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Friday, June 6, 2008

How To Entertain A 14 Month Old

That's the phrase I googled last week when I really felt like Aiden's outbursts were draining me of all my creativity (and logic for that matter). I combed through dozens of sites, jotting down activity ideas until I had a pretty long list of things I could do the moment Aiden gets bored and vocal about it. Since I know several of us are all in the same boat, I'm posting that list here and included are some craft ideas for fun things to do:

Fast & Free Activities:

• Mimic your child's moves
• Play a quick game of chase
• Build block towers for child to knock over (anything that stacks will work, even Solo cups)
• Hide item & have child go find it
• Take a small bucket on a short walk outside and let them fill with items (then play inside on tile with the messy stuff from outside. Vacuum later.)
• Cut hole in the top of an empty butter tub & let them experiment with what fits
• Throw the couch cushions on the floor for a crawling obstacle course
• Fill a tupperware bowl with water & use a jumbo paint brush to "paint" concrete outside
• Freeze a small toy in an ice cube and let it melt in the bath
• Fill a mop bucket, toy bin or laundry basket with water & tub toys for water play on the front porch
• Water the plants outside with a toy watering can
• Put them in a swimsuit and turn a sprinkler on low for them to play in
• Give them an empty paper towel tube & let them figure out what fits down it
• Bring a pool noodle in the house, tape it into a circle & let them play (available at the dollar store during the spring & summer if you don't have one)
• Pull child's clothes out of their hamper & let them put them back in (teaches cleaning up, too!)
• Use empty water bottles & a ball to play water bottle bowling
• Play "Mimic Me" (ie: arms up, animal sounds, etc. Teaches body parts, too!)
• Put magnets on a cookie sheet and let them pull off & experiment
• Prop a piece of wood on a block to make a car ramp. Roll anything & everything down it
• Fill an empty juice or milk jug with snacks & let them work to get it out

**This last one is such a good idea! Zoo keepers do this to keep primates from getting bored and becoming destrucive or starting poop fights. We have used this trick with Major in years past, stuffing his Kong with dog treats, and I can't believe I didn't think of it for Aiden! It's worked wonders, especially when I put in large snacks, like animal crackers or granola bar chunks, that are difficult to get out and only let a few of the smaller cheerios, raisins and such trickle past when turned upside down.

Low Cost Activities/Distractions:

• Give child a pipe cleaner to play with - bend & twist into different shapes each time (99¢ for a bag at Hobby Lobby)
• Take a nearly-used roll of toilet paper & unroll a little to make a trail. Leave snacks & toys underneath and then let them unroll some, too
• Visit a pet store to look at fish/birds/rodents etc. (free except for gas!)
• Make playdough at home
• Fingerpaint with pudding, instant oatmeal or whipped cream on a cookie sheet
• Buy a clipboard, tie a crayon to it with a string & clip paper to it for drawing. (Clipboard will be scribbled on but drawing on walls is hard with the heavy clipboard attached to the crayon. Clipboards are $1 at the dollar store by Kroger on Atascocita Road & Will Clayton.)
• Wrap a new book/toy/dollar store item in tissue paper and let them unwrap (or wrap a long-forgotten about toy)
• Make a finger puppet to use while singing a favorite song (directions below)

I thought this was a pretty good list of quick & easy things you can do! A lot of these are pretty creative. I only listed what was hot-weather friendly but I'm sure there are a thousand other things you could do, too! If you have any more ideas, PLEASE leave a comment so we can add more clever activities to our lists! When I use your idea, I'll make you a finger puppet. You pick the color & the animal. (Yeah, that's how desperate I am for boredom-busters!) Be sure to put your finger puppet request at the bottom. ;)

Okay, finger puppet directions! I have been making felt play food so I had tons around. This simple, little cross-eyed Bunny Foo Foo is the first one I made:


Felt (20¢ per 9x12 square at Hobby Lobby)
Colored thread
Cardstock scrap (to make a pattern) - can use cereal box cardboard, too!
Straight Pin


I placed my finger on a piece of cardstock and traced widely around it, about 1/2 inch on all sides. I cut out that pattern and pinned it to a felt scrap and cut two shapes out. I made the bunny face on one of the felt pieces using white & pink thread. (The eyes are just knots) Then I hand stitched the two pieces together with the ears in between. VERY easy - took less than 10 minutes to make. He now has a set of 5 and growing any time I have felt scraps to use up. Aiden looooves them, too! I even keep one in my purse for grocery store checkout line "emergencies"! LOL!

The Next Project: Link-A-Doo Book

I got this idea online, too, and am anxious to make one!


Several 6x6 inch swatches of non-fraying fabrics in various textures (denim, felt, fleece, foam sheet, flannel, faux fur, etc.)
Hole punch
Beads, iron-on rhinestones, pom poms & misc fabric embellishments
Plastic Link-A-Doo toy loop


Cut the fabrics to size and add different embellishments to each page if desired. (Iron-on rhinestones for denim & cotton fabrics only. No fleece or felt!) Punch a hole in the top corner of each fabric swatch and loop the link-a-doo through to make a loose book.

Easy, right?!! Skip the embellishments (choking hazard) and this could be made for babies under a year so they could feel the different fabric textures. BTW, cheap pieces of faux fur are sold at Hobby Lobby to the right of the felt squares. Pom Poms are sold to the left of the felt. While you're there, pick up a pack of pipe cleaners (aka: chenille stems), they really are a great distraction tool! I have a pack in the cabinet right next to the plastic straws so I can grab one and hand it to him during a melt-down when I am trying to cook dinner. (Actually, the meltdown usually occurs because I won't let him climb in the dishwasher or touch the hot stove.)

P.S. Plastic straws and chenille stems could have sharp edges that may scrape. Don't offer if your child is very young or you think they might be injured. From my experience, the item is mangled so quickly that most straight, sharp edges never get a chance to poke or scrape. Throw away after 5 minutes. This is just to buy you enough time to get the chicken out of the oven without the kiddo trying to touch the 400° rack inside!


Danielle said...

thanks for sharing this! you gave me several good ideas.

Kaeta said...

Great ideas! I'm excited to try them out with my little one. Thanks!!!

Julie said...

Thank you, these are great ideas and I love the book!