Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Children require supervision??!!
So I'm beginning to realize that just letting my kids play all day is not really working for us.

Now, I know that sounds crazy- of course my littles need to play... it's part of what being a kid is all about.

Here's the thing: it seems like unstructured play all day is leading to them being grouchy (=me being grouchy) and LOTS of mischief going on. Yesterday they pulled out all the books from the bookcase and made a track around the living room.

I could list all of the bazillions of things they have gotten into lately, but that's not really the point of this post.

The point, you ask?

Mainly, that I'm asking for your help.

I used to teach preschoolers, but never younger than 3 years old, and there's a vast difference in what a 2 year old can do and what a 3 year old can do. There's a lot of things that I think Em is capable of, but Atticus not so much. So I'm trying to figure out activities that they can mostly do together.

I'm planning on setting up a schedule for them. We are home nearly all of the time right now (because it makes me shake in my boots to think about trying to drag out all three kids and their various bags on a consistent basis) and I think a daily/weekly schedule would be really good for all of us. Everyone would know what to expect from the day, which is really important for my sanity and for the kids' growth and happiness.

Shaun helped me search for some websites with suggested activities for little ones, but I would definitely appreciate any suggestions here.

Here's the websites I have:

Activity Sites


I'm thinking of doing, on a daily basis:

story time
sorting time
coloring/craft time
outside play time (weather permitting)
exercise time (playing simon says or follow the leader)

The thing is , most of these things can only last for about 15 minutes because of short attention spans... and although I don't feel like I need to fill the entire day up with a strict schedule, I'd like a few more things to do with them.

I'm also thinking about setting up a theme for each week... it may help me in my planning. For example, weather week, Valentine's week, flowers week, shapes week, etc.

Okay, so I'm going to stop rambling now and hope that you guys can give me some suggestions!

(And because I can't post without a picture, here's one of Atticus talking to Sabriel)

Anonymous Molly B said...
Em might like this website. It has been a world of help with teaching clara jane her letters etc..


Blogger Katie said...
Okay ... a few more ideas - what about snacks and food - that will need to be figured in, and maybe you can do some things to include them in preparation.
Also, what about a week centered on farm animals? They could go to the petting zoo, read a book about how food comes from the farm, do some kind of farm-ey craft, etc.
I'll keep thinking!

Blogger HoweverAlthough said...
OK, I'm wondering if I can come to your house and participate in the craft portion of the day. I really need it. Please?
Seriously, I have a friend who has two little ones the same age as Em and Atticus. I will ask her what she does...it seems they have a pretty regular routine. She's a scrapbooker, too, so I'm sure arts and crafts time is included.

Blogger -C said...
I love your desire to be intentional. I remember feeling the same way about a year ago. I didn't have a newborn at the time so it was easy to fill up our mornings with quick outings (playdates, MOPS, library, grocery stores that have the firetruck carts, etc.). Now that the boys are 4 and 2.5, they play so well together that they usually don't want to stop to go somewhere. All that to say, I bet you're looking at a season of more activities and not years if that's encouraging. Thanks for posting the links. And, remember ... it doesn't have to be very structured at all. Do what comes to mind (maybe your mind is triggered by a book you read to them or a TV show) and go with activities that complement that. A book that I've found helpful to challenge my kids at the most little ages is: Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June Oberlander. It uses household stuff to make "toys" that can help them learn fun stuff (weekly activities) from birth to age 5. When I get bored (and they are too), I usually pick this up and read a couple weeks' worth of activities and see what might be fun for them. HTH.

Blogger Adrienne said...
I agree with Molly, starfall is a great site. You have some great things planned. You 've gotten some good ideas toO!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey Virge,
It's Traci fm SEBC. Anyway, I taught 3 year olds for two years in private preschool. We spent time in centers, snack, circle time (which was minimal instruction about our theme and included calendar, counting, a good morning song). We did lots of art/crafts, some structured some not, outside time, music/ fingerplays that help muscle movement and story. All that to say I found a lot of my ideas/crafts/themes on preschooleducation.com and everythingpreschool.com so you might check those out. Hope that helps.

