It’s Not All Mary Poppins

At least my hair likes this weather…

Last week…
This week…

Right now, at 8:40 a.m., it’s black as night out there — except when it suddenly jolts into a white blaze of lightning– and the thunder? I’m suddenly living under a bowling alley. It just rumbles on and on and on, long drawn-out grumbling and crashings in the air. It hasn’t really started to rain yet, but you know that when it does, it’ll be TORRENTIAL.

All. Week. Long.

So, help me out, will you? We can brainstorm. I’ve been trapped inside for a week; I’ll be trapped inside for another week, most likely. What’s your toddler’s favourite indoor activity? Rowdy games, quiet games, music, crafts… it doesn’t matter. I’m sure I’ll need them all!

July 27, 2009 - Posted by | Ottawa


  1. Anything doughy. Dress-ups.Make hats out of easel paper, give them things to glue on them, make a shakers out of paper plates with beans sealed between them and have a parade. Sticking things on a big piece of clear contac paper taped sticky side out on the wall or floor. Dancing on bubble wrap. dancing. Tearing stuff for salad for lunch. Paper bag puppets. And a game of “whoever goes the longest without talking gets a prize.” Have fun. So glad it’s you and not me.

    Oh, there are some great ones there! We LOVE parades around here! A parade can be two hours of prep time and then parading. I love the stick paper idea.

    And that “whoever goes longest without talking” game? My oldest step-daughter (bless her heart!) when she was eight or so, used to organize that game with her siblings on long car trips. Totally spontaneous. The record was 27 minutes of blissful, blissful silence.

    Comment by jwg | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Mine liked doing things in the kitchen – making playdough and adding colouring to it, making and decorating cup cakes or chocolate rice krispie cakes, piping tubes of cream cheese on crackers and adding cress and bits of cucumber etc to make faces, making musical (hmm) instruments with beans or macaroni in boxes or tins, threading macaroni to make necklaces.

    We’re out of playdough. That’s definitely on the to-do list for the week! We have a gazillion shakers already… but maybe we could make some for them to take home? (Mwah-ha.)

    Comment by Z | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. I love thunderstorms! And if you want to be depressed, check out MY weather forecast (Whitehorse) hee hee! It finally pays off to live in the North.
    Okay. Things to do. Make gingerbread houses with graham cracker walls. They can decorate to their heart content. Go “camping” in the basement (if you have one). They can pack. They can hike. They roll out their beds. They make a “fire”. They see a bear!!
    Okay, I suck at this. Good luck!

    No, no, I love the camping idea! Only ours will have to be in the dining room, with blankets over the table, because our basement is NOT child-friendly. But, great idea!!

    (And I did check your weather: holy moley, it’s HOT there! Today’s high is THIRTY-FOUR. Um, not jealous. Not.)

    Comment by Tammy | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  4. My three-year-old loves playing with “goop”–About 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water–in the bowl, it’s a liquid, when you pinch it, it’s a solid. Add a drop or two of food coloring, and watch the color swirl through as you play!

    We make drums by covering empty oatmeal containers with construction paper and decorating them, and chopsticks are the drumsticks. Paper bag puppets and sock puppets are fun to make, too. Kazoos are easy–use a rubber bands to put a piece of waxed paper on the end of an empty toilet paper tube, and blow.

    We also make magic wands with craft sticks, glue, and glitter glue.

    We love putting on music and dancing, making masks out of paper plates, and playing “hot lava” with towels on the floor (to save my couch cushions).

    We also go on quests to save people from dragons (She has a wooden sword and shield, but they’d be easy to make out of cardboard and tinfoil).

    We love making cookies, too.

    We love playing Memory and Candyland, for quieter games.

    “Goop” is… here I am, drawing on years of watching Bill Nye the Science Guy… an isotropic substance. Has properties of both solid and liquid. (And yes, I do throw around that word when we make it. Impresses the heck out of the parents when the child drops it at home.)

    I like the magic wands, dragons, castle theme. Hmmm… maybe we’ll have one camping day, and one castle day, and one cooking day… Or we can bake cookies that will be our sustenance as we camp and castle…

    Comment by Kristy | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. Man, the activities around here are fairly limited to building a train line around the city of blocks and then there’s always finger puppets… How about making rain gauges out of cups (or buckets as the case may be…) before it starts? Good luck!

    We have two sets of blocks out right now: those plastic baby duplo with the huge round bumps, and a set of wooden building blocks, and they are forever and always a hit. But we haven’t used the train tracks in a while. Good idea!

    Comment by Jennifer | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. Poor you!
    I would go for dressing up, Play-Doh, any other crafts, making camps, lots of dancing, cooking, building large things out of Duplo, big stories involving dolls.
    Maybe a topical water-themed thing where they get to wash up, or play in the bathtub with beakers.
    Really though? I would try and escape to a coffee shop or out with raincoats and wellies or ANYTHING because I go mad staying indoors with kids for too long.
    I really really sympathise.

