gmhTODAY 10 gmhToday Sept Oct 2016 - Page 60

Keeping Johnny Busy Article Brought To You By: B oredom can be a dangerous thing, both for child’s developing mind and for your sanity. No matter what age or stage, keeping kids busy and active boosts physical and cognitive development. Here are some fun ideas that will keep your child entertained and give you a bit of a breather: Up to 2 Years Ages 3-5 Splashing Around Children this young haven’t yet fully mastered their fine motor skills, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t activities that will keep them busy. The world is still a brand new place to them. Something as simple as water will hold your toddler’s attention for hours. Just be sure to supervise him the whole time. Even a small amount of water can be dangerous! Fill a large bin or a water table with water and an assortment of plastic cups, balls, squirt toys, and other water-friendly objects, and let your toddler splash around. The sensation of moving the water around and playing with the toys will hold his fascination, and all you have to do is sit back and watch. If weather prevents you from playing outside, set your toddler on a chair or footstool and appoint him as your little dishwasher. As he plays with sponges, suds, cups, and plastic dishware, he’ll not only have a good time playing, but feel proud that he’s helping you clean. You can even promote him to cook if you need to get dinner going by filling a pot with water and having him make “soup” with his toys and some spoons. Indoor Fort Building a fort of blankets and pillows is a guaranteed fun time. Once your child has her fort made, have her decorate the interior to give her fort that personal touch. You can even have her make animals out of paper and cardboard or use her favorite stuffed toys and pretend to be on safari. Whichever way she chooses to make her fort special, she’ll be keeping busy and strengthening her imagination. Snack Time Surprise Make snack time an adventure by filling bowls with different textured foods, like linguini noodles, crackers, fruit, and cereal. You can even include mushy foods like applesauce or oatmeal if you don’t mind the mess. Cover the bowls with a box and cut an arm sized hole in the middle. Then let your toddler reach in to find her food. This makes for some great sensory play. It may get messy (and gross!), but your toddler will be sure to have a great time touching, squeezing, and eating her food. Mess-Free Painting Bring out your child’s inner artist! Fill a Ziploc bag with two or three colors of paint (and glitter if you want that extra dazzle). Secure the bag to a window with painter’s tape and let your toddler have at it. He’ll stay fascinated with the feel of moving the paint around and watching the colors mix, and you won’t have a big mess to clean up afterwards! 60 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Lil’ Filmmaker Use your iPad or smartphone to help your child make a movie. Film him as he plays with his favorite toys or makes his own characters out of Play-doh or clay. Not only will he have a blast making the film, he’ll love watching it over and over again. Who knows, you might be paving the way to a promising film career! Yardwork Helper If you like to garden or you just need to get rid of some weeds, have your child join in. Set aside a small patch of soil, or a planter filled with dirt, and let her dig to her heart’s content while you work. Help her plant something, whether it’s flowers or fruit and vegetable seeds. She’ll have a great time digging and learning all about nature. Ages 6 and Up With older kids, the issue is less about keeping them busy, and more about keeping them active. It can be hard to pull kids away from their video games, computers, phones, or the TV. Try to get them outside and moving by introducing them to sports they might enjoy, such as baseball, basketball, or soccer. If your child isn’t big on traditional sports, try things like rock climbing, gymnastics, martial arts, or hiking. There are even kids’ yoga classes that they might like. Of course, your child will be more motivated to exercise if he sees that you’re exercising too. Try to make it a family routine to get out and moving a few times a week, whether it’s a nature walk or a fun, new adventure. You’ll be estab- lishing healthy exercise habits that they’ll carry on into adulthood. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 gmhtoday.com