Imagination

Calling all Budding Thespians

Instead of simply reading your child's favorite book again, make it interactive. Let him/her choose a page or scene from the book and act it out. For example, my son loves construction equipment, so he goes through his books and tells me to be one of the bulldozers and he pretends to be one of the dump trucks. We crawl around on the floor and pretend to ...(read more)

Finger Puppets

Draw different pictures of people on a piece of paper. Make them about 6" high. Have your child color them, then cut them out (with your help if necessary). Poke holes in the tops of the legs - make them large enough to fit your fingers. Then slip your fingers into the holes from the back of the figures, and voila! Your "puppets" now have ...(read more)

Dressing Mommy

My child's preschool puts on an annual Mother's Day Tea and every year there are always a few moms who come dressed in outfits specially chosen by their child. What a wonderful (and brave!) way to listen to your child's opinion! So, if you've ever struggled with your little one over their outfits, it could be fun to turn the tables for once and ask your child what ...(read more)

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Shoe Box Cars

Shoe boxes can be the perfect vehicle to jump start your child's imagination! Find a cardboard shoe box, and let your child decorate it with paints, construction paper, crayons and markers. Add headlights by gluing on two plastic milk jug lids or bottle caps, and make wheels out of construction paper circles (attach to the sides of the box so the box remains flat on the ground). ...(read more)

Marshmallow Architecture

Take a box of tooth picks and a bag of mini marshmallows and put them out on a table. Then show the kids how to create three-dimensional structures by placing the marshmallows onto the tooth picks. They have a great time creating big structures, houses, tunnels, etc. Some nibbling involved!(read more)

Monkey See, Monkey Do Music

Put on some fun music and take turns being the "monkey." The monkey's job is to imitate what the other dancer is doing. Does the music make you want to clap? spin? hop? roll? sleep? Monkey see, monkey do! Take turns and see how creative you can be. Kids LOVE to be imitated and to imitate, even little ones. (read more)

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Paper Airplanes

Kids love making paper airplanes. At home, on trips, anywhere. When children are younger, it's usually best if the grown-up makes the planes and the kids color them before launching them into the air. When they get older, they can make their own. Be sure to let them experiment with different designs. It's also fun to track which ones fly farthest or do the most ...(read more)

Music Acting

Play or sing a song that tells a story or describes movement such as "Jack and Jill" or "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain." Act out the movements to the story. This activity will encourage the children to listen to the words of the story and follow direction. (read more)

Couch Cushion Car Trip

Arrange your couch cushions on the floor like the inside of a car or bus. Take turns with your child being the driver and the passenger. Travel to crazy destinations like a lollipop forest, or alligator lake, or the north pole. Talk about what you "see" and what you might do there.(read more)

Picnicking Indoors

For those long winter days when you can't get outside, your toddler will love having an indoor picnic. Have your child help you pack up a basket full of food. Together, you can then lay out a tablecloth or a sheet on the floor and put out plates and silverware. Then sit down and enjoy a wonderful picnic together. For extra fun, imagine all of the ...(read more)

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Living Room Plays

Next time you have a group of children together, try this fun activity. Let the children choose a story to act out, one that you know the story of, as well. Let each child choose each part that he or she wants to play -- it's fine if there's more than one child playing a character. Then narrate the plot or read aloud the story to the ...(read more)

Shoebox Diorama

Almost all kids have little plastic animal figurines. This project gives your child something new to do with them. Take some old magazines and catalogs, and cut out pictures of scenery -- mountain ranges, jungles, forests, etc. Alternatively, your child can draw his or her own scenery. Then glue your scene to the bottom of the inside of a shoebox, and turn the box on its ...(read more)

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Building a Fort ...or Something Else

My toddlers love to hide behind and under things. I often find them under the table playing hide-and-seek, so we started putting a sheet over it to make a fort. Now we play a game called 'Build me a fort or something else' where they have to say what type of building they are making and what they would find inside. So, instead of just a fort, ...(read more)

Face Collage

Take a stack of old magazines and cut out eyes, noses, mouths, ears, and hair. Then, draw an oval on a piece of drawing paper or construction paper. Give your child the cut-out facial features and the blank oval for a face, and let him or her create a face. Younger children think it's fun to create a silly face. Older children enjoy the task of ...(read more)

