At the end of September I wrote a post entitled How to Get By Without the Electronic Babysitting Box, inspired by the frequent questions I get along the lines of “how do you make supper without a TV to keep the kids occupied?” In the post I mention that for me, the1 to 2 year-old range is the most challenging one to keep independently busy when necessary.
This evening I was going through one of my bookshelves and I happened upon a little book that has very simple and creative ideas for keeping 1.5 to 3 year-olds busy. It is The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.
I was given this book as a gift when my oldest was just a baby. Honestly, at first I was completely underwhelmed by it. Not knowing much about little ones, I had no idea what challenges I would face when my sweet infant became an active young toddler. Activities such as “Car Wash” (p.128 – child washes riding toys) or “Pasta Sort” (p.184 – child sorts different shapes of pasta into small containers) sounded pretty boring and unimaginative. After all, wouldn’t my little one be creating art masterpieces and reading War and Peace by age 2?
Well, several years and several children have taught me that activities such as “Car Wash” and “Pasta Sort” are, in fact, the absolute height of brilliance! I think that for adults, well for me anyhow, it is much easier to come up with projects and ideas for older children because they are more physically capable and think on a level closer to our own.
As I said in my Babysitting Box post, I do not believe in being my children’s entertainment committee, but there are times when they just mope about bored. So, especially being without TV, I find it useful to have a few ideas to throw out there for them to try. Older kids can do art, or origami, or crafts, or make books, or any number of things that adults can relate to.
Little ones are more of a mystery. Plus, they rely more on a grownup to play with them, or at least supervise a suitable independent project for their age. I find it challenging to think of appropriate ideas. Since most grownups would find pouring dried beans incredibly boring for example, it might not occur to us that something so simple can be a mesmerizing project for a 1.5 year-old!
This book has 365 such projects. Some are more complicated or require a bit more parental involvement than others, but all would truly be entertaining for a child in the 1.5 to 3 range. When I read these simple ideas now that I am on toddler number three, I often have a reaction of: “A ha! Why didn’t I think of that?” For example, the “Car Wash” idea would be a great toddler distraction on a warm day while Mom tries to garden. Or why not have your little one sort pasta shapes in the kitchen while you make dinner?
The 365 ideas in this book are organized by theme to make it easy to find just the one you need for any particular situation. The themes are:
- Rainy Day Play
- Kids in the Kitchen
- Water Play
- Outdoor Adventures
- Out and About
- Nursery Rhymes and Finger Plays
- Early Learning Fun
- Music and Movement
- Arts and Crafts
- Birthdays and Holidays
There are also sections on what to keep on hand in your craft cupboard, craft recipes (playdough, homemade paint, etc.) and other useful tidbits.
Trish Kuffner has written a series of other “Busy Books” too. We have also recently acquired The Children’s Busy Book : 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 6- to 10-year Old Busy, but have not used it yet. Leafing through it, I must say that the projects look really interesting. We’ll have to try a few of them soon. I’ll report back!
Here are links to all the books in the Kuffner “Busy Books” series in case you feel like browsing.