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  • Aryane Oar, MS, RDN, CD

Fun resources for kids (and parents!)

Updated: May 4



Schools are closed, many of us are working from home, and the social distancing recommendations are getting reinforced and stricter each day. We are currently in the thick of a worldwide pandemic and COVID-19 is deeply impacting our daily lives. Amid so many changes and challenges, here we are, trying our best to adjust and adapt to this new normal. 

Keeping kids entertained can be a real challenge. I don’t know about yours, but if my kids are not actively engaged in some activity, they are either asking for endless hours in front of the TV, doing something they shouldn’t (the other day my 3-year-old found Vaseline and applied it everywhere) or are constantly searching for food. Well, I guess the latter is something we all do when there’s not a whole lot to do around!

So, I wanted to use this opportunity not to talk about food but to share some creative activities for kids that will encourage playfulness and will likely keep your little ones busy and entertained. 

The games and toys I suggest below are from Plan International Brasil [1], a non-profit Brazilian humanitarian organization that promotes the children’s rights. Their goal is to provide a playful environment for kids, using toys, materials, and games suitable for children aged 6 years and under. Pretty fun; check it out!



6 MONTHS AND OLDER


The Treasure Basket


It is suitable for babies who can sit. When we put interesting objects in a basket, we allow the baby to discover for himself what he can do with them. The diversity of shapes, textures, sounds, and colors, present in the materials, stimulate the baby's motor skills as well as tactile, sound, visual and taste perceptions.


Directions: In a basket, put objects with different textures, colors, shapes, sizes and temperatures for your baby to explore, such as wooden and metal spoons, plastic spoons in various sizes, rags, rattles, and plastic containers.



1 to 2 YEARS OLD

Sensory Bottles


You can use plastic bottles of any size, as long as they are transparent, and with objects that spark curiosity and the desire to observe materials. Colors and shapes, when mixed with water or sand, produce interesting effects. Make sure to clean and sanitize the bottles and to keep their contents out of the reach of children. You can use a glue gun to keep their caps in place.


Materials: 

- Sound bottles: buttons, beads, grains or dry beans, macaroni, hairpins, nuts and bolts, clips, toothpicks.

- Light bottles: feather, ribbons, colored paper balls, leaves, and flowers.

- Heavy bottles: sand, dirt, pebbles, flour, and water.

- Bottles with liquid: a combination of water with food dye and small floating objects.


Wind Ring


A toy that moves with the child's movements and the wind. This colorful toy encourages the child to run, make circular movements with the arms and play with one of nature’s elements, the wind. You can build this toy with your children, teaching them how to tie.



Directions: You will need wooden rings (such as curtain rings) and satin ribbons of various colors (about 2 feet long each). Pass the satin ribbons through the ring and tie. Tie a ribbon next to the other. Cut another piece of ribbon a bit shorter than the others and tie it opposite the other ribbons so that the child can pull.






2 TO 4 YEARS OLD

Homemade playdough


Playing and participating in the preparation of the playdough allows the children to develop their creativity and imagination. A piece of playdough can turn into many things in a child's imagination and hands! Make the playdough with the child's help. Let the child measure, put the ingredients and mix to notice the transformation. Note: contains gluten.


Ingredients: 1 cup of all-purpose flour, ½ cup salt, ½ cup water, ¼ cup vegetable oil, food dye.

Directions: In a mixing bowl, add flour, salt and, mix well. Add water, oil and mix until combined and smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding more water or flour. Store in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.


Sensory Bin

A portable sensory bin allows the child to play with various elements in indoor and outdoor environments and stimulates the development of children through the exploration of the senses.

Materials: plastic bin, sand, dirt, water, grains, dry beans, paper, miniature animals, spoons, disposable containers and caps, funnel, sticks, leaves, and pebbles.

Directions: First, pick a theme for the sensory bin. Then, just assemble it creating a bottom (it can be sand, water, dirt, or even other elements, such as rice, beans, jello, etc.) and insert objects according to the chosen theme.

Magic Box

The magic box allows children to create their own toys and stimulates creativity, imagination, and concentration.

Materials: a cardboard box, shoebox or similar, recyclable materials (bottles, caps, papers, cardboard tubes of toilet paper, etc), glue, kids scissors, colored tape, masking tape, twine, markers, colored pencils, crayons, paint, paint brushes, etc. 

Directions: Stimulate the child's imagination to build a robot, a doll, an airplane. Search with her in books and magazines for some images that can inspire her imagination and creation. Read her a story and create the characters with the objects in the box.


4 TO 6 YEARS OLD

Spinning Top

Spinning top stimulates child development by combining the use of vision and motor coordination, in addition to developing strength and a sense of distance. You can build yours, serving as a sample for the child to build his, and at the end, play together.


Materials: 1 CD, a marble (or half of a small styrofoam ball), 1 bottle or glue cap, cardboard or stock paper, and materials to

decorate. 

Directions: Trace the shape of the CD on cardboard or stock paper using a pencil. Decorate the CD template as you would like by using paint, markers, stickers, drawings, etc. Glue the decorated template on one side of the CD. On the other side, glue the marble in the middle (use a glue gun) and, on the upper side, also in the center, glue the bottle cap. It’s ready to play!

Reference:

1. Cardápio de Brinquedos e Brincadeiras. Plan International Brasil. https://plan.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cardapiodebrincadeiras_web_20161212-1.pdf



Helpful links:


  • I am offering Telehealth appointments! We are now in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna insurance and many plans cover Telehealth sessions. Click here to make an appointment. 

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