Blogger care-in said...
I've heard good things about starfall. I say let Atticus "tag along" with what em is doing, he'll have fun and there's something he'll pick up along the way. Don't worry about doing separate things for both all the time. I'd encourage you to do a MOPS group if there is one in your area. I've never been (because of work) but I've always wished I could go. That's just one time you'd have to gather bags but it would be good for all! Here is a blog with lots of kid crafts, she even does them with her littlest one.

Blogger Lisa said...
I agree about starfall - Cole loves it and has played on it for a few years now. and what you've mentioned sounds great and i know it doesn't take a lot of time, but you could work in some free time in between a few things. you can structure your free time to what you want them to play with too - they can have story time where they just look through a basket of books, or a play time and you put out a few things you want them to play with. those things are good to do and finish with a clean up time - that would help them remember to put their toys away too. I'll keep thinking - those were just things I saw in the preschool class I subbed in last month. They were only there for three hours but they had table time, circle time, free play, story time, recess outside, and one on one time where they sat at a table with the teacher where she read a story to them then they did an activity to go along with the story. These were really short stories - one sentence a page and each page started the same "it's snowing on my _______, it's snowing on my _______, the snowman needs a __________, it's snowing on my arm" - that kind of thing. They also sang a lot of songs - good morning songs, hello nice to meet you stuff, and then at the end it was good bye songs. Ok, that's all I've got for now. Hope it's some help!! You are a great mom - thinking of all these fun things is great for them - you aren't just sitting them in a playpen in front of cartoons! (not that that's always a bad thing - sometimes you have to go to the bathroom alone!!) :)

Blogger Missy said...
Thats so funny...I was going to say starfall too! Lana loves it and even though she is 5, I think your little ones would like it too.

Another thing I was going to suggest is I got a book from the library once, ( and I'm sorry I can't remember the name) but it had books to read then you make recipes from them. Lana loves to do that! Like you read "On top of Spagetti", then make a spagetti dinner...etc...

Also I remember when mine were 3 & 1 I would make them each have a few minutes of alone time in their own rooms so that I could spend some one on one time with each of them.

Blogger Kim said...
Yikes, are you supposed to do something with your little ones? No wonder Felix is so chubby. He does just want to read the same books over and over again. BTW, he wore underwear all day today. Woo Hoo!

Blogger Morgan said...
We do lots of play dates, even if it means people come here! Rides in the car are nice, I just talk about all the things going by. Most nice days we just go outside and I let Ari explore! We keep him on a pretty strict nap/food routine, filling in the gaps from that is pretty easy since he's usually well rested and full, he's a LOT less cranky and mishevious!

Blogger Abbey said...
I think really tall, cushy, yet heavy duty playpens is what you need. Then you could get all of your scrapping done, chores, napping, talking on the phone, blogging and reading yummy novels and every once in awhile just toss somethin' fun over the bars.
Hee hee...yeah, right.

Blogger Haley said...
Sounds like your schedule should work pretty well.

You could also include educational videos every now and then, like ones from PBS or Baby Einstein.

Another thing that would work well is to have singing and rhyme time, where you do all the nursery rhymes and songs with hand motions.

Blogger Missy said...
Forget what I said...Abbey is the Mom to look up too!

Blogger Amy said...
I remember Ivey making a long line of books all through our house on Valley Road. SHe had the best time walking around and around on them. They really do grow up too fast!
Crayola has some stuff online to print off.
I remember lots of time with sidewalk chalk & crayons & markers...Ivey colored and Robby ate them! THen there was the day when Ivey dressed Robby up in her pink tutu...watch out little brother!
I agree with the playdates at alternating houses, and we always brought food with us.

