On babysitting duty? Are you the busy mommy of an adorable, high-energy preschooler who is in need of fun ideas that will keep your little “mini-me” smiling? Or maybe you have a little granddaughter, niece, sister or goddaughter and you are looking for some high-energy, explorative girl-time activities to release some of her energy into? Well you’ve come to the right place!
Sometimes I babysit, as a side job. And I am pretty darn good at it. My objectives are always to do at least one thing educational, feed them the meal/snack their mommy left with them, have a lot of high-energy fun (this way they’ll take a nap for me, hehe) and lastly, make sure they return safely to their mothers, in one piece.
My formula is simple.
I first lay out a blanket, a blanket in which you are OK with getting a little dirty and possibly having to wash often (I figure the blanket getting dirty is much better than my carpet getting stained).
This blanket I call the “magic carpet” — they absolutely love it!
Together you two can spread the magic carpet out in a designated area, and if you’d like, you can also add pillows underneath the carpet to give it a more comfortable, plush feeling. Then each of the activities listed below are to be done aboard the magic carpet – which makes for an awesome adventure only the imagination can enjoy (not to mention a much easier and faster clean-up! – as a result, everyone is happy ;)
So… (*drumroll please) the 10 totally cool and fun activities Ce’Marie, especially, loves for her family or babysitter to do with her:
1. Read to her, better yet, with her.
By reading to her in a way that she is engaged and following along (as in having her actually looking at each word as you read each one), will help her to mentally start forming cognitive thinking and build her vocabulary.
We all have that preschooler who wants to know why and what does that mean, and why again – which is awesome! It’s really a beautiful thing how interested and curious they are at this age. And here’s a cool fact for you: From the time a child is born til the age of 5, his/her brain and knowledge is developing and growing at a faster rate than it ever will again.
When we read to children, and even talk or sing to them, their brain cells “are literally turned on” like a light switch.
2. Color pictures.
If I had to rate this activity on a scale of 1-5 for level of complication — easily, its a 0.9, meaning it’s one of the easiest activities you can provide for your little girl to do.
If your girl is anything like the preschoolers I have babysat, then she will for sure have a ball coloring pictures from her favorite character’s coloring book.
By the way, did I mention this is one of those activities that require little to no involvement? While she’s busy making her pretty pony neon yellow and red, you can kick back and read your favorite novel, get started on cooking or catch up on work. This one is pretty easy to do.
But use your time wisely and get right to whatever it is you choose to do with the down time, because once she completes the picture, it’s show and tell time.
Try skimming the coloring book with her before she begins, this way you can have her choose 3 of her favorite pictures to color. Mark those pages for her with post-its and voila! You’ve scored yourself some time.
3. Complete puzzles and riddles from coloring activity books and/or puzzle boxes.
They are at a beautiful age, an age in which they LOVE to read, write, learn and explore. So whether it be via reading books, coloring books or activity books, learning will take place in some shape or form. Puzzles and riddles are good tools to learn analytical skills and new words, among other great benefits.
I’m a strong believer of it never being too early to introduce children to higher learning, not when it comes to academia.
And if you do not have a riddle book that is her reading level, this can turn into an activity that you two can do together.
Putting together a puzzle of her favorite characters can be interesting. It also has the ability to get her brain working, in her attempt to figure out which piece goes where. Puzzles are a good challenge, a challenge in which your little girl will not shy away from.
Without her even knowing it – she will be working on her memory and stimulating her brain’s growth.
4. Draw a masterpiece, then write the character’s story behind it.
Have your preschooler draw a picture, letting her know that afterwards she will be explaining the actual story behind her picture. This not only helps her to develop the skills of brainstorming, planning then executing, but also encourages storytelling and a love for writing and illustrating.
It’s up to you how in depth you want to go with this one.
You can have her describe to you each of the following: the setting, characters, plot and what’s going on in the picture she drew. Or, you can simply leave it at, “Draw a cool picture then write the story behind it.” With the latter directions, she will have the freedom to provide a unique story of her choice.
At this age, children are learning their likes and dislikes and discovering their skills and natural talents. So this is a fun, creative activity that you can do with her.
Have a show & tell of both of your masterpieces and enjoy allowing your imagination to run wild.
At the end of the activity, if she enjoyed it, frame her photo and story in her bedroom for her to always see and remember how fun it was to write and illustrate her own short story.
5. Create collages.
When I was a little girl, I loved to look at the pretty, glossy photos of magazines.
