Football season is upon us, mamas. It seems like most of us either dread or celebrate the arrival of football, without much middle ground. If you are one of the latter, like me, you may be in search of activities to occupy your younger kids while you root for your favorite team. Or maybe you just need a chance to fold all those clean clothes that are piling up.
Whatever the reason, try one of these ideas the next time you need a few minutes uninterrupted. My favorite thing about all of these is the multitude of ways you can change them to keep them interesting and account for age and ability. And, bonus, most of them are mess-free. And of course, while these ideas will help keep your little ones busy, they are not intended to replace responsible supervision.
This one is a great way to keep littles busy and give them fine motor practice. A variety of materials can be used for lacing and threading, but be sure to adapt this activity to your child’s skill level. If you have a beginner, use a threading material that is much more narrow than the hole it is being put through, like a straw and pieces of paper towel roll. Another way to make this an easier task for beginners is to stand a straw or similar material in a foam block or Play-Doh. This way your child only has to hold one thing at a time. As your child’s skills develop, gradually increase the difficulty of the threading. A few of our favorite threading pairs: crazy straws with felt pieces, pipe cleaners with buttons, and pipe cleaners with a colander.
Make it football related :: Print a football image on cardstock and punch holes around the edges or over the football laces for an older child. Use a shoelace to thread.
Sticky walls carry endless potential for a wide age range. Create a sticky wall by using painter’s tape to adhere contact paper to a wall, with the adhesive side exposed. Sticky walls can be used for a specific planned activity, or simply as an exploratory play space. Pinterest is a great resource with countless examples of sticky wall activities. If necessary for your planned activity, draw on the smooth side of the contact paper before removing the paper backing from the adhesive.
Make it football related :: Turn your sticky wall into a football field. Draw a field on the smooth side of the contact paper. Make goal posts, players, and a football for your little one to stick on the football field.
The mess-free version of this is sensory bags, which is a great option for older infants and toddlers. Add oil or hair gel to a Ziploc, then add items in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Double bag to increase durability. Finally, tape the bags around all edges to a window, floor, or poster board, or just use duct tape around all edges to keep contents secure.
If you’re brave enough, opt for a shaving cream table or a sensory bean bin. The bean bin will require advance preparation but provides months of entertainment. My favorite bean bin consists of measuring cups, bowls, and dyed beans in a variety of colors. Just make sure to spread a blanket under the bean bin for easier cleanup.
Make it football related :: Fill a bean bin with your favorite team’s colors. Add football beads, small toy footballs, and anything else that fits your theme and color scheme!