Alright friend, as discussed in my previous post, you’re gonna need to have some supplies ready to go if you want your day to run smoothly.
Your arsenal of goodies can’t be buried under the Christmas decor on a garage shelf. You need accessibility.
And when I’m talking about the arsenal, I DON’T mean some list of elaborate crafts you saw on Pinterest that requires you to sit with the kids the whole time. That’s the opposite of what we’re striving for here.
Some of my kids’ favorites:
Watercolors: The mess is manageable. You can implement this as soon as they know not to eat the paintbrush. Spray the paint tray with a water bottle (do not, I repeat, do NOT hand that child a cup of water). If they’re too young, there are lots of recipes out there for non-toxic finger paints.
Sensory Tables/Bins: Fill a toddler-height table or plastic bin with items for your little one to explore. Change them VERY frequently. Create a nature table with pinecones, blades of grass, sticks, and flowers from your yard. Give them a few bags and bowls, so they can sort the items. If you wanna get really fancy, add a magnifying glass. You can literally just throw a bunch of junk out for them, and you’ll be shocked at how long they’re investigate these items.
Plop your little one on a tablecloth on the floor. Fill a plastic bin with dry beans, noodles, water beads, or rice. Let them have at it. It isn’t mess-free, but the tablecloth makes clean up much easier.
Puzzles: My favorites are the chunky wooden kind, and if you have a preschooler I highly recommend the Melissa and Doug large floor puzzles. We have at least a dozen of these.
Pretend play: This is a constant occurrence in our house. If I’m cooking, she has her own pots and pans. If I’m cleaning, she has a damp rag and the toy broom. If I’m paying bills on my laptop, she can be found banging her calculator against the wall and scribbling on notebook paper. When you are able, include the little ones.
- Unifix cubes
- Washable crayons and markers
- Large magnetic letters and numbers (can be used on the fridge, white board, or even a baking sheet)
- A box full of pieces of cloth (silk, old scarves, fabric swatches)
- Sensory bottles (water bottle, one drop of soap, and glitter… tada!)
- Scratch art (just be careful with the utensil)
- Magnetic Doodleboards
- Melissa and Doug Catch & Count magnetic fishing game
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow booklets (these are great for when you’re on the go as well)
- Pom poms and tongs (I give her different containers to sort them into… and you can change out the pom poms for any small item)
- Melissa and Doug reusable sticker booklet
- Give them a small bag filled with a battery-less remote, old set of keys, and a calculator (with the back duct-taped) and they’ll be happy for a good, long while
- If weather permits, or you’re crazy like me and just want to throw down some towels, kids this age LOVE water tables
Remember the key is rotation. Keep things new and interesting. Leave appropriate items lying around for them to discover on their own. Once you suggest, it often loses its appeal.
If your kids are preschool age or older..
- Any type of handicraft… pottery, jewelry, or looming kits. We love Rainbowloom
- Tempura paints… let them paint on wood, paper plates, ceramic figurines, and tile. Keep it interesting! I use paper plates for their art pallettes.
- Kinetic Sand or Play Dirt
- Window markers (or you can even use dry erase or wet erase ones) and window clings (you can find them at the Dollar Tree, and we change these out seasonally)
- Marble runs (just mind the marbles if you have toddlers in the house)
- If you don’t own a marble run, find an old shoebox, tape paper inside, add a couple drops of paint, and drop in marbles. Your kiddos will have a blast creating marble art by tilting the box from side to side
- eeBoo Create a Story cards (LOVE THESE)
- Lacing boards or beads
- Magic tracks
- Wooden train tracks (playing with cars and trains and constructing tracks is GREAT and important work for their little minds)
- Homemade Slime
- Cardboard boxes, tape, and markers (rocketships, race car ramps, the possibilities are endless)
- Board games (some of our favorites are Guess Who, Money Bags, Checkers, Alphabet Bingo, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders)
- Playing cards (you can make up endless math games with these)
- Old Maid or Go Fish cards
- How to Draw books or online tutorials (we LOVE Art Hub for Kids on Youtube)
- Finger knitting
- Tornado bottles! (you need 2 2-liters, water, and a connector… I bought mine on Amazon “Vortex Bottle Connector”)
- Perler beads (I even enjoy sitting with them to make these)
- An abacus (you can Google lots of fun activities for this)
- Lite-Brite (we even practice our sight words with these)
- Modeling clay
- Teach them to use a measuring tape and come up with challenges – “Find something that is exactly 16 inches wide!”
- Buy them a balance scale…endless hours of fun!
- I will do another post on electronics, apps, and websites, but I can’t wait any longer to mention The Osmo Genius Kit for the iPad. AMAZING!
And one last thing…
*STREWING— this is the practice of just leaving materials out for your children to discover and allowing them to create whatever their little hearts desire (without your guidance).
WE LOVE TO STREW. I really need that on a t-shirt.
Some items we frequently use for strewing are popsicle sticks, foam shapes, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, paper bags, buttons, toothpicks, paper towel tubes, scraps of fabric… you strew with ANYTHING. That magazine that has been in your bathroom for three years? Strew it! A drawer full of random brochures and paper clips? Strew it baby! As the old saying goes, just strew it.
You’ll be mesmerized by their creativity.
And whenever you have the chance… send them outside. No activities needed there.
Give your kids a 15 minute break from the online assignments and break out the watercolors. Step away from the worksheet packets for a moment and take them for a quick backyard exploration.
Sprinking little bits of goodness in between the hard stuff will make it more bearable for all of you.
I know times are difficult right now. But just know, I’m right here in it with you, friends.
Until next time…
Lots of Love and Happy Learning.