Today is an exciting day! Today, we’re bringing the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Pinterest to our blogs. I am super thrilled to have Alissa of Creative with Kids sharing with you today. She is the guru of solving problems, especially when doing activities with kids. And today, she’s sharing how to do activities with both the big kids, and the little kids… at the same time. And by the way… you’ll want to head over to Creative with Kids and sign up for her newsletter (its one you’ll be waiting for every week).
While Alissa is here, I’m over at Val’s blog, Inner Child Fun sharing a train activity that got Henry thinking and solving problems. Its amazing what a couple questions can do for a child’s mind. While you’re there, see where Val is at today too (and keep going through the 20 Moms until you make it back here)!
Anyhow. Here’s Alissa.
7 Tips for Doing Toddler Activities WITH Big Kids
Has the toddler in your life caused quite as much chaos in your arts and crafts as my toddler has here? You know how it is – you find a fun activity for all of your kids, you have all the supplies and you even have a clear table to work at. Things are going great!
Until the toddler quietly makes off with the scissors and cuts a hole in the couch cushions. Or perhaps she stays at the table and bites the tips off of the markers while you’re busy helping her older brother…. ARGH!
How can you do activities with a toddler AND big kids?
As a homeschooling mom to three kids ages 2, 5 and 7 some days activities with my kids have amounted to an aerobic exercise routine as I start to work with an older child only to frantically bounce back up to grab messy/dangerous/breakable items from the toddler. Luckily I’ve learned a few trick that make it easier to do activities together, with a minimum of bouncing.
7 Tips For Including a Toddler in Activities with Big Kids:
1. Make a spot for the toddler away from messables and breakables.
- Move the permanent makers, liquid paint and glass of water out of reach, unless you’re in an easy to clean space and you really want to keep replacing spilled supplies. This might mean the toddler is in a highchair or at the opposite end of the table.
2. You can do more complex projects with the older kids if you give your toddler similar materials to play with.
- If you’re sewing with the big kids, maybe your toddler would like a lacing card
- If you’re painting you can bet your toddler wants to paint too – a younger toddler can finger paint on his highchair tray. An older toddler can be given a brush and a bit of paint – they will want their own and they probably don’t need quite so many colors as their older sibling.
- If you’re making a toilet paper animal, your toddler might enjoy drawing on a tp-roll with washable markers, or stringing the tp roll onto ribbon.
3. Before you get started, grab a couple easy to hand over toys for the toddler. I have a list of “sit by me activities” to do with toddlers that don’t need a lot of parental attention. I suggest watching for the toys and activities your toddler loves that aren’t too messy and putting aside about 5 of those as your go-to independent play activities.
4. Don’t put out more supplies than you want to clean up.
- You’re likely to get distracted by the other kids. As soon as your back is turned your toddler will be pouring her water into her paint tray and across the entire pad of paper. Or she’ll take all three play dough blobs and crumble them onto the floor. Eliminate a lot of frustration by starting with a more limited amount of supplies in reach of the toddler. You can always add more.
5. Start simple for the toddler’s activity and then extend the activity as they lose interest.
- Your older child may be content to work away at a project, while your toddler is ready to move on 2 minutes into it. You can extend the original activity to keep him occupied.
- This is when you start adding supplies. Go with tried and true activities that your toddler loves. My daughter is happy to put stickers on anything. If your child has recently discovered cutting with kid scissors – hand over the scissors and let them cut up their art. Does he love his toy cars? Grab one and ask if he can paint with it/draw around it/ roll it over his art. Nothing wrong with a little destruction when it comes to toddler art – your toddler might enjoy ripping or tearing the paper.
6. Be a lap – if you can get the other kids going by giving them their own supplies and teaching them how to use them, you can sit with your toddler when she gets restless.
- One important thing I tell the older kids is about wiping their hand so I don’t panic when I’m holding the toddler and they head off with glue and glitter hands to add more grunge to our poor house. (for instance – “Here is a wet rag, wipe your hands before you leave the table so you don’t get glue and paint on our furniture.”)
- My kids sometimes like if I read a story while they color, or we might put on kid music. Both are perfect for toddler snuggle time.
7. Finally: always remember the value of snack time. SO entertaining for small folk who’ve gotten board with the activity at hand.
I admit – activities with toddlers and big kids still require quite a lot of energy on my part. If I’m not “on” my daughter is taking off to write on the bathroom walls, but with a little preparation things do go much more smoothly and I find that I enjoy creating with the kids because I can relax a little knowing I have some fall-back toddler activities. Good Luck!
Did you get a new idea from these tips? Scroll down to leave a comment to tell me one thing that you’ll try next time you’re crafting with your toddler and older kids together. So glad to be here on Hands On : As We Grow today, I look forward to chatting more!