101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces: At the Doctor's Office, on Car, Train, and Plane Trips, Home Sick in Bed . . .

101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces: At the Doctor's Office, on Car, Train, and Plane Trips, Home Sick in Bed . . .

by Carol Stock Kranowitz

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466887145
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 12/16/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 936 KB

About the Author

Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., is a music and movement teacher in Washington, D.C. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband; they have two sons.

Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., is a music and movement teacher in Washington, D.C. Carol is the author of 101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband; they have two sons.

Read an Excerpt

101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces

At The Doctor's Office, On Car, Train, And Plane Trips, Home Sick In Bed

By Carol Stock Kranowitz, Elaine Yabroudy

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1995 Skylight Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8714-5




Some kids have lots of ideas for entertaining themselves—but many of these ideas are neither practical nor possible in a tight space on a nothing-to-do sort of day.

Other kids are too inexperienced or tentative to come up with amusing indoor activities on their own.

Both kinds of children will be sure to find something to engage their attention when choosing from one of the six types of activities in this chapter:

• Art and Carpentry Activities

• Nature and Science Activities

• Music and Sound Experiments

• Fun Food Activities

• Hands-on Activities

• Dramatic Play

Now, turn the page, and start having fun!


These are simple art projects, using simple equipment, that achieve satisfying products. Not only the product but also the process of creating an original work of art will delight your child. The activities are ideal for a tight space, such as a kitchen table or floor.

At the same time, kids develop important skills, such as:

• Using artists' tools to produce a Collage, a Mobile, a Newspaper Hat, Neat Place Cards, and three Punched Paper Activities (Chomp the Monster, Faces and Laces, and Paper Plate Tambourine)

• Using carpenters' tools for a Wooden Paddle Boat, a Nail Board, and If I Had a Hammer projects

• Creative thinking, as they imagine how a Lunch Bag Puppet, Soap Sculpture, or Wood Scrap Sculpture will look

• Fine-motor skills and eye-hand coordination, as they manipulate materials with their hands and fingers, such as folding paper towels for Paper Towel Tie-dye

Punched Paper Activities

Is your child feeling so cooped up that he wants to punch something? Here are a few activities made for the moment!


Age Range:

3 to 7, with some help

What You Will Need

Hole puncher

Typing paper or construction paper

Pencil, crayon, or marker

What to Do

1. Draw a ghost or monster on the paper.

2. Punch holes in the picture until you have chomped up the ghost or monster.


Age Range:

3 to 7, with some help

What You Will Need

Hole puncher

Shirt cardboard

Cereal bowl


Crayons or markers


Large needle

What to Do

1. Place the cereal bowl upside down on the cardboard and trace around the rim to make circles.

2. Cut the circles out.

3. Draw faces on the circles.

4. Punch holes to make the eyes and the mouths.

5. Punch holes, about 1" apart, around the outlines of the faces and around the edges of the circles.

6. Thread the yarn through the needle and make a big knot.

7. Lace the yarn through the holes.

8. Tie additional lengths of yarn on to serve as hair.


Age Range:

4 to 8, with some help

What You Will Need

Hole puncher

2 paper plates

Crayons or markers

Masking tape

Yarn, threaded on a large needle

Small jingle bells, or a few dried beans

What to Do

1. Decorate or draw pictures on the bottoms of the 2 plates.

2. Place the paper plates against each other, with their rims touching and bottoms facing out.

3. To keep the plates together while you work, tape the rims in two places.

4. Punch holes, about 1" apart, all the way around the rims of both plates.

5. Remove the tape.

6. Sew the plates together by lacing the yarn through the holes.

7. Stop lacing when you have about 6 holes left, to leave an opening.

8. Put the jingle bells and/or beans through the opening.

9. Finish lacing the plates together.

10. Shake, shake, shake your tambourine!

Helpful Hints for Grown-ups

• To minimize the cleanup of Punched Paper Activities, have your child work over newspaper to keep the punched-out circles in one place.

• When he is done, wrap the punched-out circles up carefully in the newspaper and throw them away, or save them to use another time for an art project like a Collage.

Learning Value

Using a hole puncher strengthens a child's:

• fine-motor skills in his fingers and hands,

• eye-hand coordination, and

• use of classroom tools.


A collage is a creative art project that any kid can do on the kitchen table or floor. Gathering the things to glue down is as much fun as arranging them into a beautiful design.

Age Range:

3 and up

What You Will Need

Piece of sturdy cardboard or a flat piece of wood for a base

Newspaper to protect the table or floor

White glue

Scraps of wood, toothpicks, craft sticks

Seeds and seedpods, pinecones, twigs, pebbles, shells, nuts, dried grasses and flowers, beans

Straws, cotton balls, corks

Fabric scraps, buttons, ribbons

Strips of newspaper or construction paper


Sequins and beads

What to Do

1. Put the cardboard, glue, and collage pieces on the newspaper.

2. Squeeze a blob of glue onto the cardboard base.

3. Stick a collage piece into the glue.

4. Add glue and different pieces until the collage looks finished.

Helpful Hint for Grown-ups

Making a collage is an open-ended project. Some kids love this activity and will take the time to cover every inch of the board. Others don't care for it and call it quits after gluing on the first cork. Everybody's different!

