Sensory Activities to Keep Kids Busy on the Weekend
Fall is here, once again bringing back our weekly schedules and rhythms. With your kids busy during the week with school or daycare, it may leave you wondering how to keep kids busy on weekends! When I need to catch up on housework or want something educational that will entertain them for hours, I always turn to sensory play activities. They not only keep kids busy, but engage the seven senses (yes, seven!) which are essential for brain and body development. Here are three of our favorite ideas to keep kids busy on weekends that can be done in your yard, at a park, or even indoors.
Making and Playing with Frozen Treasure
First, go on a walk with your kids (always a good weekend activity!) and collect nature treasures: sticks, leaves, flowers, rocks, berries, pinecones, acorns, etc. At home, freeze everything in muffin tins or other containers with water. For bonus sensory fun, add spices or food coloring. Once frozen, take them out to explore on an old pillowcase or in a bin. Let your children brainstorm ideas of how to “free” the found treasures. Every so often, release a new tool to keep things fresh. Spray bottles with water, hammers, salt, or even liquid soap!
Read and Reenact Books
A great way to keep kids busy on weekends is to reenact their favorite stories. A book we love reenacting is “Going on a Bear Hunt”. For this one, set up an obstacle course to reproduce each part of the book; upside-down buckets or bowls to represent crossing river rocks, a bedsheet to wave in the air like a snowstorm, a blanket fort cave with a teddy bear inside. Be sure to ask your kids for ideas and add any extra obstacles you can think of; perhaps a log as a bridge to cross or a hill to climb up and roll down as a mountain. One more fun book to act out is Stone Soup. All you need is a stone, a pot, water, spices and nature treasures for ingredients!
Mud Play with a Mud Kitchen
Having old pots, bowls, measuring cups and utensils on hand for a mud kitchen can keep kids occupied for hours. Add a new spark by supplying these ideas: throw a birthday party for their favorite stuffed animals, cook up a celebratory fall harvest feast, start up their own bakery, or set up a car wash by cleaning muddy toy cars. Giving children their own real spices like cinnamon or oregano is always a hit! To make cleanup easy, dress your kids in waterproof rain bibs or a full-body rain suit. They’ll keep the mess contained and are simple to slip on and off for breaks to come inside. When they are all done, try hanging up all the supplies to make a sound curtain to explore! Looking for indoor ideas to keep kids busy on weekends? These mud kitchen prompts are also doable indoors. Using playdough or flour mixed with water can give the same sensory benefits as mud play.
Sensory activities not only keep kids entertained for hours but also provide great educational opportunities! Activities that engage the senses are essential for brain and body development, as well as for improving focus and attention. So, embrace the sensory play this weekend and watch the learning unfold!
Kyrsten Bloch, Tinkergarten Nature Program Leader, Photographer, and Mama of Two