Do you have little ones in your life? It could be your kids, grand kids, nieces, or nephews. It could be your friend’s kids, the kids you babysit, or the ones you teach. I bet they’re getting restless right about now. Snow and rain and cold, Cold, COLD! Just when many of us though that winter was going to be mild this year, it slammed into us. That means lately, kids have been kept in a lot more than they would like. They’re getting bored, irritable, and antsy. They’re probably starting to bicker, and drive you crazy. So what can you do?

Here are a few activities that will occupy them, alleviate some boredom.

 

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

Here’s a fun, edible clay that will keep many kids occupied for hours. You will need to mix together:

  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ C dried milk
  • ¼ C honey

Mix until the mixture forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Add more dried milk as needed while mixing/kneading to make a smooth, pliable ball that doesn’t stick to the hands, bowl, or the surface it is kneaded on.

Hand out chunks to the kids. Encourage the kids to form the dough into animals and other shapes. Or, break out the cookie cutters. The really cool thing about this clay is that the kids can eat their masterpieces, if you’re OK with that. If the kids will be eating their creations, consider making available dried fruit, candies, baking chips, nuts, seeds, pretzel sticks, and/or shredded coconut to decorate their project. Before letting the kids eat their sculptures, or putting the clay back into the storage container, consider immortalizing their creations with a quick photo. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator. If the dough develops an off odor, throw it out.

Things to consider:

  • Make sure any kids involved do not have nut or milk allergies.
  • This activity is not recommended over shag carpeting. Consider covering the carpet if you will be doing this activity in a carpeted area..
  • Have kids wear an older shirt, since the oils from the peanut butter can transfer from the clay, to their hands, and onto their cloths.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile before cleaning up.
  • Make sure kids wash their hands before and after playing with the clay.
  • Clean the play surface before handing out the play dough.
  • Even the best behaved kids are going to be tempted to nibble on the clay (which is ok, if you’re OK with it). Keep this in mind when handing out chunks of clay to play with.
  • Refrigerate unused portions for another day.

 

Sensory Play Box

Let your child play with a homemade sensory box. In a box or bin, place dries pasta, dried beans, beads, small toys, buttons, small smooth pieces of glass, washers, small pom poms, etc. Pebbles, sand, fake paper grass, toilet paper tubes, and fake flower tops and leaves can be fun too. Make sure to use a variety of textures, colors, and sizes.

Allow the kids to free play. Some will make up little games, others will play pretend, or they will explore differences between the items in the box. For extra fun, include a spoon, a measuring cup, and a magnifying glass. A pair of chopsticks, tweezers and/or tongs can also be very fun when added to the box.

To get a bigger bang from your box, you can change things up. You can turn your sensory bin into more than one activity. For example, give your child an ice cube tray or egg carton and encourage them to sort by different textures, colors, shapes, types of item, etc. Or challenge them to see which items they can pick up with chopsticks. Regardless of how the kids choose to play, many kids will play quietly with a sensory box as long as you let them.

Things to consider:

  • Small items pose a choking hazard.
  • If the child will be sitting on the floor to do this activity, consider putting down a small blanket or sheet. When the child is finished playing, simply pick up the floor covering, and pour the items back into the box.
  • Shorter, flatter boxes/bins work better than really deep ones.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile.

 

 

Movie Day

Recreate the magic of a movie theater right in your home. Our top picks are: Epic, A Bug’s Life, James and the Giant Peach, and Antz . A single movie, or a marathon –  your choice. All it takes is a good movie(s), a few treats, a drink, some popcorn, and a very dark room, and you’re ready to go. Besides candy and popcorn, consider cheese chunks, dried fruit, nuts and small pieces of fresh fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to have intermissions as needed, for bathroom breaks, to stretch, and to refresh treats and drinks.

 

I was asked over my shoulder a few moments ago “But what does this have to do with honey bees?” My answer to all of you is, as much or as little as you want it to. The Play dough can just be play dough, or it can turn into a discussion on bees, how they make honey, and why. The sensory boxes can be bee themed if you like. Or not. If they are, you can ask “What/why”  type questions to get your kids minds going. Questions like “Why do you think bees like flowers?” The movies can be any type of movies. They can just be a movie if you want. Or they can be the starting point for many discussions on insects, pollinators, or bee. That’s the beauty of these activities. They can be whatever you want or need them to be.

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