Please help me come up with more activties for my situation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 07-03-2012, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
I am very opposed to any screen time for DS who is 26 months. But lately I am finding myself resorting more and more to Ipad ( we dont have tv). On it, I have carefully selected and downloaded a few videos that he can watch( same set, again and again). So, its a " better " form of screen time IMO however I feel guilty.

We go out everyday, zoo, park all that, have lot of playdates, do hour long baths/ water activities in bathtub), read tons of books.

I have some limitatiions, so to speak!
We live in a 600 sq feet apartment ( carpeted) on a third floor( so no running) and my DS does not tolerate hot or too cold days( nor do I) so our problem are those hot afternoons and cold mornings/ evenings.
He doesnt like crafty stuff ( I keep trying) , not interested in household chores, legos or blocks( not enough to really have it as our daily activity) etc.

So, please I need some more ideas!!

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#2 of 29 Old 07-03-2012, 05:27 PM
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I know what you mean. Here are a couple of blogs I wrote that might help:


Free Range Play


Screen-Free Week


Hope this helps.

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#3 of 29 Old 07-03-2012, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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#4 of 29 Old 07-04-2012, 03:12 AM
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I used to find kids music CDs great, we had lots wiith action songs, plus a basket of instruments (shakers, couple of sticks to bang together) were great for getting out excess energy. Could you get a rug or some of the foam puzzle mats, to absorb to noise.


We used to have one of the shallow under bed boxes with rice or beans for pouring and scooping. Made a change from water and easier to clean up than sand. We did have to watch closely that they didn't eat it though.


There were very few activities I remember keeping them busy for long at that sort of age, definalt a case of having lots to choose from and changing regulalry. We used to rotate the toys around too, so they had access to a couple of boxes at a time and when they lost interest I was able to bring out a new box.

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#5 of 29 Old 07-04-2012, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
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#6 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 01:38 PM
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Our children have window markers that they really like. Even if he isn't usually into art, he might like getting to draw on the windows.

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#7 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 01:49 PM
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My son is just a little bit older than yours. We do have screen time but, like you I feel guilty about it. There are only a few programs I'll let my son watch and most do not have commercials. (Netflix, DVDs, hulu, etc). Otherwise, here are some things we do indoors:

- music box (box of musical instruments that we play together)

- mom and me yoga (I ask him to do poses with me, sometimes it works sometimes it doesnt)

- car carpet (a rug with streets on it so he can play with cars)

- books

- blocks and legos

- play kitchen

- coloring and painting

- help mom cook or bake

- water plants

- pretend vaccum

- tunnels and tents (we have some popup things and also use sheets)

- stuffed animal pile = place to jump into

- puzzles

- anything that involves stickers or crafts

- practice ABCs, counting, sign language

- see how much things weigh

- play fetch with our dog

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#8 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 02:07 PM
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I found the book Unplugged Play to be very helpful at that age. It has ideas categorized by age. Each age group includes solo play, play ideas for parent and child, playing with others, and brithday party play.

I also love the blog Unplug Your Kids. It's not as active as it was, but there are some great ideas there. Speaking of the topic, I need to unplug myself today. 2whistle.gif


I am also a lover of books reading.gif, treehugger treehugger.gif, and occasional soapbox stander! soapbox.gif


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#9 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 07:09 PM
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what about finger paints or side walk chalk some out door time is always great
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#10 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 08:24 PM
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My DS loves to "help" me in the kitchen.  So, if we bake muffins for example, I get him to put all the paper cups into the muffin tin, then he gets to pour the flour into the bowl, pour the sugar, help me mix, etc. etc.  Slower and messier, but he loves it.


DS also loves books.  We read together or he flips through his favorites.  Once a week we do gymboree.  There is also an indoor play area at a mall near our place.  Those types of things are good for too hot/too cold days.


Another site to check out is called "productive parenting".  They will send you emails (daily, only certain days of the week, once a week, whatever you chose) with activity ideas that are geared specifically to your child's age range.  I had read a post where another mothering mamma had recommended it and it's great.

N, wife to my goofball K partners.gif and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013).  Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.

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#11 of 29 Old 07-10-2012, 09:42 PM
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Good thread. We are doing less and less screen time, hopefully none after we move next month! If you live in a decent size town check out Groupon for indoor play places. There are a few around here (chicago 'burbs) that are pretty cool. My favorite is and they have groupons twice a year. Also we do open gym at a local gymnatics place. Its an hour and a half just for 5 and under! My son loves it! 

