22 Apr At-Home Activities to Keep Your Child Engaged
We understand that it can be challenging to come up with fun, engaging activities for your children that you can do at home. Entertaining your children while working from home or housekeeping is a difficult task that many parents and guardians have been thrust into because of the Coronavirus.
In an effort to make your life easier and keep your child engaged, our team here at Sugar Mill Montessori has come up with some fun activities you can do with your children. Below you will find that the activities we have developed have been curated based on the age of your child.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Activities for Infants
It’s never too early to have your child start interacting with their surroundings and exploring their senses. Closely monitor your baby during all of the following activities.
Infants 3-6 Months
Tummy Time Paint Bag – put different colors of paint in a zip lock bag and tape the bag to the floor and let your baby play with the paint to promote tummy time.
Frozen Teether Toys – these are great for babies when they are teething. Put some teether toys in the freezer till they are nice and cold for your baby.
Sensory Bottles – These are fun for all ages! Fill an empty plastic water bottle filled with beans, different kinds of pasta, coins, pom-poms, popcorn, water and glitter, and water beads. You can also use liquids like water (put some drops of food color), baby oil, corn syrup, and any tape of small objects. Hot glue the lids on and let your child explore!
Sensory Bean Bags – cut out pieces of fabric and put different objects inside, such as pasta, buttons, pom poms, corn kernels, then sew the fabric around all edges.
Ice Cube Play in a Bottle – place ice cubes in a bottle and let your baby feel the cold bottle.
Shallow Tray Water Play – in a shallow tray, put a small amount of water and some drops of food coloring and allow your baby to explore in the water.
Mirror Play – Place a mirror on the floor and place your baby on their tummy to look into the mirror. Another option is to place a mirror against the wall and allow your baby to sit up and look at the mirror to help promote sitting up.
Jell-O Play – with instant Jell-O, you can put some in a pan and allow your baby to explore the Jell-O while doing tummy time.
Color Bags – Place shaving cream in a zip lock bag with food coloring, tape the bag shut, and allow your baby to and play with the colors. Put different colors in the bag to introduce color mixing- red and yellow = orange, blue and red = purple, yellow and blue = green.
Blow Bubbles – let your baby reach for the bubbles to help gross motor skills.
Star Light – Fill a plastic jar with battery operated twinkle lights, and seal tight. Turn down the room lights and allow yourself to be dazzled as they roll the jar of light around.
Infants 6-12 Months
Crawling Tunnel – Attach ribbons of varying lengths, widths, and textures to an old box and let your little one crawl in and out, feel the ribbons passing over their body, drag the box around, and play peek-a-boo with it.
Rice Sensory Bin – Hide some toys in a container full of rice. Give your child some tools, such as different spoons and a funnel.
Jell-O Sensory Bin – make instant Jell-O with different toys and texture objects inside the Jell-O, once the Jell-O has set allow your baby to dig and explore in the Jell-O. Some colors, such as red, may stain hands more than others.
Homemade Play Sand – crush and blend about 25 graham crackers, then blend oatmeal and mix both together to a consistency of your choosing. Once the sand is made, place the sand in a tub container and allow your baby to play and explore, add measuring cups, spoons, etc.
Blow Bubbles – Teach your baby to blow bubbles.
Peel Tape – place different colors of masking tape with different lengths on the table or floor and allow your baby to peel the tape off; this will help with fine motor skills.
Frozen Teethers – placing teether toys in the freezer will help soothe your baby with teething. If your child is eating solids, introduce frozen fruits through a silicone food feeder. They can explore new tastes while soothing their gums.
Bottle Shakers – place different objects that will make noise inside empty plastic bottles such as beans, rice, coins, pasta, marbles, etc. and allow your baby to shake and explore the bottles.
Musical Instruments – grab different size pots and pans along with different size wooden and plastic spoons for your baby to play with.
Egg Shakers – Make your own egg shakers by filling plastic Easter eggs with beans, rice, oatmeal, etc. for your child to explore different sounds. Remember to glue the eggs shut so the contents of the egg do not fall out.
Muffin Tin Sorting – place different color and size balls in the muffin tin and allow your baby to grab and place balls into the muffin tin.
Sensory Board – glue buttons, pom poms, different pastas, sandpaper, or fabric onto pieces of cardboard or wood squares to make into a sensory board.
Sensory Bag – Fill a large zip lock bag with hair gel and small objects- hair bands, buttons, small animals, etc. Seal the bag with duct tape to keep contents contained. Your baby will have interesting things to squish and push. You can also place different colored hair gel into zip lock bags and tape on the window and allow your baby to explore. The sun shining in will make for beautiful colors for your baby to explore.
