If you’re anything like me, you are constantly looking for easy screen-free activities for your preschoolers. But it’s also important that they don’t require a lot of prep time for you. Especially, now that most of us are in self-quarantine, it’s crucial that we have activities that occupy our children and give us a bit of a breather!
Here are some easy screen-free activities that I’ve been doing with my 3 year-old and 1 year-old. I hope they are helpful and give you some ideas to keep you from getting too stir-crazy during this time!
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Sensory Bin: Water Beads
This legit occupied my 3 year-old for 2 WHOLE HOURS. Seriously. The texture intrigued him so much. He played with it by itself for a bit, and then brought some water-safe toys in as well. This set also comes with scoopers and tweezers as well. I love it!
The only thing is, you do need to soak them in water for a few hours. So make sure you put that into consideration. I soak them in a smaller bin, and then usually transfer them into a larger clean plastic bin when they play with them.
I usually do about a tablespoon or a bit more of the dried beads, and soak them in plenty of water so that the beads can soak it up.
I’ve re-used these for up to 3 days. I just soak them again in clean water overnight, and it’s fine to use the next day. It does get pretty grimy because they start to break more easily by the third day.
One of my best purchases recently.
I got our bin from IKEA. Here’s a similar bin from Amazon:
Sensory Bin: Beans
Sensory Bin: Macaroni
Rainbow rice is a really fun way to make sensory bins a bit more exciting! It is really easy to make and doesn’t take much time. And it’s SO PRETTY! Read this post for the step-by-step instructions on how to make rainbow rice!
If your kiddos like sensory bins, you gotta try rainbow spaghetti! My boys were super intrigued by the vibrant colors of the noodles, and it was a great way for them to practice using their scissors. My two year-old especially enjoyed this one! Check out this post to learn how to make rainbow spaghetti!
I got this activity from Busy Toddler. She calls it “Hidden Colors”, but my 3 year-old calls it “Vinegar Painting” so we’ll go with that here 🙂
The first time we did this activity, I think it occupied my son for a good 45 minutes!
- White Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Food Coloring
- Cupcake Pan
- Large Plastic Bin
- Squeeze bottle or some sort of dispenser–We used a medicine dropper, medicine syringe
- Art Smock
For step-by-step instructions, head on over to my post Vinegar Painting: This Activity Kept my Toddler Occupied for 45 minutes!
These are so much fun! My mom actually bought a set for us from Korea a while back. Ours is in Korean and English, so it’s also been a fun way for my boys to learn the animal’s names in Korean as well!
Great for letter/name recognition. And using stickers also is great practice for fine motor skills!
- Kraft Paper
I remember I had these when I was a kid. Except it was when I was older so it was for history or science or something.
This was really fun to go through with my son. It has a lot of simple questions but phrased in a way that gets kids thinking. For example, which shoe is the biggest?
This would also be great to take to a restaurant and look through while waiting for food to come out. That is, after this whole quarantine thing is over…
There are plenty of home-made play-doh recipes out there, but I just buy ours. My 1 year old has also been loving stacking these containers, so it’s a win for us!
And there are also fun sets that come with different tools to “bake or cook”, which is also really fun!
Both my sons love these! This is great for fine motor development, learning about colors, and it keeps them occupied for quite a while!
If you’ve never touched oobleck before, you have to try it! It’s gooey but it can feel solid too. It’s seriously the most interesting texture ever!
All you need is corn starch and water. It’s almost equal parts, but you have to mix slowly and check if it’s the right consistency. If there’s water sitting above the rest of the mixture, that means there’s too much water.
You can also use food coloring to make it more interesting, but I usually don’t.
- Corn Starch
Workbooks can get a bad rap these days, especially for younger kids. But I think these are super fun! My son loves doing these and asks to do it every day. We’ve already finished one and I bought a few more.
There are mazes, matching, some cutting and gluing, and also sticker pages to answer questions.
Play Smart Brain Boosters
Play Smart Early Learning
I would suggest this one after your child recognizes letters. This one has been helping my son learn the sounds of different letters. But this one does feel a bit more like traditional studying, so he doesn’t like it as well.
We try to take a daily walk outside when weather permits. Chalk has been a fun activity to do outside. And we also like leaving some positive things for others who may walk in the area 🙂
And of course one of the easiest things to do is throw a dance party! Especially on days that we can’t go outside, it’s a great way for my boys to let out some energy. My husband and I join in too! It’s actually really stress-relieving!
Read Books Together
Books We’ve Been Loving Recently
I usually borrow loads of books from the library, so it’s been a big bummer that they’re closed right now. So I’ve had to resort to buying some books. Thank goodness books on Amazon can be quite affordable at times.
Here are several books my boys and I have been enjoying recently. Make sure to check out my other post: Best Spring Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers for other favorites for this time of year!
We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines and Kids
In true Joanna Gaines fashion, this book is so beautiful and sweet! The illustrations are gorgeous, and the message is so positive. I’m notorious for having a “brown thumb” but this book has actually got me wanting to try being a plant mama.
The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer
My 3 year-old has been loving this book. The pictures are colorful, and the book is informative. We read through probably just a couple pages at a time and learn about different types of bugs. I’ve learned so much as well!
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle
All the books in the Little Blue Truck series are wonderful, and this is no exception. Containing a great message of setting a positive example no matter what your size, it’s been a fun read for us.
Who else has been a bit more grumpy than usual during this self-quarantine? This book has been a great way for me to talk to my boys that it’s okay to feel grumpy sometimes, as long as we process those feelings and work through them together.
Grumpy Monkey Party Time!
Love this one as well! My one year-old has really been enjoying the illustrations of all the animals in both these books.
I hope these easy, fun, and educational screen-free activities are helpful this upcoming week! Stay safe!
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