- Mom to Baby Mark (9/18/10) and 4 wonderful dogs!
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#12 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 01:42 AM
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For the cold mornings/evenings, how about some pretend camp time? If there's some room, you can set up a mini makeshift tent, put glow in the dark stickers and stick it on the outside of your makeshift tent, and pretend play together. You can both imagine that you're somewhere cold and are camping out, with no iPad. :)  Some reading with a flashlight, some "pretend" cooking by a fire - just something simple. It might be some good fun and a "change of scenery", if you will! :) Hope this helps!

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#13 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:12 AM
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We have lived in apartments DD's (currently 3) entire life (military) and got rid of the TV this past year. Since then, she has always been able to entertain herself with anything, most recently she started playing with my nail polish bottles and imagined them to be people :)


In a small space, imagination is definitely key, so fostering that side of our children will help them develop naturally. DD has a lot less toys then all of our friends and I noticed after I got rid of all the plastic, it really encouraged her to pay extra attention to what she has. After reading your post again I noticed that everything you stated is a lot of doing and not a lot of observing, which always gives me a good starting point to help encourage her to use her toys in a different way. We personally don't do a lot of outings, most recently our schedule has looked like this:


9am- wake up/ free play

1030- breakfast 

11- shower

free play until lunch at 12-1

1-4 hands on activity (beeswax crayons, watercoloring, scissors, books)

4-5 freeplay

5- start prepping and making dinner

6- dinner

free play until bed at 8pm


once a week we visit a friend from 4-8pm, twice a week we run errands/ chores from 10-2 and we visit my mom once a week from 10-2. 


Overall, keeping everything simple has really helped. 

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#14 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:19 AM
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During the week I rarely allow my 2 1/2 year old any TV time. On weekend I allow her 1-2 shows on Nick Jr. She is not allowed on the computer at all. The rest of the time I have her play with her toys. I also print out lots of pictures she can color, she has gotten a lot of crayons from the restaurants when we go out to eat. (Don't be afraid to ask for extra crayons).


I also have music CD's for her. My daughter also has those little tablets she can scribble on and push the slide across to erase it. She loves those.


She also has lots and lots of books.


She does pretty good with playing with her toys she has.


She has a lot of blocks and stuffed animals as well as a few "noise maker" toys.


We also take her to the swimming pool a couple of times a week.


Some of the other local things we do with her: we have found the local malls that have the carousels and the little train rides. We take her there when the weather is bad.


We just recently took her to the aquarium (while on vacation) for the first time. We also just took her to the zoo (also while on vacation) for the first time. We also took her to the circus while it was in town for the first time, and we are planning on taking her to a local small carnival for the firs time.


When I think about  it I guess we are pretty lucky. I daughter loves to just play with us. We do little games with her like peak a boo, her favorite game with Daddy is swinging around in circles. Her latest game is she took Daddy's old sock and put it on her hand and started chasing mommy and daddy around the house telling us the sock monster was going to get us. (and we did it with her as well).


You can also try easy cheap crafts that your child may enjoy.

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#15 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:45 AM
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First I just have to say, release the guilt. If you've decided on no or limited screen time, that's fine. If you decide to use some cartoons and videos, simple computer games, read-aloud websites, that's actually fine too. Guilt is just not helpful. 


My suggestions for entertaining a two year old- grow some seeds or plants (even beans in a cup in the window). Find and watch bugs. Hang a bird feeder, observe the birds. Get some field guides and identify birds, bugs, trees, flowers. Make collections of things he can sort- silverware, large buttons, play food, corks. Let him "paint" a tray with ketchup or whipped cream. Let him body-art himself with markers & stickers. Give him stuff to rip up, old phone books or free newspapers. Get some big magnets and help him find places to stick them. Get some indoor ride-ons, like a hoppy ball, or a pillow roller. Help him write books, and then read them together. Make photo albums with pics of friends, family, places, and even just random images, and go through them, talking about everything. Tell him about your childhood.  Tell him about your grandparents. Make tape racetracks on the floor and race wind-up or rolling toys. Pop bubble wrap. Practice your dance moves together- it doesn't have to be kids music, any music is fine, most kids love country & western. Let him do your makeup. Do his nails. Get a box of hats/wigs/masks and make jokes and silly faces while you wear them. Eat for fun- make popsicles, find weird looking fruits, add coloring to things, spear cheerios on uncooked spaghetti. Learn a few magic tricks and pull strawberries out of his ears. Roll lemons down the stairs. Make paper airplanes. Or paper wads. Both are fun to throw. Make balloon animals. Bat a balloon back & forth. Call up the dial-a-story and let him listen. Call up everybody you know, and put him on the phone. Teach him the chorus to your favorite song, and sing loud. Play flashlight tag. Do the limbo. Teach him to somersault. 


