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Are you running out of ideas to keep your wee one amused? Here are some suggestions for fun activities you can try together, and some things they can try on their own – with your supervision of course!

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Help getting active

Being outside improves everyone’s wellbeing, and this is as true for toddlers and younger kids as it is for anyone. But if you can’t get outdoors for any reason, they can still have fun burning off energy indoors. Here are some ideas you can try.

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Tips for getting active indoors with your toddler

Tip #1: Be a tickle monster

Chase your little one around as the tickle monster! It’s sure to make them laugh and will tire them out as well.

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Tip #2: Baby basketball

This game couldn’t be simpler – you just need a basket or plastic tub and some scrunched up paper balls. Take it in turns to see if you can get a slam-dunk! Get them to collect the balls to tire them out. You can find more fun ball games to play with your toddler here.

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Tip #3: Balloon volleyball

Chucking balls about indoors isn’t always the best idea, but how about blowing up a biodegradable balloon and using that instead? You can set up a volleyball ‘net’ by tying a piece of string across the room, then see how long you can keep passing the balloon over it, batting it with your hands. If it gets too easy, try using only one hand, or standing on one leg.

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Tip #4: Pick up a penguin

If you’d rather not let balloons loose around your home, how about asking your wee one to hold the balloon between their legs instead and then waddle around the room like a penguin? You could even create an obstacle course using cushions, towels and boxes, to challenge them even more! No balloons? This works just as well with a ball or cushion.

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Tip #5: Musical bumps

Put on some music and give your toddler to a cushion to dance around (or even on). When the music stops, they have to sit down on the cushion as quickly as they can. All that sitting down and standing up again will certainly help burn some energy!

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Tip #6: Egg and spoon

Egg and spoon races aren’t just for sports day! Give your child a spoon and something to balance on it (a small ball or piece of scrunched up paper is less messy than a real egg!) then see if they can make their way round the house without the precious ‘egg’ falling off. Can they sit on the floor or jump up and down without dropping it? Or hold it high in the air above their head?

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Getting creative

Helping your toddler get creative is also an important way to boost their wellbeing. It might look like a mess at times, but having fun with paints and crafts is a vital way for them to learn to express themselves. This helps their minds develop and boosts their self-confidence. It also helps develop their fine motor skills and ability to concentrate on a task at hand. And most importantly, it’s fun!

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Things you can do together

Tip #1: Green gloop

Messy play is always fun, so why not try making this green slimy gloop with your little one? Just put 2 cups of cornflour, a cup of water, and a couple of drops of green food colouring into a plastic bowl. Get your little one to mix it all up then have fun mashing and moulding it into different shapes together.

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Tip #2: Hand-print art

Using children’s paint, cover your little one’s hands then get them to press their hand onto paper. What animals can you make from the handprints? If your kids enjoy this, there are loads more arty ideas on the CBeebies website. You could also try painting with other household objects, like a sponge, fork or toilet roll or other household items. The video here shows you how.

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Tip #3: Home-made play dough

Got flour, food colouring and oil in your cupboards? Then you have all the ingredients to make playdough! Hours of creative fun guaranteed! This recipe from the BBC shows you how to make it.

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Tip #4: Make a paper plate jellyfish

Wee ones will love making their own wibbly wobbly jellyfish – how will they decorate theirs?

You can find more ideas from Smart Play Network here.

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Activities they can do while you get on with other things

Of course you can never entirely take your eyes off a toddler, but here are some activities you can get them to do while you get on with other things – like having a nice cup of tea (or, more likely, getting on with some housework)!

Tip #1: Build a den

If you’re trying to get some work done, why not give your toddler some blankets, towels and cushions and ask them to build a den in the room you’re working in? You could reward them for a job well done by joining them inside when you’re done and reading a story together.

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Tip #2: Play shops

Help them get some tins from the kitchen, then get them to set up their own shop. They can add prices to the tins and even make their own money. Their toys can be customers – or maybe you'd like to have a browse?

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Tip #3: The tidy up game

Ready, set, go – tidy away your toys! It’s fun to see how quickly your little one can tidy up and saves you a job too – win win! Why not time them and keep a record to try and beat? It’s a good way to tire them out later in the day, and will also make them feel more independent.

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Tip #4: Go bowling

Set up a bowling alley using bottles (plastic or reusable, not glass!). If you don’t have a ball, your wee one could always throw a small cushion or toy instead. Show them how to set it up so they can do it themselves and you can get on with other things while they practise.

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Tip #5: Fun with bubbles

If you’re trying to get on with things in the kitchen, full a bowl or bucket full of lukewarm soapy water and let your wee one have some fun with bubbles. You could give your little one some plastic cups and bottles to make waves, whirlpools and waterfalls. Your kitchen floor may get a wash as well!

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Importance of time together

At different times during the day, try to be part of your child’s play. This doesn’t have to be with toys: ordinary life can be playful. You and your child can have fun folding the washing, or preparing tea.

Let your child help with tasks or do them themselves if they can – even if this slows you down a bit. Being able to contribute helps your child learn to manage by themselves.

The most important thing is that you’re doing something fun together. Let your child direct the play and follow their lead, even if it means the same thing over and over. Even twenty minutes a day of focussed play together can make all the difference to helping your child relax. This is good for your child’s development as your attention helps them understand the world around them. It also helps them understand that they are safe, connected to, and cared for. And they are times you can both treasure in the future.

Getting enough physical activity can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. If the weather outside is horrible you might not want to leave the house. But being active is very important for children. It lets them burn off energy and boost their mood and reduces stress. This is just as true for you too! Have a look at some of our ideas for things to do indoors with your toddler. We also have advice for exercising if you can’t go outside.

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