10 Easy Indoor Toddler Crafts and Activities

10 Easy Indoor Toddler Crafts and Activities
By Paige Goodwin, Contributor

Maybe you just had a baby or maybe it’s starting to get cold outside, but nothing seems more daunting than having to keep a toddler inside — and entertained — especially if your child seems to move between games and activities quickly. Even as a seasoned nanny, I was constantly trying to figure out how to keep the kids busy when I couldn’t take them outdoors. Here are some of my favorite crafts that you can make at home:

1. Toddler-Safe Play-Dough
Sometimes even the parents and caregivers with lighting reflexes can’t stop a toddler from putting things in their mouth. Making your own play dough out of ingredients in your cupboard ensures that even if your little one gets a bite of this fun dough, all you have to worry about is a salty aftertaste. Kidspot has a great No-Cook Playdough Recipe that is reusable and has 5 ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Supplies:
– 1 cup water
– 3 cups flour
– 1 cup salt
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– food coloring
1. Mix together the salt and flour. Add in oil and mix.
2. Mix together food coloring and water.
3. Add in water slowly, mixing until you get the right consistency.
4. Have your toddler knead the dough while you’re mixing.
5. Store in an airtight bag or container.

2. Shaving Cream Sensory Buckets
There’s something about sensory activities that toddlers love, and shaving cream attracts small kids like magnets. Especially on cold, wintry days, your toddler will love playing with fake “snow”, and all you need is a can of shaving cream sitting around. If your child is unsure of playing with it, include a few waterproof toys in a large plastic mixing bowl or storage tub. The best part? Clean-up requires just a quick rinse with water and both yours and your toddler’s hands will smell great and be silky smooth!

3. Bathtub Painting
Toddlers and paint normally means nightmarish clean-ups, but bathtub painting is a great alternative. If you have bath tub paint laying around, you can put it to good use (and if you don’t, try Kojo Design’s Make Your Own Bath Paint that requires 4 common household ingredients). If you’re worried about getting food coloring out of clothing, you can always do bathtub painting while your child is already in the tub, or get a few more uses out of the bathing suits that won’t fit next season. The paint requires just a spray down with water for clean-up!

Supplies for a baby-food jar of paint:
– 1/4 cup of shampoo/body wash
– 1/4 cup corn starch
– 1-2 tablespoons of water
– 3-4 drops food coloring
1. Mix together the shampoo, corn starch and food coloring (one color only).
2. Add in the water a little at a time until you reach the right consistency. It should be thin enough to easily pick up with a paintbrush, but not too runny.

4. Cloud Dough
I know, I know, I put play-dough at the top of this list, but cloud dough is its own magical experience. PBS Parents has a two-ingredient Cloud Dough Exploration recipe that takes about five minutes to whip up and is easy enough for older toddlers to help make. Cloud dough is super fun to put into molds, and is a great way to put those beach toys to use in the off-season. You may want to double the recipe so you can play alongside your toddler!

Supplies:
– 4 cups flour
– 1/2 cup oil (if your child tends to put things in their mouth, use vegetable oil. If not, using baby oil makes the dough smell wonderful!)
1. Mix together using your hands until it holds together when squeezed. This should take a few minutes.

5. Paint with Pudding
Adding food coloring to pudding was an old trick I learned from a mom with a toddler and a little one in a high chair. By mixing together vanilla pudding and a few drops of food coloring, her toddler was able to paint a plastic place mat while the baby painted the high chair tray. Little ones can snack away while they make their creations!

6. Popsicle Stick Family Dolls
This activity is especially fun for children who enjoy drawing pictures of family members, or it could even help a child get more used to a new little family member, be it a sibling or cousin. For small hands, you can buy wooden craft spoons from Michael’s that allow for more room to draw on faces. Wrap the popsicle stick with fabric or felt and glue it on for outfits, and glue on yarn for hair. This is especially fun around the holidays, when your toddler is thinking about seeing relatives (and, for extra fun moments, you can show grandparents, aunts, uncles and even your neighbor down the street the doll your child made of them!).

