This sadly, for my daughter, also applies to kids activities. Especially now that I have a baby to look after as well. I don't have time to be setting up elaborate craft and other such activities, and I certainly don't have the time or the inclination to be doing a lot of cleaning up afterwards.
Which is why I have made it my mission to find 2 year old crafts & activities to do with Punky that are easy and simple to set-up, with minimal mess, fuss and cleaning afterwards. A happy toddler makes a happy mother, and a mother who doesn't have to clean up more mess than necessary is even happier!
So today, I present to you my top 5
Activities for 2 Year Olds
(and Mums who don't want to clean up the mess afterwards!)
1. Pipecleaner Colander Threading
I have the Housewife in Heels to thank for this idea, I saw her boys doing it in one of her blog posts and thought it was genius. The only mess to clean up is the pipecleaners off the floor which you can do when you pack up all the other toys at the end of the day.
Pinterest and it is gold! The first time I did it with Punky she was a little confused and couldn't understand why there was no paint on her fingers, even though she was "touching" it.
This activity is great because they get the joy of painting, and you get the joy of having no paint to clean up. All you need is some large zip-lock bags, a piece of paper and some paint. Put the paper in the zip-lock bag, put a couple of squirts of paint in and seal the bag back up.
Now sit back and watch your toddler push the paint around inside the bag and decorate the paper. Be warned though, that the paper can sometimes be hard to get out, and may smudge in the process. Alternatively, you can leave the paper out of the bag and just have it sitting underneath on the outside. There won't be a painting to keep at the end (which some of us with masses of toddler craft floating around might say is a good thing!), but they will still be able to see the way the paint is swirling and mixing in the bag easily.
perfect easy activity to do at home.
All you need is some paper plates, coloured paper, scissors and glue (staples are optional). Cut a wedge(triangle) out of the plate, like you would cut a piece of cake. This will become the tail. Staple or glue the wedge to the opposite side from which you cut it out, with the wider edge off the plate and there you have your fish! Alternatively you can just cut the fish shape out of any cardboard you have lying around.
Cut up squares or other shapes out of the coloured paper and put them all in a container. Sit your toddler down with the glue stick and away they go, covering their paper-plate fish with lots of colourful paper scales. You can draw an eye and some fins on the fish too if you like.
This activity kept Punky occupied for ages and there was minimal mess to clean up at the end, just a bit of glue on her hands and the bench. I also gave her a blu-stick to use, where the glue goes on blue but dries clear, this made it easier for her to see where she had put the glue if she wanted to glue the fish first and put the scale on that, but mostly she preferred to wipe the paper scale on the top of the glue stick and then put it on the fish.
Just make sure that whatever paper scales are left over you put well away, out of reach of your toddler. Unless of course you want your lounge room to look like a confetti factory exploded inside it!
I used one of the boxes that the truckload of turkey arrived in. It was a nice long rectangular box and I simply taped it closed, cut a rectangle in one end large enough to push envelopes and parcel packs through, and a much bigger rectangle in the opposite end, to easily empty out all the stuff that had been posted.
Once done I just taped closed the envelopes from some bills and away we went. Punky had a grand old time mailing her letters and catalogues. She also mailed plain old pieces of paper, a small parcel box I'd gotten my new diary in, as well as anything else she could find to fit in the hole.
Not only was she entertained posting her letters, she also had a good time experimenting with what toys and other objects around the house would (or wouldn't) fit through the slot. There is minimal mess to clean up, and once you've done the initial work of making the letterbox and collecting a few envelopes to use as mail, it's an activity that can be easily put away and bought out again another day.
To start with, you're gonna need some playdough. There are numerous recipes on the internet and ways of making playdough. There are cooked playdough recipes, no-cook recipes and then there are different things you can add to playdough to create different colours and textures. This page here, from the Playgroup Australia website has a list of all different ways to make playdough. And then there is the cheats way, where you hit up your relatives for Play-Doh from the shops for Christmas and Birthdays!
Now in an ideal world, we would always make our own playdough, and aside from the fun of making it together, there is the added benefit of knowing exactly what is in it, which makes it not so bad when toddlers inevitably have a taste! However making playdough is not always convenient and it doesn't last as long as store-bought Play-Doh, so for 2 year olds who are mostly over the whole put-everything-in-mouth phase, store bought is a quick, cheap alternative. I have a number of plastic play utensils that I give Punky to use when playing with the dough, and I always give her measuring cups and blocks and other small toys which she can use to make impressions in the dough. She often also ends up using the containers to practice stacking, so keep them handy.
We have a rule in our house that playdough is only to be played with at the dining table and under no circumstances is she to walk around with it or take it in the loungeroom. I make sure there is a plastic tablecloth on the table (cheap as from the supermarket) and we have a nice big placemat that we got from Aldi which is the perfect platform for creating. Any small bits and pieces of playdough that get missed at pack-up time are easily vacuumed up after a couple of hours of hardening.
So there you have it, my top 5 minimal-mess activities for 2 year olds. I'd love it if you could share your own minimal-mess activities in the comments. If you've done a post of your own, or know of a particular page or website that has lots of minimal-mess activity ideas for 2-3 year olds, I've included a linky at the end of this post and I'd love it if you could link them up so I can check them out.
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