breeze (in fact the kids should do the cleaning up through play).

Montessori activities are life-based. They help children build skills for everyday life,  building upon the necessary foundations needed in academia. Most of Montessori activities are done on a tray. The purpose of having a tray is to concentrate the child’s attention on one activity, to isolate distractions and in a typical Montessori school a child will select their own tray from the shelf, and put it back again after.

Here are 5 quick and easy Montessori activities to keep a toddlers learning mind busy. 

Basics you’ll need are:

A large tray/ sensory bin

Two similar sized bowls

Shaving cream

Spray Bottle

An empty bottle


Kitchen Cloth



Spray Bottles

These should be a staple in any toddler household. The trigger action is great for development and coordination and the wiping motion helps them cross the midline.  Get your toddler to spray a large window or mirror and wipe it up after. Crossing the body’s mid-line is an important developmental skill needed for many everyday tasks such as writing, hitting a ball with both hands etc.

Shaving Cream Fun

Want to keep a toddler busy for at least 20 minutes? Give them some shaving cream ! The possibilities are endless and as your kids get older it really aids in writing skills as well. I digress, if you have a big window or mirror spray a little cream onto the surface. Taking a plastic fork, or their finger, let your toddler draw designs through the cream. Afterward get them to wipe the surface down with the cloth.



Sponging and transferring water

Sponging is one of the first basic lessons a child learns in an Early Childhood Montessori classroom.  It works on fine motor development, focus and concentration. They also indirectly learn about absorption. Take two bowls and place a little water into one. Your toddler must place the sponge in the bowl with water and transfer and squeeze the water out into the other bowl until the activity is finished. Then complete moving the other way.

The Spooning Exercise (Transferring)

This activity saves me on a weekly basis. Cooking in the kitchen and have a toddler in your hair? Stick two bowls in front of them and let them work. It develops control and movements in your toddler, learning independence and concentration. ALL toddlers LOVE sorting and I vary this activity with different ingredients. Flour is a favourite but we also use lentils, dry beans and popcorn seeds. In one bowl pour in your ingredient of choice and give your toddler an appropriately sized spoon. My boys are so careful to try and ensure each and every lentil falls into the bowl and they dont stop this activity until each piece has been transferred.

Placing Straws Into A Bottle

This activity is actually perfect from as young as 12 or 14 months old. As your toddler gets older you can also add in a degree of complication by adding in varying factors. For example: Adding in pipe cleaners and sticks to the tray, your toddler must sort them out and ONLY add the straws to the bottle, or get them to list the colour of each straw the place in the bottle. As with each of these activities you’ll have to show your toddler what to do first and then let them take over.


Toddlers from about 14 months onward are probably at my favourite age for learning. Everything is fascinating and exciting. These activities are great for calming kids and encourage independent learning. I’ve got a whole lot more to share but I hope these simple activities will inspire you to get your child involved in daily activities around the home. What are your favourite activities?

Craft fun – Raised Salt Painting

Craft fun – Raised Salt Painting

We went on an arts and crafts spree last week when the boys were battling with fevers. Id seen a mesmerising video on instagram doing the rounds of the watercolours spreading through a “snowflake” and had been itching to give it a try. Continue reading “Craft fun – Raised Salt Painting”

Edible “Pudding” Slime

Edible “Pudding” Slime

I did it! I finally got around to trying out this “slime” recipe and I am ecstatic, it is by far the most favourite one I have done. I say “slime” because it’s not really a “slimy” texture. It’s more of a super soft playdough, or a combination of playdough with the viscosity of slime. Continue reading “Edible “Pudding” Slime”

Slime Sensory Box

Slime Sensory Box

If you follow me on instagram you would have seen that this week we were given some awesome products from Zimpli Kids to try out with the boys.

Gelli Baff and Slime Baff were designed for bath time or water play. They are 100% Safety and dissolve away completely. Continue reading “Slime Sensory Box”

Soap Foam Recipe

Soap Foam Recipe

Foam is one of those things I do for my kids at least once a month, and to be honest, I think it’s more for me than for them, it keeps them busy and out of my hair for at least 20 minutes! My kids are going through a super “whiney” phase which is driving me nuts, so I’m looking to all the distractions I can get 🙂 Continue reading “Soap Foam Recipe”