We all have times we need to keep younger children busy independently – while you work or homeschool, or simply take a break from the court jester life. How do you do it?
There are tons of ways to direct kids when they need some inspiration. Really, it’s just limited by your creativity, patience, and time!
- Print off some coloring pages (parsha related, ABCs, alephbet: a quick google – or even better, swagbucks – search will give you tons of possibilities.)
- Books: get some new library books for your kiddo to browse. Even my 2 year old loves to sit with a picture book for a while!
- Give the child their own “work.” You can print off worksheets on things like writing or mazes if you have a little one who likes that kind of thing. Lapbooks (mostly Jewish on this site) are good crafts, too. Here is another great overall resource.
- Make up a batch of play-dough (or clay-dough, as my 4 year old son calls it) and provide some fun things to use it with: cookie cutters, utensils, rolling pins, chopsticks, toothpicks…
- Save your clean plastic containers (like from yogurt or cream cheese) and bring out a big bag for your child to stack and crash to their heart’s content. They clean up pretty easily and are always a hit.
- Lentil or rice transferring from one container to another (and back), using something like a spoon and on a tray. For whatever reason, this is always fascinating for my kids! (I’m so grateful I have our Roomba, Bot, at times like this.) Or pour water back and forth inside a little tub.
- Get your little one on the computer (do a review on what’s OK, and closely observe, of course!) Some good sites are starfall, pbskids, or Behrman House. You can also find some computer games for kids (not online, but physical disks like this).
- Get some “help” with food preparation for lunch or snack: peeling carrots, cutting up bananas, slicing apples, dicing cucumbers, spreading peanut butter on the crackers, and then arranging the items is good training for so many things, practical, and fun! (Almost all of that just requires a butter knife.)
- Other practical tasks (here comes my Montessori leaning, I know): polishing silver kiddush cups, candlesticks, and challah trays, washing cloths in a sink (yes, to be rewashed by machine later), give the child a squirt bottle of a water/vinegar mix and set them loose on windows, mirrors, even walls, etc.
- If they are old enough, ask your child for their ideas. What do they want to learn?
- Busy bags! These are containers that have an activity in them. You can buy a set of 30 here (not currently offered), or sign up to do a swap when they are running, where you make 30 of one bag and send them in and get a box of 30 different ones. Here is a giant list of other possible busy bag ideas (blogger refers some to a different religion, just FYI).
See more on busy bags in the other pages.