Jun 15, 2014

Indoor Hands-on Activities and Games for Young Children

Whether it's in the middle of summer vacation, a declared snow day or freezing temperatures outside, young children inside can get very restless. This article provides some different ideas to keep them busy instead of relying on the electronics. These suggestions are best for ages three to five, but older children can certaily join into the fun!

Inside Science Experiments for Young Children

Even if you, the parent, are not science savvy, these ideas are simple hands-on experiments to keep the young children busy.

Making Goop:

This sensory, hands-on experiment involves only three ingredients: a box of corn starch, water and a few drops of food coloring. Use a big bowl, or pot for the goop and have another pot of soapy water and a towel nearby for clean up. Put the cornstarch into a big bowl. First, choose the color by adding a few drops of food coloring to a measuring cup full of water. The key for this mixture is to add the water slowly. If too much water is poured in, there is no turning back until the mixture evaporates over time. When the right amount of water is mixed with cornstarch, the texture will be hard on the bottom, with just a bit of moisture resting on top. When the mixture gets picked up, it will start to run down the fingers: a great goop mess. The goop is easily cleaned. The mixture dries and the corn starch is left and washes off clothes without any hassles. This goop mixture can be left on a shelf and brought back out at a later time. If it hardens, the children can have fun breaking it into little pieces, and then add more water to start enjoying all over again.

Sink or Float:

A classic game that does not lose its appeal. Fill the sink with water and allow the children to find safe things that can get wet in the house. Have a guessing game on whether the item will sink or float ( an apple is always a great choice). To extend this science experiment, find out why things sink or float as well as charting the results into a graph.

The Revise "Volcano" Experiment:

An experiment which should be done on a tray to keep the final result intact. The kitchen is a great location for this activity. There are only three ingredients required for this activity: baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring. The child will scoop a heaping tablespoon into a glass container and then fill a measuring cup with vinegar and a few drops of food coloring. The final step is to allow the child to pour the vinegar mixture into the baking soda. The ingredients will mix together and cause an explosion that will bubble up and out of the container. When the bubbles are gone, the mixture must be emptied before beginning again. Try different shaped vessels for this experiment and adding some popcorn kernels. The kernels will dance inside the mixture, up and down for quite some time.

An Art Project for Inside: Rainbow Spin Art

From Plum Pudding
This art activity does make a little mess so, it is best to be done on a large tray or the bottom of a large cardboard flat box. The material required:

  • a salad spinner (an old one at home, or a cheap "dollar" shop find)
  • different color liquid paint
  • large paper
First step for this art project is to cut the paper to match the inside of the salad spinner. Then, allow the children to choose the paint they want for their creation. The amount of paint required is a minimum of one tablespoon each of two colors. Place the lid on tight and spin. The result is a swirling effect. Plan ahead for a good place for the art pieces to dry. Some learning concepts about colors are found in this project. For instance ask the question, "I wonder how green got on the paper, when we do not have green paint?"

Another version of this arts and crafts idea is to use a shoebox or an empty ice-cream bucket, paint and a marble or golf ball. Once the paper is inside, the children will shake the box to allow the paint and marble to roll around making an art piece that is worth framing.

Making a Board Game

Find a large piece of cardboard in your home, perhaps by cutting a box, and some drawing tools: crayon, felt pens, and pencils. Then allow the children to make their own game. The child might need help making the main path of the game (think of snakes and ladders) and the printing. Guide the child along with some ideas: "Should the person get a bonus on this square, such as moving ahead spaces or should they lose their turn?" When the game set up is complete, the children have to decorate the game. Stickers would work well in this step as well. When complete, the game can be played. Young children enjoy having the ownership of this activity and their ideas being honoured.