Children at Play: Keeping It Simple
Your child’s entertainment need not come in the form of the latest toys or activities, and it needn’t break the bank either. Check out these fun and economical ideas for keeping kids of all ages happy and busy.
In the Kitchen
Children love to help mom cook. The National Network for Child Care (NNCC) says, “Children learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening. They love to help prepare food and cook because they can use all their senses. Children like to eat the foods they make.” This is also useful if your child is a fussy eater, as she may be more likely to try new foods if she’s had a hand in preparing the dish.
The NNCC suggests the following age-appropriate guidelines:
Two-year-olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms. They will enjoy activities such as:
- Scrubbing vegetables and fruits
- Wiping tables
- Dipping vegetables and fruits
- Tearing lettuce and salad greens
- Breaking bread for stuffing
- Snapping fresh beans
Three-year-olds are learning to use their hands. Try activities such as:
- Pouring liquids into and mixing batters
- Shaking a milk drink
- Spreading peanut butter on firm bread
- Kneading bread dough
Four- and five-year-olds are learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers. Offer them experiences such as:
- Rolling bananas in cereal for a snack
- Juicing oranges, lemons, and limes
- Mashing soft fruits and vegetables
- Measuring dry and liquid ingredients
- Grinding cooked meat for a meat spread
- Beating eggs
Making play dough with your child is a twofold bonus: not only does your child get to cook with you, but he gets to play with the result afterwards. Try the following easy recipe for play dough fun:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 spoon of olive oil
- food coloring or dash of paint
Combine the dry ingredients. Add several drops of food coloring to the water and then slowly add the water to the dry mix, mixing until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough until it reaches the required color and consistency.
Edible clay in the form of cookie dough is also fun and can be baked as well. Keep the dough in a sealed container to keep its elasticity, otherwise it will dry out and harden.
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