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Jungle Party for One

Help your child cut out leaves and flowers from construction paper. Attach them to green crepe paper streamers. Attach the streamers to a hula hoop, and then attach the hula hoop to the ceiling so that the streamers make a jungle area. Have your child bring their plastic and stuffed jungle animals under the hoop for a fun jungle party. Great for rainy or cold days!(read more)

Pipe Cleaner Peepers

Pipe cleaners (chenille stems) are handy to have on hand for a variety of projects. Your preschooler will have loads of fun designing their very own pair of unbreakable glasses with this activity. Use 3-4 pipe cleaners to make the 'glasses' and decorate with additional pipe cleaners. Add fuzzy flowers to the sides, or make squiggles coming off the top of the 'frames' by wrapping a ...(read more)

Paper Plate Masks

Use a small white paper plate as the base for a child's mask. Cut two holes about where the child's eyes will be, then punch one hole on either side of the paper plate and tie a piece of string or yarn through each hole. This will be what you use to tie the mask on the child's face. Once that's done, you can turn the plate ...(read more)

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Toy Town

On a carpeted area or rug, tape down long (5 or 6 feet) strips of masking tape in straight and curved patterns. Make the strips intersect each other to form a system of 'roads' on the floor. Gather toys and divide them up by themes, i.e. railroad, farm, school, construction, etc. Place each group of toys at the end of a road, creating a little city. ...(read more)

Tissue Puppets

Scrunch a tissue into a ball, and drape another tissue over it. Twist the top tissue below the ball to make a floaty body. (You can tie it on with a rubberband to make it tighter.) Draw a face on one side of the ball and stick your tissue puppet on a pen or your finger and do a puppet show. Toddlers love holding them and playing with them--especially if ...(read more)

Make Your Own Microphone

Make your own microphone using the tube from a roll of paper towels, toilet paper, or wrapping paper (cut to microphone length). Decorate the microphone base as you wish, using paint, stickers, etc. Crumple foil into a ball and stuff into one end of the tube making the bulb part of the microphone. Put on some music and have your little one put on a show. (read more)

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Fingerprint Art

Your child may not yet be able to color and draw pictures, but you can help them create some unique artwork using a stamp pad and their own fingers! Using non-toxic ink pads, press your child's finger into various colors of pads and then press onto paper. Little colored finger prints can be turned into great hearts, flowers, caterpillars, butterflies, eggs, bunnies, baby chicks, pumpkins, spiders, snowmen and ...(read more)

Sugar Cube Shapes

Build a castle, a house, or a boat using sugar cubes! Just let your child's imagination run wild with this activity. Glue (or use frosting) to adhere the sugar cubes onto heavy cardboard in any shape/layout/design of your choice. You can make 3 dimensional letters and shapes! It may be easiest to draw the outline of the shape you are going to make directly ...(read more)

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Going on a Bear Hunt

With your kids, sing the old summer camp song 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt.' (If you can't remember the words, you can find them here www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/teddy/bearhunt.html). Afterwards go back through the song and discuss (depending on the age of your children) each environment they go through on the bear hunt (grass, tree, river, cave). Then explain that they will color and create each location using construction paper and ...(read more)

Making Play Binoculars

Tape or glue two clean toilet tissue cardboard tolls together and then tape some string to each roll so that the child can put it around his/her neck. To make it extra fun, paint, color or add stickers before or after taping/gluing the rolls.(read more)

Indoor Boat Ride

While on a bed with your child/children, pretend you are on a sailing boat. Locate marine life (jumping dolphins, sharks, whales) and search for land. Have your child create a story about why you are on the boat and where you are going, even what you will see when you arrive. Occasionally, jump off for a swim around the bed to cool off. This activity will ...(read more)

Monster Day

Tell your children that today is "monster day," and they get to be any kind of monsters they want. Have them go through the dress-up box, their drawers, or the rag pile and put together a monster outfit. Anything goes! Use Halloween makeup, eye shadow and lipstick, homemade face paint, or washable magic markers to draw on monster faces. Get their input. Do they want spots or stripes? ...(read more)

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Superhero Day

Announce that it is officially 'Superhero Day'. Your child should choose what kind of superhero he or she wants to be. Make decisions together about the superhero's costume and superpower. Create a story together about your superhero and his life. Find household props and dress-up clothes to create your child's superhero right in your very home!(read more)

Flashlight Fun

Dim the lights so that the beam of a flashlight is visible. If your child is older, you can offer him a flashlight and take turns playing "tag" with the spotlight. You can make hand puppets, or experiment with the shadows created by placing different objects in front of the beam. With children just learning to speak, you can shine the beam onto different objects and ask, ...(read more)

