I have to say, I feel like I have a pretty good schedule running for my kids every day. I like the balance of activities and it keeps them from getting bored and having too many discipline issues. See my post Structuring a Toddler’s Day for some ideas on how to create a balanced schedule for your older infant and toddler.
Where the day falls apart or does not run as smoothly is at times of transition or when we move from one activity to the next. For instance, the time in between breakfast and Independent Playtime or Structured Learning was not going very well. I was just letting the kids play in the kitchen or playroom while I cleaned up breakfast, but I found that was allowing them too much free play and often that “unstructured” time led to fights or discipline issues. I also did not want them pulling out a lot of toys and creating a mess while I was trying to clean up the kitchen and get them ready to move to the next activity. I just did not want to create more mess to clean up. I am sure you can appreciate that as a mom.
I asked my Baby Center Babywise Group how to handle these times of transition, and one mom gave me such a good idea. She told me to give them an activity to keep then occupied at the table while I clean up from the meal we just ate or while they wait to go outside and play, etc. What a simple solution, right? Well, sort of. I needed to come up with some activities that would hold my one-year old twins and my 2.5 year-old’s attention for 5-10 minutes while they stayed in their highchairs or seated at the table.
I came up with some activities that have worked so I thought I would share them with you. All the activities must be activities that your child can complete without any assistance otherwise, you will spend more time helping your child than getting ready to move to the next activity. So here are some ideas:
- File Folder Games: Just google free preschool file folder games. You will find a ton you can print. From matching colors to counting from 1-10. Just make sure your child is able to complete these games on his or her own. You may have to play the file folder game a few times prior to using this as a transition activity so your child is familiar with how to play the game and able to complete or his own.
- Puzzles: These are great transition activities. They are little mess, fun, and are easy to complete at the table.
- Books: Give your child a small box of 4-5 books to look at the table during transition time.
- Photo Album: Put pictures of your family and extended family in a photo album for your child to look at while you are moving from one activity to the next.
- Sorting Activity: Give your child a few objects to sort into different bowls. You can use pompoms, fruitloops, different colored blocks, etc.
- Book on Tape/CD: This is a great activity for transitions. You can rent books on tape at your local library or you can record your own voice reading a book for your child to listen to. You will need to teach your child how to turn the pages along with the read-aloud prior to using this as a transition activity.
- Flash Cards: I bought some flash cards at the dollar store and at target’s dollar bin and punch a whole in the corner and put them on a key ring. They kids love to flip through and look at the various pictures on the flash cards. I also own some touch and feel flash cards that my kids LOVE so much!
- Texture Box: This works well for younger toddlers. Take various different materials and textures and glue them on some index cards and store them in a shoe box. You toddler will enjoy taking them out and feeling the different textures.
- Quiet Book: Google quiet book for different ideas on how to put together your own quiet book for your child. I have not actually made my own quiet book yet, but I have a binder with some quick activities that my 2.5 year old can do on his own, which is similar to a quiet book.
- Matching: Give your child some cards you can do some matching activities with. There are tons of free matching games out there that you can print off the internet- just google free preschool matching games.