The Toddler’s Busy Book should be required reading for anyone raising or teaching toddlers, it is written with warmth and sprinkled with humor and insight.
Toddler's Busy Book contains 365 screen-free activities (one for each day of the year) for one-and-a-half- to three-year-olds using things found around the home. It shows parents, babysitters, and daycare providers how to:
—Save money by making your own supplies of “magic mud,” all-purpose bubble solution, homemade face paint, edible egg-yoke paint (for cookies), peanut butter playdough, and ornamental frosting.
—Get organized for your toddler by keeping a “baker’s box” full of unbreakable cooking tools in the kitchen your child can help with or play with; make a “busy bag” full of toys and stuffed animals for your child when you take him to the doctor or hairdresser. Or make a “crazy can” full of stuff that’s fun to play with so when you don’t know what to do next, just reach for the crazy can.
—Prevent boredom during even the longest stretches of rainy or cold weather with ideas for indoor play like “hide the beanbag,” or making a homemade sandbox (fill a cardboard box or plastic baby bathtub with puffed wheat cereal or foam packing peanuts), or suspend balloons from the ceiling and give your child a plastic baseball bat or a gift-wrap tube to bat the balloons, or set up a “tickle trunk” to hold a variety of hats, wigs, masks and costume jewelry and princess crowns for imaginative play.
—Get your child moving by making a “toddler obstacle course,” or by paint-dancing, or by holding a “mini olympics,” or by dancing (when the music starts) and falling down (when the music stops), or Jell-O jumping (in the bathtub).
—Learn how to expand your child’s arts and crafts horizons by learning how to make a “popcorn picture” (with popcorn, construction paper, and a glue stick); a “gift-wrap collage”; fingerpaint in the bathtub, or make an “apple smile” (with a red apple and peanut butter).
—Help children learn to have fun in the kitchen making fruit popsicles, zoo sandwiches, “mud balls” (using peanut butter and honey), “ants on a log” (using celery, peanut butter and raisins), and peanut butter sculptures (they’re fun to make and fun to eat).
—Get your child started with music and rhythm by making a coffee can drum, a kazoo (starting with an empty toilet paper roll), or inviting your child to “strum” on corrugated cardboard with a spoon,
—Show your child how to have fun with water by playing catch with water balloons (outdoors on a hot day), or inviting your child to catch bubbles you blow towards her; or by making a “toddler sprinkler” by punching holes in the bottom of a large plastic milk jug. Or make two cups of Kool Aid in different flavors; ask your child to pour the two cups into the mixing bowl and mix the Kool Aid with a whisk or eggbeater, to see what color it will be. Then give your child a funnel and ask her to scoop the water into a cup and pour it through the funnel into an empty soda bottle—which your child can drink, when thirsty.
—Teach your child about colors, numbers, letters and body parts: cut an apple open and count the seeds—then eat the apple slices, or play the color game in the supermarket (identifying fruits and vegetables of different colors), or ask your child to point to different body parts as you name them, or pour sand into a pie plate and ask your child to draw letters in the sand.
—Celebrate holidays and birthdays with special projects and activities by making Halloween face paint, a Thanksgiving Turkey (starting with a small paper plate), a “Jack o’ Orange, a “stars and stripes” sponge painting, a shamrock necklace, a birthday memory book, valentine cookies, or a Rudolph sandwich.
—Make car trips and walks around the block more fun by teaching your child nursery rhymes and finger plays, including “Five Little Monkeys” (use fingers to indicate the number of monkeys), or recite “Walking Through the Jungle” while taking a walk and miming the actions; or, recite a familiar nursery rhyme and pause when you come to the rhyming word; see if your child can fill in the blank.
—Teach your child practical skills like picking up all the stuffed animals (or toys) on the floor and throwing them into a laundry basket (you can say, “Let’s play “basket bear!”) or washing vegetables (it’s like washing your hands), or by washing the floor with a sponge and soapy water in a bucket (which turns your child into your helper).
—Lure your child to bed at night with a “jungle safari” which involves searching for stuffed animals in the bedroom with a flashlight.