Object Permanence Box – This activity helps your baby develop focus, concentration, and fine motor skills (whole-hand grasp). As the name suggests, an object permanence box helps your baby experience firsthand that even though the ball is gone and not visible only for a very short time and that it is not gone forever. All you need is a shoebox, ball, and duct tape. Leave one side of the box open. Cut a hole large enough to fit your ball on the top of the box.
Infants 12-18 months
Rolling Pin Sensory Activity – place pasta, rice, cheerios, and corn flakes inside zip lock bags and allow your baby to use the rolling pin to crush and hear the different sounds.
Pom-Pom Whisk – place different size and color pom poms inside a whisk and allow your baby to pull out the pom-poms to work on fine motor skills.
Whipped Cream Color Making – spray whipped cream on the table with food coloring and allow your baby to explore the texture with the colors. Some colors, such as red, may stain hands more than others.
Peeling Tape – place different color balls in a muffin tin and place masking tape over the balls and have your baby peel the tape in order to get the balls.
Spaghetti Pool – cook spaghetti pasta, drain and cool, place a small amount of olive oil in the spaghetti, and allow the pasta to dry for about an hour or two. Put the spaghetti in a baby pool, sit your baby in the pool wearing only a diaper, and let them explore.
Pom Pom Ice Cube – place pom poms inside an ice tray with water and freeze. Once frozen, allow your baby to play with the ice cubes.
Temperature Bottles – In empty water bottles, place one with ice water and one with warm water to let your baby feel hot and cold.
Ball Drop – use an empty puffs container and teach your baby to open and close and place balls inside the container. You could also make one with a slit at the top and have your baby place large plastic coins inside the container.
Paint with Water – with different colors of construction paper, allow your baby to paint the paper with a paintbrush and some water.
Baby Wipe Lid Sensory Board – take the lids from baby wipes and hot glue them onto poster board. Underneath the lid, glue different texture objects such as pasta, pom poms, feathers, cheerios, etc. and allow your baby to open and close the lid while feeling the different textures.
Open and Close Basket – This activity is a preliminary practical life activity. It gets those little hand and wrist muscles working as well as helping the child to learn to open containers independently. You can use different containers with lids. Just be careful that the lids are big enough because they will surely go to the kid’s mouth.
Washing Toys – In a dishpan, put a little water, baby shampoo, scrub brush, and a few plastic mega blocks. Let your child splash and scrub the blocks clean.
Cotton Balls and Water – fill a shallow tray with water and cotton balls. Your little one can explore how cotton balls absorb water, how the water comes out when you squeeze them, and how dry cotton balls stick together and come apart.
Mystery Bag – The mystery bag brings together language and the game of peek-a-boo. Fill a cloth bag with a few familiar items: brush, block, car, etc. Put your hand in the bag, pull out one object, and say the name of that object. Allow your child to pull out an object from the bag and name it.
Circle Time Songs – find these familiar songs on YouTube and have a dance party!
- ABC song (Phonics Song 2 new version by kidstv123
- The Animal Sounds Song by kidstv123
- The Colors Song by kidstv123
- 5 Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree by teachertubemath
- Baby Shark
- Freeze Dance/Freeze Song
The toddler years are a time of great cognitive, emotional, and social development and are a time to be cherished. Before you know it, your child will be walking around the house, interacting with anything and everything they come across. Here are some activities you can do with your toddler that will stoke their curiosity and create ample teaching moments.
Monitor Activities – Some of these activities include small objects that your child may put in their mouth. Be sure to watch your child when working with small objects.
Foster Independence – Toddlers want to do things by themselves, when possible, let them! If you see them struggle, wait a minute to see if they figure it out. After a minute, ask if they need help and talk through how you are doing it, so they understand.
Routine – Toddler’s like routines, as it gives them a sense of order. Create a picture schedule of your new normal: wake up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, go for a walk, independent play, etc. Knowing what comes next helps toddlers transition from one activity to another, minimizing tantrums.
Cleaning up – ALWAYS remind children to clean up after themselves. The act of cleaning up after themself helps toddlers become aware of order and sequencing, gain control over their movements, become more independent, and learn to care for their surroundings.
Window Washing /Clean Mirrors
Provide your child with a spray bottle filled with water, a washcloth, and a squeegee (optional). Have your child spray the window and wipe it dry with the cloth. If using a squeegee, demonstrate how to use it correctly.
Your child can help you load and unload the washing machine/dryer. Have your child help you sort the clean laundry- shirts, pants, socks, etc. Your child can also match pairs of socks. Older children can also use their fine motor skills and fold together matched socks.