    Can’t do the tub thing: my bathroom is not big enough for all of us (really, it’s unbelievably small), but a tropical theme is a nice idea. We could have water play, too — on the front porch, using rainwater!

    Comment by Mwa | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh, and that hair thing must have been sarcastic, right? I get a frizzy mop in that kind of weather – completely impossible to do anything with.

    No, actually not. My hair is thick and wavy with a tendency to curl, and actually just gets curlier in humid weather. Of course, the right washing/conditioning/moussing regime helps immensely — but it’s not hard. This is pretty much what I do – don’t wash more than a couple of times a week, but condition daily. And I have a particular styling mousse that I like: finger-comb it through, tip my head down and shake my hair out. Done. My morning ablutions never takes more than 10 minutes.

    Comment by Mwa | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  8. Trace yourselves on large-scale paper and then color and add features, clothing, etc. Make english-muffin pizzas and have the kids top them with veggies and cheese. The classic freeze dance. You can put a small amount of tempera paint in a zip-loc bag and make a sort of mess-free fingerpainting medium. Sorting tasks are always fun. Art with dry rice (but with one-year-olds around, possibly unwise). Bake bake bake! If there’s a break in the rain go out and stomp in puddles.

    Oh, ziploc fingerpainting! We haven’t done that in a long time Thanks! We use ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard instead of paint, but it works beautifully.

    Comment by barneyneuberger | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  9. Ooh, good activities! I usually read without commenting, but this has got me all fired up.

    Along the lines of dressing up, we like “Teddies Hat Shop” – line up all the teddies, get out all the hats and let the teddies try them on and choose. OK, we got that idea straight out of “PlaySchool” on TV, but it’s a real favourite.

    And, for something a little rowdier, we like “Races” where we line up every car, train, plane, toy-with-wheels at one end of the hallway then give it lots of fun commentary (“In lane 1, the returning winner from last time, it’s the Red Car…” etc etc) and then speed them all down the hall. Toddler (18 mths) gets caught up in the excitement and usually runs alongside.

    Oh, and that reminds me of another game we used to play as kids – “Fish Races”. Cut out big fish shapes from pieces of newspaper – everyone has one fish to race and a folded up wad of newspaper – you have to waft (hit the floor) the paper behind your fish to blow it along.

    Or “wrapping and unwrapping presents”. Get a few toys and some old wrapping paper. The kids spend time wrapping all the toys. Then put them all in a big bag, let them pull out a “present” and unwrap it. Of course, leave a break between the wrapping and the unwrapping and they’ll have completely forgotten what’s inside.

    Oh, those are great ideas! Two kinds of races for two ability levels. I doubt the 20-month-olds could manage the fish races — but I’ll be sure to let them try! — but I know everyone would love the car racing.

    And that present idea had me laughing. They will looooove it. Thanks!

    Comment by Kate R | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  10. Oh, rainy days. I miss them, but we don’t see enough of them here. As far as activities go:

    -Shaving cream on tables. Squish and play with bare hands or add clean paintbrushes to “paint” in the cream with and you can clean many pieces of furniture.

    -A “jungle safari.” Hide all the toy animals you own around the house and go find them. You could even make animal masks out of paper plates afterwards.

    -This may be crazy, but what about a Mountain Expedition? Stack some pillows in a safe area and help each kid climb in turn? Meh. Could lead to mass hysteria.

    -Electric tape walk. Find that nice blue electric tape and tape down a long line on the floor for the kids to walk on. First like mice, then elephants, whatever. Could be a crazy long piece, too, wrapping around several rooms. And easy to clean up.

    -Puddle jumping!

    Good luck with the rainy weather!

    I’m loving that tape idea. We do a lot of play where we move like various things — frogs, butterflies, fire engines, even sunshine and snowflakes — so I’m sure they’d just love this variation. And I happen to have a big roll of that wide green painter’s tape. Great.

    And you can be sure that as soon as the thunder and lightning clears up, we’ll be outside, rain or no rain!

    Comment by elisa | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  11. How about having the children make a huge finger painted mural of a sunny day at the beach. Then take digital pictures of the children in front of it and tell the parents you went to the beach today. 🙂

    The parents would love it!

    Comment by billarends | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  12. Blah opera. You lead off, singing fake opera (as cheesily as possible) in which all the words are “blah”. Depending on the kids, this either winds up as you doing a solo performance to delighted giggling, or it gets very loud.

    With this group, it would be solo — but I can totally do this!

    Comment by Helen Huntingdon | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  13. […] rain has stopped!! The sun is shining!!! It is tropically humid (ugh), but, after days and days of being housebound, we are ready to […]

    Pingback by Astute AND cute « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | July 29, 2009 | Reply

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