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Fire the Babysitter! Part 2

In the concluding part of this series, Umm-e-Ismaeel shares how to incorporate healthy and safe activities into your toddler’s life for better brain development.

Last month, we discussed the need to restrict screen time on devices such as laptops in favour of doing more hands-on activities together.The benefits of doing fun activities with your child are many: you get to bond with your child, make happy memories and at the same time promote healthy brain development. You will see the results of your efforts as your child progresses and reaches developmental milestones.


Read Part 1 HERE

Here are more suggestions for activities you can do with your child.

For Outdoors:
1. Ice Painting
What you need:
• Ice cube trays (try different shaped ones)
• Cornflour
• Liquid watercolour or foodcolour
• Water

Half fill trays with cornflour. Add a few drops of watercolour or food colour. Top with water until 3/4 full. Mix carefully with thin stick or back of spoon. Freeze overnight. When ready to use, take outside, pop them out of the trays and paint on concrete sidewalk. It’s magical seeing the colours melting and forming their own designs! You can use a brush to paint a picture. This is a fun and messy activity, so make sure your kids are dressed appropriately.


2. Gooey Goo
Pour a lot of cornflour in a bowl or tray. Add water until desired consistency is reached – maybe 60% cornflour and 40% water. Add colour, glitter, sequins, stars – anything to make it more fun. Play and scoop or mould with hands. The consistency of this is great fun; sometimes it feels solid, sometimes liquid!


3. Bubbling Pavement Paint
What you need:
• Ice cube trays or muffin tin
• Cornflour
• Baking soda
• Watercolour or food colour
• Water
• Vinegar

Fill trays or tin with 1 part cornflour and 2 parts baking soda. Add a few drops of colour and slowly add water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Freeze. Put vinegar in a spray bottle. Take the frozen paint outside and paint with it. Then spray with vinegar and see it fizz!


4. Treasure Rock Hunt
In a bowl, mix drops of food colouring with 1 cup baking soda. You can also add glitter and scents to the baking soda. Slowly add water until baking soda is mouldable and holds shape. Shape into balls and hide treasures in the balls, such as beads, sequins, small candies and so on. Lay the balls out in the sun to dry. Once hard, bury or hide them and have a treasure hunt. When the treasure hunt is finished, lay the balls out on a table and spray with vinegar and see them bubble and fizz to reveal the treasure inside!


5. Finger Paint
What you need:
• Glass or plastic jars or containers for all the colours you want to make
• 1/3 cup flour
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 2 cups water
• Watercolour or food colour

Measure the flour in a saucepan. Add sugar and water. Whisk. Heat on medium heat until mixture thickens. Pour in jars and add a separate colour to each jar; mix thoroughly. Let cool; either use immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerating, heat in the microwave for a bit, stir and use.

Some ideas for painting:
a. Pour some paint in small flat containers – you could use plastic lids. Place a sheet of construction or watercolour paper on surface. Let child dip fingers and paint.
b. Try using other things to paint with, such as paint brushes, leaves (a bunch of leaves could be tied to a stick like a brush), twigs, feathers and anything around the house.
c. Take some toilet paper tubes, one for each colour and dip the ends in the paint. Stamp on paper. This will create coloured circles. For other shapes, bend the ends of the tubes to form hearts, squares, triangles and so on.
d. For more stamping fun, cut the ends of an okra to reveal the pattern inside. Stamp with the ends. Try other vegetables or fruits for stamping.
e. Have your child dip his hand and foot inside the paint and stamp on the paper. Cut it out and frame it as a keepsake.


For Indoors:
6. Laundry Fun
While sorting laundry, have your child find matching socks for you. Take two pairs of socks and make them into a ball, one for you and one for your child. Take some toilet paper tubes or plastic cups and place them like bowling pins. Take turns bowling. Once this activity is over, stack the cups with your child – children love stacking activities.


7. Pillow Path
Take some pillows and cushions and lay them on the floor or carpet in a path. Try to create excitement by laying the pillows in a zigzag or twisting path. Have your child walk on them, either with you or by himself. This activity is good for improving balance and gross motor skills.


8. Obstacle Course
Children never tire of meeting the challenges of an obstacle course and the fun part is it can be different every time. Make sure to be in the room to guide or, better yet, join the fun!

What you can use:
• Pillows
• Cushions
• Bean bags
• Low-level boxes a child can stand on
• Ramps (an ironing table can be used as a ramp)
• Children’s play tents
• Bed mattresses and sofa seats

Lay these out in any direction or shape (a square or circle, for instance). You can park the ramp against a sofa or bed, low enough that the child can walk on. A good idea is to break up the path with surprises and variety. For instance, start off easy with two or three pillows then add a box for standing on. After that, you could place cushions, then a tent, then some more cushions and after that a fort made using chairs with a bed sheet on top. The child will go through the fort, walk on some more cushions and end up climbing the ramp.


9. Colour Hunt:
This activity uses simple materials and incorporates learning and fun simultaneously. It is great for toddlers who have just learned their colours and numbers. It involves counting, colour matching and sorting – a 3 in 1 activity!

What you need:
• Small, multicoloured objects, preferably of same group, such as cars, blocks, bugs or even paper cut-out shapes.
• Construction paper in same colours – you can do themes such as rainbow colours.

Spread your coloured paper out in a neat row on a flat surface like the floor or table. Hide your objects around one room. Explain the rules of the game or demonstrate for the first one: find the object and sort it in the correct colour. After your child has found all the objects and placed them on the correct paper, ask him to count them. While he’s busy counting, sneak one or two objects on the wrong coloured paper and see if he fixes the mistake.


While it is tempting to turn our children into couch potatoes so we can get on with our lives, we must remember that our children are a trust from Allah (SWT). Their development and growth must come first. We can create opportunities for them to have (messy) fun with us or allow them to take part in our own tasks. They will then learn through practical demonstration and, insha Allah, grow up to be responsible, independent and creative Muslims.



Read Part 1 HERE

Umm-e-Ismaeel has lived in Saudi Arabia, N. America and now resides in Pakistan. She is an ESL teacher and freelance writer; her work has been published in various magazines and ezines. In her free time, she enjoys baking and painting and having fun doing creative things with her son.