Getting dinner on the table in a timely manner can sometimes be a major feat!
These activities are for the days when you need just 10, 20, even 30 minutes completely (OK – nearly!) interruption free to get it done!
Use each one for a couple days and then move on to another or switch ’em up every day so the kids don’t get bored.
Preschool Table Activities
1. Whiteboard and Dry Erase Markers
I sometimes get in a rut of just handing my preschoolers some paper and pens and telling them to draw. They do enjoy that, but if I use it too often it only lasts about 2 minutes. Somehow a whiteboard and dry erase markers are much more entertaining and can hold their attention for a good half hour.
2. Beads and Pipecleaners
Stringing beads to make jewelry is always great fun, especially for the girls (though my boys have always like it too). Giving them pipe cleaners rather than yarn decreases the spill factor (harder for the beads to come off when the end is dropped) and minimizes the interruptions for tying knots (they can twist the ends themselves). If beads aren’t their thing, then they can always just make things (shapes, letters, people, animals) out of the pipe cleaners!
Playdough is great but involves too much cleanup right before supper. Thinking Putty is a grown up version of Silly Putty. It is a little pricey, but a lot comes in the large tin; I can divide ours among at least 3 people. It also comes off clothes, rugs and blankets WAY more easily than similar products and is much more durable. (I originally got ours to give one of the kids something to do with his hands while we do some of his lessons.)
4. Color or Draw
I know, I said I use that one too much! Here are a couple ways to switch it up and make it interesting again.
- Cut card stock into shapes – hearts, circles, eggs, whatever – a new shape somehow sparks the imagination again.
- Fold a regular piece of paper into quarters – this gives them 8 (front and back) small spaces to in which to draw; more new possibilities!
5. Small Bin of Legos
This is not the time to dump out the entire family collection! Keep a small collection in a box or bag of some sort and let them use only those pieces at the table.
6. Wikki Stix
Wikki Stix are short pieces of wax coated string that can be shaped into all kinds of things over and over. They come in a variety of colors and offer endless creativity. They’re also nice as a light-weight, no mess, portable activity for car rides. You can also stick them in your bag when you’re heading out to a restaurant or doctor’s office.
7. Cut Out Pictures
Use this idea with caution – you know whether handing your child a pair of scissors is a good idea or not!
Put all the sales flyers and catalogs you get in the mail to good use! Let the kids practice their cutting skills on the pictures. They can put a meal together from a grocery flyer, design an outfit from a clothing catalog, plan a garden with the nursery catalog or just cut out whatever interests them.
8. Glue Pictures
Save all the cut out pictures, and give the kids some scrap paper (newspaper and old file folders are other options) and a glue stick with their pictures the following day. Just make sure the glue stick is a small one – there may not be any left when they’re finished!
9. Paper Cutter
Not quite ready to let your kids loose with the scissors? Mine have a blast when they’re allowed to use the paper cutter. Scrap paper, envelopes from the mail and backs of old cards all make good practice pieces. Of course I am referring to a paper cutters with a tiny blade that slides between a guide, not the kind used when I was in grade school. Just thinking about those gives me the chills.
10. Help Cut Vegetables
Obviously, only you know whether you can trust your child, and it does require advance training!
All my kids have loved being allowed to do this. (Maybe I’ll write a post about that someday.) If I have just one child cutting vegetables, I usually have them at the counter with me. When I have more than one working I set them up at the table to give all of us more space. Since its always fun to eat vegetables you cut up yourself, be sure to give the kids more than you actually need. A crinkle cutter is a fun option for beginning cutters. Start with soft vegetables like zucchini or cucumbers.
Tearing lettuce for a salad is a good option if your child is not ready to use a knife.
So set your kids up with a table activity and get to work on supper.
(‘Cause you know if you don’t direct that energy they’re going to wreck the house!)
What table activities do your preschoolers like?
Shared at: Art of Homemaking Monday, Modest Monday, Tuesday Talk, Coffee and Conversation, Women With Intention, Raising Homemakers, Serving Joyfully, Family Fun Friday, Fellowship Fridays, Thank Goodness Its Monday, All In All and Savoring Saturdays.
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