Entertaining the preschooler
My youngest little girl is three and a half and goes to the childminders four days a week. Not because she has to, but because she absolutely loves it. There are two different childminders who take her two days each per week but work together so she basically sees them both most of the week. She is a very enthusiastic and cheerful child with a massive amount of energy so needs to be busy most of the time. She has a lovely time with both childminders and they have turned into her little family as she sees the same children too week in week out and gets to know them really well. I think of them as her village as it is so important for children to have input and experience from other family and non-family members as they are growing up. This is especially true in our case as we have no family close by, instead having to travel to see them often as possible but this generally proves difficult as they live a few hours away.
This leaves one day a week when my littlest is with me for the day and I have to be creative on what we do. It is every Wednesday so I have to be careful not to wear her out as she is still small and I want her to enjoy the whole week, but we still have to get out and about and do various activities as she is so energetic and excitable and I love spending quality time with just her. She does so much with her childminders that I have to really get thinking early on in the week to figure out what we are going to do. Outside activities generally consist of going to the park, the garden centre, the local National Trust property for a runaround and a cuppa, the farm shop and the occasional shopping centre. I like to save the bigger trips for when her sister is with us, such as going to castles, the seaside and further afield as we have to fit our activities into the time allowed before the school run. I do find it difficult this time of year as in the winter a lot of the time it is too cold to be outside for long so we have shorter trips out and longer time inside pottering. It is much easier in the summer time as we can also play outside in the garden all day.
Inside we do lots of puzzles, she recently got a new one for Christmas from her grandparents that she can do herself without my help and then we spot things together on it to test her observation skills and vocabulary. She loves colouring and making stamp pictures and racing her cars around the floor. A big hit is the train track where she has recently started building her own layouts and making her train as long as possible to whizz round it. She adores imaginative play so we will play mealtimes where she is the chef and she will cook lunch or dinner for me as well as running around with her little pushchair with a toy teddy in it as she is the mummy. She particularly enjoys dressing up and role play and loves flying around the house in her butterfly wings or her superhero cape or else she pretends to be a fairy or witch and makes silly spells. We can generally do a lot of these things in one day as she has so much energy and doesn't sit still for long! I find myself answering questions from her all day as she is so inquisitive and wants to try things that she sees her big sister doing - she also finds it easier to do them and play with her sister's toys when she is not around to interrupt her, especially when playing with all the Lego!
Other creative activities we do involve baking and painting - we recently got some air dry clay to make keepsake handprints to go in her memory box. It was really easy to do - roll out the clay, press her hand in it and leave in the airing cupboard to dry overnight before painting and glazing. One of the few activities that can keep her still is reading books - I read them to her first and then she will sit for a little while looking at the pictures and taking in the story that I have just told her. Her sister is a big reader and I think a lot of what she does is to try to keep up with her sibling - she is due to go to school in September so I am determined to enjoy the time I have with her and create lots of lovely memories to look back on. I will keep her close for as long as possible and as long as I can keep up with her!!
For inspiration for crafty things for preschoolers, take a look here.