7. Snowy “Cosmic” Sun Catchers
I don’t know about you, but I am constantly amassing plastic containers with lids. If your family goes through large containers of yogurt, hummus or even baby food, you can use the leftover lid to make gorgeous art to cheer up your windows. The neat thing about this sun catcher is that it has a milky look to it — perfect for a winter window sill.

Supplies:
– a plastic container lid (think yogurt, hummus, cool whip, etc.)
– Elmer’s glue
– Food coloring
– Toothpicks
– Hole Punch
– String
1. Fill your selected lid with elmer’s glue so that it touches all the surfaces. Make sure to pour enough that the sun catcher will be thick — you’ll be peeling it from the lid when it’s dry so the thicker, the sturdier.
2. Drop a single drop of food coloring into the glue for smaller lids, two of each color for larger ones. Space the drops apart so they’ll have space to bleed into the glue as they dry.
3. Have your little one drag a toothpick to swirl the colors together. Remember, the colors will bleed as they dry, so less is more here.
4. Let the lid dry (it may take a few days depending on how the thick the layer of glue was, but it’ll start to peel from the edges when it’s ready). Peel it from the lid and punch a hole at the top. Tie string and hang it up near a window.

For the original post, check out Babble Dabble Do.

8. Glitter Bottle
A big trend online is the “Calm-Down Jar”, a jar filled with glitter that moms use as a timer for when kids need a moment alone, or even a tool to help small children meditate. The truth is, the bottles are beautiful and mesmerizing — I made one this past summer with the girl I nannied and when it wasn’t in use, she kept it on the kitchen windowsill (and when sunlight would stream through the glitter, it made the countertops sparkle!).

Supplies:
– an empty, clean water bottle, preferably with smooth sides (bumpy sides distort the effect a little)
– a tube of glitter glue, which can be found in the kids’ section of art stores
– fine glitter (you can also add in sequins, thick glitter, pony beads or any other little trinkets that can float)
– hot water
– funnel
– super glue or hot glue
1. Put enough hot water in a bowl to fill the bottle with about a half inch left at the top.
2. Dump the entire bottle of glitter glue into the water and stir until the glue and water are mixed (if the water is cold, the glue will stay clumpy).
3. Let the water mixture cool a bit before having your toddler help you mix the fine glitter and optional sequins, thick glitter, etc., into the bowl. The more you add, the more glittery (and fun!) the bottle will be. Also, the thicker the mixture, the longer the bottle takes to “settle” after you shake it. The girl I made this with enjoyed watching the larger sequins flutter through the thin glitter.
4. Pour the glitter liquid through the funnel into your bottle and super/hot glue the lid on.
5. Let your toddler give the bottle a good shake.

9. Apple and Grape Cars
If you have a toddler, you know that as much as you try to get them to stop playing with their food, there’s only so much you can do. If you indulge them a little and make toy cars out of their lunch, you might get them to sit down long enough at the table for you to eat a little something, too.
Supplies:
– Apple slices
– grapes cut in half
– toothpicks
– fruit leather
1. Use a toothpick as an axle and attach grapes to the flat side of an apple slice to make cars.
2. Let your toddler drive them around on strips of fruit leather ‘roads’. You can also draw a road on a paper plate or even a large sheet of paper and let them drive their snack around!

10. Ocean Bottle
If your toddler enjoyed the glitter bottle, this bottle actually shows colors mixing and is gorgeous to boot! An ocean bottle will bring a little bit of summer to you, even in the cold winter. It takes less than five minutes to make and requires only things in your pantry.

Supplies:
– water
– yellow cooking oil (think light olive oil, vegetable, canola)
– blue food coloring
– a plastic bottle with a lid
– hot glue
1. Fill your bottle with water until it’s about a third of the way full.
2. Add a few drops of blue food coloring. Put the lid on the bottle temporarily and let your toddler shake it to mix the color.
3. Open the bottle back up, and fill the rest of the way with the cooking oil. If you are worried about the seal of the bottle’s lid, go ahead and glue it on now.
4. Have your toddler flip the bottle upside down and watch the oil rise to the top. It’ll mix with the blue food coloring and give a gorgeous greenish hue.

