Deneal and I are taking the month of December off. We have many family activities going on. We will, however, be re-posting some of our Bright Ideas and Midweek Pick Me Ups throughout the month. If you haven't been around for long, we used to do each of these once a week, and I think it will be beneficial to re-post a few of them again.
Bright Idea: Pencil and Paper
We needed a place for all our random, but really useful ideas we want to pass on to everybody. Ta-da! Bright Idea was created. These are going to consist of a little of everything. In essence, anything we've found to be helpful to our successful parenting. We've got enough thoughts to keep us going once a week for a while (every Friday), but there's no guarantees it will continue on a regular basis after that. Just consider it a nice surprise whenever it shows up. And some of these ideas have already been introduced by one or the other of us on our family blogs, so forgive the repeats.
That being said, here's today's Bright Idea.
I've figured out a few activities I use with my four year old when I am trying to keep him quiet and still (church, restaurant, doctor's waiting room, airplane, everywhere--oh wait...). With some adaptation these could work with younger or older kids, but the 3-5 range is going to be best. And it's not something you can give to your toddler and then expect to have twenty minutes of undisturbed silence. But, with minimal effort you can engage a good twenty minutes or so of their quiet attention. All you need is a pencil (pen) and paper. If you have stickers, even better. There are four different activities, three of them being quite similar. For those first three you can use letters, numbers, shapes, or small stickers. In the explanations I'll call these "objects".
Make a list of about five different objects and then scramble the order in a second list. Let your child draw a line connecting the two matching items. (or if your kidlet's personality is like my junior Picasso, the line has to loop around, under, and behind before reaching the destination. No straight lines, thank you.)
Second: Finnish the Pattern
Make a line of objects that form a simple pattern. Leave a blank at the end for your child to fill in the next object in the pattern. I've found that trying to reproduce the object is too difficult for my little one, so I started giving him choices based on the objects in the pattern. He simply circles the correct one.
Third: Multiple Choice
This is a counting activity. Draw a few objects and then three choices of numbers below. Let your child count and then circle the correct answer. You can put your objects in pairs to make counting easier and reinforce odd/even learning (evens have partners, odds are left without a partner), or place them randomly for a greater challenge.
Fourth: What's Missing
Draw a simple face. Then draw several copies of the face that are each missing one or two elements found in the original (ears, hat, mouth, nose, eyes, hair, etc.). Let your child discover what is missing in each illustration and then draw it in. You could then make a few blank faces for your child to fill in with different expressions. It can be a mini lesson on emotions.
Ok, nothing fancy there. Just reminding you of the possibilities of a pencil and paper. So if you didn't before, I hope now you will all carry something to write with and a notebook or even copy paper folded up in your purse/diaper bag. I do suggest that you pull out these activities at the beginning of a long sit (before the toys) as little hands and creative minds might not have the patience for it at the end. Also, you can plan ahead and have a pre-made paper with these games, but my son prefers that I make them at that time. He's figured out I give him more attention that way. Hope these are helpful!
Midweek Pick Me Up
I read about this a month ago, and it has been on my mind ever since. I should have framed it, or gotten it bronzed, but I didn't and now I can't remember where I read it! There was a scientific study performed (again, wish I had details) to see how much quality, completely involved time moms spent with their children in an average day. Even the moms who were on the floor the longest, up to their elbows in racecars or dolls, never spent more than 30% of their children's awake hours giving them 100% of their attention. This certainly helped me feel better, because sometimes I was feeling guilty for not giving my children 100% of my attention 100% of the time. Now I have realized that I work best in short spurts; if I give my children 100% of my attention 15 minutes at a time a few times a day, they are feeling loved and I am doing enough. Now, does that help you feel better?