Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mom would say #15: "What's around you?" for preschoolers

I recently spoke with a friend who considers herself creativity-challenged. She's intentional, methodical, and deliberate. I love our conversations, because she slows down the whirlwind in the my head - makes me ponder - gives me space to think.

We brainstormed about what to do with a toddler or pre-schooler in the "times between" planned activities. Here's what swirled through my head, thinking "What do little ones enjoy?"
  • Rice-box - the indoor version of a sandbox. Pour a sack of rice into a big bowl and place it on a tarp or blanket that can be easily shaken out. Add spoons, measuring cups, drinking cups, sand shovels, little trucks or dolls (beach day for the dolly?), etc. and steer your 3-yr-old in that direction. For a more complicated version: click here.
  • Sink or float - David Letterman did this on his show in a big way, asking, "Will it sink or float?" 
For our 2-yr-old granddaughter, I add 2" of water to a basin and put it on the floor or our indestructible coffee table. (If you're afraid of water spillage, put the basin on a towel or tarp.) Then gather household things - kitchen utensils from wooden spoons to metal forks to plates and food (noodles, sealed packages of spices or grains, etc.) Before placing them in the water, speculate together, "Will it sink or float?" and watch the results.
For a less messy version, click here.
  • More or less - compare bigger or smaller, colors, shapes, textures, smells, etc. A child can spend a long time exploring things we take for granted. For example, go outside and look at blades of grass, leaves, flowers, stones, raindrops - whatever is there. 
Put things side by side and compare them.
Pick them up and talk about what they feel like. 
Close your eyes and find bigger and smaller stones. 
After a rainy day, toss a few stones into a puddle and listen to the different sounds.
  • Tell Mommy (or Daddy) a story - have your child tell you the story in their favorite book. 
Have them draw pictures and tell you about them. 
Ask them tomake up a story about their toys and playmates. 
They may like to retell and recreate a story they've heard.
  • "And here's what happened" - use stuffed animals or dolls to model and playact behaviors that you see - or prefer to see - in the child.
For example, our granddaughter often wants to be held ... but her mom's back is fragile. One day I told her the story of "Mommy hold me." Our little stuffed mouse jumps on Mommy mouse, who falls over crying, "Ouch my back hurts!" "Oooooh, what do you think?" I ask little Miss K? She watches openmouthed. "Does Mommy's back hurt? Who will hold Little Mouse?" We let little mouse run to daddy mouse, who swings her up and holds her, tells her she's such a good girl.

We do a lot of role playing with old Barbies, stuffed toys, and even popsicle sticks that we name for her family members. 
On different days, we give various outcomes for the same scenario. Sometimes I tell the story; sometimes she tells me the story. Once in a while, I ask her what she thinks should happen and we go with that story line.

What have you done with your preschooler in 15-20 minutes ... that's spontaneous or a teaching moment wrapped in fun?

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