Backyard Campout

Who needs to go to the forest or the beach for a camping trip? Take your tents to the backyard and experience a night under the stars. Put some hot cocoa in a thermos and bring out some special treats, such as s'mores cookies. Tell stories around an outdoor lantern. Sing lots of silly summer camp songs from your childhood. Just don't forget to turn ...(read more)

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Puddle Jumping

When it rains outside, we put on our raincoats and rain shoes and go in search of puddles. With each puddle comes a story depending on the shape and location of the puddle and at the end of the story we jump into that particular puddle signifying the end to the story. For example, a big puddle might lead us into a story about crossing the ocean, or ...(read more)

Puzzle Stories

Wooden puzzle pieces, especially the chunky ones or ones with pegs, make great 'characters' for pretend play. If your child is through with fitting the pieces into the spaces, or just never took to puzzles, store the board and use the pieces. If you want to be really creative, you can create a shoe box barn or zoo for animal puzzle pieces, or a garage for car and ...(read more)

Pretend Grocery Store

Set up a room in your house like a grocery store. Put some of your kids' favorite foods on tables and other low pieces of furniture -- these will make the aisles of the grocery store. Then give your kids something to use as a basket. My youngest uses his little push walker with a small basket in the back. My oldest has a picnic basket. ...(read more)

Playing House

Make a play house out of big appliance boxes. You can ask Sears or Home Depot for boxes, maybe even Costco or Sam's Club. Into the sides of the box, cut doors and windows with a utility knife. You and your child can then paint the house. You might use packing tape to reinforce the box seams before you paint. If you get many boxes, ...(read more)

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Cardboard Box Creations

Use a large cardboard box, big enough that your kid can crawl into it (stove or refrigerator boxes work great) and create your own playhouse, fort, car, truck, whatever he or she would like! Just cut windows and doors and decorate the outside of the box with markers or crayons. (read more)

Making Puppets

Puppets are fun to make and great to play with, especially when acting out stories. Silly dog -- An old sock can be quickly transformed into a "silly dog" puppet. Make a dog from a sock by cutting out two ears from some felt -- or any sort of fabric scraps you may have -- and sewing them on either side of the heel. Sew on two ...(read more)

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I'm Going to the Beach and...

This is a good memory game for car rides, restaurants, or anywhere that requires you to sit still. One person starts the game by saying, 'I'm going to the beach and I'm going to bring my ....' Fill in the blank with anything you want, 'flip flops' for example. The next person then repeats the first line and adds another item, 'I'm going to the beach and ...(read more)

Paper Cup Telephone

Take 2 sturdy paper cups. Poke small holes in the bottom of each cup. String a long (6 ft or so) piece of yarn or kite string through the holes and secure with a knot. Pull the string tight and you can talk and listen through your 'telephones'. Sound really travels, kids can do this for hours!(read more)

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Finding Buried Treasure

Have you noticed that little kids love sparkly items? With this activity your child can pretend to be a pirate searching for lost treasure or an archaeologist searching for ancient artifacts. Take some little rocks and spray paint them gold. Older children can "help" with this part of the activity. Then bury the "treasure" in a box of sand. Give your child a small shovel ...(read more)

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Rock Family

Collect enough rocks to represent each member of your family. Paint the rocks either to look like each person, or simply write each person's name on the rock. Place your new Rock Family in your garden or near the front door for your family's enjoyment.(read more)

Puddle Jumping

Using hula hoops inside on a rainy day can be fun! Put on your real or imaginary rain boots, coat and hat. Give each child a hoop, or if you don't have hula hoops, have each child draw an imaginary "puddle" around her feet. Have everyone stand inside his or hoop, or puddle, and choose a child to tell you how she'd like to play in the ...(read more)

Portable Flannel Box

Create a fun, portable flannel board for your next road trip or doctor's office visit. To begin, cover the top of a shoe box with felt, secure the felt underneath with glue, staples, or a hot glue gun. This will form the base of the flannel board. Next, create the play pieces. Cut pieces of flannel into various sizes and shapes, such as animals, cars, people, ...(read more)

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Pirate Treasure Map

This activity is a ton of fun -- both indoors and out! Begin by tearing the edges of the construction paper to give it rough edges. Then, crumple the paper into a ball so that it is creased. Flatten the paper, and dip it in warm water. Put the wet paper on draining board or across a strainer and sprinkle a spoonful of coffee granules over it. Leave ...(read more)

Stuffed Animal Stories

Put various stuffed animals in a bag. Have your child tell a real or make-believe story about a trip to a zoo or farm while pulling stuffed animals out of the bag one-by-one. Prompt them with questions to help the story along: "What animal did you see next?" "What sound does the lion make?" "How tall is the giraffe?"(read more)

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What are they thinking?