For the original post, check out Happy Hooligans

NEWS POST- Chuck E. Cheese's Testing Sensory Friendly Place for Families with Special Needs Children

NEWS ALERT– We are happy to announce that our friends at Chuck E. Cheese are partnering with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders to lead the way in providing families with autistic and special needs children with a fun and safe place to play.

Beginning Sunday, January 8, 2017, ALL Chuck
E. Cheese’s locations in New England, New York and New Jersey will open from 9-11am to offer sensory-sensitive places. This will then continue to take place on the first sunday of every month starting in February. The participating locations will do the following to make the experience as easy and fun for children and their parents:
– Less crowds and noise
– Dimmed lights
– No show, music or radio playing
– No Chuck E. mascot or any characters visible
– Food and games are offered but parents are permitted to bring snacks for their children if needed due to dietary restrictions, gluten allergies etc.
– Staff are extra flexible with “the rules” during this time, i.e. running, playing a game incorrectly (as long as everyone is SAFE as safety is always a priority)

Participating Locations:

NEW ENGLAND
Attleboro – 287 S. Washington St., Attleboro, MA 02703
Burlington – Ten Wall St. (HWY. 95/3A), Burlington, MA 01803
Danvers – 139 Endicott St., Danvers, MA 01923
Everett – 29 Mystic View Rd., Everett, MA 02149
Leominster – 100 Commercial Rd Ste. 68, Leominster, MA 01453
Lowell – 209 Plain St., Lowell, MA 01852
Manchester, CT – 82 Buckland St., Manchester, CT 06042
Manchester, NH – 1525 S Willow I-93, Manchester, NH 03103
Methuen – 90 Pleasant Valley Rd., Methuen, MA 01844
Natick – 801 Worcester, Natick, MA 01760
Newington, CT – 3075 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111
Newington, NH – 30 Fox Run Rd., Newington, NH 03801
North Dartmouth – 412-418 State Road 6, North Dartmouth, MA 02747
Orange – 82 Boston Post Rd., Orange, CT 06477
Springfield – 1716 Boston Rd., Springfield, MA 01129
Warwick – 650 Bald Hill Rd., Warwick, RI 02886
Waterbury – 650 Wolcott St., Waterbury, CT 06705
Worchester – 50 Southwest Cutoff, Worcester, MA 01604

NEW YORK
Albany – 601 Troy Schenectady Rd., Latham, NY 12110
Amherst – 4990 Harlem Rd., Amherst, NY 14226
Bronx – 700 Exterior Street, Bronx, NY 10451
Bronx – 1816 Gun Hill Rd, Bronx, NY 10469
Brooklyn – 139 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Flushing – 40-24 College Pt Blvd., Flushing, NY 11354
Greece – 3130 West Ridge Rd., Rochester, NY 14626
Hamburg – 4408 Milestrip Rd., Buffalo, NY 14219
Harlem – 280 St. Nicholas Ave, 2nd floor, Harlem, NY 10027
Hempstead – 162 Fulton Ave., Hempstead, NY 11550
Hicksville * – 11-15 Hanover Pl., Hicksville, NY 11801
Middletown – 8 Orange Plaza Lane, Middletown, NY 10940
Nanuet – 250 West Route 59, Nanuet NY 10954
New Hartford – 4631 Commercial Dr., Hartford NY 13413
Patchogue – 121 Sunrise Hwy., Patchogue, NY 11772
Poughkeepsie – 1895 South Rd., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Queens – 3419 48th St, Long Island City, NY 11101
Rochester – 1000 Hylan Rd. Suite 20, Rochester, NY 14623
Staten Island – 1775-P South Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314
Syracuse – 3023 Erie Blvd., Syracuse, NY 13224
Vestal – 3901 Vestal Parkway E., Vestal, NY 13850
West Islip – 155 Sunrise Hwy., West Islip, NY 11795

