The Littles. 

In my head this is age 8 months-3/4 years old. They aren’t quite in school yet, but they are learning at tremendous speed by

touching everything

climbing everything

putting everything in their mouth

putting everything in light sockets 

pushing holes in your window screens

stripping down to their butt naked state randomly

standing on the kitchen table

throwing everything they own down the stairs…

You get the picture.

 

Just a little planning and training can go a LOOOOOOOOONG way to managing the caos before it ensues. Here are some ideas for keeping those little, learning, curious, active, hands and minds occupied with plenty of activities to indulge in.

And this planning and training will keep screens in your home to a minimum.

Oh how much better off our kids would be if we resorted to constructive entertainment when we need a break instead of a movie or iPad!

(1) Library Books

We try to visit our library every Friday morning and grab a fresh pile of books we’ve never read before! Nature books, animal books, cartoon books, baby books, shape books, color books, truck books, food books, weather books… so many pictures, concepts, ideas and illustrations for little ones to study and imagine. 

Placing a baket of new books on the couch next to your little one and setting a timer for 30 minutes or so will bless you and them!

If you have a little bit older kids, audio books are great too! The one’s that tell your child when to turn the page so they can follow along. 

(2) Set Aside Toys

 I have some specific toys that a great for building math skills and critical thinking skills. These I have in bins in my dining room and I take a new one out once a day for the littles to play with. They only get it during that period of time and only a few times a week. They always seem NEW and EXCITING!

Some of these toys include:

– Legos

– Magnet Blocks

– Brain Box Building Planks (review to come)

– Play-Mo-Bils

– Letter Bots

(3) The White Board

For some reason, some markers or magnets and the white board we have hanging on the wall is a HUGE hit for littles. I used to have two large white boards, one on the wall and one that I slid behind out dining room hutch so I could lay in on the floor for the littles to color on and place magents on. Little white boards can be found at Walmart for a few dollars also.

Different color and size markers, erasers, animal magnets or magnets that have liquid in them, and alphabet or number magnets are great to have on hand and occupy littles for an extended period of time.

(4) Sensory Bins

I first learned about these when I worked at a day care. You can have so much fun with these and create many combinations of bins! 

On Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/mrsdeputie) I have a whole board of sensory bin ideas.

For fall you can fill it with corn, little pumpkins and squash, wheat husks, leaves of many colors, felt or paper that are fall colors and more!

For winter you could do cotton balls and get dollar store figures that are on sleds and ice skates.

A cooking theme with rice, beans, measuring cups, spoons, wisks, clean egg shells, and funnels.

A farm animal theme with shredded green paper and plastic farm animals and farm objects. 

So much fun! You will porbably have more fun putting it together then they will playing with it!

(5) Playdough

There are probably dozens of recipes for all sorts of playdough. Etible playdough, colored playdough, glittery playdough, ect. Garage sales or Craigs list usually has LOADS of playdough cutters and tools for close to nothing. I scored a HUGE collection at a garage sale for $10 a few years ago. There are endless creations even your older kids will enjoy hours of playdough (but only once a week so it’s somthing everyone looks forward to!!).

(6) Sorting 

The options here are truley endless as well. I took an old egg carton and got some beads, pom pom balls, pipe cleaners and other flourencent art supplies. Aryeh can match the color beads and place them into the egg carton. To make it a bit more interesting I had him use a kitchen tong to do it! 

He can slide the beads onto the pipe cleaner they match.

You can sort coins, beads, pom poms, colored crayons, markers or pencils.

You can order things smallest to biggest, shortest to tallest, lightest to heaviest. 

Again, pinterest has endless ideas. I love watching him concentrate and stick his little tongue out as he examines each item and calculates where it belongs. 

(7) Bath Time 

The power of bath time is often UNDERestimated. Some floating and sinking toys, bubbles, and loads of laughter warrant some peace and quiet for mama bear. Of course, in order to need a bath, you have to go outside and get plenty dirty for it first! 

Kitchen items, outside toys, match box cars, action figures.. who says you need special bath toys?? 

You know what tends to happen after a good, dirty playtime outside followed by a warm bubble bath? A nice LOOOOOOONG nap!! 

Win, win!

(8) Snacks!!

Snacks will calm a rambunctious home down instantly! If you pick a snack that requires some fine motor skills such as cherrios or gold fish, your quiet time is extended 😉

(9) Musical Instruments

If you have a kids guitar, a piano or keyboard that can lay on the ground, some shakers, or a hand drum, then bring them out!

Although these may not provide the peace and quiet you may be looking for, the loud and crazy will be just the thing to keep little energized ones in one stationary place for quite some time. 

Play your favorite worship tracks and let the little one’s explore the wonders of SOUND.. lots and LOTS OF REALLY LOUD SOUND!!!!

(10) Music and Movement

There is NOTHING we enjoy more at the Deputie House then some really LOUD music and dancing! 

To make thing really interesting, grab some rebounding trampolines and one of those little plastic slides and bring those into your living room. They will easily have a good hour of exercise under their figuritive belts for the day!

(11) Glue and Scissors

Just some paper and scissors, or some glue and things to stick onto the glue works wonders for the little guy or gal who is really starting to get a grasp on their fine motor skills. And if they see their older siblings using these on a regualr basis, their curiosity will be hightened and they will be THRILLED to get their turn using these usually banned items.

(12) Making a “Controlled” Mess

Let’s be real.

They’re going to make them any way, at least this way we can dictate and manage how and where it’s done. 

Things such as finger paints, shaving cream, or whipped cream are great places to start. You can use one of these fancy trays that have a nice fat rim on them, or a highchair tray should work just fine. take their clothes off and cut a hole in a garbage bag to fit over the child’s head to cover their body. Give them a few tools and let them go crazy! Mixing colors, making patterns, even eating the whipped cream!