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15 Indoor Activities for the Low-Budget, Crafty Mama

If you love your crafts just as much as I do, then here are some ideas that you can make for your knowledge-hungry little one. Not only is it fun for me to make and for her to play with, but Charlie also gets to learn with most of these little activities.

So many things that lie around the house or get thrown away can be turned into a game for your toddler. They usually choose to play with trash over their toys, anyway!

1) Soup cans:

-These are an awesome thing to keep. Take off the labels and you can paint the cans different colors to be used as a color sorting game.

-Or draw shapes on them and go around the house finding circles, triangles, and squares to put into corresponding cans.

-Use for wind chimes, noise makers, or drums.

-Drill holes through the bottom. Have baby drop objects through them (or stack them on a long rod).

-Poke a bunch of holes in one can. Put a strand of small, cheap, battery-powered lights in it. Great to bring into a dark fort!

2) Build a box fort: (this one is really just for fun).

-Ever get an oversized Amazon box? Save it! Turn it onto a fortress for your little prince or princess.

-Wanna go the extra mile? Turn it into a barn, with the red paint and all. Put farm animals inside for your baby to play with and learn about.

3) Egg carton:

-Paint the inside different colors and use as a color sorter. Find same color objects and drop them into their respective colors.

4) Felt:

-Cut out felt shapes to stick up onto a large stretch of felt hammered into the wall (my little one was able to take out the tacks, so watch out!).

-Draw letters on pieces of felt to learn the alphabetI purchased a bunch of different colors of felt.

-I found a pack on Amazon here. This way, she was learning colors and for a great price!

Related article: Click here for my "14 Small Purchases for Indoor Learning Activities" post

5) Coffee gallon and popsicle sticks:

-We love our coffee just as much as the next set of parents. Keep those gallons and cut slits in the lids. This is a great motor skills game for your little one to drop popsicle sticks into.

-Down the road when they are learning colors, we colored them with different sharpies. As Charlie would drop each stick into the jug we would say the color of the stick.

-When she started getting a good grasp on her colors, we would ask, “Where’s the blue one?”

6) Paper bags:

-Make puppets, and put on a show!

-Put different colors on them. and then grab toys for your munchkin to sort them into each according to color.

7) Animal Sticks:

-I printed out a bunch of different animals and glued them to the tops of popsicle sticks.

-Great animal practice!

-Or do it with other learning subjects like colors, ocean species, shapes, letters, etc.

-We keep them on our desk (which she loves to climb on). We got so tired of trying to get her to stay off the desk. So instead, the only things we have up there are things she can learn from and play with.

-Also fun for little puppet shows!

Related article: "21 At-Home Outdoor Activities for 1-2 year-olds"

8) Trace objects onto construction paper:

-And then throw all the objects into a bin/bag/bucket/etc. Let your busy little bee take the objects out and place them where they belong.

-You can do the same with letters of the alphabet and numbers. Just cut em out!

9) Photo album:

-Charlie LOVES looking at pictures. Make a photo album of all you family members. Go through it with them and say everyone’s names.

-It is also really great if you live far from anyone. Keeps far away family in their minds!

10) Flash cards!

-I had a bunch of unused flash cards from my college days. Print/draw on them, putting letters, numbers, animals, vehicles, etc. on them.

-Place a stack of each subject into separate containers, and hide them in places your little one is typically drawn towards.

-Charlie loves to flip through them, throw em everywhere.

-They are also a nice, compact activity to bring to people’s houses or restaurants.

-Or stick em into envelopes! Great motor skills to take in and out.

-I even taped the envelopes on the walls so she could run all over the house and inspect them!

**Don't wanna do the work? We got these as a gift and Charlie loves them!**

Related article: Click here to read my "15 Indoor Activities for the Low-Budget, Crafty Mama" post!

11) Emotions: I printed out a sheet of different emotions, cut them out, and taped them to her stuffed animals. We’d go over the names of each animal, as well as the emotions.

12) Save the plastic rings that go around a six pack of beer/soda:

-I would color each ring a different color with a sharpie.

-Then I taped them onto the wall.

-In the center of each ring I’d have one side of a piece of velcro. The other side of the velcro would be stuck to construction paper of different colors and shapes. We would match each color to the color of the plastic rings.

-Another step further—have small faces with the different emotions attached to a piece of velcro. Each emotion would be a color.

-For example, happy would be yellow, angry would be red, sick would be green, calm would be blue.

-This helps them subconsciously relate feelings to colors while also learning them both individually.Paint paper towel rolls different colors, and let them stick them through the rings. Motor skills AND color learning. BOOM.

13) Toilet paper rolls:

-I found clear colored plastic goody bags, cut out pieces, and wrapped them around one end of the rolls. Turn it into a pirate’s spyglass.

-Great way for them to see the world through every color.

14) Pasta clean-up:

-Paint or use Sharpies on each piece of pasta.

-Use for passive absorption of colors.

-For more active learning, have little one place the colors into corresponding colored objects (use the egg carton stated above; place on colored construction paper; or into the stackable cups I mentioned in my "Small Purchases for Indoor Learning Activities" post).

-You can also use the paper towel rolls I mentioned in #13!

Related article: Check out my "22 Little to No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1-2 year-Olds" post here!

15) Make a discovery panel

-I found some quality wood lying on the side of the road. I painted it with a white wash to match our farmhouse-y decor. I found a bunch of baby friendly stuff to screw/glue/velcro onto it.

-For example: a calculator, flashlight, plastic hooks, a toilet paper holder/roll, locks, zippers, buckles, light switch, etc.

-I’d go to the dollar store or into the clearance sections at Home Depot and Target. Really anything that can be fiddled with that does’t look like a kid’s toy will work!

-Once I attached everything, I painted pictures of animals, letter, shapes, and numbers onto the blank parts of the board.

-I didn’t screw it into the wall, in case she wanted to bring it into other rooms, or we wanted to take it on vacation.

-So many learning benefits!

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