*The Hicksville, NY location will begin the program on Sunday, Feb. 5 (not Jan. 8)

NEW JERSEY
Brick – 28 Brick Plaza, Bricktown, NJ 08723
Bridgewater – 600 Promenade Blvd., Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Cherry Hill – 2100 Route 38 Suite 4, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Deptford – 301 N. Almonesson Rd., Deptford, NJ 08096
Edison – 1120 Route 1 North, Edison, NJ 08817
Hanover – 145 Route 10, East Hanover, NJ 07936
Jersey City – 701 Route 440 #383, Jersey City, NJ 07304
Mays Landing – 4215 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Middletown – 1107 Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748
N. Bergen – 8101 Tonelle Ave., North Bergen, NJ 07047
Paramus – 275 Route 4 West, Paramus, NJ 07652
Union – 1660 Route 22 East, Union, NJ 07083
Wayne – 1639 Route 23 South, Wayne, NJ 07470
West Windsor – 520 Nassau Park Blvd., West Windsor, NJ 08540

ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC!

Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!

Thaw your paws in the animal exhibit buildings and see the nocturnal critters! The Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, and Think Tank are open every night.

Rides and attractions include:
– The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo: take a merry tour through the Zoo on a trackless train that whisks guests all around the Great Cats exhibit and features gorgeous views of the Zoo’s holiday light displays.
– Snow-less Tubing: take the plunge down one of our 150-foot-long tracks—no snow necessary! (weather permitting)
– Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel: hop on to your choice of 58 animal figurines, as the carousel highlights the Zoo’s incredible research and success stories. As one of the few carousels in the world powered by solar energy, thanks to a generous donation by Pepco Energy Services, the carousel is a new spin on conservation.

Ride Tickets are available for purchase at the Zoo for $3 each; 1 ride per ticket. Family Packs are available for purchase online or at the Zoo for $20 for 8 tickets; 1 ride per ticket.

Baby and Kid Friendly Movie Theaters Near You!

Baby and Kid Friendly Movie Theaters Near You!

By, Jenna Klaverweiden, Contributor

Do you want to go to the movies? See a new movie that everyone has been raving about? Or just get out of the house but feel like you can’t with a baby or even young children? Movie theaters can be loud, crowded, and full of an audience expecting peace and quiet for the duration of the movie. Therefore, many parents hesitate on bringing their young children to the theater. Are you worried about your baby crying during the movie? Or it being too dark for you to tend to your baby’s needs? Well worry not, there are plenty of movie theaters in areas near you that are very baby-friendly, many even having exclusive times and showings for baby-friendly movies! In addition, look here for family-fun events for children slightly older! Check these theaters out to find movie theaters that are baby-friendly nationwide, and also theaters exclusive to your town!

AMC Sensory Friendly Films

Many AMC Theaters AMCfeature sensory friendly films with four showings a month! During these showings, the lights are kept up, the sound is kept down, and the audience is full of understanding parents—perfect for special needs families or any families in general! These showings take place on the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday, with family-friendly movies showing on Saturday mornings. Check out their site for more information and for a theater near you! https://www.amctheatres.com/programs/sensory-friendly-films

Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express 2016

                Regal Cinemas, another popular movie theater with many locations, features family fun movies playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. These events are only for the summertime, so catch them while you can! They play two different movies every week (both play on both Tuesday and Wednesday). The films start at 10am and are only $1! See their site here to discover what movie you’ll be seeing next! http://www.regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express

Those are two major movie theaters that have many different locations nationwide! However, if you’re looking for something a little more personal specified to your area, check out these:

Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland

Angelika Film Institute Pop-Up- Union Market, DC

                The Angelika Film Institute Pop Up features a Crybaby Matinee on Wednesdays at Union Market in the city. As they claim, they feature “movies for parents and their babies!” For more information regarding these events, contact angelika.popup@readingrdi.com.

