Arts and craft projects

Keeping a toddler busy

11:41 AM

Keeping kids entertained and busy in India usually means shelling a good chunk of money as free activities are few and hard to find. Most apartment buildings have a small playground, but that gets boring for both the kiddos and parents very fast, plus in Mumbai that means that a solid chunk of the year it’s usable only in the evenings when the temperature become somewhat bearable. There are few public gardens in in some area, but the problem is the same as above when it comes to heat, with the added burden of being constantly harassed by hawkers in some places.
If you want to keep a kid occupied, or you end up in shopping malls, which have kids play areas, or go to a entertainment center which is anyway or near a mall or inside a mall. I end up taking Ishita to the mall on a mommy-daughter date once or twice a month on these Saturdays that DH spend in office, it never fails, it cost 60 rupees to get there by auto, it cost us 200 bucks to go on the electric train circling an entire floor (the latest addition to mall entertainment), then we spend about 300-400 bucks on lunch, and while we went all the way to the mall we might as well go buy something (most of the time it’s books which I have no objection spending money on), then stop for coffee and cake which sets use another 150-200 bucks, and then it’s back home in the auto and another 60 rupees…you do the math. The idea is to at least be out of the house and away from the idiot box, which sadly is pretty much the only free thing kids around here can get busy with on a hot day and by far my absolute least favourite.

In Switzerland, it’s not really Summer that is a problem climate wise, so we do go out to the lake, on picnics and to the park then, it’s the rest of the year that is punctuated by too many wet days (it rains a lot back home, year round) and Winter is the most boring of all season where kids need as much entertainment as possible to prevent them from going hyper inside. Libraries are always a good option, not just to borrow books which by the way is possible in India, but because most libraries in Switzerland are free, and the kid zone has comfy sofas, toys and often a library hour story telling time. Then there are kids friendly exhibits in museums that could keep them entertained for an hour. Then if the sun decides to be nice and peak through the fog, the park and playground is still an option with a ritual stop into one of the many independently owned cafes where the kiddos will drink a hot chocolate while the parents find comfort in a cup of tea or coffee (Switzerland is not hot on franchise coffee chains and people never heard of a latte until Starbucks came after I left for India, and is still not hugely popular). And if one must stay at home, then there are many board games, and craft supplies stores to remedy to pending boredom.

Board games for toddlers is tricky in India, there isn’t as much as what I remember from back home, though thanks to Flipkart there is a change in this department. you can’t get a toddler to stay focus on a board game more than 15 minutes or so, so these games need to be fun, quick and enticing. Big size pieces jigsaw puzzles will work, but you better have more than one because you are as a parent likely to get bored doing the airplane puzzle over and over before your tot thinks it’s dull. Memory games are fine too, but don’t start with the whole set, especially if your little hurricane is not the super patient type, they will want to win, and if they spend too much time flipping cards to find the match they will loose their attention span. Then there are more action-y type games like tumbling Monkeys and Hungry Hippos, these are sure to keep your active toddler happy, as long as you do not try to enforce the rule to the T, because in Tumbling monkey it’s preventing the monkeys to fall that is stated as the rule with the one making them fall being the looser, except that the fun part to a 3 year old is PRECISELY to get them to fall.
Craft projects for kids is a bit more tricky in India, very few stores sell all the craft supplies you need in one place, so it’s better to keep a stash at home and buy as you find them rather than as you need them. Aim for well stocked stationary shops for all your cardboard, glue, and paint, and check regularly for things such as glitter, googly eyes, speciality paint and paper. Again Flipkart comes to the rescue for a lot of things. Then you need the inspiration, craft project magazines haven’t made an entry there yet that I know of, so sign up to Pinterest and start browsing and pinning ideas to get you inspired.

Yesterday was a school day off for Ishita, and that meant I had the lovely task of keeping her busy at home as we went to the mall as a family on Saturday and there was no way I would want to do that again so soon. And the idea of having her glued to the TV the whole day was really irking me. We ended up lining the dining table with newspapers, taking the pain out and pulling one pinterest pinned idea as our craft project of the day, and this is what the final product looked like :

2013-02-11 16.30.43

Egg cartons turned into boats, now the original craft picture I pinned on my pinterest board was a fancy one with little flags and all, but or the project had been made by a grown up, or by an older kid. When you get a 3.5 year old to do it you end up with a funky looking one and you keep the flag ornaments away, Ishita was far more interested in painting the bottom of her boat than the inside which is why hers looks so plain on the picture, then we made sails out of coloured paper and pasted it to a drinking straw and planted them in the boat shells and voila we have two mighty boats that kept her busy for an hour, and then some more when she put her plastic figurine toys in them and the plastic fishes she has around them, turning my coffee table into an ocean. A nap, a few stories read from books and a trip to the playground completed the program of the day. With TV being just a early morning and evening thing.