Look through magazines or books for interesting or funny pictures. Ones with people and/or animals in action work best. Take turns with your child making up what the figures in the pictures are saying to one another. Cut out the pictures and paste them in a book. Use your imagination to create a funny or zany story.(read more)

Create your own Superhero

Is your little one a fan of Batman, Superman or any other Superfriend? Add some individuality by helping your child create her own superhero. What would her name and super power be? How would her costume look? Draw a picture of your child's superhero, or help your child write a story. (read more)

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Ancient Times

While walking my 6 year old to school, we play a game we made up called 'Ancient Times.' He'll pick a time in history, for example, The Ice Age. Then we'll describe what we see. He'll pretend to see a woolly mammoth behind a parked car or a glacier behind a tree. It is such a great way to inspire imagination and to learn about history. ...(read more)

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Make a child-friendly doctor kit with household items! Cut out a red cross from construction paper and glue it to a lunch bag. Fill the bag with cotton balls, band-aids, Q-tips and tongue depressors (popsicle sticks). Now your child can play doctor with friends, siblings, dolls or stuffed animals.(read more)

What's Your Middle Name?

This is a fun game that helps kids learn their letters. We have an imaginary friend named Samuel Serendipity and we continually change the first letter of his middle name and then think of all the words his middle name could be. Ex. For Samuel P. Serendipity, my son and I brainstorm all the words we can think of that start with the letter P. Everything from ...(read more)

Pack-n-Play: Packing for an Adventure

Have your child pack a backpack, small suitcase, or any available bag for 'taking a trip.' They can pack whatever they think they'll need - socks, jammies, toys, toothbrush. Take the bag to a pretend destination. What will you do there? Did you pack everything you need?(read more)

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Milk Carton Blocks

Don't throw away your empty milk cartons... start washing them out and creating a collection. When you fold down the top of the milk carton, they can become excellent building blocks -- large enough to build a fort. Once you get a good number of them collected, allow your child to decorate the milk cartons with paper, paint, or glitter to your child's suiting. This is an excellent ...(read more)

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Wacky Day

On a day when you plan to stay home, have everyone put together the wildest, wackiest outfits they can find and wear them all day. Pair some striped pants or crazy skirt with sneakers or flip flops and a Tiara. Everyone needs to join in. Choose a new 'character' name and be someone different for the day! Don't forget to take pictures!(read more)

Playing Elevator

Spread a towel on the ground for your 'elevator.' Step in and push the pretend button to travel to different floors. Describe each step: 'The door is opening' (show with your hands). 'We're getting on the elevator' (step on the towel). 'We're pushing two' (push button). 'We're going up' (look up), etc. Get off at different floors and describe what you see at ...(read more)

Leaf Puppet

Draw the outline of face and neck, about 1.5 inches long, onto a piece of white construction paper. Let your child color in the face and give him or her eyes, nose, and mouth. Then cut the shape out. Next, help your child to draw, color in, and cut out a dress shape, about 6 inches long. Glue the head to the dress. Then take some leaves from one ...(read more)

Toddler Charades

My 3-year old loves playing this simplified version of charades. Imitate an animal or object and have your child guess what you are. Alternatively, imitate an activity and have your child guess what you're doing. Take turns. Be sure to explain to your child that there should be no talking!(read more)

Winter Walk

Bundle up, take a winter walk at dusk to look at holiday lights, listen for crisp, cold sounds (snow crunching, dogs barking) and work up an appetite for hot chocolate. We like to pretend we're on an expedition in Alaska, seeking shelter or searching for penguins - let their imagination run wild and don't let the cold weather keep you in!(read more)

Being Savvy Today

Thanksgiving Traditions

Nov
23
2017

As a child in the early 70s, we had very traditional Thanksgivings at my grandparent's home. My sisters and I would be dressed in homemade matching dresses, in the loudest fabric the decade could provide. My brother wore a suit, as did all the other men, and of course

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