Simple Play Stations For Busy Days

simple play stations for busy daysEvery parent has those days at home when you HAVE to get stuff done. Maybe it’s work , homeschooling older children, or maybe you are fighting a bad cold and just don’t have the time to plan and play like you like to. Before you reach for the remote try simple themed play stations instead. This may look like a lot of work to set up but trust me it took 5 minutes. If construction isn’t your child’s thing don’t worry I have ideas below for 6 more themes. You may need to look through the toys in your house to see what you can use but once you write a list it will be a snap to put it together when you need it. What a set up like this does is gives your child stations to move to and from and gives you a little extra time to get things done. The day we did this I was sicker than a dog and this kept my almost 3 year old happy while I tried to get work I normally do after her bedtime done early so I could have a good sleep that night. She did end up watching some PBS Kids but much less than she would have if I had not set this all up.

  1. Choose the theme. Your best bet is to choose something that your child is really interested in. A new theme is best introduced when you can act as a guide.
  2. Choose what stations to set up. Again this isn’t a time for too much novelty . Old favorites, things they can do independently and toys that they love . Toys they love but have been put away for a while work great. My stations were :playdoughdress up , puzzles ,and books. Gather your toys and materials for the stations. Keep it simple you don’t need to make huge sensory bins or elaborate block areas. I had a puzzle, some playdough with a little people construction worker and some Duplo, a few pretend play props and some books on the theme.theme days
  3. Play . theme puzzleShow your child the stations ( space them out to your child’s liking) and ask them which they want to start with. theme playdoughMost kids will go to each briefly and then go back to each for a second look to really play. theme dress upWhen my daughter went to the book station I asked her to please read the books first by herself and then I would come and read them to her. This gave me enough time to pause what I was doing and join her.theme books

Other Theme Ideas

The links go to posts featuring these simple ideas and to products through affiliate links.

Princess Books  , pink playdough with sequins or beads, princess costume or crown for dress up, build a castle with blocks, make a princess bracelet with a pipe cleaner and pony beads.

Ocean : Books about fish , Tub of water with sea animals, swimming goggles for simple pretend play, under the sea pictures ( blue paper and fish stickers) , fish puzzles.

Bugs : Books about bugs, playdough bugs (add some straws and googly eyes)  , egg carton and pipe cleaner caterpillar, draw your own bug ( crayons and paper) ,bug puzzles.

ABCs : Alphabet books, playdough with alphabet cookie cutters, alphabet stickers on paper, letter rainbowing, alphabet puzzle.

Cars and Trucks : Car books, make tracks in playdough with cars, make a city with blocks and cars, simple car wash, draw a road on paper and fill it with car and truck stickers.

Cooking : Books about food, cook in the sink, paint with a potato masher, simple grocery store play in the kitchen.

Sign Up For Our FREE – Learn & Play Weekly Planner

weekly play plans for kids I am so excited to announce a new feature here at No Time For Flash Cards. I have been asked for years by readers to put together a weekly activity plan but frankly it was never top on my to do list.  Until now. As it turns out I loved putting it together and hope you will love using it.

What is it?

Every week you will get an email with a plan for learning and play with a theme . Each plan has a whole curriculum approach and brings together activities in early literacy, fine and gross motor, math , sensory and of course a fun craft and books. The plan also includes ways to modify the activities for older and younger children so every activity is relevant. The plan is not our week in review, it’s older posts, post from other great blogs and recent ones that work together to make a great plan for you!

How much does it cost?

It’s FREE.

How do I get it?

Sign up here and every Sunday starting October 7th the plan will get emailed to you.  Use it that week, save it for later or forward it to a friend to share.

 

75 TV Free Activities For Toddlers

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75 activities for toddlers

Toddlers are little explorers and love going from one activity to the next so the more ideas you have in your back pocket the better. All of these are free of any tv or other screen time but I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I said my kids never watched any TV as toddlers. This list of TV free activities for toddler  is a way to inspire myself as much as you to try some of these simple activities before reaching for the remote.

