Looking to entertain and educate a toddler while not getting up.
April 9, 2009 12:51 PM   Subscribe

What can I teach my toddler about while we stay on the sofa? Supposed to rest legs. We've been watching Leonard Bernstein on YouTube, learning about orchestras -- looking for more stuff like that.

I've got a twenty-month-old daughter and bum knees; the physiotherapist says rest is essential to fixing the knees. Our days normally involve (it turns out) a fair bit of physical activity and resting is quite boring for both of us. She loves books, but not for hours and hours, and I'm going wobbly from excess Seuss.

I don't have a TV, but I do have a laptop. I am loathe to get my toddler used to a screen, but... A little while back we got into watching orchestras on YouTube. We went to see a Beethoven-for-the-kiddies production in person, checked out the various instruments via Google image search, and generally had a grand time learning about music.

What can I do with her that's similar and keeps me mostly on the sofa for the moment?
posted by kmennie to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
My son has loved, since about your daughter's age, playing with lentils on a rimmed cookie sheet. He uses his diggers to lift the "dirt" and put it in his dump trucks, then uses blocks or whatever to be the buildings... really, it was the first thing he could play with for 45 minutes or so. If you wanted a theme for this one, as you had for music, it might be construction; you could watch some Bob the Builder videos from the library; there is a series called "on site" that shows actual live-action construction interspersed with the claymation stuff. I have personally learned a ton from them.

I'm sure you've thought of playdough yourself.

Another thing would be to buy a felt board and some pieces of felt, and then cut out shapes to make houses, flowers, cars, whatever, with them. (The felt has enough friction to stick to itself.) I've made a freaking zoo out of felt at this point; I'm not much for art, but I find a simple picture online and then copy the shape in felt.

Finally, you could check out some "unschooling" blogs like this one -- lots of engaging projects to do with toddlers. (The girl in that blog is a little older than your child, but the archives are great.)
posted by palliser at 1:10 PM on April 9, 2009

If you're willing to bend further on the screen issue, there are a lot of animal videos we've found on YouTube. If you're interested, MeMail me and I can send you links to some of our favorites.

There are also plenty of videos based on cool kids' music from the 20th century, like Ella Jenkins, Malvina Reynolds (Communism aside), Pete Seeger, and so forth, so you could listen to these and learn to sing along. Ella Jenkins in particular has counting games that our just-2-year old LOVES.

Drawing? Those fat colored pencils would probably not mark up the sofa.

Clapping games? Miss Mary Mack, etc. I bet you can find more online to bring to your couch sessions.

Good luck with the knees!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2009

Assuming you can also rest whilst sitting at a dining table / kitchen counter too...

Playing a midi keyboard
Taking it in turns to make up the next bit of a story
Singing nursery rhymes
Dvds of kiddie shows (I can only recommend UK-stuff, so In the Night Garden is a popular one)

Add to that a bit of YouTube and plenty of reading and you have a day's worth of entertainment there...

I have a three and a half year old and the above list got us through many a rainy / sick day.

Have fun!
posted by mooders at 1:16 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: Feel free to post good YouTube clips -- I have a hard time figuring out how to sift through the junk. An amazing number of people, I notice, have put up videos of themselves mooing...
posted by kmennie at 1:24 PM on April 9, 2009

I'm not answering the question here, but if you find you can't keep her on the sofa for long enough you may need to supplement with a babysitter. Babysitters are for when mom is present, too. Depending on your four year old even the biggest number of youtube videos may not keep her there long enough, adn you'll keep getting up and you'll keep slowing your healing and you'll have to do this daily-couch-time for longer.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:57 PM on April 9, 2009

er, two year old that is.

And if you're loth to get her used to a screen, a helper may be more in line with long term parenting objectives. An active child stays healthier!
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:59 PM on April 9, 2009

Starfall - Start learning ABCs and reading. My daughter is four and reads at a first-to-second-grade level -- I credit Starfall for that. She started with it a few months before her second birthday, so the age is about right. The animation, sound and music aren't great quality (and you'll get tired of parts of it) but toddlers seem to love it.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 2:57 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

For videos, try Totlol. It's YouTube videos that are moderated and kid-friendly.
posted by mogget at 3:12 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