Mommy & Me Matinee- Alexandria, VA

                The Mommy & Me Matinee at Regal Cinema Potomac Yard Stadium 16 in Alexandria features movies every other Tuesday for only $6.00. Before your even walk into the theater, it is already accommodating with lots of parking, perfect for parents with strollers. Regarding the movie experience, the theater is dimly lit and lower in sound, careful not to disrupt any babies! For more information email theatre1757@regalcinemas.com and be added to a listserv with even more information regarding the movies, synopsis, and more!

Four Mile Movie Series- Alexandria, VA

                Come on out to the Four MileFour Mile Movies Series, a family friendly event for all ages! This event, on every last Friday of the month for the summer, features movies and other activities for the whole family to enjoy! Movies, like The Goonies and Back to the Future, begin at dusk, but other fun and activities begin at 6pm. For more information about the fun, check it out here: http://www.fourmilemovieseries.com/

 Silver Babies- Silver Spring, MD

                The Silver Babies program at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring is perfect for parents with young babies! Every Friday morning, come in to see screenings of current films with special accommodations made for babies! With plenty of parking, a dimly lit theater, and a softer volume, babies will be perfectly comfortable while parents can enjoy the movie. And if your baby cries, that’s okay with an audience full of other parents that could be in the same situation! It’s $10 for adults and babies are free, so check it out here http://www.afi.com/silver/films/silverbabies.aspx for more information!

Mommy Movie Mondays- Rockville, MD

Come out to the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville, Maryland every other Monday for a baby-friendly movie setting! This program is offered to parents with children 12 months or younger, with babysitting offered for children older (for $3.00 per child). Even better, there is stroller parking and a very understanding and crying-friendly audience. For more information, email ldworkin@jccgw.org or check here: http://www.jccgw.org/event/mommy-movie-monday/.

Movie in the Meadow- Boyds, MD

                Check out the Black Hill Visitor Center for free family-friendly movies! Part of Active Montgomery, Movie in the Meadow celebrates summer with free movies under the stars. Get there by 7:30pm with blankets and chairs in tow to prepare for the movie at 8:00pm. For family, friends, and children 6+ months, this is the perfect summer outdoor activity.

Movies on the Potomac- National Harbor, MD

                A summer event, Movies onMovies on Potomac the Potomac, features family movies every Sunday at 6pm. Great for the whole family, this event right on the water features movies such as Cars, Wreck It Ralph, Zootopia, Frozen, Finding Nemo, and more! For more information on this great event, check it out here: http://www.nationalharbor.com/movies-on-the-potomac/.

Seattle, WA

IMAX Theaters at the Pacific Science Center- Seattle, WA

                Want to take the kids to see a movie and want them to learn? Check out the IMAX at the Science Center for showing of not only popular films, but also educational films! They take place daily, so go whenever it will fit in your schedule! For more information, contact the Science Center at 206-443-2001 or look here: https://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/imax/.

 Mommy and Me Movies at Cinemark- Bellevue, WA

                Check out this theater at Lincoln Square in Bellevue, WA for movies fit for parents and babies! Showing movies like Now You See Me 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Love and Friendship, this theater provides movies for parents with an environment suitable for babies! For more information call 425-450-9109 or email 1118@cinemark.com.

Movies at Marymoor Park- Redmond, WA

                Check out live performances, movie trivia, food trucks, and more at the Movies at Marymoor Park. Much more than a movie, this event provides food and activities great for kids (and, as a plus, dog-friendly!). This even takes place weekly over the summer from July 6 to August 24 every Wednesday. Entry begins at 6:30 pm so you can prepare for movies like Back to the Future, Jurassic World, and Inside Out! Look here for more information: http://www.epiceap.com/movies-at-marymoor/.

