Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Occupying your littles - Part #1

Now that you know what I don't do, I thought you might be interested in the reverse.  So, HOW do I actually entertain younger Blossoms when I'm working with the older Blossoms? 

Here are a few of my strategies:

#1 - Blanket time
I train my little ones to play on a large blanket for set periods of time.  Think approximately 15 minute increments... not hours.  Then, I rotate their toys.  Blossom4 doesn't understand this totally yet (She's almost 18 months), so I keep Blanket Time for when I really need it, like hard core, heavy duty phonics or math instruction time  - the times we absolutely cannot have interruptions.  Around 2 years of age, I will expect her to play in that designated area with the toys I provide for more than just my heavy duty learning times.  She has to stay on the blanket and play quietly.  That's part of helping out our family.  I remember working on this with Blossom3.  It was a matter of discipline.  You could literally see her thinking, "You mean I can't go where I want and pester who I want to pester????"  Please note that I do not discipline a SIX MONTH old for crawling off the blanket.  I do punish a 2-3 year old for that offense.  Age makes the difference.  I use the age to decide when and how long to use Blanket Time in our day. 

#2 - Toy Rotation
I give them 1-3 toy/toy sets to play with and change them out every 15-30 minutes.  I use this concept in conjunction with Blanket time, and also with playing in the school room and dining room.  Yes, it requires thought and attention on my part.  I don't mind.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy when I signed up for this trip.

#3 - Area Limitation
I close all the doors to "danger" areas, meaning areas that need supervision, like Blossom1 and Blossom2's room.  They have bunk beds, which are terrific for climbing, but not if you are Blossom4 and Mommy isn't right there.  The bathroom doors get closed too.  Any room that they have access to is supposed to be basically safe.  Baby gates are great for this. 

#4 - Pinterest
I do use Pinterest to supplement occasional activities beyond what we might own.  I once filled a sink with snow and let Blossom3 play with it.  I allowed her to play with water and floating objects in a sink another time.  I don't do this every day, simply because I don't have the time and energy to execute amazing Pinterest-worthy activities, but I do use it for the change of pace that is needed sometimes.  Busy bags and other such things are great ideas, and educational too!  Pinterest is loaded with these creative activities. 

That's part #1.  Check out part #2.