Toddlers love to splash in the water. Have your child stand on a step stool and help you wash dishes. Children can also help you unload the dishwasher. They can be responsible for putting the Tupperware in the cabinet and sorting the utensils.
Toddlers make wonderful helpers. While you are cleaning your floors, create a space where your toddler can help. Make a square on the floor using masking or painters tape. In a cup place items to be swept (dry beans, corn kernels, cotton balls, etc.). Have your child pour the contents of the cup into the square and then sweep it into the dustpan.
Water the Plants
Have the spray bottle or watering can near the plant that needs to be watered and allow your child to water the plant as needed.
Meal Prep/Scrub Potatoes
Involve your child in meal prep. Children can help wash potatoes and other vegetables with a vegetable brush. They can also spread butter on toast, stir, knead dough, etc.
Hand Transfer – Place 2 similar size bowls side-by-side. Fill one bowl with easy to grasp objects such as cotton balls, pom-poms, and pasta. Allow your child to carefully transfer all the content from one bowl to the other, and back again.
Spoon Transfer – This time, instead of using their hands, show your child
how to use a spoon to transfer the object from one bowl to the other.
Find 2 little cups that your child can hold with their little hands. Fill one cup halfway with dry rice. Allow your child to pour the rice from one cup to the other. We recommend having a tray under the cups to catch falling rice.
Using masking or painter tape, tape down an assortment of toys onto a firm surface. Have your child remove the tape to get to the object. Larger, uneven objects will be easier to remove than smaller, flat objects.
Open and Close
Fill a basket with empty, clean toiletry or food containers with lids – syrup bottles, yogurt containers, milk or tea jugs, wallets, etc.. Let your child open and close the different types of containers (screw tops, flip tops, etc.)
Pom-pom Tube Drop
Tape empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls to the wall in different directions. Put a pom-pom or soft ball into the tube and watch it drop. Is one faster than the other? Why?
Wash their toy cars or animals in a bucket. Using scrubs or old toothbrushes.
Choose 10 of any item: buttons, squeeze pouch lids, etc. Create a piggy bank by cutting a slit (large enough to fit your chosen object) into the top of a box. Have your child drop the object one at a time into the box, counting each time they hear the item drop.
On a piece of paper, trace your child’s footprint and cut out 10 footprints. Tape the paper footprints on the floor. Let your child step and count each footstep.
Count socks while folding laundry.
Draw numbers on paper and let them match numbers with glue.
Tracing Numbers with Stickers
Draw a large number on a piece of paper. Have your child put stickers along the line
This is one of the most enriching areas, and it doesn’t require much effort. The best way to help your toddler learn a language is to talk to them! Describe what you are doing throughout the day.
At the dinner table, discuss the events of the day. This helps your child learn new vocabulary, a sequence of events, and storytelling.
You can dedicate a specific time to read books. You can also let your child look at the pictures and “read” the story to you.
Place household objects in a basket and allow your child to say the name of each object. Once your child can name the object, you may substitute for new objects.
One person is designated Simon, and the others are the players. Standing in front of the group, Simon tells players what they must do. For example, Simon says, “Simon says touch your nose,” then players must touch their nose.
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Cut out the individual letters of their name, and let your child match letters and glue them onto the paper.
Walk around the house or around your neighborhood looking for colors
and shapes. “Show me something green” or “Find a circle”.
Pull apart plastic egg and match the different colors
Big & Small
Use large pom poms and small pom poms to teach your child about size. Place a large bowl and a small bowl side by side. Have your child put the large pom poms in the large bowl and the small pom poms in the small bowl.
Find an object in 6 different colors (balls, pom poms, colored paper).
Color the cups of an egg carton in the corresponding 6 colors. Ask your child to match and sort the object into the egg carton.
Find pictures of animals with stripes, spots, or solid and have your child sort them.
Land, Air, Water
- 3 containers with lids
- Objects (animals, car, boat, airplane)
- Fill only 2 of 3 containers (one with water and one with dirt) and cover with a lid
- Child will match objects with the following elements
Magnetic & Non-Magnetic
- Paper clips, keys, plastic and metal spoon, plastic toys, etc.
- Child must identify if each item is magnetic or nonmagnetic.
Find things around the house that you can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell
Use pots and pans as instruments! You can also make egg shakers by filling plastic eggs with rice, beans, corn kernels, etc.
Dance and march around the house. Add instruments, scarves or ribbons to keep it interesting.
