Something that often worked for me to occupy my kids (when they were tiny) was to set up 'stations', similar to they way Preschools do. It doesn't have to be fancy, just 3 or 4 'activities' in a room, such as a book station, gross motor, fine motor station and pretend play station. It is worth the time setting up as the kids zoom around from station to station, loving their independence!
Ideas for stations:
Get a comfy cushion, chair or bean bag - or if you are feeling adventurous create a cozy nook. Get a basket or plastic tub and put a selection of age-appropriate books binder up for easy browsing!
Gross Motor station
Ball toss - get a laundry basket, some balls, bundles of socks, or even small toys and let them at it!
Sidewalk chalk - map out a hopscotch or stepping stones, let them hop, or if you have space, draw a 'road' to follow on their ride on toys!
Pillow crash - get a beanbag, sofa pillow or similar, place it away from other objects or furniture and let them jump and 'crash' into it.
DIY balance beam - use tape, string or similar and make a line on the floor - done!
Fine Motor station
Play dough - many home recipes exist, this is a super easy one:
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup cornstarch
Mix the ingredients with a fork until smooth. Ad food coloring / essential oil for added sensory benefit. Boil over medium heat until thick. Spoon onto a plate or wax paper and allow it to cool.
Pinch and Place - got an old egg carton, a muffin baking tray or even just some plastic cups? Fill each cup or egg carton hole with something small (watch for choking hazards) and either have the kids use their pincher fingers or even kitchen tongs to move from a to b!
Scribble and Scribe - set up some good old fashioned paper and crayons!
Pretend Play Station
Dress up - that old favorite! You can theme it, put dress up items in a play bin - maybe add a kid camera or microphone and let them act!
Recreate Worlds - you can get creative, but for example,
- Get a selection of trucks, large piece of paper, draw a road and let them play!
- Treasure hunt, hide some small toys or objects in a box of shredded paper, or play and (if you want to get messy).
- Tea Party - use toy or real kitchen items, create a menu together and even some real treats.
- Shops - get some boxed grocery items out, a pretend cash register (a shoe box works great), some pretend or even used currency, and a reusable shopping bag!
Hope this helps!