Entertaining a small child can be a frustrating task. They are so full of energy, but usually have pretty short attention spans which can make it difficult to get them to focus on anything for more than two minutes. They tend to jump from one game or activity to another so fast that they exhaust their options in a very short amount of time. When kids get bored, they get grouchy, which can make it even harder to get and keep them engaged in anything. In my experience, kids tend to concentrate better when what they are doing is hands-on, especially when it’s messy. There’s just something about having to be hosed down in the backyard after playtime that kids love. The dirtier they get, or the bigger mess they make, the more fun they have. I have learned to embrace this and let my kids go wild in the name of fun. It’s nothing a Brillo pad can’t fix, right? Here are some of my favorite, mess-making ideas (that are actually a lot of fun):
No, I’m not talking about tagging buildings like a bunch of hoodlums (although I think that would be kind of fun). I’m talking about sidewalk chalk. Drawing random shapes and doodles on my front porch is my three-year-old daughter’s favorite outdoor activity. She loves it. Almost every square inch of concrete is covered in pink circles and green hopscotch boards. When they are done, simply blast it with a water hose and they have a blank canvas for next time. Is it too hot/cold/rainy to go outside? No problem. Kids love all kinds of art. Break out some finger paint or craft supplies and watch where their imagination takes them. My daughter and I made a pizza – complete with removable toppings – out of foam sheets a few months ago and she still plays with it all the time. When it comes to art, the possibilities are truly endless.
- Weird Science
There are a ton of easy science experiments out there that are guaranteed to blow your little one’s mind. You can make your very own play-dough, a firework bottle popper, fluffy bath paint, a mini ocean, a tornado in a bottle, etc…the list goes on and on! Not only are these projects a blast, but they are also educational. Here are a few websites with great ideas and instructions for some cool experiments:
- Pat-A-Cake, Baker’s Man
What do kids love more than making a mess? Making a delicious mess they can eat! Throw a cake,cupcakes, or some cookies in the oven and let your munchkin/s decorate them. Show them how to draw with the icing, or just give them some sprinkles and candy and let them go wild.
- Extreme Makeover
This one works best with little girls, but it can definitely work with boys as well. Gather up all of your old makeup, nail polish, a ton of hair accessories, fun jewelry, scarves, hats, and anything else you can play dress-up with. After you give each other fabulous new looks, have a fashion show and take silly pictures. To make this activity a little more boy-friendly, try turning each other into monsters, aliens, or their favorite cartoon characters.
Go wild and just have fun with whatever activity you choose! You may spend an hour scrubbing paint off of the floor, but you’ll have the memories forever.