  1. Cook – we use play food with real pots a lot.
  2. Toss bean bags into laundry baskets.
  3. Paint with yogurt
  4. Splash in the sink.
  5. Pour and scoop some pasta.
  6. Mix some colors.
  7. Get dressed in sibling’s clothes.
  8. Turn up the music and dance
  9. Cuddle.
  10. Play with a water table with water or rice. pasta in the winter.
  11. Play with a light table
  12. Cut a slot in a container lid and drop dried pasta into it.
  13. Play dress up – use old Halloween costumes, clothes and hats.
  14. Find out will it sink or float?
  15. Blow bubbles.
  16. Have a toy car wash.
  17. Build a block tower.
  18. Knock it down.
  19. Write on the walls.
  20. Draw on the windows.
  21. Go for a swing.
  22. Go into a dark room and play with a flash light.
  23. Go for a walk .
  24. Make a tower out of pantry foods.
  25. Sing songs.
  26. Gather your dining chairs and play airplane.
  27. Help put away the dishes.
  28. Have a bath just for fun.
  29. Play store.
  30. Help with the laundry.
  31. Visit the pet store and see the fish and hamsters.
  32. Play mail carrier .
  33. Run.
  34. Brush teeth ( don’t knock it both my kids loved this)
  35. Take your baby dolls for a walk around the house.
  36. Play trains.
  37. Make playdough cupcakes, muffins and cookies.
  38. Walk the plank.
  39. Wear them while you( parent) hike.
  40. Call Grandparents on the phone and chat.
  41. Wrestle.
  42. Pretend to be animals and crawl, hop and pounce on the floor.
  43. Play at the playground.
  44. Collect rocks on a walk or shells on the beach.
  45. Go to the library.
  46. Explore a local garden center.
  47. Make playdough sculptures with popscicle sticks.
  48. Make a craft.
  49. Help with chores.
  50. Paint with water.
  51. Look through family photos.
  52. Hammer golf tees into foam.
  53. Color the patio.
  54. Have snack on a chair train ( in your kitchen)
  55. Make and play with discovery bottles.
  56. Play ball in the yard.
  57. Play with large magnets on the fridge, cookie sheets or like she is above the washer while mama folded laundry.
  58. Play with a dollhouse
  59. Color.
  60. Touch and Smell the fruits and veggies at the supermarket instead of just grabbing what you need.
  61. Play Duplo.
  62. Look for bugs under rocks.
  63. Rip and cut scrap paper.
  64. Do a puzzle.
  65. Go swimming.
  66. Paint.
  67. Paint with toy cars.
  68. Paint with blocks.
  69. Paint with toy animals.
  70. Play with instruments ( or just a big pot and a few wooden spoons).
  71. Water your plants.
  72. Play peek-a-boo.
  73. Go on a color hunt.
  74. Take every DVD out of the drawers and put them back in. This is completely child led at our house.
  75. Follow their play and see where it leads you.

* Note about the photos. They aren’t as high quality as I try for because all of them were taken with my phone while we were playing. Not for a post just regular pictures of what we do most days.

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Link & Learn

 

Craft ideas, homeschool lessons, art projects, and so much more. Link & Learn is like a weekly cheat sheet of all the early learning and kid crafts blog posts from the week. If you need something fun to do with your kids we can help! If you want to link up we make that easy too. All you have to do is share your best post from the week. It doesn’t even have to be about learning and play, if you think our readers will enjoy it, link up!

Last week I fell in love with this 4 seasons activity from Sun Hats & Wellie Boots as well as Fizzing Sidewalk Paint from Kids Activities Blog. I have more of my favorites from last week pinned on my Pinterest boards – follow me to see them all.

Have a great week !

Playdough Play – Toy Prints

We play with playdough daily, usually more than once. My daughter is fascinated with it and her favorite thing to do with it is to press objects into the playdough and make prints. This was not a planned post at all, and all the photos were taken with my phone since I didn’t want to interrupt her play to grab my camera that was downstairs. Simple discovery play like this is my favorite and such a fun way to connect with your toddler.

 

We started with our playdough and usual cookie cutters. I usually switch the cutters and color of playdough out every few weeks. Then she grabbed this light up wand of her brothers and started making prints. She was in giggly heaven, especially since it lit up every time she hit it hard enough into the play dough.

Then we grabbed some duplo and made prints . These we all agreed looked like cheezits!

We flipped the duplo over and made little “buttons” and she very carefully pressed each one.

Her giggles and my photo snapping attracted the attention of my son who brought over a gear to press into the playdough.

Activities like these that use toys you have in new and novel ways with a sense of discovery ” Hey what sort of print with that block make?” is such and easy activity but trust me it will go on for a long time, happily! We also used little people which if you press the bottom into the playdough make a shape rather reminiscent of a nipple. My nursing daughter pointed that out to me right away , the picture was rather life like so I skipped it. Other fun toys were train tracks ( skip the trains the playdough will get stuck in the wheels) and chunky puzzle pieces .