Sometimes playing with your kids can be boring and we get in a playtime rut! Emily Lawson with Sandbox Academy is here to share easy and quick new ways to play with our kids that are are engaging and educational without having to look at Pinterest! She gives her favorite supplies to have on hand and tells us how to get our kids started with an activity and lead them to the independence promise land!
Meet Your New Play time Teacher, Emily Lawson!
Former teacher and California mom of two, Emily Lawson, is the creator of Sandbox Academy, an online resource of educational activities and guides for parents that want to make the most of their playtime. Activities are designed for moms that want to keep their littles at home a little longer and do the preschool thing themselves, or for busy moms that are looking for easy activity ideas that are thought of, outlined, educational and ready to roll (I’m in this camp!).
In this episode, Emily and I are talking about how to think of these easy and quick, but engaging activities without having to look at Pinterest, what supplies we should have on hand in a pinch, and why these activities are the answer to you engaging with your child while also checking things off your to-do list!
Time Saving Hack #1: Use experts. Just like you (hopefully ?) use me for party planning guides for your upcoming birthday parties, use the people that create resources for these easy, educational and fun activities. Emily has created bundles and packs of all these activity ideas that she sells. You can 100% get inspired by Pinterest as well, but if you’re looking for shortcuts, and we all are, using experts and checking things off your list is the biggest way you can save your time and sanity! I also like buying things like this because it gives me a little skin in the game because I purchased something so it is more likely I’m going to actually use them and spend that time with my kids!
1. Get a blanket. Put the bin on the blanket and the bin stays in the middle of the biggest blanket you have. Some will definitely spill, but you can just dump the blanket right back in the bin.
2. Watch them like a hawk. When they start getting too wild, redirect, bring them back, or don’t be afraid to take it away. Set the expectation very early on.
3. Repeat after me…”materials stay in the bin” Say it over and over and make your kids say it every time they take it out to play.
4. Have materials on hand- rice, beans, oatmeal, water, etc. Anything dry and easy to grab.
5. Dump in toys- diggers, farm animals, shapes, letters, etc. and different things to scoop, rake, dump, etc. Make it engaging and play up your kids’ interests! The dollar store is the perfect place for sensory bins! All the little animals, gems, measuring cups, spoons, etc. can all be found there!
Solo Play vs. You Playing Together
Emily is there to somewhat guide and explain the activity or goal of the day and then she sends them off to be independent. So she wants the activity to be play based and then turn into problem solving/independent play which is not parent driven. You want your kiddos to learn through play. This model also follows what will happen once your kids go to school. The teacher usually models, then they practice together, then move to independence. You don’t want your kids to be used to having you around them playing with them at all times or else they aren’t working that muscle of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity in an independent way. Starting the activity sparks their thinking and gets them engaged, then they’re good to go off and play alone. Often times for me, sending them off on their own results in fighting or bugging each other…or whining about boredom vs. me getting them started usually gets me some time where they’re doing something valuable and educational…and I’m getting things done that need to get done. Win for all!
Think themes for this one too, just like the sensory bins! Create a dinosaur land, under the sea, or forest landscape for fairies. You can make playdough together for a fun activity, then giving them toys and materials that bring it to life. Brown playdough for mud, sticks from outside, farm animals, and a tractor would be SO fun. Adding glitter to purple or turquoise is great for unicorn or mermaid with those sparkly gems that are vase fillers. Head on over to the dollar store and stock up on play doh fillers, pipe cleaners, cars, etc. and compartment containers to store them all in. Then you have little kits to pull out and use whenever you need a fun activity!
At the end of the day…the focus is on FUN. Exactly what I’m trying to teach you with slowing down and being present for this little moments,. Have FUN with your kids. Get your hands dirty, engage, ask questions, and play. And then…set them up independently and go get some work done, mama! You can do both and Emily gave some awesome tips on fun activity ideas that help you do this!
This is an idea I used to do when I taught elementary school! I would make a big batch of play-doh and then roll the beige dough into balls. Poke your finger inside each ball and add a couple drops of food coloring inside then close the ball. Give the ball to your kids and have them knead it and watch in amazement as it magically changes color in front of them! SUPER fun and engaging!
Go Connect with Emily and Say Hi!
FREE DOWNLOAD: Preschool Activity Guide
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