Here are 3 activities that you can do at home with your young children / preschoolers which occupies their time meaningfully and is also fun and enjoyable for them!
1. Drawing, doodling, colouring on a looooonnnnng roll of paper.
I bought the roll of paper from IKEA (MALA Drawing paper roll) at $7.90 when it was on sale. Usual price at $9.90.
There's just greater excitement and novelty in rolling out a long strip of paper and sitting on the ground to doodle, as opposed to drawing and colouring at the desk on a A4 size paper. My children enjoy walking around on both sides of the paper and drawing long and huge pictures. The biggest advantage is there is more than enough space for everyone to occupy a spot and unleash their creativity, without having to jostle. It also makes it more fun when they have to move around the strip of paper to do their drawing and get their colouring equipment instead of being confined to the desk. They are also very amused when we roll out the paper and see how much drawing they have done over several sittings. We've already had over 4 hours of fun with this and only less than 1/3 of the paper has been used up. Mahjong paper would also be a good alternative.
I enjoy doing this activity because I like to doodle as well. More importantly, it can keep my boys occupied for up to an hour without much physical exertion. Even my 1 year old enjoys it!
2. Baking Cookies
If you are great at baking and want to make the activity more challenging for older children, please feel free to bake the cookies from scratch ingredients! I have to admit I'm not much of a baker and I find these cookies premixes very handy. I feel that the experience is more fun and enjoyable when the process adding of ingredients and mixing is very manageable for both my 3 and 5 year olds. A simplified preparation process also makes it a much less messy experience in the kitchen. Less to clean up but still as fun!
It also provides a good opportunity to educate the little ones on the various kitchen utensils and safety measures in operating various equipment like the oven. My boys also enjoy watching the cookie dough rise in the oven (from a safe distance), and most of all, eating the fruit of their labour! Since we used cookies premix, it's a failsafe! My children are very encouraged when their gramps commended them on the yummy cookies and they proudly announced they baked those themselves. =)
3. Creative Pancakes
Similar to baking cookies, I also used pancake mix easily found in supermarkets. I filled the pancake mix in soft plastic bottles with nozzles, like those used for ketchup and chilli sauce. So instead of making the good ol' round pancakes, we could design our own pancakes! Well, this idea actually came from a meal at Slappy Cakes some time back. It was a fun experience at the restaurant, but those were certainly overpriced pancakes!
Adult supervision is definitely required for this activity because the child has to stand right at the stove to design the pancakes. I use a induction cooker hob at home which I find is much safer than the traditional stoves. The trick is to keep the heat on low so there's sufficient time to draw and fill the shapes of pancakes that you want, without burning them. You could even split the pancake mix into several bottles and add different food colouring to make those pancakes more colourful!
As always, food is tastier and more appreciated when the children played an active role in preparing it. Add some fruits with honey drizzle or nutella and voila! A fun and tasty meal. Who says we can't have pancakes for lunch?
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