Well, let me be honest. My whole house feels like the Devil's playground lately. My kids (well, mostly Miss Reese, but both are guilty) are in full on tantrum mode these days. We have around six a day. After the sixth, I usually stop counting tantrums and start counting the number of days I have before I can start drinking again. So last weekend it was my goal to make the kids busy boxes and I ordered plastic eggs online and fully intended to go to Michael's and get the rest of the things I needed to bring these boxes to fruition.
The eggs kept them pretty busy for a while. And to quantify a while, in toddler time that means it held their attention for around 20 minutes before they started throwing things and destroying anything in sight.
Later that afternoon, when it was still raining and I was slowly losing my mind, I broke out another trick I learned via Pinterest. Beans and a muffin tin. Baby bean counters. The muffin tins I had in the pantry and the beans were leftover from some sort of chili that I made in the fall.
My friend Gina was gracious enough to impart her toddler wisdom onto me and allow me to share it with you lovelies. Hopefully some of these activities are helpful for your sanity too. Let me know if you try any out and how they go.
Another hit were fluff balls that you can stuff into containers. Her kids worked on pushing the poms through the holes but also just loved to dump out all 200 fluff balls and throw them around. I may save this one for when I can drink a bloody mary while they play. I kid, I kid. Kind of...
Sometimes she just throws a bunch of stuff into a plastic bin and lets them play with it. For example: random things from the kitchen drawers that were safe, a few little toys (plastic dinosaurs, little cars and trains, plastic Sesame characters, etc. and just covered them all with Easter basket grass. Her kids played for at least 30-45 minutes with that. She did the same thing subbing Easter basket grass with the feathers that come 200 in a bag at Michaels. (I told you she was awesome.)
Play-doh, Do-A-Dots, coloring with crayons/markers, and watercolor painting are also in the rotation. Her kids (who turn two this month! sniff, sniff) are old enough now that they like to use the animal molds and things with play-doh, but when they were younger, they just stabbed at it with spoons and forks, mashed it around on a tray, and practiced pulling it apart into little pieces and placing them in the parts of an egg carton.
She offered up song ideas and time killers like the alphabet, counting and singing/movement activities. I'm sure you all do this already, but sometimes when you are facing a nap dead in the face and scrambling it's good to remember that a song will bridge you another ten or so minutes!
Gina tries to introduce new songs that have movement or "exercises". Some tried and true songs are the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Ring Around the Rosie, I'm a Little Teapot and Pat-a-Cake. In terms of exercises she has them sit and do things to copy her -- i.e. rock side to side, stomp their feet, touch their nose, stretch, touch the sky, etc.
Last but not least, refrigerator alphabet magnets and puzzles. My kids have these cool alphabet letters from Melissa and Doug. I get nervous (what else is new) about the small pieces. But I'm sure I'm just being a loo.