Learning Value

Collage making teaches kids how to express themselves artistically. Let your child decide how to arrange the pieces. If the arrangement pleases the child, then it is the process not the product that really matters.

Wood Scrap Sculpture

Making something out of nothing is fun on a "nothing" sort of day.

Age Range:

4 and up

What You Will Need

Wood scraps of different shapes and sizes


White glue

Markers or paint

What to Do

1. Choose a wide, solid piece of wood to be the base for your sculpture. Sand it around the edges to remove the rough spots.

2. Choose smaller pieces of wood and sand them, too.

3. Onto the base, glue wood scraps together to make figures such as:



houses and buildings

cars, trains, boats, and airplanes

fantastic designs

4. Press the pieces together for a moment after gluing in order to help them stick together. Use a lot of glue, because wood drinks it right up. The glue will be invisible when it dries.

5. Let the sculptures dry overnight.

6. After the glue is dry, decorate the Wood Scrap Sculpture with markers or paint.

Helpful Hint for Grown-ups

If you don't have wood scraps at home, go to a commercial lumberyard and tell the folks there that you would like scraps for children's art projects. The wood scraps are free for the asking, and you can usually take away as many as you can carry.

Learning Value

Making a Wood Scrap Sculpture:

• develops bilateral coordination (use of both hands together) and eye-hand coordination, and

• develops visual memory when a kid designs a sculpture to resemble a person or object he pictures in his mind's eye.

Paper Towel Tie-Dye

This art project requires a minimum of equipment and provides a maximum of pleasure.

Age Range:

3 and up

What You Will Need

Roll of absorbent paper towels

4 bowls of water

Food coloring

Newspaper (to dry the wet towels on)

What to Do

1. Dye the water with food coloring:

One drop will make a pale color.

Several drops will make a strong color.

Drops from 2 bottles will make a new color (mixing red and blue makes purple, and mixing red and yellow makes orange).

Drops from 3 or 4 bottles will make a muddy brown color.

2. Fold a paper towel into tight squares or triangles.

3. Dip a corner of the triangle or square into a bowl of colored water. Dip a different corner into another bowl.

4. Open the paper towel, and look! The colors seep through the folds of the towel to make a gorgeous, bright, symmetrical design!

5. Spread the towels on newspaper to dry.


• Use coffee filters instead of paper towels.

• Use an eyedropper to drip the colored water onto the towels.

Helpful Hints for Grown-ups

• Smocks for younger children are a good idea, because food coloring stains.

• After the towels have dried, use them as place mats, doilies, wrapping paper, or an art display on the refrigerator.

• You can also frame the best one and send it to Grandma. She'll keep it forever.

Neat Place Cards

When company is coming, this idea is "neat" in three ways: (1) it makes guests feel welcome, (2) it makes the dinner table look pretty, and (3) it is quiet and tidy!

My niece, Katie Stern, thought up this fun activity herself. Like Kranberry Shapes, it has become one of our family's favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

Age Range:

6 and up

What You Will Need

3" × 5" file cards (white or colored)

Markers or crayons

What to Do

1. Make a list of the people who will be sitting down at the table for dinner. Remember to include your own family members.

2. Bring the short ends of the file cards together, and fold the cards in half. The unlined side should show. Now the cards can stand up like little tents.

3. Write a person's name on one half of each folded card.

4. Decorate each card around the person's name. Here are some suggestions:

Holiday themes—pumpkins, snowflakes, Santa Claus, stars, wrapped gifts, flags, flowers, Easter eggs, firecrackers, etc.

Symbols of people's jobs or hobbies—computer screens, telephones, books, apples, doctors' kits, paintbrushes, cars, trains, etc.

Pretty designs from your own imagination

5. After the table is set, place a card above each plate so everyone will know where to sit. (A grown-up may need to help you put them in the right spots.)

Helpful Hint for Grown-ups

Children younger than six can do this, too. They may need help writing the guests' names.

Fingerpainting with Shaving Cream

No fingerpaints in the house? Try shaving cream. This activity feels good, smells good, and is easy to clean up, all at the same time. Furthermore, it takes only a little bit of space.

Age Range:

3 to 6

What You Will Need

Cafeteria tray or cookie sheet

Shaving cream

What to Do

1. Squirt a mound of shaving cream in the center of the tray.

2. With your sleeves rolled up, make designs in the shaving cream.

3. Write numbers, letters, or your name.

4. Make circles, squares, and triangles.


You could also fingerpaint with chocolate pudding or slightly coagulated jello. These are "finger-lickin' good" experiences!

Helpful Hint for Grown-ups

A painting smock is a good idea for a young child. If you don't have a painting smock, roll up the sleeves of an adult's shirt and let your kid use that instead.

