Caleigh, Marc and I live in Massachusetts and while the promise of spring is always something we look forward to, this season can be brutal in New England, especially with toddlers. Spring tends to arrive with earlier mornings, birds chirping, and sun and laugh in our faces while hailing cold sleet and rain (sometimes even snow!). I know, I know, April showers bring May flowers, but April showers also bring a restless toddler who wants to play outside.
I like to shift our activities with the seasons and try to find new ways to play with our toys. We truly don’t keep many in the house, so what we have, we have to love. This is an intentional choice; we don’t like clutter or mess. There are limits to what our main floor holds. Right now, it features her play kitchen and a toybox. We rotate her toys regularly so they don’t become stale.
For the months of April and May, I will be bringing you what we do, indoors and out, to keep our creativity buzzing. If you’ve been here for a bit, you know we read A TON, but it’s definitely not the only indoor activity we do! I know entertaining children can be daunting, so these little, inexpensive activities are perfect for all children no matter their gender. They also range in years and I’ll provide how-to options throughout the explanation. Here is our first toddler spring activity for the indoors!
- Construction Paper
- Toy Cars – we love the Little People Wheelies!
- Optional: painter’s tape
- Optional: markers & stickers
Toddler Spring Activity:
On a cold spring afternoon, Caleigh wanted to play with her cars. We’d been using our furniture (kitchen stools, chairs) to create “race spaces” for her. Essentially, we’d line them up by the legs and see if she could “race” a car straight through, with Marc or I on the other side. We continued to make her courses more challenging, which she really liked. On this day, she asked for tunnels.
Cue mom brain.
I went to the crafting closet, grabbed a few pieces of construction paper and started folding the sides flat, thus creating a “bubble”, or tunnel in the middle. Apparently, I store my construction paper like a psychopath because it was warped from being folded under itself. In the photos, you will see that some tunnels stand prettier than others do, but I like to think it added to the challenge.
I used tape to secure the sides to the floor. Don’t be me. Don’t use Scotch tape. It was a pain to get off the floor and I should have used bigger pieces. Painter’s tape is easier to lift and safer for your floors. See that little orange guy in the bottom corner? He did NOT want to stay, so he became a “rolling” tunnel – extra challenging!
Caleigh spent about 45 minutes playing with this set up. We did add more and move them around to make a “super tunnel”. Marc also arranged some of them back to back so she could send more than one car through at a time. It cost us $0 to make and put together and a total of about 5 minutes to prep, set up, and eventually recycle. I would say this was a success!
Adjustments for Babies:
This could easily be adjusted for babies! It’s a great activity for hand-eye coordination, too, or simply to encourage sitting up whether propped by you or pillows or more independently.
For a baby, I would make a single, large tunnel directly in front of them and where their legs are. Using your hand to guide, I would push a car forward and backward slowly, push and pull, and then gently let the car go through the tunnel. Repeat! You could teach clapping, direction words, and motor skills all in this one activity!
For even younger babes, you could use the tunnel to foster tummy time. This was always a challenge in our house. What baby loves tummy time? While you baby is on her stomach, you could be on yours on the other side of the tunnel and use it like a scope to see each other. This may draw her attention or curiosity, perhaps eliminating some of the burden of making tummy time interesting.
Adjustments for Older Toddlers/Children:
Obviously, the course is adjustable for difficulty with more tunnels, placed in challenging positions. I would also recommend adding time to this by having your children “decorate” the tunnels prior to playing with them. We love crafts in our house, especially when they have a play purpose! Paint, color, add stickers, feathers, glitter and play! If you have the space, you can keep their tunnels for multiple uses, as well.
We are planning to bring some construction paper tunnels outside as well, using rocks as their anchor to the driveway. I think sidewalk chalk will also be featured in our new highway, creating roads and more obstacles difficult to “build” out of paper.
What do you think? Is this something you would try with your children? Have you done this before? What is your go-to toddler spring activity in the house? Leave them in the comments below!