If you have a stack of magazines lying around (which many of us do), recycle a couple of them by giving your little girl some to sift through and find appropriate photos that in some way or another interests her or fit within the chosen theme.
Collages are great visual projects to make – you can start with a theme, for example, the outdoors. Have her find (and help her cut out) as many pictures from her two magazines that have something to do with the outdoors. Then on construction paper or a poster board (size of your choice), have her arrange the photos in a way that makes sense to her. Lastly, with a glue stick, have her glue the photos down.
Collages are great, interactive activities for finding similarities and differences in photos. Completed collages can also later become pages of a scrapbook, a scrapbook gift in fact :) You can give her a theme for each page, like daddy’s favorite thing to do, daddy’s favorite color, daddy’s favorite sport, etc. A theme specific to a particular person’s likes can become a handmade scrapbook collage gift for them (birthdays, father or mother’s day, anniversaries, etc).
When engaging in the activity, girls are actively searching and loving the exploration for something in particular, like all things “outdoors-y”. This activity gives them a head-start on developing good research skills.
**And a couple activities outside of reading & writing…
6. Paint nails.
No, like literally.
Ce’Marie is not the best at polishing the actual nail itself. She’s more of a wide-stroke painter. So I would call it more of painting your fingertips (laughs).
BUT, that’s why I have this tip for you – which can actually also turn into a fun game – place a strip of tape around each nail to serve as a “NO PAINT ALLOWED CAUTION ZONE” then play nail-zilla and Edward “tape” hands for a few minutes. It will not only be a great laugh but it will also teach your girl how to polish the nail, well for the most part.
7. Go for a walk…
At the park, around your neighborhood, at the museum, and my all-time favorite–> at the beach. Hey, I’m a Cali girl :)
Taking a walk is the perfect way to end a day of excitement. The walk will bring her back to a calm place and help her to realize just how sleepy she really is (chuckles).
If you decide to take a walk to your local park, while there, allow her to have fun on the swings, monkey bars and the other equipment there. Play with her. Take sack lunches and have a mini picnic (don’t forget the hand sanitizer!).
Museums are great places to have intellectual talks with your little one. Look at the art and take turns sharing your thoughts on it. Share with her when the work of art was made and by who. Briefly explain the artist profession to her. Her interest may be piqued by a particular something and this might just mark the start of a young Picasso.
Lastly, the beach is quite a wonderful getaway. You get to enjoy the serenity of the waves hitting the rocks and the birds chirping. But be prepared to make a day out of it. Kids love the beach even more than you do. And definitely expect your little adventurer to feel the urge to at least get her feet in the water. If your girl is anything like those I’ve babysat, she’ll want to not only get in the beach water but afterwards play in the kid’s outdoor showers.
The purpose of this last activity is to slow it down, reflect on the day’s activities and to engage in good conversation. The beach may not be ideal for this “cool down session” because an adventurous kid cannot deny the temptation of the beach water and sand. So then what should have been a quick 30-45 minute wrap-up, will indefinitely turn into a few more hours of fun. So choose the location wisely :)
Parent Bonus: Create mood boards.
Similar to collages, you can orchestrate a mood board-making party. Same materials of magazines, scissors and glue are needed, along with random trinkets (like rhinestones, buttons, feathers, yarn, crayons, etc) that may come in handy – can also be helpful to bring a 3D element to it.
The difference between the collage and mood board – for the sake of this article – is we will use the mood board to present emotions.
This is a healthy exercise for the child. It’s a clever way to keep up with how she is feeling at any given moment.
For example, explain to her that a mood board conveys her current, past or future mood. Have her describe how she is feeling today, at this very moment. We will use the emotion “happy” for an example. Have her search the magazines for anything and everything that either portrays happiness (like a smiley face or someone jumping for joy) or anything and everything that makes her happy (like picnics, butterflies and puppies), and of course she can mix the two. You can leave it at that then at the end have her explain her board.
Or, mommies, you can have her make an entire story out of it; help her to get passed a sad moment. Break it up into pieces. Instruct her to think of a moment when she was sad and have her also think about what happened that helped her return to a happy state or what could happen that will make her back happy. Have her express her emotions through magazine images.
This is a clever way to stay in-the-know about your little one. Expressing her emotions are healthy for her and enlightening to you. It will also make it more comfortable for her to openly share what’s going on and reinforce to her that you are the person she can always talk to about everything.
~ ♥︎ ~
Try out one (or all) of the activities above and let me know how it goes. Which seems to spark your interest the most? Do you have a different activity your little girl loves to do? Please share!