Blogger -C said...
Another resource ... we found the Laurie Berkner band on a CD at the library, then found some of her music videos thru TiVo. You can find them on UTube. Our boys LOVE them ... "Let's go swimming" is a favorite and is such an action song that when we all do the motions ... it's so much fun exercise and they don't realize they're watching TV and moving around! :) I can't play the Buzz Buzz CD while they're eating or they're out of their chairs acting it out. Plain silly songs that kids love and make us parents giggle too. :)

Anonymous Rebecca said...
Hi Virginia!

I only had one so can't relate, but my friend had 3 small ones and she has done a great job without pulling out her hair! Everyone participates in breakfast preparation, setting the table, cooking, clearing dishes. I made her a little jar with "topics" to talk about at the table to hold interest and communicate! After breakfast and washing up, each of the children had "quiet time" in their rooms (yes a play pen was involved for her most active). She would spend this short time reading a devotion and praying, and would take a quick shower.

She scheduled play dates at the park or local McDonalds close by her house. And Library day was a weekly event! She would make sure to be there for special events and such! And during lunch or dinner she would do the same as breakfast, but each day one of those times was devoted to talking about Jesus! They memorized scripture like you would not believe. Her 2 year old came and recited the entire Luke 2 chapter at Christmas just from listening to her 5 year old brother learning it during the Christmas season.

Now, they are not perfect by any means, but she has really stuck to parts of the schedule and been flexible on others. Their quiet time and breakfast is absolute and it has worked.
You can cherish this Bible verse..."And it came to pass..."

Good luck!

Anonymous vanna said...
hey there, i think i'm haoweveralthough's well organized scrapbooking pal!! i've only got 2, but they are 1 and just barely 3. we do a lot of things together here. my most helpful hint is that i try to keep their toys sorted so that when they want to play house, all the parts are in the same general area, and there aren't other random toys there to distract.
we keep a loose routine with short bursts of activities between nap times and meal/snack times. lots of crafts, lots of pretending. but really, i don't get a single thing done when it's just the 3 of us at home. laundry and dishes don't get done until it's almost at problem levels...

Blogger Christy said...
I'm not sure how much tv you let yours watch but...if I have something I need to get done I make them sit down and watch tv. Not together though, that never works...I have Lydia go in one room and watch whatever keeps her attention (Elmo) and Hannah goes in the other room and watches Little Einstein or whatever. They get in big trouble if they get up during that 30 min.
Also, Lydia plays by herself in her bed every morning with toys...this wouldn't work if I didn't have a cd player, she LOVES music.
Hannah also started playing on the computer at age 3. Emerson should be close to that time if not there already. Go to Noggin.com and have her start with the doodlepad (it's just painting). It teaches them how to use the mouse. Once they have that done (it only took Hannah a week or so) they can start to do it by themselves.

I can't think of anything the girls can do together with no supervision without it ending up in a big mess or someone getting hurt. If I am nearby they can sit and color together without me being extremely hands on. I've also learned that if I can occupy one in a separate room, then the other is pretty quiet and tame and easy to handle. It's gotten pretty easy in the last year (Hannah is 4) to tell Hannah to "go play in her room" or mommies room, and she just does it. Very nice! I'm so much happier than I was a year ago when it was really hard. 2 and 4 is sooooo much easier than 1 and 3.
Great tips on this comment page. I'm so different from a lot of these moms because I'm not crafty AT ALL!!
Christy Donovan

Blogger Heather said...
I know that you got lots of advice, but I thought I would put in my two cents...being that I have 4 kids 4 and under!

I let them play on their own, but check in on them about every 5-10 minutes to make sure that they are on the right track. After a few weeks they will get better at playing together and honoring your rules. To get them on the right track I stay with them for a few minutes. After they are done with one 'game' I have them clean up before moving onto the next thing. My boys now think that it is fun to make room for their next 'game'.

I do like to do some structured activities during the day, but it can wear you down very quickly... Basically my goal is to do one 'fun' thing with them a day.

At this age it is very important for them to develop their imagination. That is why they are getting into different things. But that does not mean they can tear your house apart.

Try to keep it fun and simple. You and them both will have enough sturcture one they start school!

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