Most parents would agree that dinner preparation is the toughest time of the day. We are worn out and the kids are tired and crabby. The easiest solution for a hard earned bit of peace is to plunk them down in front of the TV or a video in order to cook without “help” or having to play umpire.
On really bad days, I sometimes find myself too easily wanting to resort to the distraction of a video, especially with my 3 year-old who of course wants to “help” with everything, including dinner. So whenever I come across a new trick to happily and easily occupy her, I am eager to share it with others!
Several years ago I picked up some colored plastic threading and counting frogs at a yard sale. I have used them for everything from math homework to French lessons, but I just discovered a new game that my 3 year old loves: “Find the Frog!” This is proof that we don’t need something complicated or expensive (or electronic) to entertain and teach a child.
Our frog friends come in three sizes and six colors. I simply tell my 3 year-old what to thread, for example, “medium blue,” and she does it with joy! Sometimes I get fancy and say “three large orange,” or “one small red and two medium green.”
This is so simple that most of you are probably saying “Umm … what’s so special about this?” But since it never occurred to me that this game could entrance my daughter for an hour at a time, it might not have occurred to a few of you either.
Plus, consider these benefits:
- I can work in the kitchen while playing this game with her (or be lazy and sit on the sofa and read a magazine).
- The game teaches colors, numbers, and sizes.
- Children practice remembering and following increasingly complicated instructions.
- The threading is an excellent exercise of fine motor skills.
- You could play this with almost anything that threads: beads, thread spools, colored pasta, or buttons for example. (Great for creatively repurposing household items!)
- Variation for non-threadable items: have your child place certain items in an egg carton, container, or selection of dishware. For example: “Two blue buttons in the glass” or “One large seashell in the red bowl.”
- Make this an activity for your “Mommy I’m Bored Box!”
For more easy ideas, please read these posts about other very simple toddler pastimes that have worked for me: