Over the past several months Benjamin, my 3 1/2 year old, became increasingly liable to make messes, tear things up, and otherwise wreak havoc in the house. I posted on facebook of one of his mishaps, which was emptying about 10 bag fulls of 100 piece puzzles together. I was asking advice and one of the things that another mother shared with me was to keep him busy with sensory activities. Well, I remembered a book I had called "I can do it! I can do it!" which is full of learning activities that are Montessori inspired. I went through and picked out the ones I thought he would like and set about to gather and purchase materials.
This is about the time he told me the poker pieces he had just laid within their circles were a cow. What an imagination! Noooo.... they were actually Harvey. Remember Harvey? The tree with the eyes, nose and mouth in Indiana that I had made into a make believe person? Well, Benjamin has not forgotten him and evidently anything can be Harvey. He told me he wanted to talk to Harvey. It doesn't seem to dampen the mood when he sees my lips moving for Harvey.
These are just large craft sticks from Hobby Lobby. I was planning to get tongue depressors from the pharmacy which is what the book suggested but since I was at Hobby Lobby I picked these up because they seemed about the same. I painted them with some acrylic paint. Very simple and he seems to enjoy doing these. I'll probably make a few more sets.
Here, he is supposed to order the jars in order from darkest to lightest. He's not quite ready for this one but he enjoys it anyway.
Now Benjamin wants to show you how big his Christmas tree is!
For my sickies, Benjamin and I made WHITE bread together. If I'm baking, he is always my helper. It was my first time to make white bread-ever. Yes, all my sickies and non-sickies LOVED it. It was a very, very simple Amish recipe I found online. I figured it's healthier than the bread at the store!
I added some scrap fabric to the blocks. This adds a new level of creating that Benjamin seems to enjoy, although he needed my help a lot.
The other thing that keeps Benjamin occupied for quite a while is puzzles. He especially loves these puzzles. I found one at the thrift store. It was actually a very challenging puzzle that most children don't like because the pieces are odd and unevenly shaped, but Benjamin could do it very easily. So I bought him several more. He will sit and do puzzles for as long as 30 minutes!
So things are going much better with Benjamin. Now I just make sure he isn't floating about. It's a chore to always be occupying him, but he is doing better and things are as chaotic in the house! The other change I made is I don't put him down for rest time at exactly the same time as Samuel. At noon I lay Samuel down and then I do an activity, craft, or project with Benjamin. Then I read to him and put him down for about an hour to an hour and half. I was expecting him to be in his room for as long as Samuel naps, but I realized this is just way to long for Benjamin since he typically doesn't take a nap anymore. He listens to a story in his room and I give him about three toys/activities to do. If it is too many, he just makes a mess!
(Home made play-do is a hit too! Makes a mess but I never add coloring to the dough. That way if it gets on the carpet, it doesn't look awful! These aren't all the activities but they are some of his favorites. I still have a bin full of materials in the toy cloest to make a few more activities. Oh, that is the other change. I organized my big toy closet with all of our toys and activities and a put a LOCK on it. Now, it stays clean and organized! I can come in and get what I need at any time, or let them get out one thing at a time and it is WONDERFUL. Why didn't I think of this before? Too many choices aren't good for my boys anyway, so this helps me keep things simplified for them)