And then fall exhausted into bed!

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#16 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:47 AM
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Mix cornstarch and water in a baking pan or other low dish in enough quantities to make a 'goo' that can be played with for hours! Make sure to add the water slowly- it's easier than you think to add too much. It's pretty neat: when you squeeze it, it solidifies in your hand; relax your grip and it drips through your fingers. Super-easy clean-up as it rinses right off with water. Use small toys/blocks/cars etc with it, anything that can be rinsed! My twins (now 8yo) LOVED this and still ask to play with it occasionally. You can add a drop or 2 of food colouring to make it more interesting smile.gif Bonus: cornstarch is not expensive!

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#17 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 11:57 AM
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here are some things we do


- play kitchen: a neighbour gave us a play kitchen, and i give my little guy real pots & utensils for him to cook with. sometimes he asks for water to do the dishes, most of the time he is making tea & birthday cake. he also has beans he pours into different containers. always make sure you eat what he makes.. even if you're "full" lol

- take a bowl of water & allow him to drop in drops of food coloring. we don't use it in food here, it's purely for playing. even once it's muddled into a singular color, he still finds it fascinating.( i hear it works best in milk as the colors separate nicer, but i don't want to waste the milk.) give some spoons and extra container for scooping ice.

- do more bath times.. if it's hot, just fill up a up some cool water and let him play as long as he pleases. in the evening, i've put on some soothing music and lit candles and given some special patchouli orange bubble soap. makes him feel special.

- chase each other around growling & tickling.. my son could do this for hours.

- make a mask.. my son saw a picture of a girl wearing a bird mask and decided he needed one. he wasn't too into the crafting of it, but got a good laugh wearing it around the house.

- choose a desolate area in your neighbourhood that won't get mowed and plant some flowers. make daily walks to check on them.

- listen to music on grooveshark... we've been into the raffi.. he loves dancing together.

- red light/green light.. get them to stop and go for certain tasks. jumping, spinning, etc..

- feeding the ducks at the park, or throwing rocks into any body of water.



i'd be interested in hearing some other ideas from you mom's & dad's! : )

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#18 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 12:22 PM
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I agree with release the guilt. If you can't do that then don't do screen time. As a parent you shouldn't be doing things you believe to be wrong. I don't think TV or a computer should be used as a baby sitter for a child under 2. There can be good uses of TV or computer when a young child is with an adult. As a child gets older they may be able to have some screen time alone depending on what they are doing and depending on the child.

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#19 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 12:30 PM
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I can totally relate!  We live in a small, carpeted apartment and my son, who is now 3.5 yrs., still isn't interested in crafts 99% of the time.  He has a LOT of energy so keeping busy and engaged is my primary job.  We go out everyday, whether it's to a playgroup, play date, park, visit with family, museum, local farm, hike in the woods.  Anything and in any weather.  Here are some things we do inside:


Sometimes I break out the crafts boxes and do it myself, I find that even though he's not interested he'll gravitate to the table and play near me and give input on what I should do.  I draw pictures and he tells me a story to go with them and I write it on the back of the picture.


Two crafty things he does do regularly are 1) use play dough, which usually is just mashing it and poking at it with tools more than making stuff, and 2) finger paints with his feet.  (I keep a large trash bag ripped open for a "safe area" do to messy projects.)


Another crafty thing you can do if he likes playing with cars and trucks is get some large paper and draw a map for him to drive them on.  He tell you if he'd like a city or construction site or jungle and help pick out where different things should be.


Fill the sink and let him play with kitchen utensils.


Break out some baking soda and a scrub brush so he can help clean the tub.  My boy came up with this on his own one day and it's so great to get some cleaning help.


Our local library is super important to us.  If he has a question or interest in a topic we go and find books about it.  That usually inspires us to do another activity related to the original question and engages more play.  He also loves listening to stories, sometimes I just read for 2 hours if that's what he wants to do.