Learning Value

Fingerpainting with Shaving Cream:

• provides a pleasantly messy tactile experience;

• gives kids the chance to practice making numbers, letters, and shapes; and

• lets kids "erase" their mistakes and start all over.

Lunch Bag Puppet

You don't need a great deal of space, great paints, or even great artistic talent to make a great puppet!

Age Range:

3 and up

What You Will Need

Paper lunch bag

Construction paper




Scraps of fabric and yarn

What to Do

1. Place the lunchbag in front of you, upside down. The bottom of the bag will be on top, ready to become the puppet's head.

2. Cut eyes, ears, a mouth, and a nose out of the construction paper.

3. Make eyebrows and hair out of yarn.

4. Decorate the bag to look like a person, animal, or monster.

5. "Dress" the puppet in fabric scraps.

6. Stick your hand up into the bag and put your fingers into the fold.

7. Move your fingers up and down inside the fold to make the puppet talk.

Learning Value

Making a Lunch Bag Puppet helps kids:

• observe where parts of the face are in relation to one another, especially if the kids are very young and/or do not seem to have a good sense of body awareness, and

• express emotions by designing an angry, sad, or happy face.


Here is an art project that satisfies many needs of a kid with cabin fever. Deciding what objects to hang challenges the child's sense of creativity and aesthetics. Preparing the mobile fills empty time. Watching the finished mobile swing from the ceiling prolongs the pleasure.

Age Range:

5 and up

What You Will Need

Wire clothes hanger

Adhesive tape

Colorful yarn

5 lightweight objects to hang, such as:

shells with holes in them

pipe cleaners bent into interesting shapes or figures

paper ornaments, such as origami figures

buttons and beads

little dolls and toys

What to Do

1. Bend the hook of the hanger into a loop. The end should touch the neck of the hanger. (A grown-up may need to help you.)

2. Wrap tape around the sharp end of the loop and the neck of the hanger.

3. Cut 5 pieces of yarn, about 12" long.

4. Tie one end of yarn to each object.

5. Attach the objects by tying the free ends of the yarn to the bottom of the hanger.

6. Hold the mobile in front of you and move the objects until they balance. The bottom of the hanger should be straight.

7. Tie a 3' length of yarn to the loop on top and tie the other end to an overhead light fixture or to an arch over a doorway.

8. Usually the mobile will rock gently in air currents made by a breeze coming through a window, the heat from the oven or radiator, or your movements in the room. If you want to make the mobile move more, try blowing at it through a drinking straw.

Learning Value

Making a Mobile encourages:

• fine-motor skills,

• a sense of balance, and

• eye-hand coordination.

Newspaper Hat

Here's an art project that is so simple, fun, and gorgeous that it will knock your socks off!

Age Range:

4 and up, with some help

What You Will Need


Masking tape and adhesive tape

Feathers, ribbons, seam binding, lace and fabric swatches, buttons, yarn, paper flowers, fake fruit, small stuffed animals, etc.


What to Do

1. Sit in front of the mirror. Center a couple of sheets of newspaper on your head. Pushing down on the newspaper, smooth it around your head, like an upside-down bowl, to make the crown of the hat.

2. Wind masking tape around the crown in order to keep the hat shaped just right. (Someone may have to help you.)

3. While the hat is on your head, use both hands, to make the brim of the hat by rolling the edges of the newspaper up toward the crown. Roll the brim all around the hat. If you squeeze the paper it will stay in place, nice and tight, but you can tape the brim in several places just to be sure.

4. Take the hat off and begin to decorate it. Use your best creativity! You can tape ribbons and feathers to hang from the brim, or stick a bunch of make-believe grapes to the brim, or perch a stuffed bird on the top. You'll look wonderful!

Helpful Hint for Grown-ups

Making a Newspaper Hat is one of those open-ended, stretchable activities that kids particularly enjoy doing with friends when they have a long afternoon to share together.

Learning Value

Constructing and designing a Newspaper Hat:

• provides kids with another accessory for the dress-up box, and

• gives them the opportunity to express themselves artistically.

Soap Sculpture

This is a good activity for whittling away the time. Not only is it interesting and creative, but it is also a multisensory experience. A child exercises the senses of touch, vision, and smell while manipulating the soap.

Age Range:

6 and up, with help

What You Will Need

Bar of soap

Toothpick or nail


What to Do

1. With the toothpick, draw the outline of a car, boat, animal, or whatever on the soap.

2. Carve around the outline, using the knife. Be careful!

3. Smooth the edges with wet fingers.

Helpful Hints for Grown-ups

• The tool used for this activity may be a plastic knife, a sharp paring knife, or a jackknife, depending on how careful and skillful the child is. The sharper the knife, the more precise the sculpture will be.

• You will probably need to supervise this activity.

Wooden Paddle Boat

You don't need a basement workbench or a lot of fancy tools to do this simple carpentry project, but you do need a bathtub.


Excerpted from 101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces by Carol Stock Kranowitz, Elaine Yabroudy. Copyright © 1995 Skylight Press. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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