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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen years. You’ll find tons of healthy food ideas and easy-to-make kids meals, fun activity ideas and creative crafts projects that kids love to do and play!

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5 Fun Ideas to Keep Preschoolers Busy While You Cook



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I'm a single mother to two beautiful young children aged 3 (boy) and 5 (girl), living on limited income. Both of my preschoolers are very active and get bored easily playing with the same old toys while I cook dinner and do other chores around the house. I can't afford to buy new toys every time they ask for one. I'd love to hear some really fun ideas to keep children occupied and happy so that I can have some uninterrupted time to get housework done more quickly. Thank you. –  Sara, Texas.


5 Fun Ideas to Keep Preschoolers Busy While You Cook


Hi Sara,

Keeping children of this age range entertained for hours can be quite a challenge for many parents. They're full of energy, super adventurous and very ready to explore new things, so it's not a good idea to put your kids in front of the TV and then walk away.

You don't have to fork out hundreds of dollars on pricey children's toys to keep your little ones busy while you do your household chores. You'll need just a little nugget of wild creativity to chase away your preschoolers' boredom, and let them get really imaginative with your homemade toys.

You can start by looking around your house for unwanted items and turn them into simple, fun kids toys. For example, a toy stove can be constructed from 2 empty cereal boxes taped together. Things like plastic bottle caps, strips of old magazines and lids from margarine tubs or coffee cans make great pretend food. Your young children can "cut", "chop" and "cook" up some fun without making a mess as you prepare dinner in the kitchen.

Here are a few playful ideas to inspire you when you hear your preschool children say "Mommy, I'm bored". These activities are great for young children and will keep them entertained for many hours.


How to Keep Young Children Occupied Without TV While You Cook Dinner?

1. If your kids love smashing, squishing and creating things out of Play-Doh with their hands, then they're going to love peanut butter play dough. Why? Because they can eat what they've created!

Place ½ cup each of peanut butter, honey or corn syrup, and powdered milk or flaked coconut in a large plastic bowl. Mix all ingredients together and let your kids shape anything they want with hands, a cookie cutter, or a fork. They can also decorate their creations with raisins, or chocolate chips.

One word of caution, make sure your child doesn't have a peanut or tree nut allergy.



2. When my youngest daughter was 4 years old, I'd give her a few plastic cups, a scoop, and a big container of uncooked pasta (elbow, penne, shells, orecchiette) and dried beans (red kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans) to play with. That "kitchen sandbox" kept her really busy – digging and scooping, sorting the colors and shapes  – for a long time.

You can also fill it with small edibles such as cheerios, cornflakes, marshmallows, popcorn, or jelly beans instead.



3. If your preschoolers are not excited about printed coloring pages, then surprise them with this really "egg-citing" art idea. This will keep them quiet while you cook dinner.

You'll need a hard boiled egg for each child. Cut it in half, lengthwise. Quarter a black olive and put a piece on one half of the egg. Then place them on a large piece of paper and let your little ones draw a funny face around the "eyes" (eggs).



4. I don't know about your kids, but mine just go crazy playing with ice cubes. Try freezing ice cubes that are colored with food coloring (three or more different colors) and let your kids play with them in different containers. Demonstrate how to sort them by color. As they get older, you can add the challenge of chopsticks as it helps to develop and strengthen their fine motor skills.

If you're worried about the water mess, cover the floor with a cheap vinyl tablecloth.



5. Do you have an old computer keyboard laying somewhere in the house? It's time to dig it out, dust it off, and let your preschoolers have fun tapping away. Young kids love imitating adults and playing things they aren't allowed to play with. This will keep them gainfully occupied so you can have some time to yourself.




By Holly Campbell


how to keep preschoolers occupied while you cook

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