This time around, it's a little different. I still have the urge to nest, and prep for Baby, but I don't have the energy to rearrange, and I have so far restrained myself from buying out the baby girl section of every store in a ten mile radius. Because realistically? We don't need much. Plus, it's a tad difficult to coo over itty bitty dresses when your 3-year-old is busy taking everything off of the shelf or whining that his "tummy is hungry".
Instead, I've been crafting up a storm. But, only easy crafts. Things that don't require me to run down to the basement are preferable. And I just don't have the energy to do much sewing, or anything that takes more than an hour to complete. And this time, I'm more worried about keeping my preschooler occupied while I pull my hair out trying to remember how to calm a newborn.
To that end, I've been putting together what I'm calling "Activity Boxes", though most of the activities, you'll recognize as "busy bag" activities. I just happened to have a bunch of cute little boxes sitting around that were the perfect size for these. Plus, I just like how nicely the boxes stack - a handful of plastic baggies in a tub would drive me batty. Well, battier.
The first thing I did was to gather a ton of materials that Miles could play with independently. Things that didn't require my attention at all. Things like the following:
|Crayons, markers, coloring book, various papers, stickers. . .|
|Sticker book, foam stickers (snowflakes & sports balls), and post-its.|
All of those are in the bottom drawer of my desk, which he can access by himself, at any time. They get a fair amount of play - when he remembers they exist. :)
After that, I scoured the internet for "Busy Bag" ideas, and found these at Unsolicited Advice. I put them each in their own little box for Miles to pull out and play with whenever he likes.
|Beginning letter sound matching, with capital & lowercase letters.|
|Bug Number Matching. I LOVE these!|
|Brown Bear Heads & Tails Matching from 1+1+1=1|
Then, I ventured out on my own. I searched for "letter coloring pages" and eventually found these lovely outlines. I printed them on regular paper, and put them in a box with some Bingo markers. Miles pulls them out occasionally and decorates the letters. When they're all done, we'll laminate them with clear contact paper, and use them for other activities.
Next, I searched for "emotion cards", but everything I found wanted me to buy them. So, I just searched Google images for photos of "sad", "happy", etc. Then, I printed them off, put them on card stock, and laminated them. Miles isn't terribly interested in these, yet, so I need to figure out how to make them into a game. I'm still working on that one. . .
I was on a roll, so I made this book from an old report folder I had lying around from the college days.
I had also found a set of foam tangrams, and several other foam shapes, so I traced them in various configurations. Miles loves to match the shapes and name them. :)
Finally, I made this, which has been the absolute hit in our house. I started with the templates from All Our Days, but eventually realized I'd need to make my own templates to keep him engaged. An hour with paint, and I had made several more counting/matching cards, as well as several visual instructions for building things like a flower, a tree, a football goal post, etc. Miles will play with this one for up to an hour at a time by himself, or longer if I play with him.
In the end, I spent less than an hour on each of these activities (except for the Duplo templates, which took a bit longer to create on my own). Definitely worth the time investment for the amount of play they've already seen! :)