Whilst one focus of this blog is autism another is activities you can do at home with toddlers and pre-schoolers. I have been a stay at home mum for nearly 6 years now and have another year at home with my youngest before he starts school.
I used to struggle with ideas for activities to do with the kids, especially for those rainy days at home. Now we have lots of activities and when I am struggling Pinterest is great for new ideas.
The main thing to remember is all activities can and should be adapted to best suit your child’s needs. Much of my focus is on using visuals to support my non-verbal son and making sure we make the activities visually stimulating. You should focus on your child’s interests and include those interests in every activity you can to help motivate their interest.
If your child has a particular interest or favourite thing then use this to your advantage. My son used to love puzzles, find out how we used this special interest to our advantage.
There are lots of great interactive toys where your help is needed to enjoy them, like wind up toys or bubbles. Finding motivating toys that you can interact with is a great way to have fun.
When you need some calm time then using sensory toys might be a good plan.
Messy play is a favourite of many young children, play with:
- arts and crafts
- store cupboard items
And try to worry about the mess later.
If you have an art lover you may be interested in the My Little World products. And for those messy sensory play fans you might want to give Slime a go. If you want quick and easy messy play take a look at my post on attention builders.
Start getting the kids in the kitchen as early as possible. As soon as they can hold a spoon they will have great fun mixing! My eldest really enjoys baking, my youngest is less interested but is still happy to do some mixing and rolling. Here is a post with some ideas for cooking with young children. And the pictures below are from when we made some Energy Balls.
Both my kids have music therapy sessions which has been great for their speech and communication development. We have a music bag set up at home with lots of instruments and nursery rhyme cards. Having the bag set up and in the cupboard gives me something I can pull out once or twice a week and it’s an activity the kids really love.
Find out more about our music bag and music therapy in my post on music and autism.
Books & Stories
I used to really struggle to hold my eldest son’s attention with books, now he loves them. We have found a multi sensory approach to stories really helpful so incorporating playing, reading, listening, watching and generally enjoying different aspects of a story. Here is a post all about enjoying books together.
We are big Julia Donaldson fans in our house, here is a list of out top 100 books for under 5s for some inspiration. Use technology to your advantage we love to watch tv programmes or films of the stories we enjoy. There are lots of exciting ways to enjoy stories and books check out the Mardles books which use augmented reality.
Learning at home
We all want to help support our children to learn at home. Whilst children are always learning often we have specific things we want to help them to learn. The best way is always to include the learning in fun everyday activities. This post on learning to count might give you some ideas.
For my kids I needed to introduce a more structured way to support learning and using the TEACCH method has been a great way to do that.
Often we end up doing the same activities on a regular basis, children often thrive on routine and familiarity. One of the best ways to change activities a little and to come up with new ideas is to make it seasonal.
Here are some of my seasonal activities posts –
I wrote a guest post over at Rainbows are too Beautiful on the importance of enjoying play. This post also looks ate the different types of play:
- Symbolic play
- Repetitive play
- Parallel play
- Physical play
- People games
- Messy play
- Outdoor play
- Imaginative play
- Games with rules
- Exploratory play
I regularly share pictures of activities I do with my kids over on Instagram.
What are your favourite activities for young children at home? Let me know in the comments below.