My husband used to have a large plastic box filled with plastic pellets (which you could substitute with anything from rice, beads, beans) for an ad hoc sandbox that was easy to clean up after.  I bet an under bed storage box would be great for this since you could just put the top on it and tuck it away when you're not using it.


In reality, 90% of play time for us is with cars and trucks.  I'm looking at my living room and there's at least 20 of them all over the place as I type this and he's playing with one on a road bridge telling a story to himself.  This used to bother me because I thought it was limiting, but I've come to realize that they are his version of dolls.  He makes up stories, he stacks them like blocks, he lines them up, we make garages out of them and figure out what the best size will work for the vehicles we have out, we count them, we compare their features and colors, they talk to each other.  All the things we want to encourage in imaginative, learning play time.  So look at what your child likes to do for play and draw your inspiration from there.

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#20 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 01:02 PM
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Sparkle Stories are great and there's some free ones you can download on their website or any "book on tape" Our local library also has a phone line you can call in to listen to stories. 



and I love to bake/cook so I bought a kitchen helper when she was 1 and we still use it (she's 5 1/2).  she's been at the kitchen counter along side me since she was about 1.   i never had room for a play kitchen area (we were also in a very small 600 sq ft. apt until she was 3) so she just did it at the counter with me.  

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#21 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 06:42 PM
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Build a fort with sofa cushions and sheets, puppet shows, make up stories together (can use stuffed animals or puppets), get some costumes (can often find these at consignment or thrift stores or very marked down after Halloween), go to a nursery and let him pick out a few plants for a planter box then check and water every day, gymnastic moves (sommersaults, ect.), dancing (esp. silly dancing), hide and seek, stuffed animal living room picnic or tea party, theme days (book about bunnies, carrots for lunch, pretend to be bunnies, ect., whatever he's into), weekly trips to the library so you always have fresh books & cds at home, pop-up tunnel, act out stories (princess and the pea, ect.)...

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#22 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 08:55 PM
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Well, my DD isn't that old yet, but here are some things I remember my mom doing with me when I was little (3-ish)...These are all indoor things since it sounds like that's what you need most.


--I know he doesn't like crafty things, but maybe window crayons or bath crayons?  Or those markers that smell like different things, if he can be trusted with markers?

--The "mother may I" game to get across the room & back--my mom used to play this while she was cooking.  The kid says "Mother, may I go out to play?" and the mom says, "Yes, if you do xxx all the way"--fill in the blank with hop, walk backwards, run, crawl, etc.  The kid does that to the other end of the room and back.  Repeat add infinitum.

--Tickle monster games, tag games, etc. in the house

--Building forts

--Helping cook (way cooler than just "chores" because you get to eat it afterwards)

--Jumping on the bed.  My parents let me do it and it was awesome!  And very good for using up excess energy on rainy days. :)

--Homemade play-doh

--Playing dress-up

--Cranking up the radio and doing silly dances

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#23 of 29 Old 07-11-2012, 10:25 PM
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Great thread!  Thanks for the honest post and sharing.  My boys are a little bit younger than yours.  We limit "screen" time and I do feel guilty about it if I use it too much.  We do not have cable and or a "box" for the tv.  So, the tv can only play dvd's or vhs which we can select and control.  We also use Netflix and Hulu online so we can all sit and watch the computer screen or smart phone screen.  I would prefer to have NO screen time but have not gotten there yet although we're getting closer.


I love some of the ideas that have been posted.  I also love the book Unplugged Play!


Some of the things our boys love doing: 


*Playing with empty plastic containers that I've filled with different objects.  They love these things better than toys from the store and they fight over them!  It's hilarious.


*Helping water plants, helping cook, helping clean up a mess, helping put laundry in the dryer, helping carry laundry to the laundry room ... helping gets huge smiles and they look so proud of themselves.


*We have a tub of musical instruments and we sing action songs.  This is a big hit around our place.  We also dance to any kind of music ... theirs, mine or daddy's!


*We also rotate toys around everyday, sometimes two or three times a day - especially if we were stuck inside.


We also add outdoor time, zoo, park, walks, water play ...


Again ... I love this thread and you all gave me some great ideas to help keep the screen off more!!!

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#24 of 29 Old 07-12-2012, 02:04 PM
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I know you are looking for indoor activities at your home, but don't forget some of the free indoor, climate controlled places that you can go to in your city: the YMCA, public libraries, indoor pools. Malls usually have play areas too.


Depending on your beliefs/comfort level with fast food places, there are chick-fil-a, mcdonalds and burger king playplaces that can provide a chance for exercise too. You can just order a cup of coffee or juice and forgo the food.

