The last few months have been challenging as I have tried to keep my toddler busy. He is at a stage that is difficult to keep him entertained and out of mischief. We got to a point where he was in time out way too many times in one day. That shouldn't happen. It doesn't mean that I have a bad child or that I am a bad parent. What it does mean is that he is getting older and needs something more to do other than wonder around the house getting into trouble. I signed him up for a few mom and tot classes at our community center and created activities for him to do at home. The time outs have significantly decreased and everyone is much happier. If you are experiencing too many time outs at home (or even at school) I would encourage you to assess what the antecedents are that are leading up to your toddler getting in trouble. If it's the same thing over and over again, it's time to make a change.
When I was a teacher, I always kept center activities on hand. They were activities that we didn't do on a regular basis therefore they kept the kids engaged longer. I applied the same know how to home. I created these activity bins that I keep locked in the pantry to use when he needs something engaging to do (or when I need to distract him from sitting on his brother). We don't use them every day so when we do get them out he loves playing with the contents.
Like most people, I didn't have a ton of money to spend on these bins so I went to the Dollar Tree and found most of the items, including the bins. Every time I head into Target I head to the dollar section to see what else I can find to add to the bins. It's good to keep adding or taking away activities otherwise they will get bored and you'll be right back where you started!
I made 3 bins, one for crafts, cooking and puzzles. The Toddler loves to cook in the kitchen with me (check him out in action here) so I made a cooking bin for him. You may think of something else to make like a bin for cars, building blocks, tools or whatever interests your little one. Here is what is inside each bin:
Craft Bin:shaving cream
army men (yes, army men in shaving cream make for great fun)
The floor mats are wonderful! You can put them under the high chair to keep the floor clean or to keep vinegar from staining the concrete (if that sort of thing bothers you). Having a squeeze bottle is great for activities like Erupting Ice Chalk or Rainbow Sidewalk Chalk Paint.
Okay, you're probably wondering what the spice rack is for. I emptied out my spices and it is now a magnetic sorter for The Toddler. I bought little foam blocks to build with shaving cream and they now double as a sorting and pattern game. Taking the lids on and off the cans, putting the blocks inside and sticking them on the rack keeps him busy for quite a while!
plastic popsicle molds
I give The Toddler a handful of ice cubes along with this bin and he has a blast pouring and stirring the ice cubes. I make sure he stays in the kitchen and when he is done, the ice melts and I have a clean floor!
Puzzle Bin:foam puzzles
puzzles with large pieces
While we don't necessarily get out the puzzles with the big pieces yet, The Toddler loves to play with the foam number puzzle. I will set them on top of where they go and he will push them down into the holes, counting as we go. His counting sounds a little like "tee, schwee, see, tee!" My heart just melted a little bit.
Staying at home with little ones can be challenging at times. I'm always looking for ways to keep everyone entertained and this is a great start!