(First, just a little reminder to ***breathe***)
Ahh. Ok, good. Now…
I really love centers. Do you remember those? You may have done them in kindergarten, or your children do them at daycare now. I love them because they allow for open-ended play, but with as much or as little guidance as you’d like, and help ensure children get to explore all the fun gadgets, gizmos, and goodies you’ve accumulated along your parenting journey. It provides them with variety, makes old things seem new again, and can buy you a good hour or so to get stuff done yourself.
Essentially, I set out 3 activity/toy sets that the kids can play with independently. These will change with your children’s ages. It can be on a theme, or not; you can give specific instructions for each or not… I decide if it’s just a free for all with all their items, or if they should rotate through (e.g., like 15 minutes at each, with a 15 minute free for all at the end). Then I turn them loose!
Some centers I have used:
- Playdough (if you don’t have any, you can make your own! And if you don’t have playdough tools, try using small, safe kitchen utensils, letter magnets, buttons, and pipecleaners)
- Sensory bins
- Themed bins
- Dress-Up (if you don’t have children’s dress-up costumes, just set out some of your fancy or interesting shoes, scarves, hats, and costume jewelry)
- Blocks/legos/duplo, etc.
- Musical instruments (if you don’t have any, try making some)
- Art station (painting with watercolors is pretty mess free, coloring with coloring books, copy paper and stencils, etc.)
- Stuffed animal zoo
- Karaoke station
For more ideas, google your children’s age range and terms like DIY, homemade, homeschooling, or centers. Also check out some of my Pinterest boards to see if they spark anything for you: