Here you go! My five go-to activities for littles and ones that don't require much to set up.
Now, to make clean up easier, I suggest putting out a mat or a blanket to contain the mess. I love this mat and it has been totally worth it. All you have to do is wipe it down when you are done. A regular towel would work just fine though. I also use an old cookie sheet with sides for a lot of our projects.
1. Sensory play with Lentils or Beans- On your next trip to the store, pick up any kind of dried beans or legumes. I recommend two different kinds, as it makes it a more exciting sensory experience. Add in a container(smaller seems to work better), some measuring spoons/cups, maybe some cars, small figurines... change it up every few days to keep their interest.
2. Flower Arranging- Kids love this activity! This is where a cookie sheet comes in handy. Literally, just go cut some branches with leaves from your yard, the more variety, the better. Or even, pick up some flowers at the store. You will need scissors, a measuring cup filled with water, a small vase or two, and eye droppers if you have those (totally not necessary though).
3. Collage Making with Kid-Friendly Magazines- All you need are scissors, a glue stick/or glue bottle, construction paper and a cookie sheet to contain the mess. If your child is younger than 3, cut out the pictures ahead of time and let them experiment with the glue and sticking it on the paper.
4. Painting on a Canvas- This is my all-time favorite activity. I do love a larger canvas, so they can add on to it each time you decide to get the canvas out (I buy the canvases at Michaels). They could also start with oil pastels to add another dimension. The next time you need an activity, get out the canvas and have them paint some more. They could also glue on other elements to their canvas: glitter, paper cutouts, a picture of them...anything they want. The more you let them just do whatever they want with it, the more they will be interested.
5. Air Dry Modeling Clay with Natural Materials- Simple and another wonderful sensory activity. You can get them in a variety of colors at Michaels, but I love the natural color so they can add pieces from nature to them. You could even make this a two-part activity. Take them on a nature hunt around your yard to look for things like small sticks, pinecones, acorns, leaves etc. Ask them, "What are you going to make with all of these things?" This is where the baking sheet comes in handy again. Have them add in their favorite figurines to make it an entire playscape.
Do you have some go-to child led activities? Share below, I am always looking for more ideas. -Ashleigh