Cat Games, 5 Ways

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On some cold winter days, it’s not just the human kids who get cabin-fever, but our four-legged kids, too! To wit, we came up with five ways the cat and kids could play together today, meaning everyone was entertained (for a little while at least!)

Fishing for Feathers

For this first game, I rigged up a homemade version of a classic cat “fishing rod” using materials from our craft bin. Tie a few craft feathers together with string, then loop the other end of the string around a dowel and secure with tape.

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I showed the kids how to dangle these “birds” for the cat.

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At first he seemed surprised to be the center of attention, but soon he was batting at the feathers with excitement. Clearly the kids thought it was a riot!

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Laser Tag

This second game is strictly for kids who are old enough to understand that a laser pointer never gets pointed into anyone’s eyes, whether human or feline. Travis absolutely loved wiggling the dot of our laser pointer for the cat (it makes him go wild!).

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Veronika, meanwhile, got to watch and laugh at the show!

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Sock It to Me

Forget the cat ball toys you can buy at the store; rolled up socks make instant balls for zero cost! Veronika in particular loved rolling a few homemade sock balls to the cat and back again. “Here’s a sock!” she would say each time.

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If you have fresh catnip, you could even sprinkle some in the socks, first. Then we tried a variation where I tied a long string around each sock. The cat loved pouncing after these if we dragged them on the floor, or batting at them if they were dangled in the air.

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Kitty Soccer

Our cat loves to play “soccer” with crinkly Mylar balls, so today we tested out a few other “soccer” toys. Great options for batting around include spring toys (try the Thin Colorful Springs from Ethical Pet) or even just a ball of crumpled paper. Gooooaaaaal!

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Two-Toy Tango

Finally, we got extra silly. I gave the kids one toy cat mouse and had them pretend to be cats, pouncing on it or batting it around with their “paws”.

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The cat received a second mouse so he could play right alongside my little humans. It’s highly debatable who had more fun with all these games, the two-legged kids or the four-legged one. Needless to say, the cat took a nice long cat nap after.

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Rainbow Sensory Bags

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Mixing paint is such a great way to teach kids about the difference between primary and secondary colors (namely, that you achieve one of the latter by mixing two of the former), and I’m always looking for ways to make the lesson hands on. These hair gel bags make it easy to mix the colors together in a fun and squishy way!

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To start, squirt a little clear hair gel into each of three sandwich-sized zip-top bags. Add the primary colors on either side of the gel, so you have one bag that contains red + yellow, a second that contains yellow+ blue, and a third that contains blue + red.

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Seal tightly and add a strip of duct tape at the top of each for security. Now invite your toddler to squish and mush!

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Veronika was particularly pleased when the red and blue combined to make her favorite color (purple).

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We simply made this about the squishy sensory play today, but see my previous post on primary color storytime for reading suggestions that can go along with it.

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If you have enough paint, you might consider making one bag that contains just red paint + hair gel, one with yellow paint + hair gel, and one with blue paint + hair gel, in which case you’ll wind up with the full rainbow lineup at the end.

All Gone!

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In my experience, toddlers love dumping things to and from containers. This game plays right to that interest while introducing (or reinforcing) the notion of “all gone!”.

I set up a tray filled with some of Veronika’s building blocks and then placed an empty bin a little ways away (far enough that she’d have to trot over to it, but not so far away as to be a big journey!). Then I handed her a smaller bucket that she could fill with some of the blocks.

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“Go and fill the empty bin!” I encouraged with a big smile.

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She made a few trips back and forth like this, until now the first tray was empty and the bin was the full one. “All gone!” I said in mock delight as I held up the tray.

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Don’t be surprised if your toddler starts parroting this phrase and wants to go back and forth between the containers several times.

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When Veronika lost interest in this first version of play, we added in a new element: wheels. More specifically, she has a new dump truck that was perfect for loading and unloading the blocks.

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She loved to fill this one up and then zoom it to the tray to tilt back the load.

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In fact, a dump truck like this would be a great way to encourage a toddler to clean up, vrooming each load from a messy floor to a bin.

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