Cartons of Fun

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This is the type of activity that’s great to do when you’re using up the odds and ends in your craft bin before restocking. Any clean and washed food containers make great bins for small hands. I used empty non-dairy yogurt and sour cream containers, but juice cartons would work, too, with the tops cut open.

Simply fill each container with a different craft material. I presented Veronika with an assortment that included fabric scraps, felt pieces, ribbon, buttons, beads, and stickers. Then I set these down for her along with glue and pieces of construction paper.

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Older preschoolers can take it from here solo! If your child is old enough, you can also provide safety scissors. For Veronika at age 2, I had to supervise the activity a bit more closely, but I tried to sit back and see how she wanted to use the materials, instead of guiding.

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She liked the buttons best and wanted to glue them down. I helped her make dots of glue that she could press the buttons on. We added a few bits of fabric and ribbon to this first creation, too.

Then I made a “cake” for her with fabric scraps for the cake and ribbon as candles. This time, I added dots of glue so she could add “icing on the cake” with more buttons and beads.

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For the final creation, I smeared glue all over a piece of construction paper, This meant that no matter where she pressed down an item, it was sure to stick. This page was soon covered with the fabric and felt scraps.

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And don’t discount just letting your toddler fill a page with stickers. That counts as art, too!

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Pool Noodle Games

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We had a few pool noodles in the closet that were left over from summer fun, so today Veronika and I found a few indoor winter ways to play with them!

First, we tried making a pool noodle “necklace”. Cut pool noodles into smaller pieces so they are like giant beads and then give your child twine (or a rope) and thread them on.

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Preschoolers can get in some great threading practice by doing this activity solo. I helped Veronika by inserting the twine into the hole of each pool noodle piece, and then she would pull it through.

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At first this made a fun pull toy! She loved dragging it along behind her or wiggling it in the air.

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Once we had enough of pieces looped on, I tied the two ends of twine together to form a giant dress-up necklace.

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Next, I cut out slightly larger pool noodle pieces, and these were great to stack like blocks!

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These towers were particularly fun to push over, because the soft foam won’t hurt a thing.

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I loved that we found a way to reuse a summer material on a winter’s day!

Unpoppable Frozen Bubbles

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My philosophy about really cold weather with kids has become not to shy away from it, but to embrace it. That’s exactly what we did today with frozen bubbles; this is the kind of trick that can only work once the weather dips down low.

The secret to making this activity a success is to leave a bottle of bubble solution outside overnight so that it’s chilled and ready to go when your bundled-up kids get outside.

The second trick is to wave the bubble wand, instead of blowing through it. With those two modifications, the bubbles will act differently, freezing in kids’ hands or in the air (if it’s cold enough!) instead of popping.

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The first time we tried this, our solution wasn’t quite cold enough.That meant the kids could still pop the bubbles on their fingers.

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But they lasted and froze over if they landed on cold surfaces, like our plastic slide. This was mesmerizing to watch!

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Travis wondered if this particular bubble might just last forever.

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The next night was even colder, so we headed outside for more everlasting bubble play.

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And this time they were so cold that sure enough we could poke at them without making them pop!

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Is it cold enough for frozen bubbles in your area? Please share in the comments!

Match the Tracks

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This winter twist on hide-and-seek is fantastic for early hiders and seekers (think preschoolers and toddlers), and you don’t even need much snow to play it; even a light dusting on the ground will do!

As soon as we saw it was snowing, the kids were eager to head outside, so I challenged them to find mommy… by following my tracks. Leave nice, clear footprints in the snow as you head to your hiding place. You can make your actual hiding place easy to spot or hard to find, depending on your child’s age.

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Veronika grinned as soon as she had the gist of the game, and eagerly followed along my prints in the snow.

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Peek-a-boo! She found mommy behind a tree.

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It was harder to get her to understand being the hider, but she did love noticing her own tracks in the snow!

The beauty of this game is that each round will gets successively harder as the tracks start to get muddled. You can challenge older kids to make a giant maze of footsteps by the end! And while they’re at it, keep an eye out for any other animals that might have left tracks in the snow.