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#25 of 29 Old 07-15-2012, 02:15 PM
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1) One of the activities I do with my son is to make a collage of the 'letter of the day'

 Although I state "letter of the day", we don't do this activity every single day...our schedule has been hectic lately that it has been almost every three or four days at a time.

      If it is a nice day, my son and I would arm ourselves with a basket and collect items from the park/garden...such as pine cones or leaves or rocks...sticks even.  ((My son gets some fresh air and he has a hunting activity to do while we wonder around and talk about what we see.))    At home I would draw the letter of the day and we would stick the item we collect to form the letter.  LOVE Elmers glue...easy to clean and it dries clear.  Then he helps me find the letters in old magazines.  I would cut the letters he finds and he would glue them on.

   We are slowly working through the alphabets.   This is perfect for either a sunny day or rainy day.  All you really need to find are things that you can get in large quantities.  I am planning on using uncooked pastas, dried beans or lentils, yarn/strings, scraps of fabric, and even sand...for a messy day!  :-) 


 2)  Once we complete the alphabet, my next thought is for us to find pictures of items that starts with each letter.  On an odd day we would make pictures of whatever he is into.  Lately he is fascinated with space & rockets.  He has several pictures of space ship in his room! LOL


3)Another activity we like to do is go for a short hike.  He loves to climb so I make sure we go through trails that has boulders for him to climb....sometimes with mommy's help.  Last week we stumbled across blueberry bushes!  He had a blast collecting them and we made blueberry yoghurt popsicles.


4) Our other project that we are working on is creating characters for our shadow puppet show.  I use cereal boxes to cut out images/characters and twigs to stick the silhouette on.  My son helps me to best he can...and I cut out the image.  Next weekend we will be camping with my nephews so we are planning on bringing our flashlights and our characters so we can create our story.   So far we have a fire breathing dragon, two pine trees, and a goofy looking robot.  They are not perfect cutouts of dragon & robot but my son loves them.  :-)  He wants a car, castle, and a rocket.  :-)


I hope these help you.

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#26 of 29 Old 07-16-2012, 01:40 AM
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Hey, Thanks for sharing some amazing ideas!! Really helpful!! :) This is such an amazing forum I have joined!! I have a small sister named taarya, earlier i was really confused of how to engage her in activities !! because of age gap, I really didnt know of how to play with her, I really just cant play doll house with her, and whole day she is after my life to play with her!! So while surfing, I found this site called hushbabies, and Man, there were so many games, puzzles, Cds , Dvds available, that I was so confused of what to buy, everything was available!! when i showed it to taarya, she just wanted everything!! but atlast i made a choice, and I got brainy baby fun learning pack for her, That pack made learning so much fun, that even I too enjoy with her, And she totally loved it, and calls it the best gift of her life, It teaches her fruits and vegetables, It has some magical sounds as well, introduces seasons, and a great way to teach her body parts as well!! And lately she has been calling her friends too, and showing it to them as well!! And i am happy that she has found a friend and teacher in it, You can also try other cds and Dvds as well, and engage them in something useful for them!! guys, keep on sharing your ideas, this way we can try something new and learn from each other!!


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#27 of 29 Old 07-16-2012, 05:21 AM
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I haven't read all of the replies, but some things toddlers enjoy are...


play dough

coloring/water color

flash light or laser light

blocks/lincoln logs/legos

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#28 of 29 Old 07-16-2012, 05:32 AM
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Other non-toy fun...


the old wooden spoon and pots and pans drum set.

A piece of string and something tied at the end of it, maybe a feather, or something else light that won't break things if swung about,

A big pile of sponges

A big pile of popsicle sticks

A pile of paper that can be crumpled/torn/scattered

A pool inflatable floatie, these make great boats for the living room!

43 w/Emphysema - TTC from 2005 - 2013. 2 miscarriages in 2008. Good things do not come to those who wait.

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#29 of 29 Old 09-10-2012, 12:25 PM
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I know he is not into crafts, but something I love is creating an "Imagination Station" on your kitchen table. Save up recyclables- old tissue boxes, the cardboard cylinder from paper towers/toiletpaper, milk and egg cartons etc- as well as collecting old buttons and misc. items. Find a pair of scissors, scotch tape and markers and turn those old recyclables into new inventions! 


This is great for staying busy as well as enabling creative play and fostering a LOs imagination! 

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