Songs from the classroom:
- Freeze Dance (Kickboomers)
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
- Listen and Move
- Hop Little Bunnies
- Open and Shut Them
- Los Colores
- A Ram-Sam-Sam
- Fire Truck
- Hurry, Hurry Drive the Fire Truck
- A Phonics Song 2
- One Little Finger
- Old McDonald Had a Farm
- Listen and Move
- Follow Me (Super Simple Songs)
- The Goldfish (Laurie Berkner)
- Hokey Pokey
- I’m Gonna Catch You (Laurie Berkner)
Simple as: On your mark. Get set. GO! Have different types of races – jumping, skipping, hopping, etc.
Make a line on the floor using masking or painter’s tape. Have your child walk carefully on the line. To add some difficulty, zig-zag or curve the line. You can also have your child carry something while walking on the line.
Ninja Warrior Game
Make an obstacle course around the house using cushions, box tunnels, toys, etc.
Go outside and practice throwing and catching. This is an excellent hand-eye coordination activity.
Activities for Ages 3-6
As your child transitions out of the toddler years and into the preschool and kindergarten ages, they continue to build on the skills they have picked up thus far. Perhaps the most impressionable ages are those few years during which formal schooling begins. Here are some activities to keep your child occupied, engaged, and having fun.
Take two empty bowls. Fill one with beans or cereal. Give your child a spoon to transfer the objects from one bowl to the other using the spoon. Increase difficulty by using small objects and smaller spoons
Get two empty cups. Fill one halfway with water and pour it into the other. Increase
difficulty by using one large jug to pour into cups of different sizes
Involve your child while doing laundry by making them responsible for matching their socks or identifying their own clothes. Your child can also help sort utensils when emptying the dishwasher and match containers with their lids.
Read a story. Discuss what happened in the beginning, middle, or end.
Discuss what a cylinder is and try to find all the cylinders in your pantry or toy box. Other geometric solids include, sphere, rectangular prism, and triangular prism.
Grow a Plant
Soak 2 white paper towels and put it in a small jar or Ziploc bag and place a bean so that the bean is visible (make sure you don’t drown the bean and just moisten it). Place the container near the window and watch the bean grow!
Springtime brings out birds! Listen to them outside when going on a nature walk. Try to learn the names of the different birds—sparrows, robins, crows, hawks, eagles, blackbirds, mockingbirds, and others.
Inside the Lines
Draw a simple bird and color it in (inside the lines!), making sure that they are holding their pencil or paintbrush correctly.
Sit with your legs ‘criss-cross’ and pretend you are smelling a flower—call it “flower-power.” Try taking deep breaths and encourage your child to take at least 10.
Children, Children Quietly Sleeping
Your child pretends to be sleeping, and when they “wake up,” they become a bird, a frog, a ladybug, a butterfly, a mountain, a dog, or a cat. Be creative!
Activities for 4-year-olds
Transfer any candy/small erasers/anything small using tongs.
Read a story and sequence the events. Who is the story about? What happened? When? Why? How?
Guess How Many
In a jar, place between 10 to 30 objects. Have your child estimate the number of objects and count them to find the actual number.
Parts of a Plant
Learn the names of the parts of the seedling from the following experiment: Soak 2 white paper towels and put it in a small jar or Ziploc bag and place a bean so that the bean is visible (make sure you don’t drown the bean and just moisten it). Place the container near the window and watch the bean grow!
How Do Plants Grow?
Discuss what plants need to grow. Further discuss why plants are important for the environment, like giving off oxygen for us to breathe.
Go through your fridge and find your vegetables. Identify them, and research
whether they grow above or underground.
- Take 6 clear empty jars or glasses, 6 paper towels, and red, blue, and yellow food coloring
- Place the cups in a line
- Add 5-10 drops of red coloring in the first cup
- Add 5-10 drops of yellow coloring in the third cup
- Add 5-10 drops of blue coloring in the fifth cup
- Add half-cup of water to the glass with food coloring, leaving 3 cups empty
- Fold each paper towel into strips and tuck them between the glasses like the picture below.
- The water from the colorful cups will quickly begin to absorb into the paper towels and slowly transfer into the empty cups, forming a water rainbow.
Make your own plant with a muffin liner, straw, and yarn. See picture
Draw a Bird
Have your child draw a bird, or maybe you can draw one, and they can copy it, or you can guide them to draw one. Identify the parts of the birds…. head, eyes, beak, wings, legs, feet. Extension: draw a feather and let them cut on the line. You can make it challenging by asking them to fringe cut the feather. They can make multiple feathers.
Do an Arbor pose and breathe in with “flower-power”.
