Sometimes, these electronic babysitters are an incredible blessing. When our family was hit with the stomach-bug, I was so grateful to be able to turn on a movie while I laid on the couch and tried not to move. (Later, I overheard Rose telling someone she liked getting the stomach flu because it meant getting to watch movies. Oy!)
During the terrible Tuscaloosa tornado, I was so grateful for movies on the ipod that kept the kids happy after I’d told them all the stories my otherwise-occupied brain could think of.
There’s nothing wrong with using electronics as baby-sitters occasionally, but active creativity and play is so much better!
Some of you shared great ideas on Facebook for happily occupying little ones and I added a few of my own. Most of these ideas are things that children can do on their own while you’re busy nearby.
(A few of these ideas can make quite a mess, but they raise an excellent opportunity to teach children from the earliest ages about cleaning up!)
Playing with beans and “tupperware”
20 Ways to Occupy Littles Non-Electronically
- Hand them a cup and let them play in the kitchen sink.
- Let them “help” while you work in the kitchen. Anytime I make biscuits, rolls, or bread, the kids gladly spend 45 minutes making shapes.
- Open up the pots and pans (or tupperware) cupboard… and let the noise begin. (Thanks Kristy!)
- Give them child-safe scissors and an old magazine to cut up (preferably in a mess-contained area!)
- Have them make up simple stories.
- Give them things to sort: buttons, beans, etc. (Thanks Melissa!)
- Make an obstacle course with chairs, tables, and buckets for them to play with.
- Pull out the puzzles.
- Send them outside. (My favorite when it’s not 30 degrees outside!)
- Have an older child teach a younger child a simple concept.
- Let them use blankets to make a house or castle.
- Have a jar with play “rags” in it and let them pretend to dust or clean. (Thanks Kim. S.!)
- Assign them simple chores to do each day. (Help/oversee until they’re capable to do it alone!)
- Let them pick out books to look at quietly on the couch.
- Send them on a “scavenger hunt” inside or outside.
- Pull out paper and crayons and let them color.
- Turn on fun music and let them “dance”.
- Have them act out a favorite nursery rhyme with dolls or stuffed animals.
- Have them write a letter to grandparents or friends.
- And, of course, let them play with their toys!
What are your favorite ways to occupy children without turning on a movie?