Each (okay, most) day we spend one on one or two on one time together learning some new skill, letter, number, and practice it together. When I am working on dinner, I do something with the girls that we call Tray Time. We call it that because they are asked to stay on the blanket and work on activities on trays. That way they are within eyesight, I can help them if they need, but I can also back off and not hover. So how does it work? It's somewhat related to the posts about Learning Trays/Baskets that Manda did. We also use lunch type plastic trays. I got mine from Oriental Trading.
They review any skill/game we've previously worked on, but independently this time. I spread out a blanket for each of them. This is what they do when I am cooking dinner most nights.
Here's the basics:
*We spread out a blanket, and I put a few activities out for them to work on. My one year old doesn't get many trays yet, but the 3 year old does and has for a while now. I set a timer and they work until the timer goes off. I stop every few minutes to check on them or interact, monitoring their progress and encouraging them, but not really interfering.
Here's some examples of activities:
Magnets on a cookie/baking sheet. I give her family pictures a lot. They can sort, or just play.Fridge magnet sets, like the animal matching or the alphabet.For my 3 year old, I set out the trays on a blanket (she likes to spread waaaaay out otherwise). This particular day she worked on a memory game (I break them up into individual baggies to match, otherwise using the entire game for her is very overwhelming).Stamping sets...a blank piece of paper, washable stamp pads w/ numbers, letters, shapes, etc glued to the end of pill bottles. They are easier to grasp when glued to something with more of a handle for them to grab onto. Playdough is another good option. I give her one or 2 colors, one or 2 tools and let her create. At the end, I can just shake off the tiny pieces outside so they don't get on the floor.
So what other kinds of activities are appropriate? First consider your child's age, what you've been working on together, and what would be realistic for them. I wouldn't give playdough to my one year old without direct supervision because she likes to eat playdough. :)
Remember, it DOESN'T HAVE TO BE FANCY!! I do recommend starting with 1-2 trays and teaching them not to start a new tray until another one is cleaned up completely.
- Coloring book and a few crayons
- Chalk board and chalk
- Paint with water
- Shaving cream on cookie sheet
- Matching card games
- Sorting puffs by color, shape, size
- Transferring an item (like puffs) into new containers with tweezers, tongs, etc
- Do-A-Dot markers
- Lacing cards
- Lacing beads on pipe cleaners
- Rolling dice and counting the dots
- Play items, like cars, dolls, dollhouse
- Dominoes (We have princess dominoes)
- Blocks to stack
- Legos, Duplos
- Electronic games
- A stack of books (not recommended if you have crayons out at the same time for a young child...coloring book and coloring IN a book is a little confusing)
- Clothespin games (at tot school blog)
- Gluing w/ a glue stick (like leaves on a tree)
- Practice pouring (I started this with pouring beads out of a container, rather than w/ liquid) or they practice pouring their own snack in a bowl
- Pen and paper
- Counting activies, like described on the blog
- Any homemade game or something that uses fine motor skills!