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May 7, 2013

Toddler Time


One of the most challenging and dare I say, unexpected parts to homeschooling my older boys, has been this little guy, Critter! I'm not exactly sure why I was so unprepared to keep him occupied, but the truth is, I was! I spent the summer of 2012 reviewing and piecing together an affordable and what I thought was a good curriculum for the older boys. I never considered preparing anything for Critter! And so, here we are, in May, and "busy bags" are now my saving grace!


Colored white rice. It makes a mess, but
 is worth the time it gives me to teach
the older boys a lesson!

I had never heard of "busy bags" before, but, they rock! I have to admit though, for the amount of time it takes to put one together, it is pretty deflating when it only provides 5 minutes of entertainment for Critter! I'm hoping that as he gets older, some of the bags will be more engaging to him and keep his attention for at least...10 minutes! So if you are like me and have never heard of "busy bags" here is a basic oveview.



A Busy Bag is basically any activity that is all self contained into one Ziploc bag, a pouch, or even a small plastic box. The idea behind it is that you can toss them into your backpack or diaper bag and take them on a road trip, to church, a restaurant, a grandparents house, etc. It is a quick activity to lay out for your tot and quickly clean-up when they are done. For us, we usually just use the bags at our kitchen table during school time. Critter has no interest in his toys during school. He wants to sit at the table like the big boys, but he is very distracting if he isn't busy! He resorts to chucking crayons across the table at his bubbas, singing loudly, stealing his brothers worksheets, scribbling on their papers, etc, etc. Sometimes he will get lost in his own world with just a crayon or a pencil, but that doesn't happen often enough to help much. Since we use our "busy bags" at home, our definition is a little broader than most. I have messy stuff and larger items too. Here are some examples: 



Giant noodles that I dyed with food coloring and a shoestring to thread them on.....

......or fingers to stick them on


A jar full of monkey erasers & a coffee creamer bottle full of popsicle sticks.
Sometimes he doesn't even need paper! Just mixing the colors
and the water is fun for him.
 
    Just Stampin'


 Little Fishy erasers to drop through the "water bubbles" into the "fish bowl."
He is making a fish face too!
 Less than 1 cup of sand keeps him busy for over an hour these days. I only bring it out once every week or two to keep it exciting for him when he sees it. 
 Buttons & Beads, Cups & Bowls.
( I raided his Granny's sewing closet! It was a gold mine.) 
 Bouncy balls & an egg plate
 Puff balls & an egg plate
 Inside one of his "tactile rich" activities that I saw an idea for on Pinterest.
(In other words, for us normal moms, we would call this a "variety of textures") 
 A tube, some mac & cheese noodles, and a muffin tin......tink, tink, tink. He loves the sound!
 Magnetic letters he can play with and still be at the table.
 Cotton Balls. A less messy alternative to sand & still fun!
 Dyed rice that we call "water" for his fishy erasers to swim in.


Even his Lego people went for a swim today!
Legos make everything better!


I'm still waiting for him to find interest in puzzles. So far, the longest he will play with these on his own is about 5 minutes. Barely worth the trouble of getting them out!

And sometimes all it takes is paper & a pencil!
(Rarely!)


 We actually have more "busy bags" then I showed, but I still struggle to keep him entertained! I hope to put together at least 10 more this summer, as we gear up for our 2nd year of homeschooling!

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