Sometimes, I offer my kids guided activities. A project in which I assist them, step by step, thru to some end result (while hopefully gaining some knowledge or skill along the way). They have my undivided attention & encouragement. This requires some planning & patience on my part. But its Super Fun!
Sometimes, I tell them to go & play on their own. Free play is important. This also requires patience on my part because it
often results in fighting, crying, destruction & chaos.
But what about the other times, when I want to keep them engaged & out of trouble, with little effort on my part? Enter…busy work!
Busy work is an important tool for moms. Homeschooling moms who need to prepare a lesson or keep little ones occupied while they work with an older child. And every other mom of young children who wishes to accomplish anything around the home (& avoid the television crutch).
I use busy work to keep the peace while I attempt to clean or read or cook or shower or I just need some quiet. I have tried a lot of different things & have had success with…a few. Crayons & coloring books have never bought me more than five minutes of peace! My idea of good busy work is…minimal prep time, not too messy, engages kid for at least 20 minutes.
Some busy work that we love around here:
Worksheets are tricky. For the kids to work unassisted, the worksheet must practice some skill that is already familiar. But if it is too easy, then it quickly becomes boring. Piper & Esther do not love worksheets. Si has always loved them. Especially math!
On the other hand, Montessori type activities are always fun for the girls, while Silas is usually not so impressed.
All types of sorting, matching, counting & fine motor stuff.
The girls really love daily life activities. Perfect for my two little mommies.
I keep lots of these types of activities available around the house at all times. Now, do my kids put one activity away before starting another? Well, no they do not. We really need to work on that.
I have found that painting random objects is always a big hit. It is more exciting to my kids than painting paper. We have painted all sorts of little wooden people & animals as well as rocks, sticks (driftwood is perfect!) & leaves. This could be messy, I must stay in the room. But I cover the table & use watercolors & they are kept busy for a good long while!
Collage making is also an easy go-to activity, sometimes buying me a full hour of peace & quiet!
Our busy work version is very simple, I do not drag out a bunch of different materials. Each kid is given scissors & a piece of paper, which they cut into a million different little shapes. Then another piece of paper & a glue stick. I am always amazed at the little works of art that are created thru this process! Different every time. Good stuff.
Finally, the number one most favorite busy work activity for my little people…Puzzles!!
My kids are obsessed with puzzles, every day. They have learned to patiently separate the inner & outer pieces before they begin. They get so excited as they near the end & the picture becomes clear. And that wonderful sense of accomplishment when it’s all finished. Very satisfying! Beleduc puzzles are favorites for sure.
So those are some of our tried & true, keeping the peace, busy work activities. It will be interesting to note how these will evolve as the kids develop their reading & writing skills…& their attention spans!