Over the years I have used many preschool curriculums with my kids at home.  I have gotten lots of cool ideas for keeping little occupied. Some of them require a bit of preparation and clean up, but most of these are fast and easy, especially if you spend an hour gathering supplies ahead of time so they are quick to grab when you need them.

These jumpstart ideas are not meant to suggest that you should play with legos or blocks with your kids for hours.  A jumpstart can be 5 minutes.  It gets their creative juices going, and gives them some mommy check-in time. Once you have played for a few minutes, you can go back to your work and they will usually keep playig happily.  If they fuss, it's okay to stick to your guns and say.  Mommy has to go now.  Build a tower and then you can show it to me.  Kids need to learn to play on their own.  Use your mommy gut for the balance.  Get them started, then encourage them to keep going on their own.

Snuggles.  If a kid cannot be consoled and is whiny and fussy and no amount of activity jumpstarts can get them to stop begging and nagging you, they may need a cuddle time.  Take a deep breath, leave what you are doing,  grab a blanket and just snuggle quietly on the couch.  They may fall asleep.  You may fall asleep.  Or you may just sit for 10 minutes quietly (good chance to pray silently or quietly.)  Some kids REALLY need this touch time....they need bodily pressure for their sensory and emotional equilibrium  (i.e. hugs and snuggles)

Many of these can be prepared for ahead of time, and the contents kept in a large ziploc, Plastic shoebox, or Craft Cart Drawers.  This way they can be easily accessed and easily cleaned up.

Here are some quick & Easy solutions for "I'm Bored

Homemade playdoh.  This recipe is part of our family history.  I found it in my first Preschool curriculum I purchased when my girls were tiny.  We have loved it and used it and passed it on for years.  Making this stuff is therapy for me.  It is soft and warm and smells amazing.  Break out the playdoh toys, or grab a few utensils out of the kitchen - rolling pin, meat tenderizer, cookie cutters. Warning:  You may not want to return to your laundry after playing with fresh, warm grape playdoh.

Coloring - It is amazing what 5 minutes of  coloring with your kid can do.  It's really fun and they love it - then they usually continue on their own.  Try colored pencils, markers, twist crayons.  The key to making this easy is storage.  Chose a method that makes paper and crayons easy to access and easy to clean up.  If your paper is filed by color in a binder and your crayons are neatly organized by color in the original box, You're gonna lose your mama mind.  Dump those crayons in a Craft Drawer or box, and keep a stack of paper easily accessable that they know they can use as much of as they want.  My kids used to each get their own ream of cheap copy paper from walmart for Christmas!

Finger painting

Costume Box

Water Beads -   I am crazy about water beads.  They are teensy-tinsy little beads that grow into soft little balls when you soak them in a bowl of water.  This is great for porch play in warm weather. or...lay a sheet down on the floor and put the bowl (or something like a plastic shoebox) of water beads in the middle.  Let the kids go crazy.  But don't stay gone too long.  Once my kids had company and we let them play in another room with water beads while the mom and I had a meeting in the other room.  We came back to quite a water bead explosion.)
NOTES:  You can buy them here.  They can be really messy.  My husband hates them.  Some people are very afraid of choking.  Please use your brains.  Thank you.

Beans & Rice - Keep a baggie or box or drawer of beans and rice.  Dump them into a pan and let them dig through the mixture with cars, scoops, and cups.  If they need jump-started, bury a few small items (a little army guy, a paper clip, a quarter) and tell them to try to find the treasures.

Matchbox cars - When they want me to play with them, but I have no brain cells (which is pretty much always)  I dump out the box of matchbox cars and line them up by color.  Sometimes the boys will play around me and do their own thing, sometimes they join me in lining them up.  We talk about how the multi-colored cars should be categorized, and wonder over the awesomeness of the vehicles.  After a little while, I get up and get back to my work and usually their imaginations have been stimulated enough to keep playing for quite awhile.

Marble Maze
Chutes & Ladders
Exercise Videos (Animals)
Book Corner
Bubble bath (beside you while you work in a room near the bathroom - not unattended!!)
Arctic Bath
Tent making
Ice molds
Blanket & Pillow Cave
Under-table Swing
Fidget Box
Glue Sticks, Scissors & Paper
Wood Blocks - We make fortresses and stuff, then knock them down.  My brainless way to jumpstart them is to sort by colors or just randomly build a tower as tall as I can.  They take it from there.

Building with Flakes

Magnetic Tiles

Refrigerator magnets

Pots and Pans cabinet - embrace it.

Microwave soap - put a bar of Ivory soap on a plate in the microwave (not a foam plate - they melt).  Then watch together...the soap will poof up into a huge, white iceburg.  It gets smaller when it cools.  Then they can play in the soap or take it to their bath.  It floats.  THis only works with Ivory bars.

Musical Variety - When you hear the whiny "I'm Bored" sometimes just changing the music to something happy and upbeat or quiet and soothing can help change the atmosphere and enable kids to find their own next thing.  Couple the music with the activity also helps to invite them into the new thing.  (Lay out blankets and pillows and a pile of books or puzzles, Turn on a lamp or some twinkle lights or a battery lantern, turn on some quiet but pleasant music, and sit down in the pile of books and start reading a picture book aloud to yourself.  See what happens.  : )  Or....get out some bubbles and turn on upbeat Preschool Songs.  Blow bubbles and sing with the music, ignoring the kids.  They will soon be begging for their turn.

Naps & Snacks - When kids are whiny and bored, the first two things a mama should mentally check is tiredness and hunger.  Grab a snack including protein (some cheesesticks and crackers, or Cut up and apples on a plate with a big spoonful of peanut butter..or grapes and cheese cubes.)   Sit the kids down with the snack in sight and read a quiet picture book.  They often get cranky when they are hungry, but need help to settle down enough to eat. Also....I have found that adequate sleep is at the very tip-top of the list of things that help in raising kids.  If they are tired, discipline and boredom increase dramatically.  If your kid is always cranky, but says they aren't tired, you may need to lay down with them to help them get to sleep.  A Fan or noisemaker, a full tummy, possibly quiet music, a book, and curtains closed.  Sometimes I have to outlast my kids when they are very tired but fighting it.  I have to resolve myself to having devotions in bed, or resting myself, or listenig to a book on headphones, or workign on my calendar.  Sit or lay beside them in bed, REad a book or two together or talk a few minutes..... and then do your own thing and ignore them.  Let them thrash around until they give into sleep.  If they haven't gone to sleep within about 45 minutes, you have permission to give up.

Add your comment