It sounds like a great time to teach ASL/sign language. If you want to watch a programme together I recommend Signing Time (youtube) but you can spend a lot of time practising together and most children love learning it. You can also learn a bunch of songs that you sing and your child has to act out ("if you're happy and you know it..."). Good luck!
posted by saucysault at 3:52 PM on April 9, 2009

In the video arena, my son at that age was attracted to water and wind mills. It takes a while to sift through the bad to find the good. We also, for a while, would simply look at Flickr slideshows. Also on Youtube (with some scary bits but mostly very gentle), Komoneko. And why not try her with other language programs on youtube: Maisy (a.k.a. Mimi) in French, for example. That sponge brain just might pick things up.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2009

You could get a mother's helper during the after school hours. A 9-12 year old who isn't old enough to watch children on his/her own but can entertain your toddler while you rest yours knees.
posted by vespabelle at 4:45 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: ABCs have been solid for months now -- the song is almost memorized -- but Starfall's a neat resource. Totlol I like if only for the name. Other languages -- great, great idea!

I have been casting about for a 'mother's helper' for some months now. I live in a tiny town, and if there are interested preteen girls around, I'm not finding them. But now I'm inspired to renew the search...
posted by kmennie at 5:04 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: o the mortification of realising one was again pointlessly boasting about one's kid. apologies
posted by kmennie at 5:27 PM on April 9, 2009

Building off of what palliser wrote, I know that you said she knows her letters, but if you want to practice with the magnet kind that you would normally have on your fridge - and give her something to play with - you can put them on a cookie sheet that she can hold on her lap while on the couch.

It also makes a nice little 'desk' for drawing or reading or whatever. If stuff rolls around too easily on it and frustrates her, you can just cut some of that rubber drawer liner stuff and lay it down on the cookie sheet first.

I did a long stretch of 'house arrest' while pregnant with my second kiddo and spent a lot of time on the couch trying to entertain my then almost 2yo. You have my sympathies. We got our absolute money's worth out of those Baby Einstein DVDs!

Oh, and zooborns is always fun to check out to see the new baby animals. :)

Hope you're on the mend soon.
posted by dancinglamb at 6:27 PM on April 9, 2009

If you can spring a couple of hundred bucks for an iPhone Touch, there are tons of games for toddlers, many of them educational. The advantage of these over something like YouTube is that they are interactive. I've designed and published a couple such games, and I've gotten lots of feedback from parents that kids as young as 18 months play the games, enjoy them, and learn things about letters and creating words and such from playing them.

Oh, another really awesome thing, though your child may be a few months away from being able to manage it: Brother PT-80 Label Maker, only twenty bucks from Amazon. Great at teaching fine motor skills, learning letters, playing with stickers, making up stories, learning to spell words (even if you have to repeat the word to her every time she spells it, she's still learning things like the fact that words are spelled left to right). Hours and hours of fun. The only problem is that you have to buy new rolls of sticker tape occasionally, but the rolls last surprisingly long.
posted by alms at 8:42 PM on April 9, 2009

I used poissonrouge with my toddler when I was sick and we both loved it. You can also get her one of those fold-up and put away indoor trampolines so she can get the kinks out. That was also a huge help.
posted by jeanmari at 8:59 PM on April 9, 2009

Starfall is much more than just the letters... If she's got the ABCs down pat and you're looking to move forward, check out how much more they've got. If you're interested in it, hit the main page and go from there.

BTW, kudos to you for already being on top of the ABCs -- if she's at that point at her age, I don't think you should be mortified about "boasting". It's an accomplishment for both of you. :-)
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 9:06 PM on April 9, 2009

- Magnadoodle!
- Draw a picture and she guesses what it is as you draw
- She can practice drawing lines, scribbles and dots
- Put some bits of different coloured cardboard out on the floor/coffee table. These are carparks/cages/homes for a basket of cars/animals/whatever
- or they can be stepping stones for her
- Grab some plastic cups and plates, cut some cardboard circles out for cookies, and have a tea party - if you set it up over the other side of the room, she gets to run back and forth for your order
- Silly hats, necklaces, handbags and shoes are about the extent of a 2-year-old's dressing up and she'll love putting them on you even if you can't get up
- Grab the stereo remote and she can play freeze-dance
- Music time with shakers/drums/blocks to whack together
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:26 PM on April 10, 2009

« Older Too Much Internet, Mac Style   |   I want my own FTP server (dammit). Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.