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Posts Tagged ‘Structuring the day’

I thought it might be helpful to share what I have been putting on the girls’ blanket for blanket time. The girls are able to stay on the blanket for 30 minutes. I typically do blanket time in the afternoon after they wake up nurse and have a snack. They are nice and rested and ready to play on their blankets without too much fussing. These toys seem to really hold their attention. What I have found to be good blanket time toys are toys that are easy to stack, open and shut, and small objects they can put inside various containers. I also have a few electronic toys that I throw into the rotation.

On a typical blanket I usually put: 1 nesting cup toy, 1 electronic toy, books, and some other toy. There are days when all I put on their blanket is the sensory tub and give them some cups and containers to place things from the sensory tub inside. These toys always work very good for independent playtime.

List of Toys I use for Blanket Time Rotation
Play food

Nesting Cups (Iplay Nesting Cups, Munckin Caterpiller Nesting Cups, and Green Sprout Stacking Cups)
Stacking Rings (Fisher-Price Star Stacker, Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacker, Rattling Stacker)
Shape sorter (Fisher Price Shape Sorter, Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorter)
Small plastic animals (Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, Dinasour Animals)
Laugh & Learn Tea Cup Set
Leap Frog Birthday Cake
Alligator Piano
Old Plastic Containers (large yogurt containers, butter containers)
Large Pom-poms & Shoe box with wholes cut out in the lid to place pom-poms in and out
Clothes pins & Formula container with a whole in the top to place clothes pins through
Sensory Tub
V-Tech Helicopter
V-Tech Laptop
Leap Frog Picnic Basket
Shoe Box with Laminated Photos of Family Members
Touch & Feel Books (DK Touch & Feel, That’s Not My…. Books)
Touch & Feel Flash Cards
Shoe Box with Textured Cards (Glued different fabrics to thick laminated card stock)
Yogurt Container with milk tops to push through a slot in the lid
6 plastic bowls from the dollar tree (They use these to stack and put things inside)
Board Books

For more information about Blanket Time, please see my post entitled “Blanket Time

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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.

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What is Blanket Time?

Blanket time is an allotted amount of time in the day when you instruct your child to remain on a small blanket (3×3 or 4×4) and play with a select few toys that you have chosen for him/ her to play with. Blanket time can be started as early as you want with your infant and continued into toddlerhood.

What is the purpose of Blanket Time?

“Blanket time provides an opportunity to teach a child to play in a limited area without a physical parameter.” (pre-toddlerwise p.142) It also teaches “sitting skills or what we call parameter skills (the ability to stay put within a boundary).” (Toddlerwise p. 45) This skill comes in handy when you need your child to obey you and stay put. For instance if you are in the kitchen and you need to open the oven, you would want you child to stay away from the oven. You could tell you child to sit and remain still until you allow him or her to get up. Or perhaps you are out in public and you need your child to stay in one spot for a short period of time, that is when this skill really comes in handy. Ultimately, blanket time teaches your child at a young age to obey you. Blanket time also helps with mental focus by only allowing them a few toys that they must play with while on the blanket.

How long should blanket time last?

Start with 3-5 minutes once a day. Once your child demonstrates he can stay on the blanket and play without fussing or crawling or walking off, you can slowly increase the time up to 30 minutes a day. Use a timer to set a designated time. The loud noise of the time going off will signal to your child that blanket time is over.

What if he crawls or walks off the blanket?

The first couple of times he does blanket time, you will want to remain close to him. When he does move off the blanket, quickly return him to the blanket and give clear instructions to stay put and play with his toys. I typically say to Cooper, “Cooper, it is blanket time, we stay on the blanket.” I then direct him toward a toy on the blanket.

How many toys should I place on the blanket?

Just a few toys is enough. Remember your blanket is not that large. I have been placing 2-3 small board books, one lights/sounds toys, 2 toy cars, and one other small manipulative toy.  Keep these toys special and do not allow your child to play with them frequently during the day. The novelty of the toys will help them to remain on the blanket. You might want to have 3-4 small bins of toys that you rotate especially for blanket time so that your child does not tier of the toys.

Make them help you clean up!

When the timer goes off and blanket time is over, make sure to praise their efforts for staying on the blanket. Then ask them to help you clean up. I usually say, “It is clean up time.” Young children will obviously not clean everything up on their own, but you can assist them and teach them how to clean up. My son is 13 months old and I expect him to help put away just a few toys into the bin when we are done. For instance, he has some toy food. He will usually help put away 3-4 pieces of the toys food. As they get older, you might have high expectations for how they clean up. Make sure you give your child clean directions as to what you want cleaned up. For instance, if there are cars on the blanket, you could tell you child, “Mark, put your cars in the bin.”

Where should blanket time be done?

Vary the locations of blanket time in your home. One day do it in the kitchen. Another day try your bedroom. The idea is for you child to be able to transfer this sitting still skill to many different situations and locations. If it is a nice day, try doing it outside. You could even try taking your child to the library with the blanket and a few toys and doing blanket time there.

Travel with a blanket and special toys!

You never know when you might need your child to sit in one area for a short duration of time. You might go to a soccer game for one of your older children, and want your younger child to not wonder. Try keeping a bag with a blanket and some special toys. Then in case you should ever need to do an impromptu blanket time, you would have all the materials!

My personal experience with my son

My son is 13 months old. I have only been doing blanket time with him for a week (we started late). But in a weeks time, he is able to stay on his blanket without fussing for about 10 minutes. I have not had to correct him for crawling off the blanket in a few days too. I see how is mental focus is increasing as he is able to play with one specific toy for a longer period of time. He is also learning to mind and obey me rather well. This past weekend, I was out to lunch in a crowded restaurant. I went up front to pay and sat my son on the ground and told him to stay put, he did not move for 5 minutes. He looked around at all the people, but never once moved. I really think that blanket time has helped him to remain still and obey my commands!

Toy Recommendations for Blanket Time
10-12 Months Old

Resource: Pre-toddlerwise p. 141- 143

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