“Soon it was time for Jakie to play in his play pen, so Josiah and I got to play together. Next thing I knew, we were in trouble! Mommy came into the room and said that it looked like a tornado went through. We did it again! We got too many things out at one time. We had stuff all over the living room: Legos, cars and trucks, Duplo people, books, and stuffed animals. It took us FOREVER to clean it up—even with Kara’s help. Josiah and I had to each do an extra fifteen minute chore with Mommy because we forgot the rule about getting out too many things at one time. “*
Many of the activities listed for toddlers yesterday would work well for preschoolers. Additionally, we added more “preparation for school” type of things (remember, we tried to not teach anything formally that we could teach informally) as was appropriate.
Another thing we did with activities, per se, was to add things into their room time that we had used with them already. For example, after we did a Laurie puzzle with the child and he could do it alone well, we moved it to his room time for him to play with it by himself. (We also did this with reading—a mastered “oral reader” became the child’s “silent reader”—more on this in helping your children in school later!)
Again, I recommend that you take two dozen or so items that you want to save for room time—that the preschooler cannot just go get out of the toy box or off the toy shelf—and get these out one or two at a time for his room time. Obviously, we had Legoes, dress up, Playmobile, etc. out all the time for the little ones to play with—so these things may or may not work for room time (it depends on how much they love playing with them!). The key is to have activities that are not always available that would interest your little ones during a concentrated independent time.
1. Duplos continue to be good choices for preschoolers, following a transition into Legoes whenever the child is ready. We carefully kept our Duplos and Legoes separated, especially when the toddlers and preschoolers shared in room time.
2. The felt books and felt playsets continue to be good for this age group: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/01/day-thirty-one-start-young-with-bible.html
4. Laurie puzzles and sets: http://www.timberdoodle.com/Lauri_Kids_p/360-168.htm
5. Imaginets (we never had these, but had various types of magnets for our kids at different ages): http://www.timberdoodle.com/Imaginets_p/785-805.htm
6. Silly putty, play dough, clay—they love all of them. We made our own play dough for years and years—store bought play dough does not begin to compare to home made. The stove top version is softer and longer lasting. We loved it. However, preschoolers usually don’t care! As far as “silly putty” is concerned, Timberdoodle has some amazing stuff: http://www.timberdoodle.com/Metallic_Colors_Thinking_Putty_p/284-metallic.htm or colorful/glow in the dark: http://www.timberdoodle.com/Glow_in_the_Dark_Thinking_Putty_p/284-glow.htm
7. ABC puzzles—Timberdoodle carries the Laurie ones we used, but there are many nice ones out there (we loved giant floor puzzles, especially with this age): http://www.timberdoodle.com/Lauri_A_To_Z_Puzzles_p/360-alphabet.htm
8. World and USA puzzles and colorforms—Timberdoodle has some great ones for preschoolers: http://www.timberdoodle.com/Geopuzzles_p/120.htm
9. Brio trains—there’s a reason your preschoolers are always drawn to the trains in the waiting room of the doctor’s office! Take a look at them here http://www.briotrains.info/
10. Measuring/weighing activities—we got ours from a teaching supply store, but Discovery Toys has one right now that looks great: http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?PURCHASE_STATE=STANDARD&product_id=2077
11. Pattern blocks—this is the set we had for all of our children, though it had a different name then; I will list it here, but it is really more of an activity you do with your child: http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?PURCHASE_STATE=STANDARD&product_id=2930
12. For children who are not Lego fans—or when your preschoolers like more make believe play than the chubby Duplo or Fisher Price people but are not ready for small Legoes, consider Playmobile. It doesn’t have the building aspects to it (except for the headache of building everything before children play with it—I’ve actually heard of parents hiring teens to assemble these things before Christmas!)—but the make believe and play value of nearly anything Playmobile is incredible (and the play value extends to unsaturated-with-television ten year olds as well!): http://store.playmobilusa.com/
13. Magnifiers! We used the department store cheapoes, but these look fantastic: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CDD658~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
14. Colorful, sorting items (bears, in this case)–What needs to be said about anything this darling and colorful—these were not the ones we had, but this set makes me want to “do it all over again!” http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CLL774~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
15. Shape sorters—these are ideal to do with your preschooler, but once we played with our little ones with these, they also enjoyed using them alone: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CJJ434~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
16. Sand and water tables are pricey—you can do similar activities with tiny swimming pools on the porch or even flat tubs filled with water and/or sand—our little ones would occasionally have “room time” in the bath tub in their swim suits (usually two at a time!) with an older child stationed in there reading and keeping an eye on the littles. Here is one to give you an idea of the type of play I’m describing: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CJJ514~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp OR here is another one that has four tubs in frames: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7C2534374302101783~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
17. Stencils with markers, crayons, etc. We used plastic ones rather than card stock ones. Here are some ABC ones http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CFF254~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
18. Traffic signs and other things to go with cars and trucks and car and truck mats recommended yesterday in the toddler list: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CRJ10~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
19. Lego tables and lego plates to build on keep something intact. We used inexpensive ones picked up at garage sales and wholesale clubs, but I still drool over the elaborate ones. Here is a modest one: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CRR326~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
20. Magnetic mazes—these are ideal even for road trips since there are no loose pieces; unfortunately, we only had these for our boys as they were not available when I was a young parent! http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CGG454~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp or http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CGG454~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
21. Lacing beads—again, this is one you will want to do with the child first http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CFD117~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
23. Cash register! This is the one we used: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CDA623~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
24. Puppets—Okay, I admit it—I collected puppets as a hobby when my kids were growing up! These are readily available at yard sales and second hand stores: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7C2534374302101604~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
25. Animals! And yes, I had ours divided by zoo, wild, farm….I loved the preschool days! http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CBT183~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
26. Magnetics—we liked the shape ones, but there are all kinds available: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CproductSubCat~~p%7CDD507~~f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp
27. Floor puzzles: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/f%7C/Assortments/Lakeshore/ShopByAgeOrGrade/34yrpreschool/viewall.jsp?bmForm=botLinks&bmFormID=1271031507255&bmUID=1271031507255&bmIsForm=true&bmPrevTemplate=%2Fseo%2Ff%7C%2FAssortments%2FLakeshore%2FShopByAgeOrGrade%2F34yrpreschool%2Fviewall.jsp&bmHidden=pdp&pdp=97&bmHidden=itemNarrow&itemNarrow=&bmHidden=itemSubCatNarrow&itemSubCatNarrow=&bmHidden=itemAgeNarrow&itemAgeNarrow=&bmHidden=itemCategoryNarrow&itemCategoryNarrow=&bmHidden=itemPriceNarrow&itemPriceNarrow=&bmHidden=FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302101872&bmHidden=ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113
Okay…this is getting OC, as my kids say (out of control!), so I will stop for today. Tomorrow—and all this week—we turn to chores!!! (My second favorite subject next to preschoolers!).
One final note about preschool room time activities: Be sure you get true “independent” activities. Avoid electronics, difficult to assemble toys, or other activities that require too much help in order for the preschooler to play with.
*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/03/day-seventy-eight-introducing-jonathans.html
**Benefits of room time for preschoolers and toddlers: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-ninety-seven-benefits-of-playpen.html