Do simple stretching exercises like squats, touching your toes, and jumping jacks.
Activities for 5-year-olds
Write 1-10 on popsicle sticks or plastic spoons. Give them enough small ponytail rubber bands so they can put 1 on the spoon with 1, 2 on the spoon with 2, and so on. You can make it challenging by telling them to make a double wrap with the same rubber band.
Take 2 empty bowls. Fill one half with water. Take a plastic straw and transfer the water from one bowl to the other. Please guide them that if they dip one end of the straw into the water and close the other tip with their pointer, the water stays inside the straw. See how many times they can do it in 5 minutes (make sure there is no spilling)
Soak a few paper towels, put it in a small jar/Ziplock bag and place a bean at the side of the container so it is visible from outside (make sure the paper towels are just moist and not dripping wet. Put this ensemble near the window. Have 3 ensembles ready. Keep 1 by the window, 1 away from the sunlight and cover one with a brown bag and write/draw the difference of growth of all the three beans. Discuss what plants need to grow? What are the parts of the plant?
Parts of a Plant
Discuss the jobs of each part of the plant. For reference:
- Roots absorb water/nutrients from the soil.
- The stem anchors the plant and carries water, minerals, and food throughout the plant.
- Leaves absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air and make food for the plant. This is also called photosynthesis!
- Flowers hold the seeds for other flowers to grow!
Make/draw your own bird. Color/paint it. Tear thin strips of newspaper or any recycling paper and make a small nest. Place the bird on the nest. Take a picture and send it to us!
- Save the seeds that come out of the fruits or vegetables that you eat and try to identify them. Maybe you can plant the dried seed in a small pot, and this will grow into a big healthy tree. That teaches them responsibility by taking care of the plant.
- Memory game: gather at least 5 items on a plate. Tell them to see those things carefully. Take one item when they close their eyes and play “guess what is missing” you can increase the number of items to make it challenging.
- Identify the different birds that come out in Spring. Discuss the life cycle of birds, 1st the mother bird lays an egg, 2nd she sits on it for (usually) 2 weeks, 3rd the egg hatches, 4th the mother bird feeds the hatchling worms, the bird becomes an adult bird. You can even get lucky in your neighborhood nature walks and find a nest and observe the beautiful process.
- Write a story about your beautiful bird. Keep in mind the simple punctuation (periods at the end of each sentence, commas, 1 finger spacing between 2 words, capitalize when starting a new sentence). Write at least 5 sentences. Take a picture and send it to us!
- Read a book and ask questions in the end to increase their interest. They can write a book report, including who the characters are, what the setting is, what happened in the beginning, what happened in the middle, and how the problem was solved in the end. Guess what you just taught them how to write a book report!
Activities for all ages
- Make a “quiet jar”. Take any jar or a container. Write these simple activities in thin strips of papers (you can use popsicle sticks if you have them available). Write these instructions, fold them, and put them in the container/jar. Reach for them when you need some quiet time
- How many birds can you see in 5 minutes?
- Measure the room with a book
- How many things rhyme with “cat”?
- Look out the window and draw anything you see
- Sort a deck of cards by color
- How many things in the house start with “s” (you can always change the sounds for variety)?
- Make a rainbow by finding something for each color
- Create an animal out of LEGO
- Find a rectangle. Count how many sides it has. Draw it or make it using sticks.
- Draw a picture of a flower or anything in your backyard
- Find 5 oval things in the house. Grade them from biggest to smallest
- Find a diamond/Rhombus. Draw it and make something else with that shape
- Measure room with your foot
- Do a puzzle
- Play scribble art: draw a scribble and then turn it into an animal
- Sort a deck of cards by number
- Find 5 squares and grade them smallest to biggest
- Find a cylinder and a cube
- Put a post-it on everything green you can find and then count them. (parents, you can make it challenging by asking how many tens/units make that number? What number comes before/after)
- Find something that starts with the letters of the alphabet
- Involve them in the daily chores like cooking (they love to chop or peel vegetables), or making a sandwich. They love to spread the mayo, peanut butter, or jelly, and they can pour their own milk. Have them set the table or unload a dishwasher. They love to be helpful.
Have a simple routine/schedule like:
- Work time
- Reading time
Having a simple routine will help with the transition easily. Enjoy your time together with your precious children.
Free learning sites
These are unprecedented times we are in right now. Our family here at Sugar Mill Montessori hopes you are staying safe and well. Let’s work together to minimize the impact that the Coronavirus has on our children’s growth and development. We encourage you to use the activities above to help your child stay engaged, have fun, and learn something new in the process.