I have fishes made out of all CD and coiled snakes out of kitchen paper roll lined up as the next craft projects for a day spent at home, since the weather is still nice we still try to go to the playground as long as possible after school these days, but Summer is fast approaching and I will need to stock up on ideas that do not break the bank.


  1. Around here the Wii & the PS3 provide most of the entertainment. UNO is the favorite non video indoor game.

    Badminton & croquet are the favorite outdoor pastimes.

    (I have all the young males in my husband's family visiting this winter- ages 8 through 20 yrs.)

    I really miss all the craft stuff you can buy in the US, I really think kids in India (and young adults for that matter) are really lacking in creative outlets.

    I've found a few 'art supply' stores in Delhi when we go, but they are generally quite small, limited in selection & a bit expensive.

  2. I miss the craft stores too, in the begining I found it hard not to find anything to satisfy my creativity, appart from faber and castle pencils there wasn't much, it's easier now. Flipkart sell a lot of different paints, and just the other day I bought some Pebeo Vitrail paint to do a craft project involving an epmtpy glass jar, they delivered the paint, but the liner is still in transit. Until recently I was going to Staples for my crafty needs as they had enough to satisfy my basic needs, including a fair amount of paint from the Pidilite range whcih is pretty cool, I love their 3D liner paints and glitter glues but the store shut down, so I'm back to square one, and for some reason Flipkart is not stocking these 3D liners, only the glass paint one from Pebeo but each Vitrail paint cost 210 rupees, the liner another 200 something. Their acrylic paint range is massively huge and they are one of the very few brands out there that do sell them in big tubes and even jumbo size jars, whcih if you paint a lot can be really great as buying one set of 15 colours tiny tubes when you just ran out of the Hunter greens or purple is a bit of a waste.

    Recently a friend gave me the link to itsy bitsy's website and they have a big selection of craft supplies to order from. I am yet to use it though, I got the link 2 days ago, but that sound like a promising one, they even have spray paint, whcih I never really knew where to find before, and glitter, and styrofoam balls...If they are good and fast at delivering the goods that could be a great option for crafty people, here is the website:

  3. When we went to Mumbai I bought some painting supplies at a store called 'Himalaya Fine Art'. They didn't have a huge selection but what they did have was good quality.
    I paint watercolors & acrylics.
    Unfortunately shipping stuff between India and Nepal (where I'm at most of the year) is just ridiculous. It is actually easier to ship stuff to my friend in Singapore, have her repackage it & ship it to me in Nepal. Sounds ridiculous but it's true!

  4. Thanks for the link! I paint with acrylics exclusively. I found that the desi brands of acrylic paint aren't always good quality, some colours have a very poor covering power, and the white paint was lumpy. I was so happy to see some Pebeo colours in a stationary store near my place, sadly the store shut down, but I can find all the brand's product on Flipkart, and that's where I found that they sell their colours in bigger individual tubes as well, comes in handy when you use a lot of the same colour all the time, and there is no lump and lack of consitency in their range.
    The thing I love the most with Acrylic paint is that not only can I do some canevas painting but it works on wood, metal and other odd surfaces when I do a craft project. I even used some of their silver paint to repaint the metalic base of our bedside table lamps, because they were a cheap metal covered with some odd silvery film and they did rust like crazy last monsoon, the acrylic paint coated everything and I haven't seen the rust show through, not that I expected it, Acrylic makes a water resistant elastic film on the surface they cover making it ideal in this climate.

  5. I paint mainly florals & landscapes (who could not paint landscapes living in the Himalayas?).

    I find acrylics to be easiest to clean up also- only soap & water necessary.

    If your acrylic paint dries out- just add water. So if you are right in the middle of a 'project' you can leave, come back & just add water.

    Also I can get a transparent watercolor 'look' just by just adding water to acrylic paint or an opaque oil 'look' with acrylics. I've done several watercolor 'wash' paintings with acrylics as well as using a spatula to get an 'oil' look straight out of the tube.

    Sigh, if only quality watercolor paper & primed canvas were so easy to get a hold of!

  6. Talking of craft and inspiration have you come across - a fantastic sites full of projects to keep little ones busy.

  7. Navya3:38 PM

    This is awesome and even a person like me who is not all that great with crafts can manage this project!

    This is bookmarked for the future! When I will have to entertain my own toddler!

  8. I bookmarked quite a few, with Summer coming I better have enough projects lined up to keep Ishita busy, I'll of course post the finished result each time :)


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