Philadelphia, PA

Going Gaga- Bryn Mawr, PA

                Check out the Going Gaga Pacific Scienceevent at Bryn Mawr Film Institute with your baby every Wednesday for an early matinee. Perfect for moms and dads with small babies, Going Gaga features the same movies that would play in the evenings, just at adjusted conditions for babies like dimmed lights and lower volumes. Babies are free, crying is okay, and changing tables are provided! To find out when you will be going to this great event, look here: http://www.brynmawrfilm.org/films/gaga.php

Babies on Board- Philadelphia, PA

                Taking place every Wednesday at the PFS Roxy Theater, new release movies are shown in an environment suitable for babies! With a lower volume and an understanding audience, these movies are perfect for parents who want to see a movie worry-free! Also, check out Sensory Friendly Sundays at the same theater with movies showing with the lights on, lower volume, and an inclusionary audience. Check out both here: http://filmadelphia.org/nowshowing/.

Ambler Theater- Ambler, PA

                Want to mix it up from seeing a movie? Check out this theater for live performances great for kids! With shows such as Snow White and Robin Hood this summer, it is great for young kids! Check it out on Thursdays at 11:00am, with kids under 3 getting in for free! Get more information here: http://amblertheater.org/family.

Houston, TX

Alamo Kids Camp- Houston, TX

Check out the Alamo Draft house Houston for a great way to spend your day with a cheap family movie every day! With tickets running from $1.00 to $3.00, there’s no reason not to go! Showing movies such as The Boxtrolls and Babe, this is a great way to get the kids out of the house and have some fun! Check it out here: https://drafthouse.com/houston/news/announcing-alamo-houstons-2016-summer-kids-camp-lineup

Summer Kids Series- Houston, TX

Check this program out for great summer fun for people of all ages! Starting Thursday, June 2 and going until Thursday, August 4, there’s no time to waste to come see some of these great films! Every Thursday at 10:00am come out to Carmike Cinemas to see movies such as Alvin and the Chipmunks- Road Chip, The Croods, Home, and Kung Fu Panda 2. At just $4.00 per ticket which includes admission, a special drink, and popcorn, you can’t miss out! Look here for more information: https://www.carmike.com/tx/yorktown-15-houston-tx/summer-kid-series-2016-p1-thur.

 

Boston, MA

Baby Friendly Matinees- FEIT Theaters

                Check out the multiple locations at FEI Theaters (like the Capitol Theater in Arlington and the Somerville Theater in Somerville) for baby friendly matinees! Each location has different times, like Monday afternoon at the Capitol Theater and Thursdays at the Somerville Theater. Regardless of the day, each theater offers a unique experience perfect for parents with babies! With low sound and dim lights, parents are guaranteed to have a movie experience great for babies. For more information for the Capitol Theater, check here, http://capitoltheatreusa.com/tickets-more/, and call 617-625-5700 for information at the Somerville Theater.

Baby and Me Shows- Salem, MA

                Check out the Baby and Me Shows at CinemaSalem each Monday morning at 10:00am. This program features showings tailored for moms, dads, nannies, and any infant caretakers. With dim lights, quieter sound, and an accepting audience, this theater is perfect for parents who want to see a film with their babies. There is even changing tables provided. Check it out here, http://www.cinemasalem.com/events/mom-and-baby-show/, or call at 978-744-1400.

Box Office Babies- Brookline, MA

                Come out to Coolidge Corner Theater for bi-monthly, baby-friendly screenings of current films. With films shown on the main theater on the first floor, stroller parking in the lobby, and two restrooms with changing tables, this theater ensures that parents have a great and accommodating experience. In addition, the lights are kept slightly up and the volume just a little lower to keep the babies comfortable. Taking place every other Friday at 11:00am for $9 (babies free) it is an experience that parents can’t miss! Look here for more information: http://www.coolidge.org/programs/box-office-babies

Free Friday Flicks- Boston, MA

                Come check out the Boston Friday Flick 2Hatch Shell for Free Friday Flicks, an outdoor movie series with movies every Friday starting at dusk! Featuring films that were huge box office successes, recent and modern classics, this is a great way to spend Friday evening with the family! Featuring movies like Minions, Inside Out, Cinderella, Star Wars, Up!, and more, the kids are guaranteed to love it! Make sure to bring chairs and blankets and check it out here: http://www.celebrateboston.com/free-friday-flicks.htm