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That is a great question! My grandson really needs to be outside as much as possible, but in addition to the snow he has had pneumonia. He just turned four and is getting better at imaginative play, thank goodness, so in addition to his train tracks and blocks he has a stove made from a large box where he cooks and we have been making pretend food with play doh. I've been gathering supplies to plant a small indoor garden with him as well.
When he is feeling better we are very fortunate to have a local rec center with a free indoor playground that he loves. and whenever we can we do try to get him outside for at least a short while in the warmest part of the day.
He loves to watch YouTube videos of trains and we do watch some age appropriate movies and public television when we have to. But we really do try to limit screen time as much as possible and keep him to a schedule.
I look forward to reading ideas others have.
Wow! What a fabulous grandmother you are! You have found so many great creative, yet simple ways to keep him occupied AND learning. I love the stove made out of a box - that's so easy and inexpensive to do! Once they are able to engage in imaginative play, it's so much easier, isn't it? You can make a game or play out of anything.
Gardening is such a great thing too - many people don't think about doing it indoors during the winter. I like to get the amiryllis and narcissus bulbs that are great to put in a pot this time of year and watch them grow an bloom. And they're easy, just a bit of water once they are in the pot. you can get them as kits, I have found them inexpensive at TJ Maxx, Ross or Marshalls.
YouTube for the trains is also a great idea - and many kids like those videos of dump trucks and other big building machines doing things like digging holes. They can watch that stuff for hours it seems.
Cooking simple things at his age is also good - like getting the slice and bake cookies and instead of slicing just use fingers to make balls. Then decorate them once they are cooked is a while other activity!