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5 Games to play indoors with toddlers

Too cold to go outside? Too grey? Too windy? Too dark? There are plenty of games to play with your little ones indoors, to keep boredom at bay. Here are a few new ideas to get you started.
  1. Indoor bowling Perfect for the hallway. Collect a set of 10 clean and empty plastic bottles or cardboard containers (juice boxes or milk cartons) and set them up just like the ten pins at the bowling alley. Use a stick, rope or bit of tape to mark out the starting line at the other end of the hallway - and then let the games begin! To make a level playing field among children of different ages you could add in additional starting lines closer to your "ten pins". Alternatively, you could get older kids to use a handball or tennis ball while younger ones get to roll a bigger ball.
  2. Big ears When it's time to quiet down, gather up five or six household objects and lay them out in front of your toddler on the floor. You might, for example, have a plastic comb, a saucepan, a pair of sneakers, a set of keys and a book. Let your child examine all the objects, then have them close their eyes or turn their back. Now, pick up an object, make a noise with it and see if your child can identify which one it is. You might run your fingers along the teeth of the comb, rap on the saucepan with your knuckles, smack the soles of the shoes together, jingle the keys or thumb through the pages of the book. Once you've run through all the objects, one by one, get your toddler to test you. You could even encourage your little one to gather up his or her own collection of objects to test you on.
  3. Rubbish harp For this activity you'll need to gather up a variety of objects that will make different sounds: things like plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, plastic tubs and tin cans. With your toddler, test the musical potential of these objects by rapping them with a wooden spoon. Next, tie a length of string between two stable furniture pieces, such as two reasonably heavy chairs. With your toddler at a safe distance, use scissors or a punch to make holes in your objects and then, using short lengths of string, tie each individual object to the long string between the chairs. Now that your rubbish harp is made, hand your toddler a couple of wooden spoons and let the music play (it will be even better if you join in, too).
  4. Sticky run For something so simple (and inexpensive!) this activity can bring a lot of joy. Get a roll of clear adhesive book covering such as Contact and cut a length at least a metre long (the older your child is, the longer you're likely to want the length to be). Lay it out, sticky side up, on a stretch of hard flooring and tape into place. Now, remove the paper backing so that you have a long, sticky race track. Let your little person step on to the sticky track and watch their gleeful reaction to the sensation of sticky feet - and the sounds they make as they stick and unstick their feet from the surface.
  5. Colourful clothesline Pull out an indoor drying rack or run some lengths of string between some sturdy uprights such as table legs and chair backs to form a clothesline. Offer your toddler a bucket or bowl of pegs and encourage them to peg items to the clothesline. You could use dolls' clothes or your child's own clothes. Or you could raid the sewing cupboard and cut up some long strips of coloured cloth. Gripping clothes pegs and learning how to open and close them can actually help your child develop some of the physical skills they need to hold a pencil. And you can make the game even more educational by declaring that this is a "blue" washing day for all the blue clothes (or fabric), or a day for all the "spotty" things.


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